Exhaust Your Options! (Guitar Lesson)

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Michael Palmisano

Exhaust Your Options!

The notes that fit in a specific key, scale, or chord are a small, if significant part of any riff or lick. How are those notes being played? In this lesson, Michael does his best to exhaust all the options that you have when playing those notes.

Taught by Michael Palmisano in Finding Your Voice: Improvisation seriesLength: 11:46Difficulty: 2.5 of 5


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Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.


Dean.JDean.J replied

I love this idea - how much expression and variation can you get out of a very limited pattern and very limited number of notes. This is fundamentally an exercise in musicianship! In addition to the five tools or options that Michael mentions in this lesson, here are some more. I am interested in getting more ideas from other users: -Dynamic variation (e.g. loud vs. soft) -Portamento (e.g. sliding a semi-tone up to or down to the destination note) -hammer-ons and pull offs -Palm mute, or left-hand partial mute of chord -tonal change (bridge vs. neck pickup, picking near bridge vs. neck, tone switch on amp, overdrive switch/pedal, etc.) -staccato vs. legato and/or sustained notes -creating vibrato on sustained notes using the left hand

Dean.JDean.J replied

My own list, numbered because this app removes all formatting: 6.) Dynamic variation (e.g. loud vs. soft) 7.) Portamento (e.g. sliding a semi-tone up to or down to the destination note) 8.) hammer-ons and pull offs -Palm mute, or left-hand partial mute of chord 9.) tonal change (bridge vs. neck pickup, picking near bridge vs. neck, tone switch on amp, overdrive switch/pedal, etc.) 10.) staccato vs. legato and/or sustained notes 11.) creating vibrato on sustained notes using the left hand

Dean.JDean.J replied

For the sake of this list, Michael's tools or options were: 1.) Tremolo picking 2.) Bending and sliding 3.) Double stops 4.) Pieces of chords 5.) Leave space (silence)

HighLonesomeHighLonesome replied

Mike's lessons in the series are some of the best I've seen for those learning to improvise, as well as good instruction and reminders for intermediate players like me.

Finding Your Voice: Improvisation

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Join GIT graduate and professional guitar player, Michael Palmisano as he explores his personal approach to improvising on guitar. Relying heavily on his loop pedal, Michael walks through the theory and mindset that goes into playing over chord progressions and crafting beautiful melodies and solos. This is a very hands on course! If you have a loop pedal, a recording device, or a friend to play with, that would really help make the most of it.



Series IntroductionLesson 1

Series Introduction

Michael kicks off his course and explains what to expect from the course, as well as who this course is designed for.

Length: 3:23 Difficulty: 0.0 FREE
Why Is Improvising So Challenging?Lesson 2

Why Is Improvising So Challenging?

In this lesson, Michael is going to start de-mystifying improvisation. After walking through the plan for the series, he demonstrates how to outline chord movement with your melodies.

Length: 6:59 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Everything Exists In ContextLesson 3

Everything Exists In Context

Whether you are a solo guitarist, playing with a band, loops or a JamTrack, every melody exists in a context of harmony and rhythm. In this lesson, Michael examines what context is on a fundamental level....

Length: 9:08 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
What Chords Are In A Key?Lesson 4

What Chords Are In A Key?

Understanding what chords fit with in a key is a crucial element to crafting new melodies and harmonies while improvising. Join Michael as he breaks down the formula for chord structure in every key....

Length: 6:25 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
The Triad SkeletonLesson 5

The Triad Skeleton

It's all about context! Chords are the harmony context we are constantly playing in as we improvise. In this lesson, Michael breaks down the structure of what makes a major or minor triad.

Length: 8:05 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
 CAGED System OverviewLesson 6

CAGED System Overview

Chances are, if you've held a guitar for any length of time, you've heard of the CAGED system. This system is an extremely handy tool for any improviser. Join Michael as he explains the system and how...

Length: 14:14 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Your First Scale: The Major PentatonicLesson 7

Your First Scale: The Major Pentatonic

The Pentatonic scale is crucial to improvising in just about every genre of modern western music. In this lesson, explore this scale and get a leg up into using it in your own improvising.

Length: 9:09 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Your First Improvisation: Major Chord VampLesson 8

Your First Improvisation: Major Chord Vamp

It's time to start playing some music! Building off of what we've learned so far, we are going to vamp over a single major chord vamp.

Length: 7:52 Difficulty: 0.0 Members Only
The Minor Pentatonic ScaleLesson 9

The Minor Pentatonic Scale

In this lesson we're going to look at the two most common positions used to execute the Minor Pentatonic Scale.

Length: 3:34 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Improvisation #2: Minor Chord VampLesson 10

Improvisation #2: Minor Chord Vamp

We're going to take the Minor Pentatonic theory we shoved into your brain in the last lesson and start making some music with it!

Length: 5:46 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Exhaust Your Options!Lesson 11

Exhaust Your Options!

The notes that fit in a specific key, scale, or chord are a small, if significant part of any riff or lick. How are those notes being played? In this lesson, Michael does his best to exhaust all the...

Length: 11:46 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Emphasizing Chord ToneLesson 12

Emphasizing Chord Tone

Tired of playing around with one chord vamps? It's time to add in some more chords and work on our first progression!

Length: 9:40 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Multiple Chords = Multiple OptionsLesson 13

Multiple Chords = Multiple Options

In this lesson, Michael continues to expand our horizons by addressing various approaches to creating new melodies over chord progressions.

Length: 7:51 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Playing Over Chord Progressions: Key Centered ApproachLesson 14

Playing Over Chord Progressions: Key Centered Approach

This is the most common approach to improvising and works best for pentatonic and full major scales in diatonic progressions. Join Michael as he demonstrates this popular approach.

Length: 6:16 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Playing Over Chord Progressions: Chord Scale ApproachLesson 15

Playing Over Chord Progressions: Chord Scale Approach

Switching pentatonic scales to match the corresponding chord change gives you the chord tones from the chord, embellishments, and - put together - the full 7 note scale of the key. Join Michael as he...

Length: 8:10 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
The Full 7 Note Major ScaleLesson 16

The Full 7 Note Major Scale

Now that we’ve combined our pentatonics, it's time to put them together and review our full major scale.

Length: 8:51 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Chord Tone Approach - Major KeysLesson 17

Chord Tone Approach - Major Keys

Now that we've learned what it means to put together the key center and scale approaches to playing over chord progressions, we're going to start putting it into practice over with a major scale tonality.

Length: 7:43 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
The Full 7-Note Minor ScaleLesson 18

The Full 7-Note Minor Scale

What about minor keys? What does that mean exactly? Is this a mode? Michael will answer all those questions in this lesson, without getting too crazy with theory.

Length: 7:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Chord Tone Approach - Minor KeysLesson 19

Chord Tone Approach - Minor Keys

This lesson focuses on the chord tones of the passing chords, but not necessarily switching scales for each chord. It’s a great compromise, and it’s where most players ultimately end up finding their...

Length: 6:16 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Playing Over Quick Chord ChangesLesson 20

Playing Over Quick Chord Changes

Quick-changing tunes lend themselves to a more percussive key-centered approach, where slow tunes provide more opportunity for playing the changes. Join Michael as he discusses and demonstrates varied...

Length: 4:53 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
The Art of Chord PairingLesson 21

The Art of Chord Pairing

The chords that come before and after have something to say about the current chord! As Michael demonstrates in today's lesson, you can choose to say as much or as little as your want about them.

Length: 6:53 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Do I Have Your Attention?Lesson 22

Do I Have Your Attention?

Writing and improvising melodies is just like telling a story. Join Michael as he explores his approach to capturing and maintaining the listener's attention with peaks and valleys.

Length: 6:40 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
High vs Low PitchLesson 23

High vs Low Pitch

Saying what you want to say in different registers has a different effect, and is something you should strive to utilize.

Length: 5:28 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Slow vs. FastLesson 24

Slow vs. Fast

Varying your tempo and picking attack speed can be a great way to add drama to your improvisation, and really gets people's attention!

Length: 5:01 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Intensity - More vs Less NotesLesson 25

Intensity - More vs Less Notes

More can be less, but it can also be more... at the right time. A constant fluctuation of intensity is a super effective technique - especially for extra long jams.

Length: 5:36 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Volume - Soft vs LoudLesson 26

Volume - Soft vs Loud

You can start soft and finish screaming... Or the opposite. Or go back and forth! Take a look at this option for a more varied, interesting sound.

Length: 5:45 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Melodic vs. HarmonicLesson 27

Melodic vs. Harmonic

Often an overlooked tool amongst guitarists, but commonplace in the improv community is the interplay between the song’s melody variations and lick-based improvisation.

Length: 8:32 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Telling Your StoryLesson 28

Telling Your Story

Every tune has a story - even the ones without lyrics. Your goal as an improviser is to tell YOUR version of the song’s story.

Length: 3:10 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Song Analysis: Nobody Knows YouLesson 29

Song Analysis: Nobody Knows You

You like what you like... But WHY? What makes one artist resonate more than others? If you spend time finding out how your favorites tell their story, it will help you become a better storyteller of...

Length: 7:29 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Series ConclusionLesson 30

Series Conclusion

We've come a long way in this series! Join Michael as he wraps up the series and gives some closing advice for what's next.

Length: 1:41 Difficulty: 0.0 Members Only
Michael Palmisano

About Michael Palmisano View Full Biography

Award Winning GIT Grad, Founder of PRS Sponsored Guitargate.com, 70k+ students worldwide, and Lead Guitarist in What's Next - Voted 5x "Best Band" in Baltimore, MD. I have been playing guitar since I was 5, and gigging and teaching professionally for the last 15+ years. I genuinely love to teach, and my goal is to help people learn the "why" behind the notes, bridge the gap between rhythm and lead guitar, and ultimately use these tools to improvise and get the stuff in your head out! On a side note, it's truly incredible that the internet has allowed us to connect from all over the world. I believe in online education, and I strive to be as helpful as possible. If I can help you in any way, please don't hesitate to email me with a question or a video for feedback - I respond to each and every message. We're in this together!

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