hey all,
    what patterns do you guys practice regularly and feel are essential to learn for their usefullness?

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diminished patterns sound cool and all the great players use them.
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that is too hard to answer in words. there are many great patterns that i like to occasionaly practice and employ.
right now, i am same as scot i compose and practice some diminished patterns and thats it.  if i was not into the whole diminished thing right now i would not be practicing patterns at all.
a pattern is what a cool riff is based off.

there is a large (if not infinite) number of variations on any given pattern/riff.

begin with composing patterns with primarily stepwise motion (swing).

then move up to patterns accentuating moving by 3rds (bebop).

and finally move to constructing melodic patterns by 4ths and 5ths using the various modes (modal).

once you have worked through the above in 12 keys, progress to patterns using chromatic passing tones between chord tones.

they can go up or down.

and it's a lot more fun if you have a real chord progression to jam on top of.

or band-in-a-box ..
well said!
i think scales and arpeggios are the essential patterns.
scales move in stepwise motion (2nds) like a large portion of melodies do.
arpeggios move in skips (3rds) and tend to melodicly outline what we call chords.
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