kick out the jams

Sometimes you need to break the rules to discover new sounds.

Chops: Intermediate
Theory: Intermediate
Lesson Overview:
• Learn how to apply the modes of the major scale in alternative ways.
• Improve your ability to pivot between modes.
• Develop a better understanding of modal improvisation.

Click here to download a printable PDF of this lesson's notation.

Out of all the essential implements in a guitarist’s toolbox, having a firm grasp of major-scale modes might be the most important—especially for those of us who improvise.

There’s a vast array of sounds and ideas that can convey different emotions to a listener if they’re used properly. And in the realm of practice, knowing your modes is almost like a skeleton key to understanding an infinite number of other concepts. That’s a lot of power from scales that actually consist of the same seven notes rearranged in various ways.

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  • Develop a better sense of subdivisions.
  • Understand how to play "over the bar line."
  • Learn to target chord tones in a 12-bar blues.
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Playing in the pocket is the most important thing in music. Just think about how we talk about great music: It's "grooving" or "swinging" or "rocking." Nobody ever says, "I really enjoyed their use of inverted suspended triads," or "their application of large-interval pentatonic sequences was fascinating." So, whether you're playing live or recording, time is everyone's responsibility, and you must develop your ability to play in the pocket.
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