Improv Bluegrass Theory works for Guitar Mandolin Fiddle - How to Improvise with Bluegrass Music | Lesson Pros | Skillshare

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Improv Bluegrass Theory works for Guitar Mandolin Fiddle - How to Improvise with Bluegrass Music

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Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

35 Lessons (2h 6m)
    • 1. Introduction Improvisation on any Instrument - Music Theory Course

      1:18
    • 2. Introduction to the G Scale on any Instrument

      4:19
    • 3. Example: G Scale

      1:04
    • 4. Bi linear playing

      3:20
    • 5. Example: Changing Rhythm without playing Bi Linearly

      1:00
    • 6. Mixing up your Rhythm while playing Bi Linearly

      1:53
    • 7. Example: Changing Rhythm without playing Bi Linearly

      1:06
    • 8. Example: Changing Rhythms and Bi Linear playing with backing track

      1:25
    • 9. Understanding the Tonic, and Musical Phrases

      3:29
    • 10. Fun with Intervals

      2:05
    • 11. Example: Arpeggio Intervals

      2:31
    • 12. Scale Based Arpeggios

      3:04
    • 13. Example: Scale Based Arpeggios

      6:14
    • 14. Mixing it Up - Play Everything You've Learned

      3:50
    • 15. Example: Mix it up - Play Everything You've Learned

      1:10
    • 16. G Major Pentatonic - Getting rid of 2 and 6

      1:53
    • 17. Example: G Major Pentatonic - Eliminating 2 and 6 with backing track

      1:38
    • 18. G Major Pentatonic Scale - Getting rid of 4 and 7

      1:19
    • 19. Example: G Major Pentatonic - Eliminating 4 and 7 without backing track

      1:19
    • 20. Example: G Major Pentatonic - Eliminating 4 and 7 with backing track

      1:44
    • 21. G Minor Pentatonic Scale

      2:19
    • 22. Example G Minor Pentatonic Scale

      1:19
    • 23. 50 BPM Bluegrass Backing Tracks Key of G

      6:15
    • 24. 60 BPM Bluegrass Backing Track Key of G

      5:13
    • 25. 70 BPM Bluegrass Backing Track Key of G

      5:51
    • 26. 80 BPM Bluegrass Backing Track Key of G

      6:20
    • 27. 90 BPM Bluegrass Backing Track Key of G

      6:42
    • 28. 100 BPM Bluegrass Backing Track Key of G

      6:59
    • 29. 110 BPM Bluegrass Backing Track Key of G

      6:21
    • 30. 120 BPM Bluegrass Backing Track Key of G

      5:49
    • 31. 130 BPM Bluegrass Backing Track Key of G

      6:51
    • 32. 140 BPM Bluegrass Backing Track Key of G

      6:21
    • 33. 150 BPM Bluegrass Backing Track Key of G

      6:35
    • 34. 160 BPM Bluegrass Backing Track Key of G

      6:10
    • 35. Thank you for taking this Bluegrass Improv Class

      0:56
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About This Class

Improvisation Bluegrass Theory works for Guitar Mandolin Fiddle etc

Bluegrass Improvisation - Bluegrass Theory - Bluegrass Improve you can use in your next Jam - Bluegrass Improvisation

Bluegrass Improvisation in the Key of G on any Instrument

  • This class is designed to help you improvise on any instrument in the Key of G.  We use bluegrass as a sample for the music and a mandolin for teaching, however you can apply this to many different musical genres (like Rock, Blues, Jazz, Etc) and whatever instrument you use. 

  • By the end of the class you should be able to play on the fly in the Key of G on any instrument such as guitar, banjo, mandolin, fiddle, dobro, bass, etc

  • Also you should be able to increase your speed by playing along with 14 backing tracks from 50 Bpm to 180 Bpm. 

Why take Bluegrass Improvisation from this guy?

  • I know how to teach. I have taught well over 50,000 students all across the US. 

  • After, performing and teaching all over the US, at workshops, out of my home and through multiple schools, I was asked by many of my students to make videos of my lessons.  So here is the result.

  • I hope you will join me on the inside of this bluegrass improvisation course where you will learn the basics of bluegrass improv.

Explanations in depth

  • All these videos are broken down to the smallest detail so everyone can understand all they need to know before moving on. 

Questions

  • Feel free to send me any questions you might have on this Bluegrass Improvisation class.  I want to make your learning experience the best that it can be.

Thank you

Thanks for taking the time to look at this class.  I look forward to seeing you on the inside and teaching you the beginner steps on how to become a better improvisation player.
Chuck M.

Improvisation Bluegrass Theory works for Guitar Mandolin Fiddle etc

Bluegrass Improvisation - Bluegrass Theory - Bluegrass Improve you can use in your next Jam - Bluegrass Improvisation

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Transcripts

1. Introduction Improvisation on any Instrument - Music Theory Course: I My name's Chuck, and what we're gonna be learning in this course is what makes up the key of G for bluegrass when playing out of 44 time, how to improvise and how to improvise out of G major gene, major pentatonic G minor pentatonic and how to practice all of these things that we learn in the course with easy to use backing tracks that are all calibrated to be slow too fast, um, and everywhere in between, so that you have an easy time practicing so you can practice your skills and learn how to be a pro and improvising in the key of G playing booth. 2. Introduction to the G Scale on any Instrument: Hi. My name's Chuck Millar. And what we're gonna be doing throughout this course is learning how to improvise in the key of G to bluegrass. That's in 44 times. We're gonna be discussing the key of G while playing bluegrass in 44 time. And I've written out some of these notes here. So what we're seeing is the staff. The staff has five lines this trouble clef here and one of the sharps in this video. We're assuming that we know a little bit about music theory. This isn't a music theory lesson, but we're gonna go over some basics of it to get a good idea or ah, basis on what we do and how we do. So we're starting out with these notes g A, B, C D e f sharp in jeans and I've written amount here G A B, C D E f sharp in jeans. What's important here is that our root note is G or the one when we have our base note in or root note in G, and we use the scale all the way up to another gene. We have the key, and Jean Major, we're gonna be discussing G major first and how to be able to utilize it with bluegrass in the key of G and 44 time and eventually we're gonna be using what we're learning with some backing tracks. The first step is knowing what these notes are. We start first, are out with G, which is a root note, and I'm gonna label it one. So it's the first note in the scale. The second note in the scale is an A followed by the third noting scam wishes to be and so on for 567 is f sharp and then g gets repeated. So now I'm just back toe one. I'm not gonna label that ate The first step in improvising is really not improvising at all . It's simply taking your instrument whether you're playing a mandolin and guitar a fiddle. Ah, banjo. What? Whatever it might be and simply playing this scale. And when we first played the scale to one of these backing tracks that you love listen to a little bit later, um, you're gonna play it straight up, So G A, B, C, D E f and G. Now, typically in some school districts, um, It's very common to go from G A B C D E F G and then start with G again and G f Sharp E d C v a G. Instead, it's, um, for this example. It's gonna be easier to hear melodic structures if we don't play the G again. So it'll go like this. G a B c D e f g f sharp e d c b A gene Now would be a good time to take out your instrument and play a simple G scale and playing it up and down the scale and every one of these backing tracks that we have are laid out pretty simple. We have, uh, starting it 50 beats per minute, so it's pretty slow. So easy toe catch on to and you can move it up by 10 beats per minute when you feel comfortable, too. And once you feel like you're moving along, uh, come back to the next part where we're gonna discuss by linear playing 3. Example: G Scale: All right, We're gonna play just the G scale. Um, and here's an example. Before you go off to the back on track to start practicing on your own, and this is at, um, 80 beats per minute, - Theo . 4. Bi linear playing: Okay, so now we're gonna discuss playing by linearly and what that means. I'm gonna write this out for us. Okay? So we have by linear playing and what this means is a line that's where by linear comes from is a straight line, and I'm gonna think about it going on Lee one way. So if I played my scale going door Amy fossil are Tito. I'm only playing it in one direction all the way through. And if I was playing it by itself in its scale up and sent down ago door Amy fossil rt doughty, lasso, Fahmy, rado and I'd be done or I could do it. Um, it is many times I wanted to, but violent here playing means that we're gonna discuss two different lines. So two lines and what this means when we spur start the improvisation process. That is not just the scale. We're going to go up the scale and it doesn't matter what court is being played. It doesn't matter, at least at this point where you are in the song because there's no melodic structure to the song. It's just a backing track. So you get to make up anything that you want to. So you got to make the choice of Were to change directions in the scale so you might go dot uh, so in this case, we change directions at B or the third note in the scale. And then we went backwards. Dahdouh. Right. So you can do that as many times as you want to. So in the case of changing directions, we don't have to do it at three or anyplace else. But we want to try to change directions as much as possible. Justin, for an exercise bagel to get used to changing directions in a scale so we might play something like this. Uh uh uh uh uh, and that is just simply changing the direction of which way you're playing as many times as you possibly can throw scale. You just want to start out simple change just one time and try to change two times and three times and so on. And so far, and when you're changing directions at this point, you're not changing up your rhythm of your notes at this point. So they're all just gonna be long. Uh, right when we're doing this, we're using Ah, slow backing track, maybe at 50 or 60 beats per minute, and then we're slowly working their way up from that. So give that a shot and then we're gonna work on Let's next. 5. Example: Changing Rhythm without playing Bi Linearly: Here's an example of us playing the G scale with are backing track at 80 beats per minute playing by linearly. Remember that was going up the scale, making a choice at any moment to change directions and go back down the scale. So here's your example way. 6. Mixing up your Rhythm while playing Bi Linearly: Theo. So as we use our scale and we're playing it, we want to make sure that we're using the backing tracks that's provided, and I'll make sure that I have an example of me playing everything that we talk about. So in this case, as we're using slow and fast notes and we're not going to try to think about them is like half notes or quarter notes or anything like that. We're just think about fast and slow notes because it makes it easy. It toe digest and makes it easy to practice along with. So I might play something like slow, fast, fast, slow, fast, fast, slow, slow, slow, slow, fast, fast, fast, fast, slow And again. That's only one example. OK, once we have the idea or were able to play a scale with a few different rhythmic things happening in the notes. So again the example would be slow. Quick, quick, quick, quick, slow, slow, slow Quick, quick, quick, quick, slow, slow, quick. Something like that. The next step from that is playing by linearly again two lines. So we're changing direction in her scale and using the idea of changing up the rhythm with our scale by linearly playing them. So now it might be something like this. Slow, slow. Quick, quick, slow, slow. Quick, quick, quick, quick, slow, slow. Quick, quick, quick, quick, slow, slow, Slow, Slow. Quick, quick, quick, quick, slow, Slow And again. That's just a for example. Try to make it up as many different ways you want. 7. Example: Changing Rhythm without playing Bi Linearly: Okay. This is our example of playing your G scale with backing tracks. My example. Is it 80 beats per minute and as changing the rhythms? And at this point, we're not playing by linearly at all. We're just going up and down the scale, changing the rhythms as we go, choosing a longer or shorter rhythm. 8. Example: Changing Rhythms and Bi Linear playing with backing track: in this example, I'm gonna be playing the G scale while changing my rhythms and changing my direction, Playing by linearly in my example. This example is at 80 beats per minute while playing one of our backing tracks way. 9. Understanding the Tonic, and Musical Phrases: now that we got done practicing, going up and down the scale plane by linearly changing upper rhythms within her scale to make it sound more melodic. The next thing is that we're gonna look at features of the scale and figure out why they're important. Uh, in some notes are more important than others. And the most important note that we have is our G note. We're gonna call this the one gene because we're in the key of G the beginning or the one is our first out of the scale and called, uh, tonic good old music theory in there for you. So the tonic just means it's the first note of the scale because we're in bluegrass. Sometimes we call it a route Newt. But when we're talking about music theory, a route is simply the, um, the one note of a chord. So whether it be a g, b d, uh, G would be the root there, But if it was a B d f sharp, the route a bdf sharp would be be. So the route in this case isn't always gonna be G. In this case is really actually the tonic or the one it was important about that is using scales and playing music and all kinds of music kind of works like this as we're playing along with cords and it gets there will be a little bit or complicated weaken, use different rules. But for the very beginning of these rules, we're gonna think that the one is king and it's always home base. So what I mean by that is for right now, uh, what we're focused on is that every musical phrase will end honor Gee, and will make this rule right now to that. When we start any musical phrase, it's going to start on a gene. It's not gonna always be that case, but just for right now just makes it kind of easy to use it as a exercise for a student play. So our musical phrase is something that has a definite start and a definite end. So it might be a new example of data at out and out of, uh, or data is very simple. It could be two notes. Uh uh, as long as it ended on a G data or could be very complicated. Dada, Dada, Dada it out. I don't did. Added out it down. Right? But as long as we ended on a G is the key there, take some time and go back to those backing tracks. Start real slow again and, like, 50 or 60 and move your way up where you're making some musical phrases. Starting at a G going away from the G, We're mixing up the rhythm so it might look like this Da da duh duh duh duh duh, Right. Starting energy ending energy. You're moving up and down the scale, playing by linearly and you're changing your rhythmic structure of your notes. 10. Fun with Intervals: intervals. So far, our rule that we've had is we've always had to have a connecting note. I wanted to go to the C note. I'd always have to go from G to A to B to C. I couldn't go from G two seed and have sharp to aid and G, and that was against the rules. Until now, Intervals could be kind of fun to play. And when we're playing some intervals, we're going to use, at least at this point Ah, and we're going to kind of break our rules as we go, we're going to use notes, the one the three of the five, and then going back to the one. So this is gonna look like an arpeggio or 135 arpeggio. So don't me, So me dough and I would have to use all of those. I could simply go Domi or 13 And after I go to the 13 I'm simply going to either go up the scale or go down the scale from that point, or I can go up the scale Uh huh. And then make the skip to five if I want to, Uh uh, And whenever I make thes skips. It's always going to be my jumping off point is either gonna be my one to the three. My jumping off point was gonna be the three to the five or three to the one or five to the one over here. At this point, we're just gonna leave the jumping off points away from a C E and F sharp and just think about the G B D tones. 11. Example: Arpeggio Intervals: Here's an example of me playing RG scale arpeggios or intervals and those on any instrument . This it just happens to be a mandolin is gonna be a Gino, a B note and denote or any others D g or be notes in there. I'm gonna play the G scale intervals Jean B and D to a backing track. That's 80 beats per minute, so you can see how it goes way. Now, I'm gonna use the same intervals that you just heard. But I'm gonna include the rest of the notes in the scale, including playing by linearly, breaking my notes up into different rhythms and playing it all along to the same backing track at 80 beats per minute way. 12. Scale Based Arpeggios: scale based arpeggios. Our scale. If I use my g A B C D he have sharp n g or my 12345671 It works like this under arpeggio that we use before 135 is dole me so me dough. And now we're using it a little differently. Scale based or video works like this. I'm gonna start with the one that I'm gonna play the two or in a than the three. So I got done playing the one that to the three. And now what's gonna happen is I'm gonna play the first note that I ended up playing. So it looks like this 1231 uh, or Dahdouh, that's what a skill based arpeggio is. So when I use the scale based arpeggio, I'm gonna play it all the way of the scale in all the way back down the scale so up the scale works like this. Uh, then my next note in the scale that I play would be the two, uh next to open skin would be the three. So it's not gonna be 345 back to the first note that I played in my scale based arpeggio Uh um and so on and so forth. Dad. Uh uh um sorry for the band singing Now if I play the scale backwards is gonna look like this. I played my first note in my scale, which is the highest note in the scale. G Dad, out, out, out, out, out. Right. So I have or door Amy False a lot. Edo is the dough of here. So I have dough and I go this no dahdouh. So the house looks like this 1761 So 1761 is 176 those three notes in a row thes three 176 followed by the first note that I played in the Siri's, right? So now it's just the same. The same thing I did before, but backwards. It's a bob. Uh, Dahdouh Dahdouh. Dad, I don't Uh huh. So that's our scale based arpeggios. And these air Pretty hard to do at the very beginning. So make sure that when we're using the backing tracks is gonna be real slow. Probably at that 50 at the beginning. Or if you feel confident you could do a little faster but always start slow. The key to play fast is always playing slow. First 13. Example: Scale Based Arpeggios: This is an example of RG scale, scale based arpeggios, and that's simply us going up the scale using three notes at the time we're starting with Jean than a thin be on then the first note that you play is also the last note that you play. So we started with the G were ending on G g a. Then we simply go up to the next note in the scale. Our first note was G. So our second notice a So the next note it's gonna be a being seen a moving along its being c d being C e c Sure, now we're just simply up to scale DJ if sure g back down the scale is very similar. It's just going down the scale. So we're at G, followed by a sharp e. The last note is the same as the first G thin F sharp e de Hampshire A key de see e d c B Dean seen be a scene be open A Excuse me, Any of any kind on this instrument See, being a scene being a G. Now I'm gonna play it with a backing track at 80 beats per minute and I'm gonna play it slow first. Then mix up the rhythms and directions playing by a linearly. My scale based arpeggios backwards way now when I play it up to speed going back and forth in my scale playing by many here and add ings and different rhythms along with it - Way , way, way, way. 14. Mixing it Up - Play Everything You've Learned: Okay. So as a recap in the next step of what we want to do is mix up everything. So what I mean by that is we've played our full scale. That was the first thing we did. I don't ended it in it. Then we played by linearly in two different directions in the scale, and we just changed directions at will. That's playing violin nearly. And number three, we changed up our rhythm. So after we changed up our rhythm, we started doing some other stuff, like using intervals in arpeggio attic intervals and number five. The last thing that we did was we used scale based arpeggios, right? So So after after we're doing this, we're not going to spend any time doing just one. Although you can practice that at home just to get good at it. But the next step in the process is going back and forth between the different parts. So am I right? My scale out. What I could do is I could start up playing my skill, Dahdouh, and then I complain by immediately a And then I could change it. My rhythm dad at, uh uh uh. And then I could change it. My arpeggios, the kind of doing a lot of different things right now. And then I could do my scale based arpeggios that at a so a mixture of all of them might sound like this. And I'm gonna point to which one I'm doing at the time. Uh huh. Down at, at, at, at at it. I don't Don't, uh the, uh in real time switching up the different things that we've learned and then makes it sound more interesting. So we're not just doing one at a time, but we're trying to mix them up in real time making decisions. It doesn't have to fall in this order. It just has to be a decision that you make that you want to do like, Well, I'm going to change it, my rhythm. And then I'm gonna do scale based arpeggios, and then I'm just gonna play a straight scale, and then I'm gonna make some my rhythm, and then I'm gonna dio intervals or interval of arpeggios again, start real slow, and we're gonna practice this. As always. I'm going to give a couple examples on an instrument so that you can see it in real time so that you get a good idea what you're supposed to practice with, Theo. Way 15. Example: Mix it up - Play Everything You've Learned: So now our next example is off us playing everything. So the scale by itself, using rhythmic differences within the scale, going back and forth within the scale, which is by linear playing, using arpeggios, using our scale based arpeggios and trying to mix it up as many different ways as possible is your example, Theo. 16. G Major Pentatonic - Getting rid of 2 and 6: the next step for us. After we learned how to play the G scale and all of its improvisational forms, we're gonna learn the next step, which is the G major pentatonic scale. And what that means is, out of the seven notes that we have, we're gonna be left with five of them Penta meaning five. So we got to get rid of some of these notes. There's two different ways to do it in a G major scale. The 1st 1 that we're gonna learn is going to eliminate the to and the six tone. So we're left with one the three, the five, the seven, and go back to the one Well, we're gonna want to be able to do is go back. And with everything that we've learned from playing the scale, all the weapon down playing by linearly, that means changing directions when you want to, in the scale changing up our rhythms. So playing notes that are fast and slow and super fast and super slow playing our arpeggio attic forms are Domi So me does and our scale based arpeggios of doubt. We'll just sound a little bit different with a couple of these notes that are missing. So what? We're playing our major pentatonic scale. We're just simply not playing these notes. 17. Example: G Major Pentatonic - Eliminating 2 and 6 with backing track: Here's an example of playing the G major pentatonic scale with eliminating the to see that it's no longer there or the six and see that it's no longer there. So we're gonna play Gino Ah, be note skipping the A the C note Denote way Skip the e so that there's an f sharp there. The last one is a Gene Theo example that were in play is again to an 80 beats per minute backing track in G Way. 18. G Major Pentatonic Scale - Getting rid of 4 and 7: when we're practicing their G major pentatonic scales to the backing track and specifically the one that we eliminate the fourth tone and the seventh tone. So we still get 12345 tones pentatonic. What we're gonna do is we're gonna use the same things we've already learned using our regular G major scale mainly playing the scale up and down, mixing up a rhythms, uh, then playing by linearly in the scale. And that's where we go up the scale, choose a point and go the opposite the scale. The next thing we're gonna do is we're gonna move the different directions in the scale and mix up a rhythm. So now we have playing the scale, playing by linearly mixing of the rhythms. The next step for us would be playing our arpeggio attic forms on RG major pentatonic scale . Or would be Dad. Uh so it's not a little different than what we did before, because we're skipping that fourth tone when you're playing with the backing tracks. We want to start at a really slow beats per minute, possibly 50 beats per minute or 60 beats per minute and work your way up from there. 19. Example: G Major Pentatonic - Eliminating 4 and 7 without backing track: I think he is an example of the G major pentatonic scale using 123 56 and one. In this case, here's your G note. And again, it doesn't matter what instrument you're playing. As long as the Gino happens to be a G on this mandolin right here, followed by a note a the B note. Here's a dean, uh, the e uh, and then the gene gonna play it up and down for you. 20. Example: G Major Pentatonic - Eliminating 4 and 7 with backing track: Here's an example of the major pentatonic scale using the 123561 eliminating the four on the seven. I'm gonna play it with the backing tracks at 80 beats per minute and work my way around the different things that we've learned so far, including playing the scale back and forth, the AARP idiotic forms, playing different rhythms by linear playing and so on. - Way , way, way. 21. G Minor Pentatonic Scale: now for the G minor pentatonic scale. These backing tracks that we have for you are designed with the cords not to have the three present in the court structure. So it allows us to play either the G minor pentatonic scale over the song or the backing track to make it sound bluesy or the major scale to make it sound more regular, like a melodic G major scale. Org. A major pentatonic scale. One of the two right. In this case, we still have to make it a pentatonic scale. And what we're going to do is we're going to eliminate the two tone for a minor pentatonic scale, and this is pretty typical toe have one of them, although there's Hungarian minor, all sorts of different types of minor in jazz versions of scales. But in this case, the standard G minor pentatonic scale is what we're going for. So we're going to get rid of the two, and we're going to get rid of the six to make it minor. Uh, we're going to flatten the B note. One scaled very well, just means 1/2 step in case of a mandolin. It's one. Fret down and that will turn into a B flat instead of a B. And the same thing that's gonna happen with this seven tone the seventies f sharp. There's the rest of the sharp. We're just going to make it instead of sharp is just gonna be unnatural. F Every note has its own sharp, natural and flat. So if it waas sharp, we're just moving it down. One to a natural. And we don't necessarily have to mark all of these notes with all these little funky, be natural signs, because when they're buying themselves, they're always assumed to be natural. 22. Example G Minor Pentatonic Scale: years are example of our G minor pentatonic scale for starting out with a G B flat, a C D and financial angina. So I'll be showing you an example that has me playing along with an 80 beats per minute backing track way . 23. 50 BPM Bluegrass Backing Tracks Key of G: - way . 24. 60 BPM Bluegrass Backing Track Key of G: - to . 25. 70 BPM Bluegrass Backing Track Key of G: - Okay , way, - way . 26. 80 BPM Bluegrass Backing Track Key of G: - way , way, way. 27. 90 BPM Bluegrass Backing Track Key of G: way, way, way, way, way, way, way. 28. 100 BPM Bluegrass Backing Track Key of G: - way , way, way, - way , way, way. 29. 110 BPM Bluegrass Backing Track Key of G: way, way, way. 30. 120 BPM Bluegrass Backing Track Key of G: - way . 31. 130 BPM Bluegrass Backing Track Key of G: - way . 32. 140 BPM Bluegrass Backing Track Key of G: - way , - way , - way , way. 33. 150 BPM Bluegrass Backing Track Key of G: - way , - way . 34. 160 BPM Bluegrass Backing Track Key of G: way, way.