The Ghost Of The Guit-A-Grip Podcast (Or Lessons Learned From Setting Up A Podcast)

Hello everyone!

Episode #15

Guit-A-Grip podcast episode #15  is out and available for download/streaming.

Subscription Notes:

  • You can subscribe through iTunes here:
  • You can use this link to subscribe with any other feed based service:
  • or you can right-click here to download it.
  • or you can stream this episode below.
.

Show Notes:

Wait….There’s A Podcast?

Yes sir or/and ma’am!  There’s definitively a podcast that was going on with the posts.  I set it aside for a while while I was looking for a house (we moved in February), and took some time to really review what went so horribly wrong with it.  The dissection of all the gory details can be found in the podcast, but the short story is that I made a series of assumptions that didn’t work out they way I thought they might and learned some good things for the next go-round!

I reference a martial arts post in the podcast, that I’m fond of (despite the knee jerk inducing title).  That post can be read here.

Overall, I feel like I may have helped some people by going over all the things I did wrong – but hopefully I’ll be able to help a lot more people in the future.

That’s it for now!

As always, I hope this helps you with your own goals – or at least keeps you amused until the next time!

See you soon and thanks again for listening/reading!

-SC

 

Guit-A-Grip Podcast Episode #14 – Book Excerpt And Some Project Management Tips

Hello everyone!

Episode #14

Guit-A-Grip podcast episode #14 “Nothing Ever Got Done With An Excuse Excerpt #3″ is out and available for download/streaming.

Subscription Notes:

  • You can subscribe through iTunes here:
  • You can use this link to subscribe with any other feed based service:
  • or you can right-click here to download it.
  • or you can stream this episode below.
.

Show Notes:

.

The Book

Much of this section of the book came from experiences that I had in, first, getting my Melodic Patterns book written and then, secondly, getting the book in a month project off of the ground.

I’m using that book as a case study, but I believe that the steps behind it help form a reasonable approach to working on any large project that’s unfamiliar (or largely unfamiliar) to you.

The steps to follow:

I made a reference to various pieces of advice.  The overall categories of this are:

  • Build off of past experiences (or go with what you know)

  • Whenever possible start with the heavy lifting

  • Beware of the rope swing

  • Be realistic about what you can do

  • Break up overwhelming things into small chunks

  • Contortion doesn’t hurt if you’re limber

  • Projects have a tendency to run wild on their own – so plan on constantly monitoring their growth

  • Be prepared to go a lot of it on your own

  • Be ready to make a lot of mistakes

  • Be ready to improvise because you can’t plan for everything

  • Have a deadline and/or know when you’re done

  • You really can’t do it alone

    Here are a few specifics related to the above:

Beware of the rope swing
The advice I gave for this was a little too vague so here’s a qualifier.  It’s all about balance.  If you jump into something with no research, knowledge or plan, it will generally go badly.  If you put too much energy into research, you may face paralysis in actually acting.

Deadlines
I’d write more about this but I’ve already written on it here.

That’s it for now!

As always, I hope this helps you with your own goals.

See you soon and thanks again for listening/reading!

-SC

 

Limiting Options Is A Key To Productivity

One of the benefits of living in the 21st century is that we have more options in every aspect of our lives than ever.

Consider music for a moment.  In Beethoven’s day, If you wanted to hear Bach’s St. Matthews Passion, you had one of two choices.  You could either go to where a choir was performing the work, or acquire sheet music for the piece and organize your own choir to perform it.  ”Hearing” a piece performed for anyone living outside of a city meant that you could have been traveling for days or weeks to get somewhere where it was being performed.  Your “favorite” orchestral works may be something that you only heard 3-4 times in your lifetime.

If you have an internet connection, you can listen to any one of a hundred versions of the work instantly.  You can listen to it anywhere at anytime – even while driving. That’s an amazing thing.

.

But too much of anything is a bad thing.

.

When faced with too many options people generally shut down.  If you’ve ever watched an episode of Kitchen Nightmares, one of the first things Gordon Ramsay does is cut down the menu.  This not only focus the diners on a few select dishes  but also ensures  that the kitchen doesn’t get overwhelmed in preparing dishes.  When a kitchen can focus on a one page menu rather than a ten page menu – their chances of getting the dishes sent out the way they’re supposed to be climb dramatically.

Relating this to practicing – it’s easy to fall into this harmless looking trap.  You decide to sit down to practice and the first thing you think is, “Ok time to practice! I should practice scales, and comping – I have to make sure I work on improv – oh and reading – wow I really need to work on reading, and…”

…and…and…and soon it’s an hour later and nothing is done.

I’ve already posted about the importance of defining practice sessions and maintaining a practice log here, and about developing practicing as a habit rather than an event here, but I think it’s important to note that in whatever you do

.

the end result of too many options isn’t freedom

it’s paralysis

.

Have you every woken up with a goal for the day and not gotten it done because too many other things got in the way?  ”I wanted to go to the gym, but I had to get groceries and then while I was out I had to run some other errands and then…” (insert infinite number of events that go until the conclusion of the day making going to the gym impossible).  This is an example of getting overwhelmed with too many ways to spend time instead of just picking one thing at a time a focusing on that.

Here’s a related  productivity secret that may help you focus on your priorities:

.

The important things in life are the things you do

.

You can tell me that going to the gym and getting in shape is important to you – but if you spend the day watching TV instead of going to the gym than being comfortable is more important that being in shape.  In college you see people who blow off classes and then pull a week of all nighters to pass the term.  This shows me it’s important to them.  Their priorities may have gotten skewed over the course of the term but, at the end of the day, they made themselves very uncomfortable to achieve a goal and that shows where their priorities are.  This is in contrast to the people who say that they’re going to pull all nighter to get the paper done and take the F instead.

.

Here are a couple of inter-related strategies to getting things done:

.

  • If you are not getting things done – Identify what you want to be important and then make it a habit by doing it – a lot.
  • Clearly define your goals.
  • Make daily steps toward achieving those goals.
  • Realize that as each day is different – the results you get each day will be different.
  • When facing discouragement – keep your eye on long term goals.
  • Periodically assess your progress and adjust your actions accordingly.

.

And finally, some related quotes:

.

“If you always do what you always did you will always get what you always got”

(Unknown but I did see one reference that attributed it to J. “Moms” Mabley)

.

“If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing well. If it is worth having, it is worth waiting for. If it is worth attaining, it is worth fighting for. If it is worth experiencing, it is worth putting aside time for.”

– Susan Jeffries

I hope this helps!  As always, thanks for dropping by.

– SC

Changing One’s Perception And Removing “Should” From One’s Vocabulary

“Oh should you now?”

We all have things that we know we’re supposed to do and don’t do with frequency.  We should see the doctor regularly.  We should exercise more and eat less.  We should really write our grandma.  We should really get to practicing.

The reality is that “shoulds” are little minefields in our brain.  We plant them around everywhere and then get absent-minded about where they are.  When we finally have to confront one, the temptation is to get upset because you now know what you should have done and did not – and the onus of it falls on you.

Getting past “should” is a life long struggle and as someone who is still working on it, I can say that it’s not easy but it is possible.

This can be done by removing the phrase “I should” from your vocabulary and replacing it with “I am

(i.e.  replacing “should” with “do”)

.

Adjusting your perception.

If you meet expatriates from the US who have been living in another country for a long time and not speaking their original language, occasionally they have a real disconnect when you speak English to them.  This has happened to me on several occasions where I’ve met people who were frustrated at not remembering words in English and feel very disconnected in speaking it with people.

.

There’s a reason for this.  They’re out of practice.

If you are a native English speaker in the US – you practice speaking and writing in the language every day.

.

The difference is you probably don’t think about it as “practice“.

You just think about part of it as your day.  As something that you do naturally, you don’t think of it as work or drudgery.  You feel comfortable enough in your use of it that when you are confronted with phrases or terms you’ve never heard before – you simply listen instead of freaking out and make sense of in in context.  You pick up information and interact with it all day long.

If you doubt this, try the following: Take your current practice regimen and instead of practicing scales or chords or what have you, take out a dictionary and apply the same regimen to trying to expand your vocabulary.  Unless you’re studying for the SATs or GREs, I bet you make it a day before it gets discarded entirely or doomed to the “should” bin.

.

If you make practicing just part of your regular day instead of something that has to be carved out of your schedule it will be easier to maintain.

.

Occasionally, I read articles with guitarists who claim that they never practice.  It’s important to remember that anyone who is the topic of an article in a trade publication  is generally going to be a professional musician with a rigorous performance schedule.  If they don’t have time to practice – its only because they’re gigging too much and while they may not be “practicing” by a strict definition you can bet they’re keeping their chops up.

.

I have no idea if Scotty Anderson “practices” but based on hearing him play I imagine that he has a guitar in his hand most of the day and is either playing or working on things all of the time.  Eddie Van Halen is another guy who may not identify what he does as practicing – but every interview I’ve read with him makes it seems like he has a guitar in his hands playing for hours every day.  (It’s also worth noting that many people consider Van Halen their best album for songs and playing.)

When Jimmy Rosenberg was playing with Sinti at the ripe old age of 16 he was asked by a guitar magazine how he got that frighteningly good at that age and he said, “Well I practice/play 4-5 hours a day, and rehearse with Sinti 4-5 hours a day, and then we have concerts”.

If you have a problem committing to practicing, you could change your mindset to move past “practicing” as an event and instead concentrate on doing” as a habit.

.

Think about how easy it is to gain a bad habit.  Now think about how hard it can be to break that habit.

There are plenty of good habits that you probably have developed as well and maintaining a good habit requires very little work.

Again it’s about perception.  If practicing is something you view as a chore it will be something that you are loathe to do.  It’ll be much easier to practice if you can make it something you look forward to.

To quote Albert Ellis,

“Don’t should on yourself”.

I hope this helps!  Thanks for dropping by!

-SC

.

The GuitArchitect’s Guide To Modes Part 17 – Makin’ Mu-sick With Not-Peggios

Hello everyone.

Here’s another short lesson that may keep you busy.

One thing to consider in any of the material I’ve ben presenting is that all of the modes, scales and other materials that I’ve presenting are all just tools to get to making music.

So here’s an example where I’m “breaking” few of the rules I’ve previously posted to get the sounds I’m looking for.

The lick.

Here’s a lick I threw out over a C minor 7 vamp:

Click To Enlarge

Click on image to enlarge

Here’s the audio:

(If the play button doesn’t work – just click on the title and it’ll load in a new window).

.

Some “Broad Stoke” notes.

  • Contrasts play a critical role in having a good solo.  In the case of soloing over a vamp like this, I would either start spare and build into something rhythmically active or hit the gas out of the gate and then wind down (or further up) into something.  Since I’m playing something rhythmically active in the example above,  I’d probably phrase a series of short sparse lines after this and then build it back up again.
  • Speaking of rhythm, I usually try to start long passages off the beat.  It just allows the phrases to breathe a little more and starting fast passages on the beat makes me think of ’80’s metal.  Not a bad thing – but not what I’m always going for. ; )  Also the patterns are based around 4-note patterns so I’ll typically play them as sextuplets to make the phrasing less well… ’80’s metal.
  • The Paul Gilbert-ish pattern (ascending phrases that descend on a note and then ascend again) is one I use a lot.  Part of that use here is pedagogical.  By using the same rhythmic idea, it allows people to focus more on the notes being employed.  (Part of this is hoping that if I keep putting Paul Gilbert tags in my columns that he may find this blog eventually!)
  • The best thing I could do in this context might be to play nothing – but that makes for a boring lesson. Typically in soloing I want to be pretty deep in the song after a lot has already been said before I start putting my $.02 in.  When I see people starting to solo before they even know what the melody is, I kind of know what to expect.

Some Specifics.

  • The first chord is a C minor 7, so one of my first thoughts is to superimpose a G minor idea over it, and my initial thought was G Harmonic Minor.  To extract the “not-peggio” I start with a three-note per string harmonic minor scale from Bb….
G Harmonic Minor from C

See my previous lessons if the interlocking 2-string patterns are unfamiliar to you!

and then remove the first and third note on the low E, D and B strings.

I’ve notated this below as both 1/16th notes and sextuplets.

Notpeggio Extract
  • As I mentioned in part 16, with this approach, I tend to keep the arpeggio shape in position which means moving the shape on the highest two strings down.  So instead of starting on the pitch G on the B string I start on the F#.
high E string pattern

previous 6-note pattern – revised 6-note pattern

Conceptually it’s a small shift but it changes the six-string extraction to the following:

Modified patternwhich fits under my fingers much better.  While the interlocking two-string patterns may be confusing, the resulting “not-peggio” lays out nicely between the 6th and 10th frets.

  • Chromatic alterations.  If you look at the initial lick, you’ll see I alternate between the F# and the F natural.  Again, these patterns should just be viewed as a launching off point to develop your own ideas.

The Arpeggio

At the end of the phrase I slide up to an F and then descend on a Bb arpeggio.  For visualization purposes, here’s a version that starts on the beat:

Bb Major arpeggio w. encircling

Notice that on the bottom three strings I incorporate an encircling motive where instead of landing directly on the note D on the D string, I land on an Eb, go down to C and then hit the chord tone D.  This is a great way to add some zip to arpeggios and get a little extra mileage from a well worn melodic device.

This is a short lick that may take a while to get under your fingers!  I’m only playing it around 100 bpm or so as that’s the pocket I felt, but if you’re unfamiliar with sweep picking or the encircling idea with the arpeggios even getting it clean at 90 might take a while.  Just go slowly and work on the 3 T’s (Timing, Tone and Hand Tension).

That’s it for now!  I hope this helps and I hope that this lesson gives you some inspiration in developing your own melodic devices!

-SC

p.s. – The Rest of the “Not-peggio” posts can be found below:

The GuitArchitect’s Guide To Modes Part 16 – Not-Peggios Positional Lesson

The GuitArchitect’s Guide To Modes – Part 15 – Not-peggios – Harmonic Minor Version

The GuitArchitect’s Guide To Modes – Part 14 – Not-peggios – Melodic Minor Version

The GuitArchitect’s Guide To Modes – Part 13 – “Not-peggios”

p.s.s. – If you like this approach – the following books may be of interest to you!

guitarchitect-2 harmonic-combinatorics melodic-patterns positional-exploration

Don’t Be Afraid Of The Work

As I edit this, I’m taking a break from the final edits on the print edition of Pentatonic Visualization and working on the layout/order/edits of my Pentatonic Extraction book which should be out this fall.

That puts the tally to 3 books in 2011 (Melodic Patterns, Positional Exploration and Harmonic Combinatorics), 3 in 2012 (Chord Scales, and 2 short Kindle titles – An Indie Musician Wake Up Call and Selling It Versus Selling Out) and 3 in 2013 (Symmetrical 12-Tone Patterns, Pentatonic Visualization and Pentatonic Extraction) with a strong chance of another kindle book released this year as well.

.

While being able to call yourself an author seems appealing -working at this rate is arduous at best. When you don’t have a production house behind you – writing means taking on all of the menial tasks in getting a book out.  In this case, even something like the Visualization make over has taken a month to get done and taking on the Extraction book involves massive edits, re-writes and a complete reformatting (typically involving a tedious cut/paste/format/edit workflow).  The appeal of being an author becomes less glamorous  when it takes days and weeks of mind numbing work to get the book out the door.

.

But here’s something I’ve discovered:

Many people want to get better at something.

They have access to materials.

They have access to knowledge.

They have the desire to move forward.

.

Even with all of that energy and good intention, in any endeavour most people won’t do the work over the long haul.

.

Because the work is not glamorous.  It’s not always fun (though it’s usually nowhere near as bad as we make it out to be).  It’s often tedious and time-consuming and isn’t there something better (read more enjoyable) to do?

.

The real pay off is in what happens in the focused work.

Jonas Hellborg

Yngwie Malmsteen

Miroslav Tadic

Buckminster Fuller

Nikola Tesla

Thomas Edison

Jorge Luis Borges

It doesn’t matter which successful person you pick.  Most people who succeed do so because in addition to the initial vision (inspiration) they also have the ability to go the extra distance and see something to its logical conclusion (endurance).

.

Don’t be afraid of the work.  It’s where the nectar is.  It’s where the magic is and…

when you truly devote yourself to your work – you work on yourself at the same time.  

.

When you lose yourself in your work you’re really finding more of yourself.  You have to have your eyes open to see that.  You have to be open to that possibility to perceive that and you may not recognize it until later – but that connection ( or Csikszentmihalyi’s flow) carries through into other things.

A lesson from Borges

In the later years of Borges life (after his vision had gone),  he would write whatever story or poem he was working on in his head and then spend some time editing and perfecting each phrase as an internal process.  When it was done, he would call in his assistant and recite it in it’s final form to be transcribed and read back to him for approval.

.

Now 2 questions:

How many other people could write under those conditions?  A few.

How many could write at his level?  None…even with their sight.

He could have easily made excuses – writing in this fashion is incredibly difficult – but instead he put the effort in and continued to get his writing out into the world.

.

If you’re doing the work, you’re already ahead of the pack.

.

I hope this helps!  Thanks for reading.

.

-SC

(Special thanks to Chris Lavender for some extra perspective and inspiration on this post)

The GuitArchitect’s Guide To Modes Part 16 – Not-Peggios Positional Lesson

Hello everyone.

This is going to be a short lesson as the concept is really simple but making it work requires a lot of shedding.

For those of you who have been following the guide to Modes might remember that back in part 3a/3b, I outlined a method for connecting 2-string modal patterns positionally using a simple rule where:

(As the scale ascends the patterns descend and vice-versa)

so that this C Ionian fingering

 

Can be broken down into three distinct two-string patterns:

.

.

Or

.

.

(You can review the earlier posts if this looks unfamiliar to you)

And the not-peggios?

Guess what?  The not-peggio shapes I’ve covered work the same way.

Previously, I took the two-string shapes and moved them in octaves – but looked at positionally…

C Major Positional Notpeggio I

Note that the first note of each 4-note goes from C to B to A.  (Or uses the C Ionian – B Locrian – A Aeolian shapes).

Since the pattern contains a c and a f (and avoid note over C Major) I decided to use this form over the relative minor (a minor) In this audio example below, I’ve played an A minor (add9) chord and then played the notes as a sextuplet (then as 1/16th notes).

What’s cool:

  • The resultant sound is somewhere between a scale and an arpeggio
  • All the notes from the parent  scale are present but divided out in different octaves
  • The concept works with any of the two-string shapes I covered (major, melodic minor and harmonic minor)
  • The pattern can be adapted to work over any diatonic chord (Try this one over D minor as well)

What’s jive:

  • The pattern features a funfy positional shift between the G and B strings which is VERY difficult to get smooth when descending.

The Workaround:

The workaround is very simple, I just change up the pattern order on the b and e strings.

In the example above I replace  C Ionian – B Locrian – A Aeolian shapes with C Ionian – B Locrian – G Mixolydian.  That results in:

C Major Notpeggio II Positional

It does make the overall pattern a little more scalar, but the only main difference is that this pattern lacks the A note.

In the audio below, I just played a sextuplet pattern and ended on the B (the 9 over A minor) the first time.

Homework:

Okay!  If you like this sound – here’s what I think you should do:

  1. Go back to part 13, part 14 and part 15 and review the Major, Melodic Minor and Harmonic Minor 2-string shapes and related chords.
  2. Record a diatonic chord from a group and practice one ascending pattern positionally over the chord.
  3. Try changing chords over static patterns (and vice versa) and start to make a record of which patterns you like over which chords.

This might sound like a lot of work, but the reality is that pretty quickly you’re going to find one or two of these that you really like and the idea is to tae those and try to incorporate them into your playing as thoroughly as you can!

I hope this helps!