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--- Mar 24 1999 Go to category
Subject: notes on the fretboard
Category: Improvisation/Soloing
From: joe  Fuentes (us)

Hi Pat. (I hope you don't mind me calling you Pat, is just that I have been listening to your music and studing your playing for so long now that I feel I know you... though I don't) Anyway, my Q is on the technical side: when you play and when you are soloing, are you consious of each note you play? When I play, I find myself playing phrases and going from one place to another and often forget even what key I am in. Do you know where every note on the fretboard is while you are playing? i.e. if you are on the 8th fret do you know automatically where an F# is or a Bb, etc...?

Pat’s Answer:

to me, it is sort of like this.

when you typed in that question, did you know every word you were writing and what it means? well, of course you did. not only did you know the meaning, but you have a personal history with each word in there - you have used all of them dozens, probably hundreds, maybe thousands of times before. but as you typed, i'm sure you never even thought about them as "words" - they were just tools for you to contain your verbal ideas in order to transfer the meaning of your idea to me.

knowing the notes on the instrument is somewhat related to this analogy - although it is probably better compared to an analogy of the individual notes being compared to the letters of the alphabet. you HAVE TO know the letters in the alphabet, deeply, intimately, unconciously - before you can form words, then sentences, paragraphs,etc.

yes, it is possible that you may be able to speak a few words, maybe even effectively, without knowing the details of a language - but to be really fluent, to be free within the language to let your mind wander to the place where invention and imagination live - you have to know the details. same with music.

so, yep, you've got to know where all the notes are on the neck!!!!