Thoughts on Pentatonic Substitution and Eyes of the World

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Thoughts on Pentatonic Substitution and Eyes of the World

Postby NorthboundRain » Wed Apr 01, 2015 1:38 am

I recently saw Jimmy Herring with Widespread Panic when they came through Portland, OR. He's always been a favorite Guitar Hero of mine but I hadn't really listened to him much since the glory days of the P&F Quintet. I've grown quite a bit as a player and a theoretician since then so I've spent the past few weeks trying to analyze his techniques and use them to add more harmonic color to my solos. One of the concepts I've come across that I'd like to discuss is Pentatonic Substitution.

In a YouTube lesson I found on Pentatonic Substitution they were playing over a static Amaj7 chord in the Key of A Major (A, B, C#, D, E, F#, G#) but playing minor pentatonic scales rooted on the Third (C#, E, F#, G#, B), or the Seventh (G#, B, C#, D#, F#). The idea is that you can use simple shapes you already know to play over harmonically rich chords without playing any "wrong" notes. There is a D# that is outside the A Major scale but the Augmented Fourth doesn't clash with the chord tones and adds a nice Lydian vibe.

Being a good Deadhead presented with a Maj7 vamp, the first thing I did was transpose everything to the key of E and play the "Eyes of the World" intro vamp into my looper. It only took me a few moments of jamming along to realize that I'd already been using these patterns on "Eyes" for quite a while when I play the mid 70's arrangement. The Third of E Major is G# and I use lots of pentatonic ideas when the bass and guitar trade solos after the last verse alternating between the roots of E and G#. The Seventh of E is D# and that appears in the Pentatonic 7/8 riff before the Dm7 Jam.

I wonder, were Jerry and Phil discussing theory one day and decided to use those concepts in the arrangement of the tune? Or was Jerry exploring some of these ideas in a jam session and the rest of the band caught on to it that way? Perhaps it was a bit from column A and a bit from column B?
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Re: Thoughts on Pentatonic Substitution and Eyes of the Worl

Postby wolftigerrosebud » Sun May 31, 2015 11:21 am

In jazz virtually every major 7 chord takes a sharp 11. In fact, natural 4 is a harmonically weak landing point in a way that #4 is not. Natural 4 can be used as a passing tone, but it's an avoid note in maj7.

Pentatonics work in a lot of places because they're so simple. You can use a minor pentatonic scale over maj7 from any scale degree whose mode is minor.
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Re: Thoughts on Pentatonic Substitution and Eyes of the Worl

Postby Geoff Stockton » Wed Dec 02, 2015 8:57 pm

That's pretty much my go-to approach for maj7th chords. For a Cmaj7, I'll use Em and Bm pentatonic scales with added chromatcism, usually the Em. Nothing does a better job of conveying the quality of the chord. I'll go a little more earthy and play bluesy major licks occasionally but I use them with the frequency that I use swear words. Jerry seemed to be big on playing in decidedly different styles for any given length of time. Some times he'd solo over one cycle of a tune, really outlining every chord with little arpeggio licks and interspersed chromaticism and then follow up on the next cycle with a far more primitive key-centric bluesy soloing, or maybe outline and embellish the melody of the song, or take on the the modal melodic pattern approach.

I read in one interview where he talked about how the biggest thing he picked up, listening to Coltrane's records was the idea of playing in paragraphs, which weren't dictated structurally, by the measures or whatever, but stylistically and they could start and stop wherever within the structure. (I read that when I was 16, 21 years ago. It had an effect on my own development, no doubt.) Miles Davis said that having John Coltrane in the band was like having 4 or 5 different sax players in the band. I think Jerry really liked that about Coltrane.
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Re: Thoughts on Pentatonic Substitution and Eyes of the Worl

Postby wolftigerrosebud » Thu Jan 05, 2017 12:35 am

Sometime last year I put on Without A Net and noticed that on "Eyes" Branford played a #4, heard it, and then switched quickly to natural 4...

On the "Eyes" from 12/30/77 (I think), Jerry's use of surround tones is really beautiful. Chromatic surrounds of 3rds and 7ths & borrowed modes.

Borrowing from what Geoff said, one of the thing Trane used all the time was that borrowed mode approach... He loved to superimpose harmonic, melodic, and natural minor modes over major vamps in a free-flowing way. Practicing all 21 modes consciously over tunes is an exhaustive exercise but it's added a lot of color to my playing pretty unconsciously. I still have to take it pretty slow.
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Re: Thoughts on Pentatonic Substitution and Eyes of the Worl

Postby pula58 » Fri Jan 06, 2017 9:12 am

Also, try F# dorian to add some color when hanging on the e maj 7th, Hey, why do you think they segued into Eyes from Estimated.... :-)
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Re: Thoughts on Pentatonic Substitution and Eyes of the Worl

Postby rugger » Fri Jan 06, 2017 9:39 am

Minor pent half step down from maj7 chord. For example, Eb minor pent over Emaj7.

Emaj7
E F# G# A B C# D# E

Eb minor pent (using enharmonic equivalents)
Eb(D#) F# G# Bb C# D#

Has the #4 (A#/Bb) folks were mentioning above and the maj7

Personally, I don't love the approach of "just play minor pent a step up, or a fifth up," or what have you. I find it hard to break the muscle memory of playing "blues" or bluesy licks if I'm thinking minor pentatonic. I find it much more useful to camp in a position, in this case the 12th fret, and explore tones across four frets from 11 to 15 shifting up or down whenever inspiration hits. Much easier to slip between "styles" (modal playing to pentatonic playing) thinking tones rather than scale shapes.

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Re: Thoughts on Pentatonic Substitution and Eyes of the Worl

Postby brbadg » Fri Jan 06, 2017 11:52 am

Interesting read . I've never been able to wrap my head around the Lydian mode. It seems to me I've been hearing it
in many contexts,I just didn't know what it was.
I mean I know my modes but have yet to get them all under my fingers and call them up at will.
Off to practice some....
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Re: Thoughts on Pentatonic Substitution and Eyes of the Worl

Postby pula58 » Fri Jan 06, 2017 5:32 pm

In the early 80's onward the jam in Cassady starts out Lydian. Give that a listen to help get the feel for lydian.
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Re: Thoughts on Pentatonic Substitution and Eyes of the Worl

Postby nopunin10dead » Fri Jan 06, 2017 9:13 pm

About 10 years ago I finally deciphered that the 80s' Cassidy jam depended on that #4 in the scale, and what I really dug was that the same mode (Lydian) worked over each chord in the jam (E, F#7, G#m). From there, I had the idea to go from G#m to Emaj7 of Eyes (one small note difference) and then back via the mid-70s' Eyes Abm jam to the Cassidy bridge>outro.... My performance of that with my guitar buddy was rehearsed only a little, but it came off OK, I thought.... That was my initiation into modes, but I'm still trying to really learn, understand, and apply them... :? using Mick Goodrick's excellent book The Advancing Guitarist.... :|
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Re: Thoughts on Pentatonic Substitution and Eyes of the Worl

Postby wolftigerrosebud » Mon Jan 09, 2017 9:00 am

Mick's book is so great!!! Cool to apply his concept over tunes, too.

I think a lot of this stuff can only be ingrained by just playing tunes over and over and over again and becoming aware of what each note kind of "does" within the key center or key centers the tune uses, what function each note serves both as a basis for superimposing borrowed modes or scale fragments or patterns that may sound cool there as well as for just being a reference to the harmony. Static modal exercises are a necessary way to introduce a mode but as soon as a person can apply it to music I think that's kind of the best.
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Re: Thoughts on Pentatonic Substitution and Eyes of the Worl

Postby wolftigerrosebud » Mon Jan 09, 2017 8:24 pm

Hey y'all I wanted to post up some more stuff that hopefully might be enjoyable and/or give some ideas to someone else!!

So here is this really cool and beautiful Pat Metheny tune (also played on the album he did with Jaco which I imagine some of you know -- Bright Size Life) in which the main vamp is this Bm7-Gmaj7, combined with the occasional 3/4 measure of Em7-Cmaj7 and then back to Bm7-Gmaj7. Great example of a boatload of lydian sound. I jammed along with this a lot when I was learning what it was and how to hear it. I don't have any specific examples of like scales you should play but I think you can definitely just use the lydian scale and listen hard for that #4 on the Gmaj7 and trust your ears. Steve Swallow (bassist), Gary Burton and Pat are all using a bunch of vocabulary incorporating #4 it's everywhere.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZ-6h40MskU

Perhaps more to the point for this forum, listen for the riff Branford plays @ 0:15 -- second note that Branford plays in that (riff opens on 5 of E major, first part of it is 5 #4 5 6 6 #4 3 2 1 7 2).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEE_R4VIkR4

Finally and maybe more important than the of the other stuff I say is this resource -- Ted Greene was an absolute monster player as well as teacher if you're not already familiar with him. And this particular page is called "Adding Spice to Major Scales". It makes use of a lot of the building blocks of vocabulary, specifically adapted for the guitar and with explanations.

http://www.tedgreene.com/images/lessons ... -07-06.pdf

This is Ted's page of lessons on single-note soloing. It is indeed daunting, but keep in mind it is also a lifetime of work. I say that because when I first saw it I had that familiar sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach of "I'm never gonna be good enough to tackle any of this." And that is bullshit, so just wanted to mention that for anyone who might feel the same.

http://www.tedgreene.com/teaching/singlenote.asp
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