To express ourselves freely we need to be able to instantly translate what our inner ear is hearing to the fretboard. This consist of a few steps:
- Inner-hear something
- Translate what you’re hearing in 1) to intervals in the current harmonic context
- Express the idea that you decoded in 2) on the fretboard
The exercises I’m looking for are exercises that support the activity in the third step.
Here are two I like, in order of difficulty:
Over a chord progression, pick a starting chord tone and play either up or down the arpeggio. When the chord changes, transition to the closest chord tone, in the same direction, in the new chord. Stick to one position on the neck and when you reach the top/bottom string just change directions.
The same exercise, but play through all the notes in the scale. E.g. on a 251 progression you’d start in the dorian scale for four notes, then play the mixolydian scale for four notes and finally the ionian for 8 notes. If you’re practicing all diatonic scales, like in the example I gave here, you might want to switch positions or keys frequently or your brain is likely to recognize the underlying pattern and learning will be less efficient. You could also change the V chord to an altered dominant chord, and use the altered scale, or insert a V of V chord to get away from only having diatonic scales.
What are some of your favorite fretboard visualization exercises?