Is there any one who solely uses arpeggios as a foundation for improv?

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NiallseroreillyNiallseroreilly Frets: 346
Whats your process in a solo? Do you ever use scales if the chord changes are too fast?
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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 17232
    I don't think anyone only uses one thing.
    I use scales and arpeggios to allow me to play melodies.
    Melody is what matters.
    I am the juice of four limes.
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  • LestratcasterLestratcaster Frets: 295
    If I can I will always listen to the harmony first and try to sing phrases I can hear in my head, then work them out on the guitar. I too go with melody, and try to vary the rhythm, e.g start on different beats of the bar. And use lots of articulation in the form of bends and slides.
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  • vizviz Frets: 4620
    edited May 13
    octatonic said:
    I don't think anyone only uses one thing.
    I use scales and arpeggios to allow me to play melodies.
    Melody is what matters.
    Exactly. And writers may compose very fluid and chromatic melodies which will sound scalar, or they may write more acrobatic melodies which will be less scalar, but I don’t think many players really think in terms of scales or arps when they actually write (or even improvise).

    I like Greg Howe’s writing very much as he combines highly chromatic and runs with incredibly angular passages with a lot of wide leaps, both of which sound really exciting and fast and free, but he doesn’t think in scales and arpeggii as such, he just thinks in tunes!
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 1600
    octatonic said:
    I don't think anyone only uses one thing.
    I use scales and arpeggios to allow me to play melodies.
    Melody is what matters.
    This, plus phrasing.
    Whats your process in a solo? Do you ever use scales if the chord changes are too fast?
    Whether it’s a worked out solo, or off the cuff, I like to start by quoting the melody, and then wander off, changing phrasing, and adding other notes. What I look for is note movement from chord to chord. Can I run a lick over a chord change, targeting a note in the next chord? Are there adjacent notes in the two chords which emphasise the change, eg moving from A to E I might target the g#.

    A trombone player from the 50s, whose name I’ve forgotten, said “start low and slow, and finish high and frantic”. That’s always struck me as good advice. Although it’s good manners to calm down for a bar or so before handing over to another instrument, or to make space for the singer to re-enter.
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  • Matt_McGMatt_McG Frets: 42
    All of the above is good, but, I have to admit that I made a big breakthrough in my own playing when I started trying to think much more in terms of chord tones and arpeggios rather than scales. It become more melodic, and the sense of the chords in the solo was much stronger.

    I think for really good players, after a while, they stop thinking about any of this stuff, and they are simply making melodies. But somewhere in the background, from their years of practice, is scalar knowledge, chord tone knowledge, knowledge of the melody of the song, etc. 

    One of my favourite quotes is from Ben Webster, the great tenor sax player, who once stopped playing mid-solo. Someone asked why, and he said, "I forgot the words." 

    N.B. I'm a pretty rubbish improviser when it comes to jazz playing, so we are talking a big leap from 'really rubbish' to 'quite rubbish', but it was a genuinely massive step forward for me.
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  • BarneyBarney Frets: 336
    I think you need it all..but saying that..chord changes that are awkward I think arpeggios more than scales..arps outline the changes better with just bass and drums so you can hear the chords changing without them being there off you know what I mean
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  • stickyfiddlestickyfiddle Frets: 8722
    octatonic said:
    I don't think anyone only uses one thing.
    I use scales and arpeggios to allow me to play melodies.
    Melody is what matters.
    Absolutely this.

    If you're playing single notes then 99% of the time you're in the middle of a scale or an arpeggio by definition, whatever you're playing. But I doubt there are many players who are generally accepted to be "great" who are thinking "right, now I need to move to a flat 5th and then modulate to the whatever", they're just thinking "la la la la ba ba ummmm *now a quiet bit* da da do do..." etc etc

    The defined scales and arpeggios are just how you would talk about it after the fact, but the important thing is the creative bit where a melody is born because it sounds good - that isn't led by theory.
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  • bingefellerbingefeller Frets: 5390

    Having thought about it, I'm not even sure if I can describe what I'm thinking about when I'm playing solos.  I'm probably thinking about melodies and chord tones.  If the chord changes were flying past then I would maybe go into arpeggio mode and try to outline the chords as best I could. 

    If I want to play a fast run or something then I'm thinking about scales and shapes that I am familiar with. 

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  • ClarkyClarky Frets: 2725
    sometimes I visualise arms even if not playing them purely to be aware of consonance
    play every note as if it were your first
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  • FuengiFuengi Frets: 464
    Great thread and some interesting insights. 
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