New Music, New Shows, Gear News and Guit-A-Grip Posts

Hi Everyone,

This is just a brief update of new gear, news and music with some things that may be of interest to you.

New Project

I’m playing in a new project that’s currently an acoustic duo with an incredibly talented guitarist and artist form Iran named Farzad Golpeyagani who recently relocated to the capital district.   He has an extensive discography and portfolio of projects and you can see his website here.

For those of you starting new projects or developing new things, there may be several aspects of this that might be of interest to you.

  • I met Farzad at the Festival Cinema Invisible Film Fest back in June of this year.  People that I met at that event have since opened a series of friendships which has lead to other doors, opportunities and gigs for me.   What’s interesting about this to me is that I almost didn’t end up making it to the festival and if I didn’t have full passes for the festival – I might have missed it entirely.  So (for me) it’s yet another reminder that opportunities are made more than they are found.
  • While there are several reasons for playing as an acoustic duo (rather than starting an electric band) the primary reason is flexibility.  Years ago, I played in a live hip hop band, which I loved, but trying to schedule regular rehearsals and gigs with 6 people was a perpetual mess.  Our thinking behind starting as an acoustic duo is we can make a soft launch of the project, develop material and cultivate an audience in the short term and then expand the lineup out over time.  This will eventually give us the flexibility to be able to perform small shows as a duo or larger shows as a larger ensemble.

For now, this is our acoustic guitar duo project with heavy note density – expect tunes from and/or inspired by the musics of Iran, Turkey, Spain, Romania, Northern India, Japan and other parts of the world all rolled up into some kind of Kati roll / Sushi roll / Gumbo / Goulash. 

We’re working on a name and a logo (I’ve penciled in a name of KoriSoron for the time being).  Farzad and I have been been testing out some material with soft launches at open mics in the area that have gone over very well and now we have some actual shows coming up.

  • “The birthday show” – Saturday, August 23rd – The Moon and River Cafe in Schenectady 8pm – 10pm.  Several short sets to herald in some new material which also happens to mark my birthday on the following day.   As my gift to anyone there, the show has no cover, but supporting the venue with food or beverage purchases is encouraged.
  • Thursday, September 18th – Kickoff screening for Festival Cinema Invisible‘s monthly film series at Proctor’s Theatre. FCI will be showing an Iranian Film, “Common Plight”, serving tea from the fantastic Persian Bite on Jay Street in Schenectady and have a performance by the two of us.
  • Saturday, November 1st – Amsterdam Library Fundraiser. 6pm-9pm.  No information yet but you can check back with the Amsterdam Public Library website for details.

We should have a name, website, Audio/Video and other information soon….

New Gear

For this acoustic based project, I’ve gone back to the shed for getting the tunes together and back to basics for getting the sound I want.  This required some new tools and (for anyone interested) I’ve settled on a few items for live use.

Amps – Amps might seem like a strange place to start, but given that this is an acoustic-electric project, it’s the lynchpin that holds things together.  I’ve tried a bunch of amps and none of them touch the ZT Lunchbox Acoustic.

Lunchbox_Acoustic

I’ll have a full review up in the weeks ahead but for quality of sound, features, portability and price point, nothing else even comes close.  It’s the only acoustic amp I’ll use live now.  Farzad will be using a lunchbox acoustic for our project and he’s using the regular Lunchbox  for his live electric guitar performances as well.

Guitars – I think of all the time I spent trying to get my other acoustics to work in a live setting and now laugh that I didn’t just look at guitars that are designed for electro-acoustic applications and for my money the best in the field for that is Yamaha. I’m using an APX500 II and and APX700 12-string and they both work great for live use and I’m using Yamaha acoustic electric guitars exclusively moving forward.

The Ghost of Christmas Past

Years ago (as in about 6 or so), FnH guitar’s John Harper took in my custom double neck fretted/fretless that he and I designed in for some work.  The problem was that as the guitar was designed to replicate a Mosrite – the necks were too narrow for standard bridges.  So the solution was either to custom build replacement bridges or to make new necks.

New necks were made and the guitar (now forever dubbed “The Harper Albatross”) was delivered last Thursday.  Some features of this beast include:

  • The Albatross weights about 14 lbs and is about 20″ wide.  It’s HUGE!
  • It has one fretted and one fretless neck (both with a 25 1/2″ scale).
  • Both necks have bone nuts and locking Sperzel tuners. (The tuners are a major contributor to the overall weight so those may be going soon).
  • The fretless has a Fernandes Sustainer circuit and pickups in it.
  • The fretted has a gold foil in the neck position and a Lace Alumitone DeathBucker in the bridge position.
  • The fretless has a stop bridge the fretted has a floating Wilkinson bridge
  • Mouradian in Boston custom-made the gig bag for this guitar by modifying a keyboard bag design to fit it.  I love my Mono bags as well but my Mouradian bags are second to none for design, comfort and durability.  Here’s the guitar with the bag.

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Here’s another photo with more of a close up of the controls.

2014-08-10 09.13.27Look for some new material featuring this and the Yamaha guitars this Fall!

New Guit-A-Grip Posts

It’s been a while since I’ve announced any of these here so there may be some topics below that may be of interest to you.

  • In this post, I dissect the “$1.7 million” figure that was quoted for a former student of mine whose band signed to a major label.
  • In this post, I’ve posted an excerpt from one of my e-books that talks about the necessity for strong opinions in the arts.
  • In this post, I talk about the disadvantages of burning bridges to your career.
  • And in this post, I talk about how opportunities are sometimes wasted before they ever come to fruition.

In the weeks ahead, I’ll have the full audio for the panel discussions for artists from the Buckmoon Arts Festival and there’s a lot of GREAT insight and information for those of you who are trying to build your carer or get you business project off the ground.

In the meantime, that’s it for now!  As always, thanks for reading!

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You May Need A Teacher Or Buying Something Isn’t The Same As Doing Something

Talkin’ Yourself Out Of A Job

There’s a study excerpt I read, (probably a link from a TED Talk page), that talked about new research that shows that when you talk to people about doing something that it has a similar chemical process in the brian as actually doing that thing.

You may have experienced this if you’ve ever gotten amped talking with your friends about something you’re going to do, resolve to start your life-changing journey the following day, and find yourself out of gas. (The band X has a great song line on the track, Lettuce and Vodka: “Last night’s judgment day is this morning’s cartoon…” that sums up this predicament well.)

Personal experience has shown me that it’s not just talk that has this effect.  Education can often work this way as well.

For example, you get all excited because guitarist X has released a new book on the topic you want to know more about.  You buy the book to study the material and after some initial examination of the material, you find it in the pile with the other materials that have gone neglected.

How many people buy gym memberships and then never go to a gym?  It’s those same people who are often making statements like, “Yeah…I know I have a membership and everything, I really need to go….”

The Point of College

One thing that surprised me a lot about college was coming to the conclusion that what I learned at the time only accounted for a fraction of it’s value.  Going to college:

  • Exposed me to new ideas
  • Honed my aesthetic and made me realize why I liked or didn’t like things
  • Exposed me to new players
  • Forced me to play with others on a higher level
  • Taught me how to learn.

That last one is the big ticket item in the list.  You might not have to go to college to learn that lesson but you do need to devote a lot of concentrated study to learn what works for you.

For example, there were times in my life that a gym was a really good fit for me.  There were times that a gym was a bad fit for me.  Being a home owner now, and realizing that it was easier to clock in at home and put the time in made it a much easier decision to get a stationary bike and some weights because that worked better for me.  Some people need to go to a gym to get in the proper mindset (and to have access to the right equipment) to work out.

So the first point is that everyone is different.

But, acknowledging that everyone is different, everyone starts from the beginning at multiple points in their life.  In my experience, the big difference between people who stay with it and people who drop out is what and how they are learning.

A large percentage of the lessons I have taught have been correcting misinformation.  For example, if left to your own devices and watching YouTube videos that tell you that even with two working legs that the “proper” way to run involves only using your left leg, you might get really skilled at running with just your left leg and be able to run with one leg faster than anyone that you come across, but not matter how much time or effort you put in, you are never going to outrun a trained athlete who runs with both legs.

It’s the same thing with technical things like picking, hand tension or fretboard attacks.  Sure you can learn it wrong and get to a certain point, but you will invariably plateau and then wonder why you aren’t progressing any further.

The Flamenco Dance Master Class Lesson Scam

I’ve already posted about this, but I can tell you all about, what I believe to be, a brilliant scam that I’ve seen perpetrated by multiple Flamenco dance teachers in the states.  It works like this:

A well known dancer who happens to be in town for a show advertises a master class for students through the promoter.  While you might think that a master class would imply that only advanced students would attend, generally a lot of beginning and intermediate students show up and  jockey for the best position in their class to see the teacher.  Two things happen with this:

  1. It automatically drops the level of the class to the lowest common denominator
  2. It becomes very difficult to see the choreography

This is also the point in the scam to mention that typically ANY recording device will not be allowed in the class.  Sometimes they’ll let you record the audio but video is generally forbidden.

Then the class is taken through some warm up exercises and then through the choreography.

Here’s the scam.  Unless you’re a trained dancer familiar with the style, there is no way you will be able to get the choreography down without recording it.

Here’s the genius of this.  Later, when the student is trying to figure out the choreography and getting it wrong they blame themselves for not having the ability to remember the steps.

The dance teachers know this.  They’re profoundly protective of their choreography because they had to learn it the same way everyone else did.  By working with their teachers repeatedly and learning the choreography slowly over time.

So, they either have two choices.  They cross an item off their bucket list and go onto something else or they take more lessons and learn the pieces.

Now “scam” is a harsh term for this.  The only scam aspect of it is that it presents a masters class that won’t offer a lot for most people to learn.  Only a microscopic percentage of people who take an individual master class will walk away with something substantial.  What this system does accomplish is perpetuating the need for a teacher.

While no one want’s to be out of a job here’s the thing:

A good teacher will teach you a skill.

A great teacher will teach you what you need to learn and a great teacher will ultimately teach him or herself  out of a job because the student won’t need the teacher anymore.

While this might seem like a terrible business plan it works on numbers.  Great teachers do this because there are always new students on the horizon who need to learn.  And students who get what they need will refer other people to those teachers.

Buying Something Isn’t The Same As Doing Something

While there are some people who can teach themselves by picking up a book and working through the material, many people will need someone to help guide them and challenge them to get the material down.

If you pick up a book or a video and don’t make any progress, don’t despair!  It may just mean that you need to schedule some lessons to get on track and have someone help guide you to get to your goals.

Buying something isn’t the same as doing something but it’s a great start!

The important thing is to figure out what works for you and then take the appropriate action.
I hope this helps!
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ps – if this applies to you and you feel like lessons may benefit you – feel free to send me an e-mail at guitar.blueprint@gmail.com for information about lessons.

The GuitArchitect’s Guide To Modes Part 12 – Getting Into Modal Arpeggios – Superimpostion

Hello everyone!

Greetings from NYC!  While I’m still unpacking and waiting for instruments and boxes to make it here from South Pasadena I thought I’d mix and match a few ideas from my GuitArchitect’s Guide to Chord Scales book and modal arpeggios and talk about more ways to recycle things you already know!

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2-string or not 2-string

(is that really the question?)

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I’ve been talking a lot about 2 string arpeggios.  They’re really useful things in soloing because you can take a figure like this:

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and move it in octaves while keeping the same fingering.

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It’s a really useful visualization tool, and a relatively easy way to cover a lot of range on the instrument.

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The real secret behind this approach is how you use the arpeggio or:

“So what about this superimposition thing?”

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Superimposition is simply playing one thing on top of something that’s related but not in an immediately direct way.   Logic would dictate that you would play a C major 7 arpeggio over a C major chord.  That’s certainly one valid use, but it’s really not superimposing the chord because their directly related (i.e. Cmaj7 and C major).  Playing a C major 7 arpeggio over say a d minor or an e minor chord is getting more into what we’re talking about here.

In the examples below, I’ll be using a bass note to indicate tonality.  If you have a recording of a chord (or a bass note) to play over – just play the c major 7 arpeggio over one of those – otherwise you can use your fretting hand to tap each of the notes of the arpeggio (see the glass noodles post if you’re unfamiliar with the technique) and use your picking hand to tap the bass notes in the figure (and to help mute the strings)!

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If the C major 7 chord is created by stacking ascending 3rds (C, E, G, B) then we should be able to go the reverse direction using descending 3rds from the root.  Going a 3rd below C gives us A which creates A, C, E, G, B or an A minor 9 arpeggio (no root):

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Going a 3rd below A gives us F which implies: F (root), A (3rd), C (5th), E (7th), G (9th) and  B (#4 or #11)  or a F major 9 #11 arpeggio (no root, no 3rd):

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(Note: This concept is explored in much more depth in the Harmonic Combinatorics book but you can get some information about the approach from the slash chords post or the recycling triads posts as well.)

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You could continue on with this approach, and each time figuring out how the arpeggio functions over different chords, but there is an easier way!

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The Chromatic Root Interval Chart

In The GuitArchitect’s Guide to Chord Scales, I devised a chart that would tell the reader how any chord scale would function over any root.  I’ve adapted that chart and utilized it for arpeggios in this lesson.  Here’s the full chart:

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At first glance, this can look confusing but it’s REALLY useful for determining how scales and arpeggios (or chords) function over different tonal centers.  

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In the steps below, I’m going to outline every step that could be taken to visualize this, but once you understand the process, you can skip a lot of the steps and understand what’s happening almost immediately.

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Let’s go back to the C maj 7 arpeggio.  The formula for the arpeggio is Root (or R) 3rd, 5th and 7th.  Here’s what it looks like superimposed into the chart.  

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I’ve taken the extra step of removing all of the information in the other columns of the chart to solely show how the Root, 3rd, and 5th of a particular chord functions over other tonal centers. It’s also important to note that this chart accommodates all possible root notes.  So while sharped roots (#R) or flat roots (bR) are really heard as b2 (b9) or 7ths respectively, they’re listed here to show the functions of specific notes over tonal centers (e.g. C maj 7 arpeggio played over a C# tonality).

Okay – now let’s move the information in the chart to the key of C:

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Presented this way,  we can see how things function.  Played over D for example – the C, E, G, B functions as a b7th, 9th, 4th (or 11th) and a 6th.  As a D Dorian sound (C major over D implies D Dorian) you lose the minor 3rd but get the natural 6th flavor of the mode.

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I’ll simplify the chart a little more:

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Again, it’s also important to note that this chart accommodates all possible root notes.  So while sharped roots (#R) or flat roots (bR) are really heard as b2 (b9) or 7ths respectively, they’re listed here to show the functions of specific notes over tonal centers (e.g. C maj 7 arpeggio played over a C# tonality).  This also counts for b4 (which will be heard as a 3rd), and double flats (like bb7 which will be heard as a 6th or bb3 which will be heard as a 2nd).

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From intervals to chord tones

Since this chart was initially created for chord scales, the intervals all exist within an octave.  For the purposes of chords and arpeggios it’s more beneficial to think of:

  • 2nds as 9ths
  • 4ths as 11ths and 
  • 6ths as 13ths 

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I’ve converted these intervals to chord tones in the chart below:

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One sound I get out of this immediately is the Ab which gives a Ab maj 7 (#5, #9 no root) sound.  I’ve resolved it to Ab in the example below – but give it a shot – it takes a generic C major 7 arpeggio and gives it a shot glass of tabasco.

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When I went to Berklee and got knee-deep into analysis, my teacher gave me this pearl of insight, 

“Actually the whole point of harmony 1-4 [classes] is to show you how any chord can follow any other chord”.

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The reality behind all of the charts and theory is, if you understand how an arpeggio functions then you’re more likely to be able to resolve it – regardless of what chord you play it over.  

That’s a big picture concept – you may want to give it a second to let it sink in.

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The thing to start to focus on is how things sound to you – specifically how various chord tones and intervals sound over various chords you’re using.  How do you like the sound of a #4 over a major chord?  Or a b9 on a minor chord?  As you start to find chord tones that you like over those areas, you’ll start to find that you’ll seek those sounds out.   The chart is just a shortcut for seeing how things function – but it’s reliant on what you hear.

My recommendation is take this arpeggio, play it (slowly at first) over all the tonal centers and really be aware of how the notes are functioning.  And (here’s the step most people skip) if it sounds “bad” to you – find a way to resolve it (like going to the Ab in the example above).  I call this the Van Halen approach, there are plenty of times that Eddie hits clams – but he finds cool ways to work them around so that you say, “wow what a cool idea” rather than “oh he botched that one”.

I’ll talk more about the importance of knowing how to “fix” things in a future post, but trust me – it’s worth spending some time on.

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In the next lesson post, I’ll get into arpeggio modification slash chord stylie.  It’ll be really cool and if I have my audio converters delivered in time I can even go back to posting audio clips again!

ah the joys of moving….

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I hope this helps and thanks for reading!

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The GuitArchitect’s Guide To Chord Scales Is Out Now (As Well As The New 4 Book Pdf Bundle!)

The GuitArchitect’s Guide to Chord Scales

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Update – 2/3/2013

Hello everyone!  As of 2/1/2013, all of my books are available for order exclusively on my Lulu.com page and on Amazon which means that while I may run an e-book  bundle offer directly in the future as of right now, unfortunately, no bundle options are available.

I’m leaving the page up for archival purposes but if you go to the Books link at the top of the page, you’ll find more detailed information about the books below and the other books in the GuitArchitect’s Guide To:  series.

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I’m happy to announce that the Chord Scale book is done (with the help of massive edits from John Harper and Doug Kearns – thank you both!)!  

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 I’ll talk about it a little more below – but as a shortcut there are now 5 ways to buy the book.

(based on the 6/5/12 – pricing model)

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  • If you would like to purchase the Chord Scales pdf (or any other individual book pdf)  for $15 (usd) please click the PayPal link below.  (Also, when ordering, please specify which book you’d like – The GuitArchitect’s Guide To Modes: Melodic PatternsThe GuitArchitect’s Guide to Modes:  Harmonic CombinatoricsThe GuitArchitect’s Positional Exploration, or The GuitArchitect’s Guide to Chord Scales).

 Any 1 GuitArchitecture pdf for $15

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  • If you would like to purchase any two book pdfs for $20 USD (and save $10 off of individual orders) please click the PayPal link below.  (Also, when ordering, please specify which 2 pdfs you’d like – The GuitArchitect’s Guide To Modes: Melodic PatternsThe GuitArchitect’s Guide to Modes:  Harmonic CombinatoricsThe GuitArchitect’s Positional Exploration, or The GuitArchitect’s Guide to Chord Scales).

  Any 2 GuitArchitecture pdfs for $20.

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  • If you would like to purchase any three book pdfs for $30 USD (and save $15 off of individual orders) please click the PayPal link below.  (Also, when ordering, please specify which 3 pdfs you’d like – The GuitArchitect’s Guide To Modes: Melodic PatternsThe GuitArchitect’s Guide to Modes:  Harmonic CombinatoricsThe GuitArchitect’s Positional Exploration, or The GuitArchitect’s Guide to Chord Scales).

Any 3 GuitArchitecture pdfs for $30. 

  • The  Four-book PDF bundle (which includes The GuitArchitect’s Guide To Modes: Melodic PatternsThe GuitArchitect’s Guide to Modes:  Harmonic CombinatoricsThe GuitArchitect’s Positional Exploration, and The GuitArchitect’s Guide to Chord Scales) is available for $40 USD using the PayPal bundle button below.  (A $20 savings off ordering the books on their own).

4 GuitArchitecture books for $40. 

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  • If you’d like a paper based version (and save yourself printing and binding costs), you can go to the link here ( Lulu.com ) to buy a nicely bound version of any of the books.

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Please note:

I turn all orders around within the same day I receive payment notification.

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Chord Scales is 190 pages of instruction and reference.  It’s the shortest book I’ve written, but it’s just as deep as any of the other books.  The big difference between this book and the other books, is that this book starts by taking one chord scale and really putting it through the ringer and demonstrating how to use it in ways that are intuitive and musical.   Once the process for what to do with a chord scale is demonstrated, the book  then goes on to outline all the unique chord scales from 3-12 notes!!!

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The book has a lot of performance insights and presents the material in a way I believe to be truly unique (at least I’ve never seen it dealt with this way before).  It’s incredible exciting to me, and while it’s been written as a soloing, compositional or improvisational resource for guitarists – it could be invaluable to musicians in general.

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Here’s the front  cover (more jpegs of the book can be seen below).


For more information about ordering, just skip to the bottom of the page.  For those of you who want to know more about the book, just keep reading.There are a couple of posts that I’ve put up that excerpts and adapts material directly from this book.  To get a sample of the book’s style you can check out :

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CREATING CHORDS AND LINES FROM ANY SCALE – A HARMONIC COMBINATORICS / SPREAD VOICINGS LESSON

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Making Music Out Of Scales

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The lulu.com page includes a preview option for the first 12 pages of the book, but I’ve included some additional jpegs of some of the Chord Scales book  pages below.  Since the jpegs were converted from the pdf of the book, there’s some pixelation in the jpegs that’s not present in the pdf,  but these will still give you an idea of what’s in the book.

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More Information:

If you’d like to find out more about the other books in the GuitArchitecture series, you may want to check out this post as well:

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DIFFERENT PRICING TIERS ANNOUNCED FOR BOOK PDFS

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As I said about the books, I’m striving to create content that represents something I would be psyched to find on the web and hopefully it evokes a similar reaction in you as well.

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Thanks for reading!

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GuitArchitect’s Guide to Modes Part 10 – Getting into Modal Arpeggios – Triads

Hello everyone!!

I’ll be delving into individual modes in more depth in the coming weeks and months ahead but as a preliminary step, I wanted to get into modal arpeggios a bit as they’ll be important components in future lessons.

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Scales = Chords

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Since chords and scales are made up of the building blocks (notes), they are essentially 2 sides of the same coin.

For example, let’s look at an ascending C major scale on the B and E strings:

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If we remove every other note of the first for notes we can see arpeggiated versions of the triads associated with those modes.

While 2-string arpeggios are often neglected by guitarists, they are certainly worth investigating for helping with visualization.

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2-String Triadic Visualization

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The major scale is made up of three types of triads:  major, minor and diminished. Played as unique notes, any triad has three typical voicings:

  • Root position with the root as the bass note: (i.e. Root, 3rd, 5th)
  • 1st inversion with the 3rd as the bass note: (i.e. 3rd, 5th, Root)
  • 2nd inversion with the 5th as the bass note: (i.e. 5th, Root, 3rd)

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Here are some sample fingerings of each of the chord types played as 2-string arpeggios in each inversion:

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2-string Major Scale Triads

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Now I’ll apply each of these arpeggio shapes to the C major scale starting with the root position.

As a reminder here are the triads of the C major scale.

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Since the fingerings are on 2-strings, they’ll be the same on the E/A, D/G and B/e strings.

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Here are the arpeggios in 1st inversion.  Again, since the fingerings are on 2-strings, they’ll be the same on the E/A and B/e strings as well.

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C major scale triads in 1st inversion ascending by scale degree

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And finally, here are the arpeggios in 2nd inversion.

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Putting it together positionally

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At the top of the page, I showed how I extracted arpeggios from ascending 2 string patterns.  This same process can be applied positionally.  For example, here’s a 3-note per string C major scale played  in 8th position.

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Now I’ll apply each of these arpeggio shapes to the C major scale starting with the root position. To create a modal arpeggio, simply remove every other note.  Doing so with this scale creates a C Ionian modal arpeggio.

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Modal arpeggios are sonically cool because they convey the full sound of the mode but break it out of a scalar pattern.

Modal arpeggios are cool in this method, because if you can visualize a scale then making the arpeggio is relatively easy.

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The trouble with Ionian

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The “problem” with the Ionian mode in general is that the natural 4th is an avoid tone over major 7th chords with the same root.  (i.e. C Ionian played over C maj7).  For this reason, I generally avoid Ionian as a mode and instead focus on the major scale for visualization purposes.  

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With that in mind, here ‘s another approach for using this arpeggio.

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I really dig playing this particular arpeggio over D minor – to create a D Dorian type of sound. In the example below, I’ve used the C and the E pitches on the low E string to encircle the D (one note above and one below) to help emphasize the D minor 13 sound of the arpeggio and end it on the 9th.

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The final visualization trick

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If we look at the positional arpeggio again:

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Take a close look at the positional modal arpeggio!  If you look at it as a group of 3-note shapes you’ll see that it’s actually made of of 3 triadic arpeggios: C Major, B diminished and A minor.  

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C Ionian = C maj + B dim + A min

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Going back to the 2-string scalar observation in part 3 of this post, as the pitches ascend, the related arpeggios descend.  This is true of any of the modal arpeggios – so it might be a cool way for you to visualize it! Try it with your own arpeggio forms!

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In the next post, I’ll go through 7th chord arpeggios.  In the meantime, try practicing the 2-string arpeggios over all of the chords of the C major scale:

  • C maj 7
  • D min 7
  • E min 7
  • F maj 7
  • G7
  • A min 7
  • B min7 b5

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and then over whatever other tonal centers inspire youI hope this helps!  As always, thanks for reading!

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PS  – if you like this post, you may also like:

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Books:

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Lessons

The GuitArchitect’s Guide To Modes Part 9 – Visualizing Melodic and Harmonic Minor

A while ago, I had posted that given an hour, I could get almost anyone at an intermediate level to visualize any of the Major, Melodic Minor or Harmonic Minor modes anywhere on the guitar.  In this overdue return to the serialization of the guide to modes book –  I guess this is my put up or shut up moment. ; )  Since this is print as a pixel based medium – I’m going to cover it in a lot more detail than I might normally in, say a 1/2 hour lesson.
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As a precursor, all of the information here works off of the 2-string (3 note-per string) pattern visualization method that I’ve covered in parts 3a and 3b of this series, if any of the initial shapes (or connecting ideas) in this post seem confusing, just go back and review the following:

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THE GUITARCHITECT’S GUIDE TO MODES PART 3B – Seeing The Six-String Major Scale

THE GUITARCHITECT’S GUIDE TO MODES PART 3A – Seeing The Six-String Major Scale

THE GUITARCHITECT’S GUIDE TO MODES PART 2 – Seeing The Two String Major Scale

THE GUITARCHITECT’S GUIDE TO MODES PART 1 – Seeing The Single String Major Scale

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A Pedagogical note (taken from part 2)

Since the initial emphasis of this lesson series is on sonic visualization and making sense out of 2-string and positional fingerings, I’m only dealing with visualizing parent scales (Major, Melodic Minor or Harmonic Minor in this case)  as a whole here.

While modes are always associated with a chord or a chord progression, I’m limiting harmonic options only to C Major/Melodic Minor/Harmonic Minor  for now.

Extremely important elements in this process, such as harmony, modal interchange, arpeggios, individual modes and actual music making are the topics for other posts.  Having said that, it is important to state again, that modes (or any scale), in and of themselves, are not music but are only a tool in making music.   Anything I post here should always be filtered through your own aesthetic and utilized, adapted or even ignored accordingly (i.e. take what works for you).

With that in mind here’s a review of much of the information as it relates to C major.  For the Melodic and Harmonic minor shapes – just skip down to the next section.

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Major Scale/Modal Visualization Review

  • The guitar fingerboard can be divided into 3 sets of two strings. Any 2-string fingering pattern that starts on the B string can be moved to the same starting pitch on the D or the low E string and keep the same fingering.
  • The major scale can be broken down into seven two-string modes that follow a specific order based on its scale degree from the parent scale (Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian, Locrian). The two-string patterns are modular and can be adapted to positional playing (see rules above).

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The modular 2 string modal shapes I use look like this (The numbers represent fingers).

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Here’s a C major scale played  on only the B and E strings:

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Comparing the initial shapes to the ascending pattern, the positional patterns can be broken down into the seven 2-string modal fingerings that ascend in sequential order  (i.e. C Ionian, D Dorian, E Phrygian, F Lydian, G Mixolydian, A Aeolian and B Locrian).

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Since the two-string patterns are modular they can also be adapted to positional playing.  So if we look at a C Major scale played in the 8th position and starting from C:

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This 6-string fingering can be seen as containing three distinct patterns:

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 Two-string sets of C Ionian

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Here are the important things you need to know for visualizing this:

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As the fingering pattern ascends across the strings,

the six note modal fingerings descend to the next modal pattern.  

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Like wise, as the fingering pattern descends across the strings,

the six-note modal fingerings ascend to the next modal pattern.    

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This is true of any 2-string pattern.

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Adapting Major shapes to create Melodic and Harmonic Minor fingerings

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I’ve talked before about the modal microscope and seeing things on the parent major level.  The advantage of this comes into play right here. First, let’s take another look at a C major scale played in the 8th position again:

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Here’s the audio.

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Note:

In all the audio examples, I’ve played the example first as sextuplets – then at a slower tempo (i.e. 16ths) – then as sextuplets again.

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Each mode is associated with chords as well.  Here’s a chart of the triad and 7th chords  for C Major:

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In all of the chord examples below, I’ve taken sample diatonic 7th chord shapes for the E, D, G and B strings with the roots on the low E string. These are certainly not the only way to play these chords, but if you’re not familiar with the voicings they’re not a bad place to start.  Also, while I’ve notated each chord as a 1/4 note, I’ve held each chord for 2 bar lengths (i.e. 8 beats) to be able to play the scale patterns against.

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Also, distortion tends to wash out chords with larger voicings, so for all the examples in this exercise, I’ve used a clean setting courtesy of Scuffham Amps.

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Melodic Minor

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To visualize Melodic Minor Patterns – simply flat the 3rd of the Parent Major scale.

(i.e. to visualize C Melodic Minor just play C major but change every E  to Eb).

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It’s important to note that all of the fingering conventions mentioned here are solely to assist with visualization. Melodic and Harmonic Minor really aren’t directly related to the Major scale sonically.  

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Melodic Minor short cuts:

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Using the Parent Major patterns above here’s a list of short cut’s to help you visualize the patterns.

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Note: in the F Lydian shape – there’s no change from the major shape since there’s no Eb in the 2-string pattern.

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Here’s the initial melodic pattern with the modified major fingerings written above the 2-string shapes:

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Here are the diatonic triads and 7th chords.

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Try playing the initial C Melodic Minor shape over any of these chords..

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Harmonic Minor

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To visualize Harmonic Minor Patterns – simply flat the 3rd and the 6th of the Parent Major scale.

(i.e. to visualize C Harmonic Minor just play C major but change every E  to Eb and every A  to Ab).

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Here are the pattern adaptations.  In a situation like this, it can get confusing to remember a formula like “Dorian b2, b5” so as an alternative you may just want to try remembering something like “Pattern 1” for Ionian b3, b6, “Pattern 2” for Dorian b2, b5, etc.

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Here’s the same scale pattern – I left off Pattern 6 by mistake but the sequence is Ionian b3, b6 (Pattern 1 ), Locrian b4 (Pattern 7) and Ionian b5, bRoot (Pattern 6).  You can really see this if you compare it to the initial major patterns.
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Here are the diatonic triads and 7th chords:
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Try playing the initial C Harmonic Minor shape over any of these chords…
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Performance Notes:

  • This whole process just a short cut for a visualization process to see C Major/Melodic Minor/Harmonic Minor on the fingerboard.  In parts 3a and 3b of this series, I’ve provided every C major positional fingering.  As a first step, you should consider adapting each of those fingerings to Melodic and Harmonic Minor.  After you get the shapes under your fingers, try moving them to other keys as well.
  • In addition to using a time keeping device of some kind (like a metronome, drum loop, etc) playing along to a chord or a bass note will help establish tonality and help associate each pattern with a sound).  I’ll get more into application in further lessons, but for now try playing the patterns over any of the bass notes or chords in the mp3s and once you get familiar with the chord shapes, try writing tunes or solos with the material.

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Technical Notes:

  • While it’s natural to want to progress quickly, trying to play too quickly too soon results in excess hand tension which will increase the difficulty of what you’re trying to play.  Fluidity comes from focused, relaxed repetition.  
  • Fretting hand: When playing these patterns, practice using just the fingertip to fret the notes and use the minimum amount of tension needed for the note to sound cleanly.  Additionally, try to keep the fingers down on the strings when playing and remove them from the string only when necessary.
  • Picking Hand:  Try using the above picking pattern on the top two strings or alternate picking.
  • Practice the scale ascending and descending and really focus on clarity of notes, hand tension and timing.  Even many intermediate to advanced players can gain something by really focusing on making clean transitions between the fingering shapes.
  • Isolate problem areas and work out.  You’re not going to be able to play the sequence cleanly if any of the individual components aren’t 100%.  This isn’t a bad thing.  Things you develop over time are more likely to stay with you (and thus be accessible when you’re improvising).

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Musical:

  • Making music from the patterns is a whole other skill set, but you need to know where to put your fingers on the strings while you  bend, slide and phrase your way into making music.  Having said that, since the visualization process doesn’t take that long,  as soon as you get the shapes down I’d recommend to start manipulating them to try to make them more musical to your ear.   See Part 2 of this series for more specifics or the making music out of scales post for some suggestions for how to do this.

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Like I said before, I’ll be going deeper into using these scales (and using them in other harmonic contexts) in future posts.  With any lesson material, I recommend you just go through the lesson at your own pace and return as you need to.  Please feel free to post any questions you might have (or pm me at guitar.blueprint@gmail.com).

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I hope this helps.   As always, thanks for reading!

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P.S. If you like this post – you may also like:

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Books:

The GuitArchitect’s Guide To Modes: Harmonic Combinatorics “Pre-Release” Now Available

THE GUITARCHITECT’S POSITIONAL EXPLORATION PRE-RELEASE NOW AVAILABLE

THE GUITARCHITECT’S GUIDE TO MODES: MELODIC PATTERNS BOOK “PRE-RELEASE” NOW AVAILABLE

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LESSONS

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Modes:

The Modal Microscope And A Sequenced Arpeggio Approach

Slash and Burn – Creating More Complex Sounds With Slash Chords

The GuitArchitect’s Guide to Modes Part 8 – Major Positional Modal Interchange and Complimenting Modes with Chords

THE GUITARCHITECT’S GUIDE TO MODES PART 7 – MINOR POSITIONAL MODAL INTERCHANGE AND COMPLIMENTING MODES WITH CHORDS

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THE GUITARCHITECT’S GUIDE TO MODES PART 6 – THE CIRCLE OF 5THS AND MODAL INTERCHANGE

THE GUITARCHITECT’S GUIDE TO MODES PART 5 – MAKING THE MOST OF ONE PATTERN

The GuitArchitect’s Guide To Modes Part 4 – Modes and Chords

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THE GUITARCHITECT’S GUIDE TO MODES PART 3B – SEEING THE SIX-STRING MAJOR SCALE

THE GUITARCHITECT’S GUIDE TO MODES PART 3A – SEEING THE SIX-STRING MAJOR SCALE

THE GUITARCHITECT’S GUIDE TO MODES PART 2 – SEEING THE TWO STRING MAJOR SCALE

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The GuitArchitecture Guide To Modes Part 1 – Seeing The Single String Major Scale

Making Music Out Of Scales

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Pentatonics:

Making Sense Of The Pentatonic Scale – Diagonal Forms – Part Two

MAKING SENSE OF THE PENTATONIC SCALE – DIAGONAL FORMS – PART ONE

Free Sweeping Pentatonic Minor Scale Lesson on Live4Guitar.com now online

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2 STRING SHAPES OR MAKING SENSE OF THE PENTATONIC MINOR SCALE

THE BAKER’S DOZEN APPROACH TO PENTATONIC SCALES

GUITARCHITECTURE, SONIC VISUALIZATION AND A PENTATONIC APPROACH FOR THE HOLIDAYS

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Chords/Triads/Superimposition/Arpeggios:

CREATING CHORDS AND LINES FROM ANY SCALE – A HARMONIC COMBINATORICS / SPREAD VOICINGS LESSON

AUGMENT YOUR KNOWLEDGE: SONIC SHAPES AND GETTING MORE FROM AUGMENTED CHORDS

Slash and Burn – Creating More Complex Sounds With Slash Chords

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GETTING HIPNESS FROM A MAJOR TRIAD OR MORE CHORD RECYCLING PART 3

Getting Hipness From A Major Triad Or More Chord Recycling Part 2

GETTING HIPNESS FROM A MAJOR TRIAD OR MORE CHORD RECYCLING PART 1

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Getting Through The Gig – Negotiating A Chord Chart Part 3

Getting Through The Gig – Negotiating A Chord Chart Part 2

GETTING THROUGH THE GIG – NEGOTIATING A CHORD CHART PART 1

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RECYCLING CHORDS PART II: TRIAD TRANSFORMATION

RECYCLING CHORDS PART I OR WHERE’S THE ROOT?

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FAVORED CURRY OR SPICING UP CHORD SCALES AND TRIADS PART 2

FAVORED CURRY OR SPICING UP CHORD SCALES AND TRIADS PART 1

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RECYCLING SHAPES OR MODULAR ARPEGGIOS FOR FUN AND PROFIT

GLASS NOODLES – ADAPTING A PHILIP GLASS ARPEGGIO APPROACH TO GUITAR

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Practicing:

MELVILLE, MADNESS AND PRACTICING – OR FINDING THE DEEPER LESSON PART 2

Some Useful Online Practice Tools

POSSESSION IS 9/10S OF THE LAW BUT PERCEPTION IS EVERYTHING OR PRACTICING PART VII

TESTING YOUR VOCABULARY OR PRACTICING PART VI

PRACTICE WHAT YOU PLAY OR PRACTICING PART V

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DEFINITIONS AND DOCUMENTS OR PRACTICING PART IV

TENSION AND THE SODA CAN OR PRACTICING PART III

PROPER POSTURE IS REQUIRED FOR PROPER PERFORMANCE – PRACTICING PART II

PRACTICE MAKES BETTER AKA PRACTICING PART I

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Visualizing Video Game Licks Or An Intro To Symmetrical 12 Tone Guitar Patterns

Hello everyone!

Update:  My updated 12-tone pattern book is out!  I want to give you a precursor by showing you a cool approach to working 12-tone ideas into your playing.  This is a really long lesson because it’s tough to distill 200+ pages of material into a web post, but just take it in bite sized chunks and come back to it as you need to and I’m sure you’ll get something from it.

First, a little bit about the book!

12 Tone Cover small

The physical book and the e-book pdf are available on Lulu.com or on Amazon.com (or any of the international Amazon sites).

Symmetrical_12_Tone_Cover_Low Res

Symmetrical Twelve Tone Patterns is a 284 page book with a large reference component  and about 100 pages of extensive notated examples and instruction.

What makes this book different (apart from the cover) and what I’m most excited about offering is a bundle of files that will help readers maximize material in the book.  The bundle contains:

  • Guitar Pro files of all the examples in the book (in GP6 and GP5 format). For those of you unfamiliar with this musical notation, tablature platform and playback program, having Guitar Pro files means that the reader can hear the examples without having a  guitar handy and can work as a phrase trainer to help the reader get the examples to up to speed.

  • MIDI files of the musical examples.
  • PDFs of the musical examples.
  • MP3s of all the musical examples (again, exported from the same material).

Symmetrical Twelve-Tone Patterns presents 12-tone patterns in both improvisational and compositional contexts.  It shows how to create various intervallic lines and creates the outline of a tune and dissects how all the parts were created using this method.  If you’re looking for ways to explore new avenues in playing or in your writing this is the book for you!

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Fire up the video game

When I heard the Praxis Transmutation (Mutatis Mutandis) record, I was blown away with Buckethead’s playing.  It also came at a time that I was getting into a lot of 12-tone music and trying to figure out how to adapt those things to guitar and his intervallic/atonal tapping ideas in particular seemed to go in a completely different direction that the 12-tone ideas I heard Jason Becker and Marty Friedman throw into their playing.

Public Service Announcement (i.e. a brief note about playing out):

Playing out just means playing note choices outside of a given tonality.  By its very nature, playing out requires an ability to play “in” because it requires a contextual contrast. So my suggestion is that you make sure you develop your ability to play in a tonality as well as outside of it.  (Also as a FYI – playing out is easy, but musicians are often judged by how musically they get back in).

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Every once in a while, I get a hankerin’ for what I call “video game licks” (or symmetrical interval legato licks with a lot of gain and an unclear harmony).  Shawn Lane could veer into that territory when he wanted to but for me, Buckethead is pretty much the king of this approach.

In the lick below, I’ve worked all 12 tones into a two-handed idea that uses pick and fret hand tapping. I’ve kept it short so that you can focus on the coordination between both hands, but I’ve included a longer version of the lick after it.  As the lick uses all 12 tones, it doesn’t belong to any one key so try playing it over various chords or riffs of your choosing.

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Technical Notes:

  • If you want to get this lick under your fingers, pay attention to the 3 T’s (hand tension, timing and tone) as you practice this.
  • Try to make sure that the motion from the fingers for striking the strings comes from the large knuckle of the hand (for more information on this see the glass noodles post).
  • The pattern is a variation on the tapping figure Greg Howe uses in kick it all over.  It’s written in groups of 6 to fit into one bar –  but just practice it slowly as triplets to get the initial speed and coordination down.
  • I never got into muti-finger tapping on phrases like this one (I just use the middle finger of the picking hand while I hold the pick with the index finger and thumb), but using the ring, middle and first finger on the picking hand for the upper register tapping you could probably work the phrase up to a tempo 30 bmp faster than this one.

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Short lick faster

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Short lick slower

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Here’s an extended variation that moves the fingering pattern to the B and D strings.  While the pattern doesn’t keep all of the same intervals as the first example, it has enough continuity to sound like the same 12 tone idea. One recommendation I have is not to get into the dogmatic practice of having to use all twelve tones. If 10 notes work well, use ten notes. In any process like this, use the rules that work for you and discard the rest.

While not notated, this pattern uses all of the same fingerings and note attacks as the first example.

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Longer lick faster

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Longer lick slower

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Here’s how I’m visualizing this and how you can generate a lot of ideas from this one approach.

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The 12-tone pattern vs the 12 tone row

When I first got into 12 tone music and tried to think of a way to incorporate it into improvising, I grabbed some Webern and Berg tone rows (in an over-simplified description – a tone row is a restructured chromatic scale that is used for melodic and harmonic material) and tried improvising with them.

It was pretty dismal.

I found them really hard to improvise with because the row material was difficult to memorize and the number of notes made it difficult to use in an improvisation and then I thought about generating 12-tone patterns instead of working with rows.

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Patterns can be useful in improvisation because:

  • they can be used to generate motifs, or themes
  • they can be manipulated in real-time and
  • they can establish recognizable elements of control in an improvisation.

The other advantage of a pattern is that its intervallic consistency adds an internal drive to melodic ideas.   The notes of the pattern move in and out of various tonalities, so it sounds “out” but not random (although you can modify it to be as random as you’d like.

In the 12 tone pattern book I wrote, I used a chromatic scale as a template for generating symmetrical patterns for improvisation. Intervallically uniform, the 12 notes of the chromatic scale are evenly divisible by the numbers: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 and 12.  Since divisions of 1 and 12 do not divide the row into a more useable set, they can be ignored.  This leaves:

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6 equal divisions:

(of a descending chromatic scale staring on C)

C B / Bb A /Ab G /Gb F / E Eb / D Db

Taking the first note of each division gives us:

 C, Bb, Ab, Gb/F#, E, D

aka: Whole tone scale (any note root)

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A 12-tone pattern can be created by putting notes in between the notes of the whole tone scale.   Note that the intervals between all the 2-note divisions are symmetrical.

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C B / Bb A /Ab G /Gb F / E Eb / D Db

C A / Bb G /Ab F /Gb Eb / E Db / D B

C G / Bb F /Ab Eb /Gb Db / E B / D A

C F / Bb Eb /Ab Db /Gb B / E A / D G

C Eb/ Bb Db /Ab B /Gb A / E G / D F

C Db/ Bb B /Ab A /Gb G / E F / D Eb

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One advantage to symmetrical patterns is that they work off of divisions you probably already know.  If you can visualize a whole-tone scale, for example, filling in the other notes of the pattern becomes relatively easy.

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4 equal divisions of the row:

C B Bb /A Ab G / Gb F E / Eb D Db

aka: C, Eb, Gb, A (Bbb)

aka: Diminished 7 chord (any note root)

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3 equal divisions of the row:

C B Bb A /Ab G Gb F / E Eb D Db

aka: C E G#

aka:Augmented triad (any note root)

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2 equal divisions of the row yields:

C B Bb A Ab G  / (Gb/F#) F E Eb D Db

aka: Tritone interval either note could be root

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Using the divisions to create a 12-tone pattern

Here’s how I came up with the original example.  Using a diminished 7th chord as a starting point, the rest of the twelve tones could be filled in by playing three additional notes off each chord tone. Let’s say you have D diminished 7th chord (since any note in a diminished 7th chord can be a root it’s also a B, F and Ab diminished 7th chord).

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B D F Ab

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By adding 3 notes not already in use to each starting pitch you can create a 12-tone row. If you work out the same intervals on these notes you get a symmetrical twelve-tone pattern.

B  (Perfect 5th down) E, (minor 2nd down) D#

D (Perfect 5th down) G, (minor 2nd down) F#

F (Perfect 5th down) Bb, (minor 2nd down) A

Ab (Perfect 5th down) Db, (minor 2nd down) C

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Adapting it to guitar

Where this gets cool part 1:

If we restructure the order of the first notes we get two tritones a minor 3rd apart.  Since the E and G strings are a minor 3rd apart this means that the fingering pattern will be the same on both sets of strings.

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Where this gets cool part 2:

As I’ve mentioned before, using standard tuning the guitar can be visualized as three sets of strings tuned in 4ths.  So this means that the same fingering can be used to generate the same intervals on the G and D strings.

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From here, you can see where the approach for the first lick came from.

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Taking it further

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Another nice thing about patterns is that they’re easy to manipulate and draw other ideas from.  Let’s take a look at the first 12 notes:

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You can change the last four notes to create new lines.

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Here are these two ideas in notation and tab.

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You could apply the same two-handed idea we’ve been looking at to any of these patterns or, better yet, apply your own!

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Here are the last two patterns starting with F-Bb

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The next step is to change the middle notes of the pattern.

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This creates 4 new patterns that start with F-E-A, F-E-Eb/D#, F-E-C and F-E-F#.

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Here’s the same idea applied to F-C#/Db

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And finally, patterns starting with F-G.

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To sum up, that’s 16 very different licks all pulled from one approach and one initial pattern.  This is really the tip of the iceberg for this concept but as you can see, you really don’t need more than one approach to get the ideas flowing and use them on your own.

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Note:

Sometimes you get an idea and think that you’re doing something unique. You get all excited about it until (if you’re me) you realize that Dave Creamer addressed many of these points back in the June 1989 issue of Guitar Player. Dave’s article inspired me to continue to research this book and try to present similar material my own way.

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* (I should also mention in passing that (with the better part of a year’s worth of research) –  The GuitArchitect’s Guide to Symmetrical 12-Tone Patterns shows all possible symmetrical patterns for the 2, 3, 4 and 6 note divisions above.)

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I hope this helps and thanks for reading!

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12 Tone Cover small

The physical book and the e-book pdf are available on Lulu.com or on Amazon.com (or any of the international Amazon sites)

Symmetrical_12_Tone_Cover_Low Res

Symmetrical Twelve Tone Patterns is a 284 page book with a large reference component  and about 100 pages of extensive notated examples and instruction.

What makes this book different (apart from the cover) and what I’m most excited about offering is a bundle of files that will help readers maximize material in the book.  The bundle contains:

  • Guitar Pro files of all the examples in the book (in GP6 and GP5 format). For those of you unfamiliar with this musical notation, tablature platform and playback program, having Guitar Pro files means that the reader can hear the examples without having a  guitar handy and can work as a phrase trainer to help the reader get the examples to up to speed.

  • MIDI files of the musical examples.
  • PDFs of the musical examples.
  • MP3s of all the musical examples (again, exported from the same material).

Symmetrical Twelve-Tone Patterns presents 12-tone patterns in both improvisational and compositional contexts.  It shows how to create various intervallic lines and creates the outline of a tune and dissects how all the parts were created using this method.  If you’re looking for ways to explore new avenues in playing or in your writing this is the book for you!

I like physical books and the softbound version looks really good on my music stand – but I understand that some people like pdfs. The softbound copy GuitArchitect’s Guide To Symmetrical Twelve-Tone Patterns is $35 (though it’s currently selling for $31.50 on Amazon) and the e-book pdf is $15.   Both are available from The GuitArchitecture Product page on Lulu.