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

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NiallseroreillyNiallseroreilly Frets: 362
Whats your process in a solo? Do you ever use scales if the chord changes are too fast?
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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 18265
    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: 367
    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: 4865
    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: 1941
    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: 82
    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: 345
    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: 9372
    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: 5432

    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: 2933
    edited June 17
    sometimes I visualise arps 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: 585
    Great thread and some interesting insights. 
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  • jonathanjonathan Frets: 2
    I've recently discovered the joys of string-hopping. It can give you some nice variations on the arpeggio or scale, withouth deviating from either. But generally I seem to hear in scales, so I start from there.

    Of course, failing that, I just do something involving a major 7th. "It's my style!" I'll declaim to the empty rehearsal space. :)
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  • tralfamadantralfamadan Frets: 14
    I find arpeggios great for playing across chord changes as the chord shapes often segue into each other nicely. Although tbh when its my turn to solo I start off in a scale or arpeggio shape and then just follow my ears; often with mixed results. 

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  • NiallseroreillyNiallseroreilly Frets: 362
    Im starting to have a bit of a breakthrough with this. Some great wisdom in all posts.

    What my approach is now is to practice improvising with scales and arpeggios and sing as I play, what im realising is that as I get to know these shapes more, they become second nature to play and more importantly i feel, is that my intervallic awareness improves..

    Im using pentatonic shapes and arpeggios... I feel with these shapes i can play all the surrounding notes and develop my awareness of their sounds which will enable me to use them when i improvise.

    My question would be now, how can I benefit through learning different scales and going into modes? If i experiment with pentatonic and arpeggio shapes and adding in chromatic tones will this not serve the same purpose?
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  • vizviz Frets: 4865
    Im starting to have a bit of a breakthrough with this. Some great wisdom in all posts.

    What my approach is now is to practice improvising with scales and arpeggios and sing as I play, what im realising is that as I get to know these shapes more, they become second nature to play and more importantly i feel, is that my intervallic awareness improves..

    Im using pentatonic shapes and arpeggios... I feel with these shapes i can play all the surrounding notes and develop my awareness of their sounds which will enable me to use them when i improvise.

    My question would be now, how can I benefit through learning different scales and going into modes? If i experiment with pentatonic and arpeggio shapes and adding in chromatic tones will this not serve the same purpose?
    Yes exactly. 
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