If you are
somewhat familiar with musical improvisation the INTERMEDIATE
link may be an appropriate beginning.
describes very basic essentials for beginning improvisation:
'left' contains the core of the information used by this system
for improvisation. The colored diagrams repeat themselves through
octaves down the page, like the notes on a guitar neck do at
every twelfth fret..
of these instructions is simply to demonstrate how to connect the
colored diagrams together. (which color to follow another with,
etc.) Once you've grasped the simple idea, you may be inclined to
think that it's too simple to be worthwhile, however, the system
is organized in a way that it does a lot of thinking for you. If
you can become familiar enough with the system to give it a fair
try, you'll get the idea.
TREAT THE NUMBERS AS DOTS
that indicate where to put your fingers. Distinguishing colored
diagrams (each containing 6 notes) is all that's necessary to
improvise with this system.
FINGERS TO USE:
Try to use your left pinky to hold down two (and only 2) of the
highest pitched strings & always use your index finger to fret
the lowest notes. . . Except for while using the INDIGO (darker
bluish) colored diagram who's two highest notes are not in the
same fret. This fingering is recommended because it leaves your
other fingers in position for an optional 7 additional notes (one
for each diagram) that are described in the "Additional
area. (see "suspended" harmony chart)
There are 7 colored diagrams used by this system, chosen for their
harmonic range and convenient shapes for fingering. The 2 columns
at the left indicate the order that the diagrams can be played in;
One step at a time, up or down, where a chord is always followed
by another chord comprised of notes from the colored diagram that
follows. One column is for going up and the other's for going
down. Further explained below.
IN THE NUMBERS?
The numbers are for Guitar Theorists to associate these diagrams
with their own knowledge of music. See
THEORY in the main menu.
A CHORD FROM THE DIAGRAMS:
To begin, with your left hand, hold down all 6 notes of any
With your right hand fingers, play 4 or 5 notes, either
simultaneously or in sequence. (most jazz chords have 4 notes)
TO CONNECT THE DIAGRAMS:
Melodies simply go up and down in pitch so pick any note that
stands out in the chord (to your perception) and decide whether
you would like to follow it with a higher or lower pitched note.
(going up in pitch usually creates what's referred to as tension,
like a question that needs an answer... going down in pitch
tends to resolve the question) If you decide you want to go
DOWN in pitch, find the colored diagram you've chosen in the RIGHT
column and then play the colored diagram that is just ABOVE the
one you are on, moving your left hand up toward the head of the
guitar. Again, use right hand fingers to play 4 or 5 notes.
Then you may
continue to go down in pitch to the next diagram in the same way,
To go UP in
pitch, in the same fashion, only using the column on the LEFT,
find the next diagram down (toward guitar body) from the colored
diagram you are on and again play 4 or 5 notes simultaneously or
(At first, try
simple right hand patterns using adjacent strings because you'll
have enough to think about familiarizing yourself with the left
hand options. With familiarity, many right hand options will then
occur more or less automatically as the ear becomes involved).
Using your ear
as much as possible, continue going up and down. (For instance: up
down up up down down down up up down down down down down up down
up down down).
Even experienced guitarists stretch themselves into new areas that
require some finger gymnastics. The good news is that through
magic of continued effort, in a short time, a taste for
improvement develops and more always seems to be better. Make sure
your guitar action is great. It's worth it.
Develop favorite areas. You will see that you will be able to
manipulate the options so your favorite areas or patterns keep
coming up. Develop a comfort level through all left hand options
shown. Compose progressions. Tonality is established by the
progression of the chords. (the relationship between chords in a
From options described above the goal would be to play chords from
different colored diagram every beat or two with participation
from the ear.
Two IMPORTANT things to practice and memorize well:
1. Practice playing using left hand alternating direction
changes> down up down up down up down up etc.
2. Practice playing the left and right columns all the way up and
down the fret board. (in their appropriate direction, of course)
* Right hand and rhythm techniques are not addressed here, there
are suggested finger-picking patterns in the
the ear participates and a feeling for what to expect from chord
satisfied with your own fluidity of movement through Columns on
the left, for structure, create 3 & 4 chord sequences and
follow with other 3 and 4 chord sequences that start from the 2nd,
and then the 3rd and then the 4th diagrams of your original
As a review,
for clarification, and for more information, and especially if you
have found the preceding fairly easy to understand, please look
over the additional material presented under "INTERMEDIATE
the main menu. After a developmental phase of learning the
ascending and descending columns, suggestions for additional
directions for variation are offered in the
in the main menu. Among some other items, there's another 2 column
image that describes how to stay harmonically correct through
longer leaps across the fret board.