Teacher’s Circus And The Seeming Disconnect Of Events In TIme

Hello all!

It’s been a bit since I’ve posted anything.  KoriSoron has been more active and we’ve been playing more shows and working on new material and it’s been great for my acoustic playing.  Working with players like Farzad Golpayegani and Dean Mirabito lights a fire under my seat because if I’m coasting on something – they’ll run right over over me.

I find that pushing myself live and coming to gigs without preconceived licks or approaches and trying to make something happen in the moment brings out the best and worst moments in my playing.  Typically it either sounds great or I wipe out and have to try recover as quickly as possible.  It highlights the chasm between the things I can imagine and the things I can execute in a live setting and gives me a lot of things to add to my “to do” list of things to work on.

I found myself getting frustrated with one particular idea that wasn’t coming together this evening and I thought of a particular event from my wayward youth that reminded me of a lesson I learned about the perceived disconnect of events in time.

Teacher’s Circus

I went to a small town high school.  I think this happend whenI was a sophomore….maybe a junior.  We weren’t seniors so we had some status in school but we were pretty far down in the pecking order.  There was a lot of trying to look “cool” around the “cool” kids.

We had a small computer lab at the school.  I don’t remember the deal, but if you took a programming language or a class that involved the use of said computers, you could get a pass that would allow you to hand out in the computer lab with your friends rather than study hall, which was just a large room with everyone in it.

It was a status thing and, it’s worth mentioning that the administration hated the computer room.  They didn’t hate the room itself but they recognized that the people that were hanging out there were going to be the type of people that were smart enough to clean up after the mischief that they created and make it more difficult to catch them in their troublemaking.

So one day I, again wanting to be cool and being one of the people who thought he was funny, went on the computer and in about 10 minutes wrote up a little ditty called, “Teacher’s Circus”, which invited people to come out to an imaginary circus featuring several faculty members, the superintendent and a fellow student engaged in unnatural and illicit acts for public amusement.  One of the older students thought this was hilarious (as did my friends) so she asked me to print out a copy.  No problemIt’s funny right?  We all had a good laugh.

Fast forward to about 2 months later.

I’m in a choir rehearsal on a Friday afternoon just waiting for the day to end as I have some friends coming over later to watch horror movies.  In the middle of the rehearsal, the superintendent comes in and says he needs to see me.  I walk out with him and ask what’s wrong.  I didn’t do anything wrong that Friday, so I figured whatever the issue was –  it wasn’t something I did so it would get resolved.  He doesn’t say a word until we get to the office.  He closes the door and pulls out a well worn and wrinkled  piece of computer paper and starts to read, “Come one come all to the Teacher’s Circus….” and I feel my heart sink to the floor because I’m busted.

I try to interrupt him (and avoid further humiliation) by saying, “You don’t need to read anymore – I know what it says.”  but he reads the entire page and concludes by saying, “We know you wrote this.”

I should mention a few small facts here:

1.  My school size was something like 800 students K-12.  Our graduating class had over 90 people and some of the staff were freaking out and wondering how they were going to graduate a group that size.

2.  The town I grew up in had about 2,000 people.  Everyone knew everyone else’s business.

3.  My father was a teacher in this microscopic public school system.

4.  My love of books had, at this point in my life, extended to philosophy.  In particular, I was reading what I could about Stoicism and somehow (probably through a comic book) got very interested in the code of ethics surrounding the Samurai.  I had read the Book of 5 Rings and the Hagakure and there were a lot of thoughts in my head at the time about concepts like honor.

So, I didn’t deny it.

“We know you wrote this.”

“Yes I did.  I wrote it.”

At that point my dad was brought in.  He wasn’t sure why he was summoned to another building in the middle of the working school day but when he head the thing I wrote he slapped the glasses off of my face.  Then he backhanded me and I saw the superintendent smile, and I was enraged that he was taking delight in my misfortune.

The rest of the story I’ll leave out here.  Let’s just say that the situation deteriorated from there and after I got home, certain disciplinary methods were employed that he’d likely be arrested for employing today.

In the recovery period from said discipline, it was then revealed to me that my punishment would be my dad driving me to each one of his co-worker’s houses that weekend where I would then apologize to all of them in person.  That was done on Saturday.  We spent about 4-6 hours driving in the car over that day and not talking.  Finally, at one point he said (in complete seriousness), “Well I guess it could have been worse…you could have murdered someone.”  In his mind, that was the enormity of the crime that I committed. I was embarrassed and felt dumb and was also well aware that if this was anyone else – they would have been suspended and that would be the end of it – but as my dad taught there – well – we had to make a Federal case out of it.

Now let me tell you something.  That experience really screwed me up for a while.

The big lesson that I learned at the moment was that I needed to be paranoid   because there was a complete disconnect in my head from the thing I did and when I got busted for it.  Whenever someone asked me a question after that day, the first thought that went through my head was, “What did I do now?” and then a running inventory of any real or imagined thing I did would cause extreme nervousness.  This went on for decades…

Now perhaps I’m just rationalizing a pretty horrific memory with my dad, but this event may have been one of the first things that got me to start to think about long term implications of things.

So what does this have to do with guitar playing?

As the thing I was practicing this evening was getting frustrating I thought about this story and my perception of disconnect of events in time.  You don’t always get rewarded now (or punished now) for the things you’re doing right now (unless you post them on YouTube).  Those things generally happen later.  Sometime, much later.

The things you play live don’t just magically happen.  They come from years of concentrated work to develop the skill set to a level where the execution is innate.  The gigs that people get generally start with connections that have been developed over time and are kept based on the well honed skills that have also been developed over time.  Yes – sometimes there’s luck – but the purely lucky fade almost instantly.  The overnight success is a myth that usually built on a foundation of years of work that seems fruitless and unfair at the time.

So the reminder to myself?  Don’t get frustrated.  It’s a temporary setback.  Show up.  Put the work in now and see the benefits later.

It’s good advice.  (I’d also recommend not saying or putting anything in print that you wouldn’t want to be quoted on later. If something you say can be taken out of context and used against you – be prepared to address it later on.)

Back to the shed.  More things coming soon and, as always, thanks for reading!


KoriSoron Follow Up – Video – New Shows – And A Useful Audio Hack For Piezo Guitars

The KoriSoron Soft Launch

The soft launch went well and to answer the Craigslist Question raised in the previous post, yes we brought people and made money in tips (more than we would have made for the same number of people playing a club with three other people on the bill.

Farzad Golpayegani (the other guitarist in Korisoron) has been editing video and posting them (a thankless job the table he had the camera on had people talking the entire time so finding segments without conversation was difficult but he did manage to pull these together.


Upcoming shows:

We DO have more shows coming up as a direct result of this one:

  • Friday, September 12 Moon and River Cafe – 8pm-10pm
  • Thursday, September 25th – Proctor’s GE Theatre (as part of Festival Cinema Invisible‘s kick off event) 7pm-10pm full information can be found here!

And more shows coming up in October and November while we prep for a new recording.

The Audio Hack

We have an extra ZT Lunchbox Acoustic coming to us but we weren’t able to coordinate with ZT in time for the Moon and River gig so rather than having one great sound – we ended up going direct to the PA. While that isn’t the worst thing that’s ever happened in the history of the world, it was a drag to hear that piezo through a PA tone.  (BTW – We are SO excited about the ZT Acoustic amps because they sound simply AMAZING).  There was no Pie in that piezo….

While Farzad was editing the video he texted me and asked if I could check out the audio from the Zoom H2n recorder I had on site.  I had run a line off the Fender Passport PA into the recorder’s 1/8″ input.  The sound was what you expected by now but then I remembered something…

Didn’t I have a Yamaha AG Stomp, that’s specifically designed to handle piezo guitar signals?

A trip to GC to pick up a $50 Behringer mixer w. an FX send on clearance got me this:

AG Stomp

Here’s what’s going on here:

As I already transferred the WAV file to my laptop, I used Fission to break it the large file up into individual tracks and then ran the signal out the headphone jack of my Apogee Duet (to give the signal a little better sound) and into the Behringer mixer. The Behringer didn’t allow me to run the FX send off of the RCA inputs, so I used a stereo 1/4″ to 2 1/8″ cables to get the signal to the 5/6 channels of the mixer.  Since sends are typically mono on units in this price range and the return is stereo, I set up the gain staging of the unit and ran a single cable from the FX Send to the AG Stomp input then ran the stereo send back to the Mixer.

Funny thing though…..

I couldn’t get the return blend to sound right in the mixer, so I just ended up going direct from the headphone out of the AS Stomp back into the H2N.

I’m guessing that here in our story is where the questions will start.

Couldn’t you (I) have just done that in software?

Interestingly enough, I tried using the Positive Grid Jam Up Acoustic Sim with a Line 6 Sonic Port and it didn’t hold a candle to the AG Stomp.

and yes, I probably could have used a plug in like MonoMaker and just run a signal out of the laptop into the AG stomp – but honestly this was just a much easier solution for me.

How did it turn out?

Funny story…

Apparently I had the wrong setting on the Hn2 which recorded the line in AND anything coming through the PA on the mic. This means it was affecting a wierd mix of the direct signal AND a recorded room tone that was recorded BEHIND US sitting on the piano!

The short answer is it sounds better than the unaffected file bout would have sounded WAY WAY better if I read the manual and had the H2n on the right setting.  As I type this, the audio is still rendering, so I’ll have to post excerpts soon.

You may be thinking at this point,

Oh that might be useful for me later on.

Here’s the thing though….

This process started at 10am.  It’s 12 hours later and I’m still working on it.  Mind you, I DID get a few other things done in that time, but it took a number fo false starts to get it together.  Had I thought of it, I could have run it through the FX send of the PA and saved myself A LOT of editing and rendering time later.

So the lesson I’m really facing here is, do it right the first time because sometimes the cure is just as bad as the ailment!  The good news is that the idea is an interesting one, and I may use this approach for additional guitar processing for recording in the future.

More photos, clips and other miscellany to come!

In the meantime, our website and FB page are in a soft launch – but we’re putting content up pretty regularly now so you should see more things there each day from here on out.



As always thanks for reading!


Paco De Lucia has left the building

Paco De Lucia died today.


In public, I remain stoic.  I reflect on the fact that the nature of life is terminal and that even though losing Paco is painful that it is a much better alternative to him never having been here at all.

In private though, I am heartbroken and this is a devastating loss to me.

When I was growing up, I saw a transcription for Al DiMeloa’s Mediterranean Sundance that included Al’s (and part of Paco’s) solo.  When I finally heard the Friday Night in San Francisco recording, I was knocked out.  Much of my senior year was spent getting DiMeola’s wicked picking together but the stuff that really grabbed me was Paco’s playing.  It had all the speed and fire of DiMeola and a depth to it that was other worldly.

Years later when DiMeola, McLaughlin and De Lucia toured again I got to see them at Boston’s Symphony Hall.  I was six rows back and the tickets cost me a small fortune, but, in retrospect it was a moment I was waiting my whole life for.

DiMeola sat on the left hand side of the stage with his Ovation guitar plugged into a mini-refrigerator sized rack mount unit.  McLaughlin sat on a piano bench on the right going into a small Sony digital unit.  De Lucia sat in the middle with a mike on the guitar.  I understand that privately the men did not speak to each other on tour and I do not know if there was an argument before the show, but Paco came to the stage that day as a matador.  He played circles around two world class players and then drove it home.  People may have had opinions about who did what before the show, but the only name I heard after the show was Paco (except for my friend Scott Crosby who was on a McLaughlin kick at the time but he can certainly be forgiven ; ) )

In Flamenco, there is a concept called Duende.  In its simplest possible description – it’s basically the goosebump moment.  The moment that the hair stands up on the back of your neck and all of your attention gets dragged into the moment.  Paco could summon duende, and it was always lurking behind every nuance of his playing.

He used flamenco for a vehicle for self-expression and had such a unique voice that, starting with his work with Camarón, he created new forms and new definitions of Flamenco.  He is also the guy who brought the cajón to Flamenco.

Paco used technique as a means to an end, “I have always found that the more technique you have the easier it is to express yourself. If you lack technique you lose the freedom to create.”  He combined a number of existing techniques in a manner and accuracy that had never been done before.   He set a standard by which all other players would be judged.  He inspired legions of other guitarists and musicians who all strove for that power.

There is basically Flamenco before Paco and Flamenco after Paco.

There will be many players in his wake who will technically dominate the instrument but there will never be another Paco.

For my money, the greatest player that ever walked the Earth.

Paco De Lucia has left the building.  And the building is much smaller than before.

A Public Service Announcement – Stuart Adamson – Holidays – And Seasonal Affective Disorder

Stuart Adamson

I’ve been thinking a lot about Stuart Adamson (guitarist and founder of Big Country) lately as I knew that the anniversary (not the term I’d like to use here – but the only one that comes to mind) of his death is in December (it turns out it was December 16th.).

The first time I heard, “In a big country” and heard the way the the guitars were imitating bagpipes, I was blown away.  It never occurred to me that a guitar could imitate other instruments and in a lot of ways – the explorations I’ve made in adapting techniques and approaches from other cultures to guitar all stem from that initial door being opened for me.

It is incredibly awful to realize that the man who wrote these lyrics:

“…I’m not expecting to grow flowers in the desert,
But I can live and breathe and see the sun in wintertime..

And in a big country, dreams stay with you,
Like a lover’s voice, fires the mountainside..
Stay alive..”

would be found dead by his own hand in a hotel.

I don’t know anything about Stuart Adamson.  I don’t know anything about the pressures that drove him to such a desperate act so his particular situation isn’t something I feel comfortable discussing.

will say that coming into this season reminds me again of those I know with Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) and the winter holidays are always particularly difficult (and sometimes very desperate) times for them.

If you or someone you know is prone to depression around the holidays – please seek out (or encourage them to seek out) professional help (if you or they are not doing so already).

Even if professional help is not available at the hour you might need it if you are feeling desperate at a minimum try to reach out to other people.

And if other people need help, please make yourself available to them.  Sometimes a caring friend is just enough to get people past a dark moment long enough that they don’t do something rash.

No matter how physically or emotionally isolated you might perceive yourself to be – there are people who care about you.  We are all interconnected.  We all affect other people.


In the U.S. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.


Again, I don’t know anything about Stuart Adamson.  But in listening to The Crossing, I can’t help but think the world is a smaller place without him.

An Unusual Capo Variation And Milking A Vamp

Hey everyone!

I haven’t posted a lesson in a while here – so I though I’d post a really quick one for getting some mileage out of a single chord vamp.  This is a little something I improvised on a tune for a live performance that’s now a loop based riff I build on live with a tentative title of, “remedial looping”.

That E Minor thing

First, let me take a BIG cue from my harmonic combinatorics book.  When I look at an E minor chord – harmonically I see something like this:

E Minor Harmonization

So whether it’s an E minor/ Em7 / Em9 / Emin 11 (b13) – I know that playing any notes from the E natural minor/G major scale will get be SOME variation of the above chords.

As a start let’s look at an E minor 7 chord:

E minor 7

Interesting observation – if I look at the barred notes on the 5th fret:

5th fret barre

The notes are all found in the parent scale.  If I think of this voicing as a virtual capo and drop some of the notes on the 7th fret of the E minor chord to the 5th fret I get this really cool chordal cluster:

E min 7 (add 11 add b13)

Going further – I could use open strings instead of the 5th fret and get a less clustered sound.  Instead, I decided to flip my capo around and use it as a partial capo on the second fret so that the low E string would ring out unobstructed but the rest of the notes on the second string would be fretted by the capo.

2nd Fret Partial Capo

Using the same idea as the previous example here’s the same modified Emin7 shape using notes on the 2nd fret instead of the 7th fret.

E min 7 sus 4

Make sure to play through those clusters individually as there are some good sounds there!

Put it together in a little string slaps for percussive effect and you have a little groove like this:

E min vamp


Note:  I play the notes on the B and D strings with the 3rd and 4th finger while I move the capo.  How I attack the D-E at the end of each measure will depend on fingering.  Sometimes I’ll slide and some times I’ll hammer on.

This is a pretty simple idea, but there are a few challenges with executing it cleanly.  Just remember to pay attention to the 3 T’s (Timing, Tone and (hand) Tension) and be aware of your finger position to make sure that the strings all ring out.

File under – a little theory can go a long ways!  I’ve left a number of variations out of the lesson to have one simple thing for you to develop on your own.

Good luck!


PS for those of you who are interested – this was tracked on my iPhone with the JamUp Pro app and a Line 6 Sonic Port interface.  A review of the Jam Up app will be up in the weeks ahead on Guitar-Muse.

Announcing My New Podcast and Website – Guit-A-Grip

Hello everyone!

I just wanted to let you know that I have a new blog and a new podcast called:


You can find the website here: guitagrip.com 

You can find the podcast on iTunes here:


GuitArchitecture VS Guit-A-Grip

Simply put, GuitArchitecture focuses on a specific methodology for how to play guitar while  Guit-A-Grip focuses on the philosophical/psychological underpinnings addressing the why of guitar playing.

A number of posts in this area currently on GuitArchitecture will gradually be migrating over to Guit-A-Grip with all new content there as well.  There’s been some site clean-up here already and there should be more coming soon.

For those of you who are concerned – don’t worry – both sites will still maintain the same 2004 Web design standards ; )

So GuitArchitecture isn’t going anywhere – it’s focus is just going to be tightened on the physical and technical aspects of guitar.

The Podcast

The Guit-A-Grip podcast is going to be weekly(ish) and there’ll be a new podcast up before the end of the week. Hopefully it’s something you’ll dig.  If you do – please leave a review on iTunes!

I’ll update this post later with some more info and observations – but in the meantime I invite you to join me in Guiting-A-Grip.

As always, thanks for reading!


A Transparent Guitar And A Translucent Lesson

Hello everyone!

I hope this finds you well!  I have a couple of quick updates and a new lesson here for you today.

Guitar-Muse update:

Just in case you didn’t see it, I just wanted to let you know that a new review / tutorial on what to look for when buying a new guitar is up on Guitar-Muse right now.  Interested parties can check that out here.

Book Update:

All of the GuitArchitect’s Guide To… covers are done and up online.  You can see the revised editions here.  The Pentatonic book is getting a graphic overhaul and cleaned up for the print edition.  But I should have a new cover (and a revised edition) up by April.

Update Update:

I’ll have a couple of big announcements to make in the weeks ahead, but I think that it’s going to be good news for the readers of this blog and perhaps offer something truly useful.  So stay tuned – I might have an announcement (and something new to offer) as early as next week.

And an overdue lesson:

It’s been a spell since I’ve posted a lesson here (most of the lesson material for 2013 has been transcription work and lessons for Guitar-Muse), so I thought I’d rectify that with the following little morsel.  One thing I hope to do more in the future is offer bite sized lessons rather than the 3-6,000 word uber-lessons I’ve put up in the past.  Hopefully by making the lessons shorter, I can get them posted in a more routine fashion.

“You say you want a substitution…”

Okay – maybe none of you were saying that but I’ve got a string skipping idea that I think you might dig and want to explain where it’s coming from.

In this lesson, we’ll start with an F Pentatonic Minor (F, Ab, Bb, C, Eb)…and then add some notes to make something cool.

Visualizing the scale:

The first step in this lick is to visualize F Pentatonic minor in the 8th position.  The first group of notes in the example below is a F Pentatonic Minor scale.  In the second figure, I’ve removed the Bb  and moved the Ab to the G string to make it a 3-note-per string idea with a similar fingering.

 F Pent Minor - F Pent Minor 2 string

I find that removing notes from a straight scale-based pattern helps open up the sound of the scale as well when playing it in a linear fashion.

Preliminary Lick: F Pentatonic Minor on two strings

F Pentatonic Minor 2 strings

And here’s an mp3

Where there’s two there can usually be three:

Now I’ll take this same string skipping idea and expand on it moving it to a pattern on the E, G and A string.
F Pent Minor to F Minor 3 String


Preliminary Lick #2: F Pentatonic Minor on three strings

F Pent minor 3 strings

And here’s a MP3:


Adding by Subtracting

Using a trick I pulled from Eric Johnson (and a number of other players) I modified the scale by adding the 6 (the note D in this case) and the 9 (G) to the Pentatonic Minor scale to give it a slightly different sound.

Rather than think of extra notes – I simply modify some of the notes of the scale by a 1/2 step:

Changing the b3 to the 9 means changing an Ab to G

Changing the b7 to the 6 means changing an Eb to D

I don’t do this with every note, just a few of them.  If you look at the before and after below, you’ll see that the modified scale has the same number of notes but with an added bonus – namely a symmetrical fingering.

F Pent Minor to add 6 and 9

The advantage of a symmetrical fingering is that it makes it easier to manipulate when we use it in a pattern.

The Lick

Now with all of this back story it becomes much easier to see how I came up with the pattern below (based on an improvised idea):

F Dorian string ship seq

Here’s an MP3:

And here’s another MP3 in a more improvised vein.  By adding the natural 6 and the 2 (9) to the scale – what we really have here is a string skipping dorian lick.

Taking the idea a little further

In this case, I don’t mean stuffing more notes into a passage – I mean getting comfortable with the sound of added notes.

The MP3 below uses an approach from an early chapter of my Symmetrical Twelve-Tone Patterns book.  In that text, I talk a lot about understanding what it means to play “in” before you play out and being able to resolve “out” ideas or (in this case) resolve notes outside the scale.  But I also talk about working through ideas and finding resolutions.

When working with pentatonics add ons like the ones above, I’ll often work on accenting a note so I can really start to hear how it sounds in context.  The following short improvisation starts on the 6 and stresses that note for to accent the Dorian sound.

When working with ideas like this strive to get past the notes and to, instead, get into the sound.  It’s not just about playing a lot of notes, it’s about knowing which notes affect you before you play them.

Finally for those of you who are interested in the tech side of things – if you like the tone – it’s the same – AU Lab, Apogee Duet, FnH Guitars and Scuffham Amps combo that I typically use….

Scuffham Amp RigWith a little added reverb and a front end boost courtesy of the TS-999.


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


Altruistic Action And Selfish Motivation

The best relationship lesson I ever learned.

Believe it or not, the best lesson I ever learned in a relationship tied directly into a lesson that it took years to integrate into my playing.

Years ago, I was in an absolutely intoxicating relationship with a remarkable woman that I thought I was going to marry.  But there were a lot of difficulties in that situation.  I had just come out of my undergraduate program by the skin of my teeth and entered the workplace in a field that had nothing to do with the skills I acquired…to pay off the student loans associated with those skills.  I threw myself onto this ready-made family and was completely  in over my head.  (I eventually learned that, “No, no…I got this.” is the mantra of the drowning person succumbing to their own delusion.)

But I really wanted to make the relationship work so I did whatever I could to accommodate the other person (generally at substantial discomfort to myself).  The more I became a martyr, the more miserable I became and as I became more miserable I simply poisoned a doomed relationship that much faster.  I doubt that you’d be surprised when she broke up with me.  I, on the other hand, was gutted.

And the first thing I did?  I threw all of those things I did “for her” back in her face.  And I did that because I was immature and I didn’t understand the situation.

I didn’t understand that she never asked me to do any of those things that I did.

It took me months to learn the lesson that in any relationship, you need to do things that you want to do.  You need to be selfish in certain things because if you only do things that you hate doing, you’re going to be miserable and you’re going to be miserable around.

When I did get married years later, I was grateful for that lesson as I was for doing things for my wife because I wanted to do them for her.  There are a number of other lessons that I’ve had to learn since then, but I am thankful that I got that first one out of the way…

Perhaps you’re thinking, “Nice story Scott.  Bully for you – but what the Hell does this have to do with guitar playing?”

A lot actually.

In your relationship with music you also have to be a little selfish.

If every action that you take is going to be dependent on someone else’s approval for you to feel good about it – you are on a road to artistic ruin.

Piggybacking off of my last post, there are many things that you are likely to work on that will not pan out for one reason or another but (in a “it’s the journey not the destination” variation) the only reason to get involved in any project is because you can invest yourself into it emotionally as well as physically and/or financially.

Be 100% clear – you may play guitar – but if you are not in the business of moving people with your music all the finger exercises and hours with a metronome in the world won’t help you.

You move people by writing and playing honest music.  It’s a critical step in connecting with people.  If you’re sincerely invested in what you’re doing, that’s going to come across.

To be clear – I’m not saying that you have total license to be an ass.

Have you ever seen a band or a movie that has no regard for it’s audience at all?  You’ll know it when you do – because it comes across as self indulgent and you’re going to feel kind of icky when it’s done.

If you get a call to play light background music at a wedding and you show up and play Black Metal for a bunch of blue hairs – you’re being an ass.  The point of this isn’t to alienate an audience, it’s to bring people in and engage them in what you’re doing.

When I wrote my GuitArchitecture books, I wrote about things that I thought would be useful for people – but I did it based on books that I would want to read.  If it passed the test of me picking up a book and saying, “wow that’s really cool!” then I figured that someone else would dig it as well.

I released it for other people, but I wrote it for me.

If I was dependent on accolades, then I could never release anything because I’d be too petrified that someone wouldn’t like it in one fashion or another.  Instead, I invest myself in doing the best work I can and know that if I think it’s good that someone else probably will as well.  I put myself in the mindset of asking how I would best learn a particular lesson and then use that as a model for communicating those ideas to other people.

The worst moments I’ve ever had in my playing are the one’s where I start second guessing what I’m doing and editing myself instead of just committing to what I’m doing.

In helping other people you help yourself.

In helping connect with other people, I better myself as a person.  It’s a key reason why I spend time on this site posting free content.   In sincerely trying to help people, I also build trust, make connections, develop friendships and ultimately earn fans.

Helping people helps you in the long run, but only if you’re offering help for the right reasons.

Again it comes back to balance.  I come from a working class background and I learned quickly that I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t act in their own self interests in some way shape or form.  It’s okay to be a little selfish in your motivations, but you have to be sincere in what you’re doing.  When I see people “networking” I throw up in my mouth a little but when I see people really engaging with other people and then building off of those connections it doesn’t bother me at all. In whatever you do, if your actions aren’t altruistic they’re not going to take you very far.

I hope that helps!

As always, thanks for reading .


Embracing The Setback

I was working on a project last night that wasn’t going particularly well.

In fact, I had been avoiding it for the last year or so, and I remembered last night why this wasn’t done before as my usual modus operandi of:

  • tacking the project head on
  • getting reminded by a kick in the face of why I had abandoned it previously and
  • ultimately reaching a frustration threshold that required putting the project on hold again

was already in full swing.  

And then I remembered something, from the Hagakure,

“Seven times down.  Eight times up.”

I’ve written before about increasing one’s awareness for potential lessons that you can learn from a given situation, but I think it’s important to revisit this area periodically as it can be a stumbling block.

Old Definitions

I used to get really frustrated when things didn’t work out.  Admittedly, my capacity to fail at things is world class.  For a long time my success rate for projects turning out positively as I expected them to was about 5%.

I would look at those situations, and analyze them endlessly to try to figure out what was wrong and see what I could learn from them.

But there was a commonality with the 90-95% failure rate.

That commonality was me.

Re-defined results

Once I stopped blaming external forces, and started taking on the blame, I realized that this issue wasn’t execution – it was expectation.  I had expectations of making things work through sheer force of will, even when a more objective observation would have revealed that financial, technical or scheduling shortcomings were things that could not always be overcome by sheer force of will.

So I started working on a modified time set.  I didn’t worry about how long it took for me to get something down.  I didn’t worry about having to have something perfect.  I just did the best work that I could do, and did it as often as I could.

If I had written my first guitar book and expected it to set the world on fire, I would have been crushed at never getting it out the door.

Instead, I developed another project and used the skills and focus from the first project to make a better book.

My print editions are now getting proper covers – some of them TWO YEARS after I wrote them.  If I settled on a crappy design and locked myself into that two years ago, I would have had something amateurish that I would have been ashamed of.  Now I have something I can stand behind.

That never would have happened if I had been in a rush.  If I had had expectations that it was going to be perfect or be nothing.

Now I have 10 books that I’ve written (8 of them published).  I’ll write more.  But if I had stopped when the first (still unpublished one) didn’t pan out – I never would have completed the others.

You will face setbacks in whatever you do.  The reason to embrace them is that if you have a setback, it’s because you’re doing something.

Consider this for a moment.  If you try to move 100 small things forward and 95 of them fail – you’re still 5 things further ahead than you were.

So now I’m plowing through that project – as painful and slow going as it is – not because I have to get it done, but because the intertia in getting that thing done will act as fuel for all the other things I have to do.

And there’s a lot to do.

I hope this helps!

As always thanks for reading.


The GuitArchitect’s Guide To Symmetrical Twelve-Tone Patterns Is Out Now

Hello all,

After a marathon couple of days editing the material – my 12-tone book is finally out the door!

The book and the e-book pdf are available on Lulu.com right now (and is also available on Amazon).

Symmetrical_12_Tone_Cover_Low Res


Bundle In The Jungle

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 you can hear the examples without having a  guitar handy.  Having the files in a Guitar Pro format means that you can isolate each phrase and use it as a phrase trainer to help 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).

Here are some screen shots that I should have uploaded when this was posted originally!



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Page 44

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Page 204

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Page 270

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“They play country And western”

Symmetrical Twelve-Tone Patterns presents the material 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!

The softbound copy GuitArchitect’s Guide To Symmetrical Twelve-Tone Patterns is for $35 and the e-book pdf is $15.  Both are available from The GuitArchitecture Product page on Lulu  or here on Amazon.com).

I’ll have a lesson from this material up in the weeks ahead, but in the meantime you may want to check out this post to get a flavor of the approach (and some interesting licks)!

Lots more ahead about this.  Thanks for reading!