How to approach Jerrys soloing technique

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How to approach Jerrys soloing technique

Postby michael96 » Tue Jun 30, 2015 7:41 am

Hey guys, I'm new to the forum here. Anyways I've been listening to the dead for about as long as I've played the guitar (around 5 years?) and I'm just kind of stuck in the normal boring blues box for my solos, I've learned the mixolydian and still can't seem to get a grasp on the Deads music. Any tips? I've been playing music by Clapton, cream standard blues rock stuff so this music is pretty out there for me, I can play some improvisational leads over the one dead tune I know- China cat, but I still don't have that Jerry sound, I'm not trying to be a complete clone I just need to do justice to his tunes when I eventually play them live. Any tips would be great
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Re: How to approach Jerrys soloing technique

Postby flyingheelhook » Tue Jun 30, 2015 9:12 am

I would recommend taking a look at http://www.gratefulguitarlessons.com/. While I am more of a Bobby player, Seth's known for being able to analyze and teach both Jerry and Bobby. :cool:
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Re: How to approach Jerrys soloing technique

Postby TI4-1009 » Tue Jun 30, 2015 9:36 am

What he said. GGL.
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Re: How to approach Jerrys soloing technique

Postby michael96 » Tue Jun 30, 2015 11:48 am

Thanks guys, I'll probably buy his Cumberland lesson.
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Re: How to approach Jerrys soloing technique

Postby michael96 » Tue Jun 30, 2015 11:50 am

flyingheelhook wrote:I would recommend taking a look at http://www.gratefulguitarlessons.com/. While I am more of a Bobby player, Seth's known for being able to analyze and teach both Jerry and Bobby. :cool:


I like Bobby's playing just as much, it leaves me scratching my head just like any of jerry's stuff lol
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Re: How to approach Jerrys soloing technique

Postby caspersvapors » Tue Jun 30, 2015 1:13 pm

start with his earliest vids:

https://www.youtube.com/user/JDarks/videos

also his site has tabbed out Jerry solos

http://jdarks.com/GDTab.html

if you have a looper try making a slow loop with your song of interest and play along with his tabs. Also chances are, whatever song youre interested in he has a corresponding video showing some licks
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Re: How to approach Jerrys soloing technique

Postby rugger » Thu Jul 02, 2015 9:17 am

GGL and Darks are great resources no doubt, but if your are lacking fundamentals it can still be an uphill battle. Definitely look into GGL's "10 steps" lessons. These are more of the approach based lessons and should get you going in the right direction. That being said, here's my .02...

How fluid are you with the major scale? Do you know it in all five positions? I would get a metronome and start dedicating serious time to this. Run them in quarter notes, eighth notes and triplets. Start slow and play them clean. Once you're comfortable with the patterns you can start doing more interesting things with them like playing them in 3rds, 4ths or 6ths. There are all kinds of intervallic patterns you can easily look up--it's really never ending! Mastering the major scale will get you out of the blues box, two note per string approach that really doesn't fit with much of Jerry's playing. Good luck!

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Re: How to approach Jerrys soloing technique

Postby strumminsix » Thu Jul 02, 2015 11:03 am

Lots of good advice here... I'll echo and add
1) know your modes, all of them inside and out
2) know how to apply your modes.
3) be able to play a melody, then play off a melody, then abandon the melody
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Re: How to approach Jerrys soloing technique

Postby wolftigerrosebud » Tue Jul 14, 2015 6:46 am

The sax player Jim Snidero talks a lot about only playing what you can hear with your ears.

I think that setting an hour everyday to play along with Jerry would be really effective. Just try to play like him. In the process you'll be doing a sort of passive/unconscious ear training deal.

Do what Jerry did: just practice like your life depends on it. If you do that then even if you don't end up sounding like Jerry you'll sound awesome at the end either way.
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Re: How to approach Jerrys soloing technique

Postby chipperj » Tue Jul 14, 2015 8:39 am

I would say one of the most important things to think about, is focusing on what notes are in the chord, rather than what notes are in the key. I often hear players who will keep their solos in an A major scale if the song is in the key of A major, and think that's all that is needed. All well and good until the song goes to a D chord (Like in Franklin's Tower), and you're still playing a bunch of C#s, because you figure that's the third of an A major scale. Dissonance can sound great sometimes, but playing a C# against a D chord in a song like this sounds less than great. And that's just a simple example. It gets even more complicated when a song seems to change it's tonal center throughout a verse. Like Althea, for example, where you almost have to play in different keys from chord to chord. The verse starts in B minor, but if you just play a solo in a B minor scale over the whole verse, it will sound terrible. As you switch to the A and then to the E (and then back to the A..), you might have better results if you hint at each chord as it goes along.

One thing that might help is to learn to arpeggiate each chord as they change, to really get a handle of what notes are in each chord. When that becomes comfortable, start trying to form melodies using those notes. After that, you start to notice that some notes seem to pull you to the next chord. Those are leading tones, and Garcia was all over leading tones. An example would be say, in a song that goes from A to D (I to IV). Notice that playing a G natural (even though G# is in the A major scale) and then down to an F# as it lands on the D chord seems to pull you to that chord.

When that gets comfortable, start adding notes in between the chord tones. Start with the notes in the "scale" of that chord, and then work up to chromatic runs. Hopefully, you're ear will tell you when it works and when it doesn't. Garcia would often land on a strong chord tone coming off a half-step below it.

Probably more theory here than you'd hoped- sorry.
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Re: How to approach Jerrys soloing technique

Postby healthy_scratch » Fri Jul 17, 2015 4:51 am

chipperj wrote:I would say one of the most important things to think about, is focusing on what notes are in the chord, rather than what notes are in the key. I often hear players who will keep their solos in an A major scale if the song is in the key of A major, and think that's all that is needed. All well and good until the song goes to a D chord (Like in Franklin's Tower), and you're still playing a bunch of C#s, because you figure that's the third of an A major scale. Dissonance can sound great sometimes, but playing a C# against a D chord in a song like this sounds less than great. And that's just a simple example. It gets even more complicated when a song seems to change it's tonal center throughout a verse. Like Althea, for example, where you almost have to play in different keys from chord to chord. The verse starts in B minor, but if you just play a solo in a B minor scale over the whole verse, it will sound terrible. As you switch to the A and then to the E (and then back to the A..), you might have better results if you hint at each chord as it goes along.

One thing that might help is to learn to arpeggiate each chord as they change, to really get a handle of what notes are in each chord. When that becomes comfortable, start trying to form melodies using those notes. After that, you start to notice that some notes seem to pull you to the next chord. Those are leading tones, and Garcia was all over leading tones. An example would be say, in a song that goes from A to D (I to IV). Notice that playing a G natural (even though G# is in the A major scale) and then down to an F# as it lands on the D chord seems to pull you to that chord.

When that gets comfortable, start adding notes in between the chord tones. Start with the notes in the "scale" of that chord, and then work up to chromatic runs. Hopefully, you're ear will tell you when it works and when it doesn't. Garcia would often land on a strong chord tone coming off a half-step below it.

Probably more theory here than you'd hoped- sorry.


That is an excellent post chalk full of sound advice, nice one. As Chipper wisely pointed out:

Learn the scales for each chord for a song and apply them. This is what made Jerry's playing so musical and melodic.
Equally, learn the arpeggios of each chord in a song at least triads and where relevant add the sevenths.
Understand the differences in notes between each of the chord tones and listen for what tones guide smoothly to the next chord.
Start to play around with chromatics and bringing in notes outside of the scale yet that either pass or pull a listeners ear to the next note.

Add to that heaps of patience, patience and more patience and the ability to critically assess what you do not like about your playing and working to improve that. I recommend objectively recording yourself to listen more for what you do not like and less for what you may like.

I have been playing for over 25 years and always say I am not a particularly good player, but I am better than I was yesterday. Improving comes from intelligent practicing especially focusing on things you do not well and setting goals and expectations that are reasonable as per the time and schedule to dedicate to your instrument to get better at those things. I mean in a nutshell those four essential points Chipper distilled from Garcia's solo playing seem simple enough, but be reasonable with yourself that is a lifelong undertaking towards developing muscle memory of your right and left hands with the aim of tastefully and accurately being able to phrase what you hear in any key.

Good luck and above all remember to enjoy the ride.
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Re: How to approach Jerrys soloing technique

Postby LongStrangeJam » Fri Jul 17, 2015 7:46 am

I'm in the same spot as you. I can play the songs thoroughly, but when it comes to the jam I trip up. The replys here are really great. I would suggest learning the recommended scales for each song, whether that be A Mix, or D Dorian. Then apply arpeggios, chord shapes, and those pentatonic boxes. Watch some vids on Garcia's playing. Look at what he's doing. The concepts are hard at first but they get much easier. Garcia was such a great player because he knew these concepts from the back of his hand. When you have put together some form of there ideas into your playing, play along with a recording. It will sound much better, having the whole band with ya. Then of course there's patterns he uses while inside the scale and jam, like breaking into the scale ascending or descending. His patterns go on forever. Look at a tabbed out solo of his. See the patterns he uses. They are mostly repated. Lastly, know your notes. He lands on the sevenths and the note of the song key plenty of times during a solo. He plays what makes up that scale, like landing on the flat seventh in a mixo scale. All the little tips and tricks. So definitely watch and observe his playing, and then play along. But most importantly, Garcia, like any other player, had fun with it. So have fun! :cool:
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Re: How to approach Jerrys soloing technique

Postby wolftigerrosebud » Sun Jul 19, 2015 9:13 am

It's important to practice musically. Learning scales is a process that has the potential to be very musical. Once you have a grasp on the linear two octave scale, you may try practicing it up and down in 3rds and 4ths (ex, C Lydian ascending in thirds would be: c e d f# e g f# a...)

Pretty soon you should practice simply improvising using the notes of a given two octave scale. That way it becomes ear training as well as interval training. And you can work in more things like dynamics and tempo. Ideally you can be building on your knowledge of the scale so that your whole practice becomes more and more an expression of what you're trying to evoke when you're onstage.

I think there is real value in practicing scales as musically as possible. After all, the way any musician sounds when he performs is never too far off from how he sounds practicing.
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Re: How to approach Jerrys soloing technique

Postby mgbills » Sun Jul 19, 2015 7:01 pm

A question for you more advanced theory folks.

You suggest (ChipperJ) knowing and continuously practicing the minor scale against the minor chords. A scale with just a b3 with a major7 sounds a little wonky. Dorian would be another choice. More Jerry-esque to my ear. When I look up "minor scale" what comes up often is Natural Minor/Aeolian. Which do you use for your core Jerry practice?

I studied with a couple of jazz guys for a while, and they both thought arpeggio practice was about getting all iterations in your brain & fingers. b5, 5, sharp5 etc, etc etc. This is how I spend the first 20-30 minutes of a practice session. Building broad chordal knowledge in my fingers.

No question that it has value, but I feel it's too obtuse for a Jerry focused style. And it's not helping me keep the "chord of the moment" in my head. That seems to come from looking at the slower numbers (like Morning Dew) and playing the verse chords lots of different ways, then doing the same thing with arpeggios. Then working toward pleasantly melodic soloing.

Am I on the right track here? Which minor scale do you all use?

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Re: How to approach Jerrys soloing technique

Postby chipperj » Mon Jul 20, 2015 8:02 am

"You suggest (ChipperJ) knowing and continuously practicing the minor scale against the minor chords. "

I think I said I said the opposite of that..... I am suggesting that you learn the *notes* of each chord you're playing. Start by arpeggiating them, and then turn them into melodies, using passing tones, leading tones, then working in tones that stray a bit, to keep it interesting.

Melody is everything. If you are just playing scales and licks over and over, it starts to sound like noodling.
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