About GuitArchitecture

GuitArchitect and Sonic Hooligan: Having received his undergraduate degree in composition from the Berklee College of Music and a graduate degree in guitar performance from CalArts, Scott Collins is a guitarist who performs a wide range of improvised western and non-western music on fretted and fretless instruments, he is a featured baglama (Turkish lute) performer on the Sony Playstation, God of War 2 video game and a soloist on the track “Come Alive” from the RedLynx Trials Evolution game. In addition to numerous live performances, he has toured in both the U.S. and Germany, performed in the world premier of composer Glenn Branca’s “Hallucination City”, the U.S. premier of Composer Tim Brady’s, “Twenty Quarter Inch Jacks” and co-composed and performed the thematically improvised score for the About Productions stage adaptation of Norman Klein’s “Bleeding Through” with Vinny Golia. Scott is committed to an art of real time composition he calls GuitArchitecture. When not performing improvised loop based solo guitar performances, he can also be found collaborating with several projects including Duodenum, an improvising duo with Carmina Escobar that specializes in silent film accompaniment, OniBaba (with Daren Burns, Vinny Golia, George McMullin, Craig Bunch and visualist Kio Griffith), Rough Hewn Trio (with Warr Guitarist Chris Lavender and Craig Bunch) and Dumb and Drummer a guitar-drum duo with an ever changing line-up… Other highlights include performances with John French (“Drumbo” of Captain Beefheart), Vinny Golia, Wadada Leo Smith, Mia Mikela (Solu), (Butoh dancer) Don McLeod, Butch Morris, Sahba Motallebi, Ulrich Krieger, Susie Allen, Mike Reagan, Melissa Kaplan (Universal Hall Pass), Jeff Kaiser, The Bentmen, One of Us, Annette Farrington, Tubtime, Sleep Chamber and many more. He has performed and co-lead workshops on improvisation as part of the Imagniary Borders/Imaginarias Fronteras project at the Centro Nacional de las Artes in Mexicali, Mexico and performed/lead a workshop on “Structured Improvisation in Film Accompaniment” as part of the Cha’ak’ab Paaxil Festival at the Edificio de Artes Visuales – Escuela Superior de Artes de Yucatán in Mérida, Mexico. An active guitar teacher and performance coach, Scott is the author of Symmetrical Twelve-Tone Patterns for Improvisation and The GuitArchitect’s Guide: series which includes: The GuitArchitect’s Guide to Modes: Melodic Patterns The GuitArchitect’s Guide to Modes: Harmonic Combinatorics The GuitArchitect’s Positional Exploration and The GuitArchitect’s Guide to Chord Scales and is currently working on additional books in the GuitArchitecture series to be released over 2012-2013. Scott is endorsed by FnH Guitars. He uses D’Addario strings, Planet Waves accessories, Scuffham Amps and Line 6 gear. In addition to his posts on GuitArchitecture, he had a quick lick lesson in the 2010 Holiday issue of Guitar Player Magazine, and has also had articles posted on Guitar Salon International, Live4Guitar and has a regular interview series on Guitar-Muse.com.

Weekly One Minute Guitar Lesson Series On Instagram

Hi Everyone!

As I mentioned before – I’m phasing out posting on this site.  I’ll still keep it up as a free resource, but I’m allocating my time in a few other places…

Instagram Lessons

One of those is my Instagram page (scott_collins_guitar).  In addition to what I’m working on reading and playing, I’m posting 1 minute guitar lessons every week.  Don’t expect any flashy intros – this is just a weekly experiment I’m doing with my iPhone to get content up quickly and reach people.   The idea is to just put up brief actionable content that people can use in their playing and develop ideas for the weeks ahead.  If you haven’t already – please follow me there.

Some other links:

You can also find me on my Facebook page

or my website .

Musically – I try to update

the Embe Esti Facebook and website pages fairly regularly.

Look for new and old music on my YouTube page.

That’s it for 2017:

I had 3 musical releases this year:

The Rough Hewn Trio

KoriSoron – Triad

Embe Esti – Live in the 518

In 2018 – I’ll have new solo acoustic, I come from the mountains and Embe Esti releases and perhaps even another new electric project.  We’ll see what the year brings for opportunities…

I wish you a happy holiday for whatever you’re celebrating at the end of the year (even if it’s just the end of the year!) and a happy new year.

I hope 2018 is your best year yet!

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New Release And Other News

Hey everyone a few new announcements.

The Emebe Esti Live EP is out

One of the bands I’ve been playing with, Embe Esti – has a new live release out.  It’s basically two live recordings that we smashed into one release called “Live in the 518”.

It’ll be out on iTunes, Amazon, etc. by the end of the year (it takes a while after it’s submitted to CD baby) but for now all of the original tunes are on Bandcamp.

You can check out our cover tunes below:

A little Joan Jett above and Hassan Hakmoun below

All guitar sounds for this were taken from the XLR direct outs on my Yamaha THR100HD.

Recording signal path – Yamaha Pacifica 611 hard tail –> EP Booster ( running 18 volts for headroom) –> boss stereo volume –> md2 delay (1 before amp and delay 2 in FX send  for recording but for current live rig –  both delays are in fx send)–> micro Hendrix wah–> Yamaha THR100HD (this was then run to a Yamaha 2×12 cab for some room ambience – for my current club rig I’m using the 1×12 cab, 1 amp channel and the MD2 and a TC delay in the FX send as a mono signal)

Volume changes on guitar for clean tones (roll off about 50-60%). Spring reverb patch and boost for solos come from the amp.

If you dig the Embe Esti material – you can check out our website or our FB page (likes and follows are always appreciated).  If you like the music in the videos – you can check out my You Tube page which has a bunch of old material (and some new things) that sprawl all over the place.

New Releases for 2018

Recording and mixing is done for the I Come From The Mountains EP.  This is the duo project with Dean from KoriSoron.  We’re just waiting for artwork and some other material to get that out.  I’m expecting January of 2018.

Recording and mixing appears to be done on my solo acoustic ep.  This is a series of live performances that have been documented and pulled together into a release.   I expect to have this out in February / March of 2018.

You can expect another Embe Esti release in 2018.  We’ve been working on some new material, and I expect we’ll have enough for another release by the summer.

Some other new things

I’m experimenting with a few other mediums of expression as this website has gotten a little too unwieldy to maintain and update properly.

I post several times a week on Instagram and on my Facebook page.  Liking and following those pages is the best way to see things I’m working on.  I also started a new 5-minute lesson series (soon to be a 1-minute lesson series as that’s the maximum time Instagram allows for upload) that’s designed to be a series of short tips, hacks, etc. that you can immediately incorporate into your playing.  You can see the first lesson on my FB page, but I’ll post the tab below just to hopefully entice you.


The content will also be up on my new page, along with a lot of new lesson material.  I’m working on new content for lessons so I’m experimenting with providers and the best way to get that out into the world.

That’s it for now.  Today is all about going deep into researching music publishing for me so I have to get to it.

As always, thanks for reading!

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Preparation H(ome)

Hi everyone,

As I write this, I’m taking a quick pause from working on finishing up a few releases for the end of the year including tracking material for my solo acoustic debut which is happening in a few weeks.

People ask me why I use studios rather than tracking things at home – and it really depends on context.

  • In bands I like the live chemistry of people playing together at the same time.  It’s one thing if you have a separate room set up to actually track in – but my house is small enough that this option isn’t a possibility.
  • For this particular recording, I’m using my first guitar to track it.  It’s not electro-acoustic and the feasibility of making the home recording environment quiet enough to record it isn’t feasible.

If you ARE going into the studio – time is money so you need to have as many ducks in a row as you can.  This doesn’t mean that you need to spend a lot of money but you need to get as much prepped before hand as possible.

Here’s my low budget solution to prepping for an acoustic recording.

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(The coffee is optional for most people but completely necessary for me).

I set up a Zoom recorder I have with some headphones and play through / record the pieces.  That’s it.  You could use a laptop mike and listen on speakers.  You’re not listening for pristine audio quality.  SOME of the things I’m listening for are:

  • Timing
  • Note quality (is every note clear?)
  • Articulation
  • Mood / feel (is it capturing the mood the song is supposed to convey?)

 

The idea is that by the time you go and record the pieces you’ve already recorded them dozens of times at home and have a solid idea of how it’s going to sound from a performance perspective.  Trust me – there’s nothing worse than getting to a studio and realizing that you can’t pull off the thing you’ve been working on because what sounded okay to you at home sounds like merde now and fixing it will take more time.

One other important thing I’ll bring up here is that as you listen to the pieces try to imagine someone ELSE has recorded them.  This can help in dropping personal baggage that can get associated with art and instead allows you to focus on what’s really important (i.e. making the best work you can).

Whether it’s in the studio or the stage – the battle is generally won or lost based on the work you do at home in the shed.  Preparation is a key to performance.  Practice it the way you want to play it and the way you want it heard.  Most importantly, get your best work out into the world that represents what you do.

I hope this helps!

As always, thanks for reading!

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And So…The Migration Begins…

First some “old” news:

I went to the CD Baby DIY conference in Nashville and had a really good time and came back with a lot of actionable information.  I also came back with a nasty cold that almost a week later I’m still getting over.

Nashville was a really cool town.  I went with zero expectations but was still surprised at the demographic, and just how much non-country  stuff was going on there (writing, art, film an TV production, music, etc.). There was definitely an interesting vibe going on there and it was all I could do to not leave Carter Vinatage Guitars with an empty credit card and full hands.  I’m definitely looking forward to getting to spend more time there.

Part of the reason I went there was to help solidify some things I’ve been working on for a while.  That was a resounding success but it also means that I will need to put a lot of work into EXECUTING this year.  With new KoriSoron and Rough Hewn Trio releases out (and new Embe Esti, I Come From the Mountains and a solo release still expected to be out before the end of the year) – this will definitely be a year of executing!

But the goal now is for 2017 to be a year to put a foundation in to build upon in 2018 onward.  And with that…

Here’s the actual news:

I’m going to be launching a new website.  Ok.  Full disclosure – Actually, I DID already launch a new website – there’s just very little stuff up on it.  You can check it out here:

scottcollinsguitar.com

It’ll focus more on my teaching, performances and composition and have direct links to purchasing more material of mine.  Right now – there’ nothing there but ultimately – it will serve a more specific function (and a more specific audience) than the material on this blog.

I will still be posting things here.  For example, I have a whole new series that I’m putting into production and that will start an aggressive You Tube campaign and the material there will benefit people who come here for playing tips.

Everything has a time and a place.  It’s time now to put on my entrepreneurial cap and, at a minimum, enter the late 20th century.

There’s going to be a lot of cool material there – I hope you’ll drop by!

As always – Thanks for reading!

Scott

Are You Investing Enough In Yourself?

There’s a difference between spending and investing.

Many players spend a lot of time playing the guitar but don’t invest enough time in developing themselves.

A while back, I was reading a collection of interviews with graphic designers and one of them said something to the effect of,

“When people bring me portfolios of their work I often find myself saying, ‘I don’t want to see what you did 2 years ago…I want to see what you did 2 weeks ago, or better yet 2 days ago!”

At different points in one’s journey investing might mean:

  • Buying a guitar to learn how to play
  • Perhaps investing money and/or time into lessons
  • Investing in yourself by practicing
  • Investing in your gear maybe by getting your guitar set up or getting better gear
  • Booking gigs
  • Performing in front of people
  • Recording your music
  • Releasing your music
  • Improving your skills / your tones / your sound
  • Developing your brand
  • Cultivating an audience via social media
  • Developing media relations and contacts
  • Developing products and services for sale

As a whole trying to take all of these things on can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. In an interview with Lewis Howes, Chris and Heidi Powell talked about how they work with clients.  I’ve paraphrased one important thread from about the 59 minute mark or so:

  • So often people see the change they want to make as a huge mountain. They go to extremes to try to tackle the whole thing at once and convince themselves that the fun ends here.  Over the course of a day a week a month… they try, and they try and they fail and try and then fail (again).  They continue to fail (by trying to take on something too large to tackle) and before you know it they don’t believe in themselves anymore at all.

 

  • They then try to convince themselves and everyone around them that they’re happy with who they are and where they’re at – because they don’t believe that they have what it takes to (make the change they want to make). They make excuses for other people’s success and say, “well that’s just my limitation. I’m different.”

 

The reality for most people is not that other people are different – but the approach is different for the people who are successful. The people who are successful start so incredibly small…transformation doesn’t happen by committing to 20 things at one time.  It’s about making one unbreakable promise at at time.But you have to do it every freaking day.  You can’t miss a day and it has to be so incredibly simple that you will never miss a day.  Guess what?  By the end of that week you start to believe in yourself and you keep up momentum.

 

“Because we take people who have lost hope in themselves, because they’re looking at me and they say, I’ve tried and failed so many times that I’m never going to get there.  … That’s exactly how we grow it – one simple promise at a time and by doing that you keep yourself winning.  If you can keep yourself winning you start to believe in yourself again and there is nothing more powerful than belief.”

So here’s a question to consider,

“Are you investing in your goals / yourself in some way every single day?”

 

Not: “what did you do a week ago?”

Not: still reveling in that big gig you played a year ago.

Not: the 5 books you wrote 6 years ago ; )

What is your goal? (and what did you do yesterday / today / tomorrow to reach it?)

Not one epic Herculean accomplishment.

One small significant decision.

One small significant action.

For myself this means a lot of changes by the end of the year.  In addition to being 30 lbs lighter (and counting), two new bands, new releases, a re-branding and all new live content.  None of these things came from doing anything really radical.  They came from putting consistent work in.

Follow up and Follow through.

Change comes one decision at a time. 

One action at a time. 

Every.  Single.  Day.

If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you are looking to make a change in something you’re doing.

  • Try making a commitment to making one promise that you will do consistently.  Even if it’s only for 30-60 or 90 days.
  • Build off of small successes.
  • See what happens after your trial period and adjust as necessary.

Here’s hoping this is your best year yet!

I’m at a music business conference next week.  Regular posts should resume soon.

I hope this helps and, as always, thanks for reading.

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Motivation Is A Question Of “Why” Not “How”

Today I want to talk about a technique for understanding and focusing motivation but first…

The Obligatory Update

I have been remiss in posting here.  As I write this I’m taking a break from prep for a back to back recording session coming up on the 15th with I Come From the Mountains (a new duo acoustic instrumental ensemble with Dean Mirabito from KoriSoron playing an Iranian / Middle Eastern / Hindustani hybrid / fusion with me playing modified acoustic guitars (fretless, 10 string guitar modified from a 12 string and a 6-string multiple capos) and Dean playing  tabla and Middle Eastern percussion) and Embe Esti (a loosely Afrobeat inspired electric band with guitar, bass, drums and vocals that brings in a lot of North African and Balkan influences as well).  WOW is that an awkwardly long sentence!

( In a gear related note – with the exception of the fretless guitar –  all of the guitars and amps I’m using are from Yamaha – so Yamaha Guitars / Yamaha THR if you’re reading this and have any interest in sponsoring a future recording session please feel free to get in touch! ; )  I’ve been working with their THR100HD amp and have gotten some really great tones with minimal pedals  so I’ll share my different rigs with you in a future post).

So writing a lot of new material and developing new projects.  New websites for both soon!

The Best Free Lesson I Can Give You

If you go through old posts you’ll see that I hammer this point over and over again.

You have to have a why to travel any distance on the path to mastering guitar.

 

Here’s why this is important.  Let’s say you’re in a playing rut.  You keep playing the same thing over and over and don’t know how to get out.  You get motivated and sign up for a video course and give them your credit card number.  You log in the first day and start working on the first lesson.  In this case, you happened to go with a player you like but you didn’t understand that the material is way too hard to process at your current skill level.  So you work with it for about an hour and take a break for a bit…and then never come back to it.  Or you buy a book and it comes in the mail and you crack the cover and never return to it.

Does this sound familiar?

The problem most players face at some level is they don’t understand why they are doing what they’re doing.

As a beginning player:  if you don’t have a strong enough motivation you won’t play enough to develop the callouses you’ll need to play.

As an intermediate player: if you don’t have a strong enough motivation you won’t practice the things you need to work on to develop the skills you’ll need to progress to higher levels of expression.

As an advanced player: if you don’t have a strong enough why you may get to a point where you have developed a substantial skill set but can not earn a living from that skill alone.

This is kind of the mid-life crisis of guitar.  Fortunately, I’ve gone through many of these throughout my time playing guitar but players who have never faced can be in for a devastating experience .

See The “What” Is Easy

There’s 12 notes.  Simple.  You can get the basics of chords and scales in a day, grasp them more fully in a week and start to really do something with them in as little as a month if you really put the work in consistently.

The “How” Is Also (Relatively) Easy

When you buy an instructional product  what you’re buying is instruction on the how.  There is a literal deluge of instructional material both online and in print.   Even the most basic of searches will lead you to someone who can show you how.  The how is something that is also pretty easy to get under your fingers if you really put the work in consistently (and can be patient about how long it will take to do that work).

The “Why” Is Where You Are On Your Own

If you don’t have a reason for why you are doing what you are doing you won’t put the work in day after day and without that consistence – you will never progress.

Here’s the simple thing to do to get to the core of matter

When I teach a guitar lesson to a beginning student I will often attempt to drill down to what the motivating factors are by asking a series of “why” based questions.

Q: “So what brings you here today?”
A: “I want to learn how to play fast?”
Q: “Why?”
A: “Why what?”
Q: “Why do you want to learn to play fast?  What will playing fast allow you to do that you can’t do now?”

Based on the answer – this starts a series of drill downs of variations on the question to get to the bottom – why are you really here?  What are you really trying to do and most importantly, what is the real goal that you are working towards?

Playing fast isn’t a goal – it’s a pathway to a goal that might be better reached a thousand ways.  If the actual goal and motivation is understood it’s much easier to commit to putting the work in consistently to reach it.

Here’s a hypothetical non-musical example played out a little longer

“I want to exercise”
“Why?”
“So I can gain muscle”
“Why”
“So that I look better”
“Why?”
“So people will date me”
“Why?”
“So I’m not alone”

So in this example the exercise is in service to a larger goal – excising loneliness.

This process for me came about after years of me feeling guilty about going to Berklee and never really delving into jazz improv, only to dig deeper into why I thought I should be working on that and realizing I didn’t really like a lot of standards  I was pursuing it in a half-assed way because I thought it was a skill set I should have, but in reality the tunes never moved me so my motivation to work on them wasn’t there.  When I spent the time working on things that moved me emotionally, I got into more challenging music that required doing some of the work I didn’t want to do before because the context was one I wanted to explore.  So I kind of came to the same place through the back door…

Here’s the takeaway

If you have an issue with motivation, try diving deep with a series of “why” questions to get to what the underlying reason behind what you are doing really is.  Once you understand your real motivation, it’s easier to be more objective about how to best work towards realizing an associated goal.

I hope this helps and as always, thanks for reading!

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Making A Longer Phase From A Few Notes

Just like Ratt – I’m back for more (hopefully you are also).

(Please feel free to insert another random hair metal reference if that suits you better).

I’m in the midst of a bunch of recording and gig preparation, and I thought one of the things I pulled out in a piece might help you.

I have an instrumental track that’s based on a pentatonic I’ve heard in Hindustani music before but don’t know the name of.  Other players have gravitated to this sound as well and in print I’ve only seen it listed as “Indian Pentatonic” (which, if we’re going to call it that, we might as well call it “Vindaloo” because vindaloo is at least tasty.)

Here’s the scale in A descending and then ascending.  Don’t let the time signature throw you off.  It’s just there to get all 5 notes in a bar.

A Pentatonic Asc Desc
In A  – I see R, 3, 4, 5 b7 (aka an A Mixolydian extraction) so this would work over chord taken from the parent scale D major.  In this case I’m using over a G – A vamp.

Start Small

Notice in the descending version I used one note on the B string and then 3 on the G string.  I do this because keeping only one note of the scale on the middle string of a 3 string group (in this case E, B, G) allows me to set up a sweepable version of the scale.

Why do I do that?

Here’s a little secret about guitar.  Certain techniques will take you a VERY long time to get under your fingers so if you’re going to spend the time to work on them make sure you find ways to use them to get the sounds you’re looking for.

Here I’ve taken the ascending scale and added 2 descending notes.  I’ve included 2 picking variations in the first two examples.  In my own playing I find that I end up going to the first Down Up Up pattern more often than not – but it’s worth the time to be able to do both of them.

For the example below – choose ONE picking variation and use it for all the groups of notes.  Pay attention to the 3 T’s (Timing, Tone and Hand Tension) and try playing it over a chord to associate the scale with a harmony.

A Pent 3 Note Sweeps

You might notice in the example that the E string always uses the index finger of the fretting hand and the G string always uses the pinky.  That leaves either the 2nd or 3rd finger for the B string note.  The fingering consistency also makes it easier to memorize the patterns.

Then build up

A Pent 5 Note

Now I’ve added a few notes on the G string.  One nice thing about Pentatonics is that they have some built in intervals larger than a major or minor 2nd that make them sound less “scale-ish” to my ears.  I’ve only included one picking idea above.  The 2-note sweep in the middle with the alternating picking would allow you to repeat the picking pattern, but you could also use pull-offs on the notes on the G string.

If the scale can descend on the G string – it can also ascend on the E string.  Here’s a two bar lick based on the idea above and adding in some notes on the E string as well.

A Pent Descending Line

Let’s Break This Down

A Pent Breakdown
I’ve broken this down in overlapping phrases to show how I expanded the initial idea into something larger.

Bar 9 Above:  This is a simple descending / ascending of the scale on the E string

Bar 10: There’s the sweep

Bar 11: This is a similar 7-note descending / ascending idea as bar 9

Bar 12-13: I broke this out to show the position shift to add the C# again with a similar idea as bar 9 and 11

Bar 14: There’s the sweep again

Bar 15: this is an the same idea as before but one octave lower.

Notice how there are two simple pieces of “connective tissue” the sweep and the short one string scale passage that ties the lick together.

Let’s look at another (and more challenging) idea:

Lick #2

A Pent Lick 2

Here I expanded on the initial idea.  I’m using sextuplets now so it’s faster.  In the first measure – there’s a slight pause on the last A in beat 3 to accommodate a position shift for the following beat.  As a phrase, I’d likely sit on that A for a beat or two before continuing but I shortened the time to fit it in a smaller graphic.

The position shift allows me to set up a sequence to ascend the scale again and build a little excitement.  Technically this uses all the ideas that have already been used.

Again – these techniques take time to get them under your fingers so they sound good.  Don’t take shortcuts.  Really focus on the 3 T’s and then find ways to incorporate them in ideas you already are using.

And one for the road

So far in this lesson we’ve been exploring string ascending / descending scales.  Adding in things like string skipping will give you some wider intervals to incorporate and get you further away from the scale sound.  Here’s one variation below.

Idea 3

My suggestions (should you choose to take them)

  • Find fingerings that work for you
  • incorporate some of the scale sequence ideas into the phrases you create
  • mix and match see how far you can go in one direction or the next before you run out of notes
  • incorporate different scale sequence ideas.  (For more information on this my Melodic Patterns book can open some doors here).

 

I hope this helps and as always, thanks for reading!

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