Zone Recording: Experience On The Road

"Changes" are what the 'jazzers' call chord changes. so playing the changes refers to navigating through chord changes. "Changes" can vary in levels of complexity. It can be a two chord vamp like Santana's, "Black Magic Woman", or more difficult like John Coltrane's "Giant Steps", or any composition by Allan Holdsworth, etc.

"Chord changes" refers to when you switch from one chord to another chord (although "the changes" oftens refers to a tonality switch as well). Usually when you hear the term "changes" it's referring to jazz or fusion music, since these styles often have more (and often more complex) chords than much of metal and rock.

As stated above, "changes" generally relates to a tonality change. For example, going from A minor to D minor is changing chords but you can continue to play the same scale over both chords because they are in the same tonality (in several actually: F major [A minor is Phrygian, D minor is Aeolian], or C major [A minor is Aeolian, D minor is Dorian], or A minor pentatonic). A lot depends on the context of the song, for example style, tempo, mood, knowledge level, the effect you're going for, your tastes, other chords, melody notes, etc.

A large part of playing changes is finding commonalities, common notes and common keys.

It's usually a good idea to take a look at (and do a little analyzing) of changes before jumping in, just to make sure there are no surprises; it sucks to shut your eyes and just "go for it" and then run into something unpleasant along the way - B7#11b13#9, for example.

I mean you should always just "go for it" when you are actually playing music, but right now we are studying and practicing; this is where we want to analyze, so we don't have to later. When we are playing music we can stop thinking, but we'll have a little road map and be aware of what is coming, so we can think and hear ahead.

There is a famous musical quote that "any note sounds good over any chord as long as it resolves well." I'm not sure who said it.

When I first started studying playing over changes, I used to try to play over every chord and treat it as it's own tonality center, after hearing and playing with some heavy musicians I admired, I found they were thinking ahead about the whole progression not just 'chord by chord'. This made it much easier to develop long flowing very musicial ideas, not just little 'blurbs' (yes guitarists, it helps you play a lot more notes too - so now are you interested!) Don't get me wrong, they are playing over every chord, but they are thinking of the whole progeression, not just each chord.

Take this progression as an example.

|| Eadd9/G# G/A | G/A | Aadd9/C# C/D | C/D ||

(If you're not familiar with these chord symbols, it's chord/bass note, so that first chord is E major triad add the 9th over G# as a bass note. Honestly I think this is the best, clearest and easiest way to write this chord and you'll know just what the chord means, but technically since G# is in the bass that is the root of the chord, you could call it G#-7b6 (no 5), G#-7b13 or Bsus/G# [see chord chart at bottom of this page]).

When I first saw these chords, I wanted to build chord scales off the root, since that is the bass of the chord, however it is more difficult to think of G#-7b6 than Eadd9/G#, the first chord can have many variations of a minor type chord, wheras the E chord, is a major of some sort, which narrows down your choice to major or domanant. So the first approach is to look at the notes in a chord and figure out how best to think about it for you. Then we need to look at all the chords togther as a whole.

So to approach this, rather than playing E major over the E add 9/G# | A Mixolydian or Aeolian over the G/A, A major over the A/C# and D Mixolydian or Aeolian over the C/D which may look right at first and may work but it also may cause some disconnect,
if we spend a minute to look for commonalities, we can see that:

Eadd9/G# = E F# G# B
G/A = G A B D
Aadd9/C# = A B C# E
C/D = C D E G

Eadd9/G#     G/A    Aadd9/C#         C/D 

Now if we fill in these chord tones with some scalar guesses:


If we take some of the most common chord tones above and build a scale or scales and common notes out of it, we can see that, except for one note in the first chord, we can play G major over this whole progression - G A B C(#) D E F# G - or even - E G A B D = E minor pentatonic. Now this opens the field.

For example, we can play G major (careful on the second chord with the G#, although it works as melodic minor), or E minor pentatonic/blues scale/licks.

This first chord is also a great choice for the 5th position of A melodic minor - A B C D E F# G# A - a great jazz scale, learn it, use it!)

OK, granted this seems like a lot of work just to play guitar! This is why you do your homework and practice this stuff ahead of time, so when you 'just want to play', you don't have to think, you can play whatever you want.

I took the progression used in this lesson from a song off my debut album "Dajinosaurus" entitled "ILD" - it seemed like a good example for this lesson. You can hear some ideas I like to explore for the progression in the included excerpt. You can hear it here.

This just scratches the surface and discusses notes, We didn't talk about other important aspects, such as timing and chord duration. Obviously the chord you hear longer will seem more important than a passing chord, which is important to keep in mind when you are looking at a progression.

Here's some examples and audio for you to work with:

Solo over an "ILD" backing track.

Try scales over chords (no time).

An example of the above to get you started. Here's another one.We, Martone which consists of Daniel Adair, David Spidel and I, have just completed a very successful tour in support of Joe Satriani's Wormhole tour.


In the last installment of Zone recording I let you in on all the issues that had presented themselves, and how things were still up in the air in certain regards.


Well, you will be happy to know we hit it out of the park on these four dates.

* January 4, 2011 Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium Edmonton, AB CA
* January 5, 2011 Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium Calgary, AB CA
* January 6, 2011 Kelowna Community Theatre Kelowna, BC CA
* January 7, 2011 Queen Elizabeth Theatre Vancouver, BC CA

I have made a video installment which you can view below of our experience.

First off, let me say that everyone on Joe's crew was absolutely awesome to work with, from FOH engineer and production manager Russ Giroux, to the tour manager Galen Henson...


to Glade my guitar tech, and Jim on monitors, which were all in ear by the way, to the mighty Mick Brigden and amazing Joe Satriani himself, along with his whole awesome band!


Let me show you a daily breakdown sheet from production on a normal day's events...


As you can see our sound check was always in the late afternoon. We would have our gear off stage left, such as so...


Then a whole wack of stage hands would wisk it all out onto the stage for us. Nice.

We were all running in-ear monitors as well as floor wedges. We were using some tracks to help fill out the sound, so our ears had click running on all songs, which at first might seem weird, but its actually awesome. I did practice for about a month with in-ears to get used to the sound. At first it was very uninspiring, but I got used to it. That is why I had the wedges in front of me, not too loud, but just right to get the much needed sweet spot of feedback.

My pedal board! And notice the glow in the dark tape around all the switches! I learned that from the master...


...and my rig, which was run wireless. Huge thanks to Mark Storm at EV, he was just awesome and EV makes the best shit out there!


Here is a shot of the type of theaters we were playing in...



Yes, that is me, checking out how far I could run around during sound check with my wireless system!


Now some road shots... rememeber we were travelling through Canada right...


Highway was just pure ice!


Our tour bus!



Daniel enjoying the drive! In 10 feet of snow! With tractor trailors jack knifed all over the road! YIKES!

And I just love this next picture... just because...


A stage shot...


After our last show with Joe in Vancouver, he spent some time with my family and friends, I even had two great buds fly up from Los Angles! Mike and Neal! That's my bro on the left, Mike, Neal, Joe, my father and me.


I have to say this was one of the coolest things I have done in my life yet.

Glad I was able to give you a glimpse into this tour and some behind-the-scenes experiences.

May the tone be with you.

David Martone is a guitarist from Vancouver, Canada who has released three solo CDs which showcase his musical diversity and brilliant guitarmanship.

His latest CD is entitled "When The Aliens Come", which features a progressive sound incorporating jazz, rock, fusion and metal influences.

David Martone

Send comments or questions to: