A Days Music

Pic of the day:  Pierrot with a guitar by Honore Daumier

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If music be the food of love, play on;
Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.
That strain again! it had a dying fall:
O, it came o’er my ear like the sweet sound
That breathes upon a bank of violets,
Stealing and giving odour.

William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, Act i, scene i

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I hadn’t picked up the instrument in earnest in quite a while.  Oh, I had played a bit here, a few minutes here and a few minutes there, but nothing serious.  I had not had an even mild journey of musical creation in what seemed like forever, and in actuality was probably months.  Months in which I had simply played music that I had played before, music that was already under my fingers, music that was ready and easy.  Nothing to think about, something where the music is automatic.

Automatic but lifeless.

After even a short excursion into a more creative phase even the most banal and plain of pieces of music seem to flow better, seem to feel stronger, brighter, jump more readily wherever I want them to.  I found the time to actually get to that place today, after simply not having the time to for quite a while.

Felt good.

Sometimes that creative spark can come from the smallest of places.  Today it was a simple 6 note pattern that I had never played before playing a piece of mine that I had played a thousand times before.  A simple arpeggio sequence with altered cadence, and maybe a note or two added for effect.  Added to it first by alerting the altered cadence further and then adding additional arpeggios to it.

It was a joy.

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For some reason, probably one of ease, I tend to begin all my playing in the key of C major.  It falls easiest under my fingers.  C major was the first scale that I learned, way back in the early autumn of 1983, when I was beginning to learn the rudiments of the instrument in Curtis High School.  I think the first song I tried to play was the M*A*S*H* theme.

I’m not 100% sure I could play it right now, but it wouldn’t take too long.  “Suicide is painless” the title of the song, is a pretty easy song.

When I picked up the guitar today, I immediately reached for the G Maj to C Maj 9th combo and added a D min to G sus2 combo to it.  Lots of open strings and banjo picking early.  Nothing but fun there.  It’s not an old song of mine, but a variation on a theme that I have been playing for years, one that I add to, take away from, and generally play around with.  It is light years from where it started, but it’s where it needs to be now.

It has this counterpoint piece that is fluid and beautiful and unlike anything that I had ever written before.  It is utterly simple, shapes more than chords.  Tenths, both major and minor with an ascending bassline and an alternating harmony on top of it.  Sounds almost classical, but I am not good enough to quite pull off an actual classical sound.  So I guess almost will have to do.

Someday.

Until then I will make do stringing together music cobbled together from what bits of musical knowledge that dance in my head, and probably in the key of C.

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When I jumped out of C major, it was straight to B flat.  Blues stuff.  That stuff I don’t ever have to think about.  I look at the guitar, put my hand down, and it comes out.  Sometimes it’s ragged sounding, sometimes hostile, sometimes joyous, but there’s always something strong going on there.

Just started by comping on that Bb 7th, and find those blue notes, picked the notes that are there, slid my hands gracefully across the fretboard.  Gently, quickly, nimbly dancing on just a few frets, but dancing fast.  Double stops mixed in with chords and single note lines, more or less at random.  There is a structure to it, a loose and subtle one, but it’s there.  Then there is a subtle slide from that Bb 7th to an Eb 9th, and I start to slide in earnest.

Here is where I start to just run my hand up the fretboard, like I’m Robert Johnson using an old coricidin bottle or switch blade, using my middle finger like a slide, barely paying attention to where it’s going and paying more attention to the sound.  I’ll know when to stop sliding when I get there, no need to think.  Just do it.

When I get down to the first fret for the few seconds that I’ll be there I make a point to push the boundaries just a bit, purposefully play notes too high, play a D where a C would be the right one, hit an open note, then slide back up to the Bb 7th.

12 bar blues, my way, the only way to go.

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That’s it from me, America.  G’night.

Lesson 15 – 12 Notes: A Lesson In Musicality

This was originally posted on ”12 notes”, a page on this website dedicated to guitar music and lessons.  So, for the more musically inclined, here is my fifteenth guitar lesson to you:   A short lesson in musicality.  If you run into any problems, drop me a line and let me know, and thanks for reading! 

Enjoy!

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Lesson 15:  A short lesson in musicality.       

      Bb7                                 Eb7

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -6 – – – – – – -8 – – – 6- – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – 6- – – – – -8 – -6 – – – – – -6 – – – – – -6 – – – 6- – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – -7 – – – – – -7 – -7 – – – – – 6- – – – – – -6 – – – 6- – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – -6 – – – – – 6 – – 6- – – – – – 5- – – – – – -5 – – – -5 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 6- – – -0 -6 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
-6 – – – 0- 6- – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Now, these chords, played this way, these dominant Bb and Eb chords, are pretty easy to pick out as part of a basic blues progression. And since the first chord is Bb, the key is Bb.   You can plant just about any pentatonic riff over this chord progression and it sounds just fine, despite the fact that, if you get technical, doesn’t exactly fit the pentatonic scale.  Several notes here in these chords do not fit the Bb Pentatonic scale.  But then again, that is kind of the key to the blues.  Blue notes, notes outside the key you are playing in, making those notes fit, and sound good. 

Here is a riff that I often play over that simple progression. (bend and hold  for an additional beat the notes that are in boldface)

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – 8– 6- – – – 6– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – 6- – 8– 6- 8- – 7– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – 6- – – – – – 8- – 6– -8 -8 – 8- 8- 8- – – – 6 – 8- – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
-6 -7 -8 – – – – – – – – – – – – – -8 -11- 8- 7- 6- – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 6- – – – – – – – – – – – – – 4- -6- – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Now part of the reason I think this riff fits (you may not) is because it fits into what my mind tells me is pleasant sounding music.  To me, because of years of listening to blues and blues based music, from, blues rock to metal, the blending of the notes together of the Bb pentatonic scale and the Bb and Eb dominant chords fits.  There are notes that may not technically fit, but they sound right.

Music, and musicality is highly subjective like that.  You can play all the notes you want, in whatever way you want, and so long as it sounds good to you, it is good music, seeing how good is also as highly subjective a concept as musicality is. 

The proof of that is that you could take that riff, place it in a different key, and it will still fit, and sound just fine.  Trust me, try it out.  Play the chords below, and play the riff on top of that riff, and tell me what you think.

  AbMaj              C Maj            F min

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – 8– 6- – – – 6– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – 6- – 8– 6- 8- – 7– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – 6- – – – – – 8- – 6– -8 -8 – 8- 8- 8- – – – 6 – 8- – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 
-6 -7 -8 – – – – – – – – – – – – – -8 -11- 8- 7- 6- – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 6- – – – – – – – – – – – – – 4- -6- – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Music doesn’t need to fit precisely in the key the song is played in, as long as enough notes fit the fare, you can take some notes, have them exist well outside of the normal plane of the scale and key and it will sound just fine.  Scales are important to music, to the development of the character of the music all musicians try to create, but it is not the be all, end all most important thing in music. 

Creativity is just as important as theory, use it.

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That’s it for this week.  Thanks for reading!

N.B.:  I was really reaching when I wrote this one, but I wrote it anyway. Hope it doesn’t suck too much.

Lesson 14 – 12 Notes: Phrygian Mode Basics

This was originally posted on ”12 notes”, a page on this website dedicated to guitar music and lessons.  So, for the more musically inclined, here is my fourteenth guitar lesson to you:   Phrygian mode basics.  If you run into any problems, drop me a line and let me know, and thanks for reading! 

Enjoy!

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Lesson 14:  Phrygian mode basics.  The Phrygian mode is the mode that begins, and ends, with the third tone in the major scale.  Think of it like this, the scale shown below is the Phrygian mode in the key of E. If you look at it, you will also notice that it is exactly the same as the C major scale.  The only difference is the fact that the scale begins and ends on the third note of the C major scale.   E-F-G-A-B-C-D instead of C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C.  The root note, E , is in boldface. 

0 -1 -3 -5 -7 -8 -10 –12 -13 -15 -17 -19 -20 -22 –24 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
-0 -1 -3 –5 -6 -8 -10 -12 -13 -15 –17 -18 -20 -22 -24 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
-0 -2 -4 -5 -7 –9 -10 -12 -14 -16 – 17 -19 –21 -22 -24 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
-0- 2 -3 -5- 7 -9 -10- 12 –14 -15 -17 -19 -21 -22 -24 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
-0 -2 -3 -5 –7 -8 -10 -12 -14 -15 -17 –19 -20 -22 -24 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
0 -1 -3 -5 -7 -8 -10 –12 -13 -15 -17 -19 -20 -22 –24 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

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To start off, let’s play a four note per string Phrygian scale, just to get it under our fingers.  Here in the key of F.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -11-13 -14-16-
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 9- 11 -13 -14 – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -6 -8 -10-11 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -4 -6 -8 -10- – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – -3 -4 -6 -8 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
-1 -2 -4 -6 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

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I use the Phrygian mode a fair bit in practice.  It was the first of the modes that I learned, in large part because it is the easiest to play in the open position, and still holds a prominent place in my practice repertoire to this day, over a quarter of a century later.   This one is in the key of E . 

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -12 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
-9 -7 -7 -9 -10 -12 -14 – – – – – – – – – -9 – 7- 7- 5- 4- – – – – – – – – – – – 0- – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -12 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 7- 5- – – – 3- – – – – – – –
-7 – – -8 – – -12 – – -15 – -15 – – – – – -7 – – – 8- – – 5- – – – – – – – – – – – -0 – – – –
-0 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -0 – – – 0- – – – – – – – – – – – -7 – – – – 1- – – – – – –

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That last one was a fun little riff, but I have to admit, it doesn’t sound great when you try to play it distorted.   Let’s try something a little simpler, and heavier.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
 – – – – – –2 – – – – – – – – – – – – 2- – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – –20 – – – – – – – – – – –2 0- – – – – – – – -10 -10 -10 -7 -10 -9 – – – – – – –
– – –3 – – – – –2 – – –2 – – –3 – – – – – – -2 -2 -2 -7 – -7 – -7 – -7 -7 – -7 – – – – – – –
1 – – – – – – – – –3 – – –1 – – – – – – – – 0- 0-0 -0 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – -8 – – – -10 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 
-9 -9 -10 -9 -7 – -10 – – – -9 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
-7 -7 -7 – 7- 7- 7- 7- – 7- -7 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Play the opening notes, the F, C, E, D5 bit (In boldface), freely.  I repeat that opening bit twice when I play this, but only put the riff in once, for brevity and spaces sake.  Play the rest of the riff with straight 4/4 time, and play it fast

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 The last riff of the night is a simple little Phrygian power chord riff, this time in A.  This mode lends itself to Metal, with it’s minor tonality and the power chords that are within easy reach of the root note.  Observe, and play very VERY fast.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
-7 -7 -7 -7 -8 -8 -5 -5 -8 -8 -8 -8 -10-10-8 -8 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
-5 -5 -5 -5 -5 -5 -5 -5 -6 -6 -6 -6 -8 -8 -6 -6 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
-7 -7 -7 -7 -7 -8 -7 -5 -10 – 10- – 9- 9- – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
-5 -5 -5 -5 -5 -5 -5 -5 -8 -8 -8 -8 -7 -7 – -8 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 
 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 6- – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

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The Phrygian mode is an easy alternative to playing in minor mode, and is easy to master.  Give it a shot, and keep on jammin!

Lesson 13 – 12 Notes: Tapping Basics

This was originally posted on ”12 notes”, a page on this website dedicated to guitar music and lessons.  So, for the more musically inclined, here is my thirteenth guitar lesson to you:   Tapping basics.  If you run into any problems, drop me a line and let me know, and thanks for reading! 

Enjoy!

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Lesson 13:  Tapping basics.  Tapping, two handed tapping, is a great way to augment a solo, create some great music, and it makes you sound like you’re playing at a billion miles an hour, and dammit, that is fun.  Let’s go over the basics. 

A tip: You can tap these single note lines with any finger.  If you are trying to play a solo and are using a pick, there are a few things you can do.  One is hold the pick the way you normally do, and when you go to tap pull your thumb and index finger up and tap a single note line with your middle finger.  Another way to do it is to switch up your index and middle fingers on the pick and tap with your index finger.  There is no right way to do it, whatever works is the right way to think about it.Experiment with it and find what works best for you.  You may end up finding a better and completely different way of doing it.

Place your picking hand on the neck, for the sake of this exercise at the 12th fret, we’ll start off with a simple 2 string exercise.  Anything in Bold is played with your picking hand.

-5 –12 -7 –12 -5 –12 – – – – – – – – –12 -5 –12 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –12 -8 –12 – – – – – – – – –12 -6 –12 -5 –12 – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

It is kind of monotonous to tap just one fret,  and the exercise is kinda short, but it is a good place to start.   The next exercise wont have that problem.  A simple arpeggiated sequence next.  The pick hand taps A and B minor sequences, while the other hammers a D and E minor sequence.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –10 -3 –12 -5 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – –9 -2 – – – – – – – – – – –11 -4 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – –10 -3 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –12 -5 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
5 –12 -5 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –14 -7 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

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A Video for you:  A two handed tapping legend, Stanley Jordan here plays the Led Zep tune Stairway to heaven at the Montreaux Jazz festival.   What he is doing there is clearly light years ahead of anything going on in this beginner tapping lesson.  Watch and be inspired!

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Next up, a simple double stop tapping exercise.  When doing this exercise, and you move your pick hand from the 7-7 position to the 7-6, to get your hand into position you should move your entire arm parallel to the neck, otherwise you will have a hard time getting your pick hand into position

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
0 -2 –7 -0 -2 –7 -0 -2 –7 -0 -2 –7 -0 -2 –6 -0 -2 –6 -0 -2 –6 -0 -2 –6
0- 2- 7– 0- 2- 7– 0- 2- 7-0 -2 –7 -0 -2 –7 -0 -2 –7 -0 -2 –7 -0 -2 –7
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Sometimes, timing between the two hands can really create some interesting and intricate sounding riffs. For the final exercise of the night, a simple but beautiful sounding timing exercise. Played properly, this exercise should have a triplet feel to it.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – 7-10 – – – – -7 – – – – – – – – 7-10 – – – – – 7- – – -0 -5 – – – 9– 0- 5- – – – –
-0 -5 – – – – – -0 -5 – – –10 -0 -5 – – – – – -0 -5 – – –10 – – – – – 7- – – – – – -7 –10
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
-0 -5 – – –9 -0 -5 – – – – – –12 -0 – – – 9- – – – – – – -9 –12 – – – – -9 – – – – – – –
– – – – -7 – – – – – – -7 –10 – – – – – -7 – – –12 -0 -7 – – – – -0 -7 – – –12
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 

If I knew a way to put in a repeat sign in tablature form, I would place it at the end of each of these pieces.  I have really only scratched the surface as far as the possibilities of two handed tapping is concerned.  For those interested in hearing the possibilities of two handed tapping there are a number of truly great musicians who have done amazing things with the technique.  My personal favorites are Eddie Van Halen, the progenitor of the technique in modern music, and Stanley Jordan. 

There is much more to cover here, so you can be certain that I will be revisiting this with some more advanced exercises at some point.  If you see anything that throws you off, or you don’t understand something, drop me a line and let me know. 

Thanks much for stopping by!

Lesson 12 – 12 Notes: Speed Drill

This was originally posted on ”12 notes”, a page on this website dedicated to guitar music and lessons.  So, for the more musically inclined, here is my twelfth guitar lesson to you:   Speed drills.  If you run into any problems, drop me a line and let me know, and thanks for reading! 

Enjoy!

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Lesson 12:  Speed drills.  Speed is crucial to all guitar players, Jazz guitarists, death metal guitarists, all guitarists, we are all in the same boat.  Playing fast is necessary, but playing fast and precisely is difficult, there are things you can do to play fast, and the exercises are relatively easy.

The things you should do are 1) alternate picking  2) synchronize your hands, making sure playing is precise and all notes are crisp 3) increase speed(DUH) to maximum on one string 4)  go from playing one string to several. Pretty damn obvious, but here obvious works. 

For a few alternate picking exercises, click here for lesson 7, alt. picking exercises

I generally start out using a metronome (click here to go to metronomeonline.com)  and start playing with a moderate tempo, 100 Beats per minute or so, (you can go slower if you need to, and faster if you please) and I increase my speed incrementally, while playing four notes per beat, until I hit top speed (or what passes for top speed).  After you are comfortable with your speed, increase the speed of the metronome until you can no longer play four notes per beat and play precisely.  Remember, the best way to go is start slow and get faster gradually. 

Part I:  Single string exercise.  Here I am playing a simple 3 note repeater riff. 

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
-0 -2 -3 -1 -3 -4 -2 -4 -5 -3 -5 -6 -4 -6 -7 -5 -7 -8 -6 -8 -9 -7 -9 -10 -8 -10 -11 -9 -11 -12
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – …etc, etc, etc

Continue the exercise all the way up the neck and then play the exact same 3 note repeater riff all the way back down the neck, and on all six strings.  If you can get to the 24th fret, take it that high.  If you’re on an acoustic and can only reach up to the 18th fret or whatever, go that high, but play it as far as you can up the neck.

Part II:  Two string exercise.  Similar in scope to the first exercise, but different in that it is in Lydian mode and is an eight note pattern

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – -2 -3 -2 – – – – – – – – – – -3 -4 -3 – – – – – – – – – – -4 -5 -4 – – – – –
– – -1 -3 -5 – – – – – – -5 -3 -2 -4 -6 – – – – – – -6 -4 -3 -5 -7 – – – – – – -7 -5 –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – -5 -6 -5 – – – – – – – – – – -6 -7 -6 – – – – – – – – – – – – 7-8 -7 – – – – 
– – – – -4 -6 -8 – – – – – – -8 -6 -5 -7 -9 – – – – – – -9 -7 -6 -8 -10 – – – – – – -10 -8
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – …etc

Play this like the first exercise, as far up the neck as you can go and play all the 2 adjacent string combinations. Remember to play using the metronome, and playing 4 notes per beat.

Part III: Multi string exercise.  This one I do a little differently that the other two, in that I don’t do this bit on every string combination (though you could) or do this up and down the fretboard (again, you could), and that there are 4 notes per string unlike the others.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -12 -13 -14 -15 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – 12- 13- 14- 15- – – – – – – – – – – – -12 -13 -14 -15 – – – – – – – – – – – –
-12 -13 -14 -15 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –  – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – — – – – – – – – – – – – – – | 
  – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -13 -14 -15 -16 – – – – – – – – – – – -|
– – – – – – – – – – – – -13 -14 -15 -16 – – – – – – – – – – – – -13 -14 -15 -16 |
-13 -14 -15 -16 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – — – – – – – – – |
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -| 
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – |

Part IV:  Go nuts. Seriously, go nuts.  The other exercises always feel controlled.  This one, for me at least, never does.  It has to do with the rapid, long position changes.  That gives this particular exercise a very frenetic feel.  Despite that feel it is actually a pretty easy exercise.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -1 -2 -3 -4 –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 5-6 -7 -8 – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 9- 10-11 -12 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -9 -10 -11 -12 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – -5 -6 -7 -8 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
-1 -2 -3 -4 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 5-6 -7 -8
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 9- 10- 11- 12- – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 12- 13- 14- 15- – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -12 -13 -14 -15 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – -9 -10 -11-12 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
-5 -6 -7 -8 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Perhaps the best piece of advice I can give is to be patient and controlled speed will come.  And speed needs to be controlled, if it isn’t it becomes indistinct, crappy sounding noise, and that is not the point of playing fast. 

Sometimes, when I begin playing speed exercises I’ll match the speed of the metronome, but only play the first note, and only one note per click for a 4 or 8 count, then I’ll double up and play that same single note at 2 notes per click for the same 4 or 8 count, and then double that again and play that same single note at 4 notes per click.  Call it shifting into gear.  It helps when trying to play fast to warm up like that, especially when pushing the envelope, going all out speed wise. 

Playing these exercises , and other like them, will only make you faster if you push outside of your comfort zone and try to play faster than you think you are capable, and leave it all on the fretboard.  You know your doing it right when you feel like you just worked out when you are done.

Now I am not super fast, never have been, but when I play fast every day, I do notice my speed does increase.  I’ve been going at the speed exercises every day for a while, and I am faster because of it.  Not gonna say how fast mind you, don’t wanna embarrass myself.

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That’s it for this weeks installment.  Hope you have fun ripping up the fretboard, I know I did.  Enjoy!

Lesson 11 – 12 Notes: The Double Harmonic Major Scale

This was originally posted on ”12 notes”, a page on this website dedicated to guitar music and lessons.  So, for the more musically inclined, here is my eleventh guitar lesson to you:   The double harmonic major scale.  If you run into any problems, drop me a line and let me know, and thanks for reading!

Enjoy!

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Lesson 11:  The Double Harmonic Major scale, aka the Arabic or Byzantine scale.  I love using this scale, it is really a ton of fun to play with, especially when I’ve had just about enough of standard sounding playing.  For those who don’t know this scale, every note in the double Harmonic scale in the key of E is below.

-0 -1 -4 -5 -7 -8 -11 -12 -13 -16 -17 -19 -20 -23 –
-0 -1 -4 -5 -6 -9 -10 -12 -13 -16 -17 -18 -21 -22 –
-1 -2 -4 -5 -8 -9 -10 -13 -14 -16 -17 -20 -21 -22 –
-1 -2 -3 -6 -7 -9 -10 -13 -14 -15 -18 -19 -21 -22 –
-0 -2 -3 -6 -7 -8 -11 -12 -14 -15 -18 -19 -20 -23 –
-0 -1 -4 -5 -7 -8- 11 -12 -13 -16 -17 -19 -20 -23 –

As you can see from the above fretboard map, there are some very conventional sounding chords that can be used within the context of this exotic scale.  Fifth chords, major chords, minor chords.  That isn’t a surprise, and shouldn’t be.

In the Key of E Major, the notes are E, F#, G#, A, B, C#,  and D#  In double harmonic Major the notes are E, F, G#, A, B, C, and D#.  The reason it sounds so exotic is, in part,  the intervals.

You do not for example, in standard scales, normally run into 3 notes in a row without one of them having a whole tone interval between them.  You do here.  The seventh, root, and second notes have no whole tone separation between any of them.  On top of that, the flat second followed by the major third and flat sixth followed by the major seventh makes for a separation called an augmented second.

But enough theory for the moment.  Let’s play a few notes.  Basic stuff here.  I am actually going to take what is ostensibly an  “exotic” scale, and make it sound more conventional. When playing this, it sounds best when you slide using your index finger from the fourth fret to the eighth fret on the third string, and again from the tenth to the twelfth fret on the second string.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -12 – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -10 -12 – – – – – – – –
-9 – – – – -9 – – – – – – 10- – – – – -10 – – – – – – – – – – – -4 -8 – – – – – – – – – -9 – – – – – – – –
– – – -6 – – – – – -6 – – – – – – – 7- – – – – – -7 – – – – – 7- – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– -7 – – – – – -7 – – – – – – -0 – – – – – -0 – – – -0 -8 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
-0 – – – – -0 – – – – – -8 – – – – – – -8 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

As witnessed above, this scale can sound tame, but I touched on a bit of the exotic sound of the scale.  Let’s explore the scale a bit more.  This time let’s take advantage of the more esoteric nature of the scale.  After the opening A, there is a series of major thirds, starting with the fifth tone of the E double harmonic scale.  That  E-F-E  on the high E string should be played as a trill.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -12 -12 -13 -12 -11 – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 13- 10- 9- 12- – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – -1 – – – 2- – – – – – – 6- – – -7 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
-0 -2 – – -2 – – -3 -0 -7 – – -7 – – – 8- – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – -12 -13 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – -10 – – – – – – -13 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
-0 -9 – – – – – – – – – – – – -14 -13 -9 – – -9 -9 – – -9 – 8 -5 – – – – – -9 – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -9 -10 – -7 -6 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -8 – – – – – -7 – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -0 – – – – – – – –

There is nothing but fun playing with the double harmonic.   I use variations of this riff all the time when I want to get away from the standard sound of the major scale.

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I hope this lesson treats you well, one and all.  I think I may have to touch on this again, simply because I don’t feel like I’ve done the possibilities of this scale any real justice here.  And as always, if you have any questions or issues about this or any column, feel free to drop me a line.

Lesson 10 – 12 Notes: Arpeggio Exercises, Part II

Lesson 10:  Arpeggio exercises, part II.  Back in lesson one I went over a fairly long but simple 5 note minor arpeggio exercise.  Tonight we are going to work on the major scale, but there will be a few differences, as you’ll see, if you’ve been here from lesson one. 

To start off with, lets try our hand at a series of sequential 3 note arpeggios, here in C major.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -1 -3 – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -3 -5 – – – – – – -3 – – – – -5 – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -4 -5 – – – – – – -4 – – – – -5 – – – 4- – – – – – – – -5 – – – – – –
– – – – -5 -7 – – – – – – – -5 – – – – -7 – – -5 – – – – – – – – -7 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – -7 – – – – -8 – – – -7 – – – – – – – – -8 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
-8 – – – – – – – – -10 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

It flows fairly easily, doesn’t it?  One key here is to play the First C on the 6th string, the E on the 5th string, the G on the 4th string, and the B on the third string with your left hand ring finger for right handed players. 

In the next sequence, we are going to play a few 9 note arpeggio sequences. You should, using the same shape on the fretboard play this exercise up and down the neck.  I am only putting two here for the sake of space.  This  exercise will, for one thing, play every note in the major scale at least once, and the 1st note aka the root (tonic) and the third note (mediant) twice. 

The key on the ascending arpeggios are F and F# Major, and the Descending arpeggios are played in G#  and A Major.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – -1 -5 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -2 -6 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – -3 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -4 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – -3 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -4 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – -2 -5 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -3 -6 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – -3 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -4 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
-1 -5 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -2 -6 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

-8 -4 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -9 -5 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – -6 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -7 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – -6 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -7 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – -8 -5 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -9 -6 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – -6 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -7 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – -8 -4 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -9 -5 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Another arpeggio exercise that increases your knowledge of the fretboard is to… well… arpeggiate chords.  Here I am going to arpeggiate a few simple Maj 7th chords, 4 notes at a time.  The chords are C, C# D, D# E and F maj 7th.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -3 – – – – – – – – – – – – -4 -5 – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – -6 – – – – – – – – – – – – -7 – – -3 – – – – – – – – -4 – – – – -5 – – – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – 9- – -5 – – – – – – – – -6 – – – – – – -3 – – – – -4 – – – – – – – – -5 – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – -9 – – – – – -6 – – – – -7 – – – – – – – – – – -1 -2 – – – – – – – – – – – – -3 – – – – – – –
– – -10 – – – – – – – – – – -4 -5 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
-8 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

The point of this exercise is to move across all the strings playing 4 note variations of the same type of chord.  You can do the same thing with virtually any chord, and it is an easy exercise to get under your fingers that helps you learn chords, arpeggiation, palm mute technique (more on that in a sec), and quickly moving your hands accurately into different positions on the fretboard, all important things to know.

The best way to keep the notes from ringing out, damping the sound, is to use your palm heel to mute the strings.  To execute an effective palm mute simply lay your right hand directly above the bridge and lightly rest it on the strings.   Using a heavier hand, or moving your hand very very slightly(maybe 1/8th of an inch is enough) up can keep the notes from ringing out at all.  Experiment with it to know exactly how you want to use it. For this exercise, play around with the palm mute and see what sounds best. 

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That is about it from here.  As always, if there are parts of this that cause confusion, or parts that you don’t understand, by all means, drop me a line and I will explain what needs to be explained, or fix an issues with the lesson.

Thanks for reading, Jam on!