Section 3.1 (New July 2000) (back to index)

Improvisation Part 2 ( make it up as you go along)


For the next step a simple five note mode is best. Play the notes A C D E G on the guitar.

A five note mode - called, technically a pentatonic mode.

If you don't know where any of these notes are you need to visit Section 1.4 Melody & Harmony basics. If you cannot figure out just where to play them - that's OK and THAT'S THE POINT ! You can play them anywhere - and here's the kicker - when you play those 5 notes against the C Major scale you CANNOT play a wrong note.

Harmonically this has a simple cause. Any of the notes in this mode added to any chord IN THE KEY OF C MAJOR simply makes an extended chord at most, but for most of the time the note will actually be in the chord - so they always work.


Play them anywhere is not much of a help. However, powerfully, this mode works in 5 places on the guitar and when learned allows you to play any of these notes anywhere on the guitar neck.


This mode is not too useful though if you are playing chords in the key of A Major. The guitar though makes this simplicity itself. If you made a backing track of the 12 bar blues in Part 1, you can improvise against it with the same mode.

Without knowing the notes you can hear that they all work against the blues in A.. Play around recording the 12 bar blues in A and add a few improvised notes from the pentatonic scale of A minor - see what you get and while you are at it - if you completely understood the last sentence you are making good progress.

....................................................more to come in Part 3

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