GuitArchitecture Book Sale – Print Books 25% off on Lulu until August 17!

GuitArchitecture Print Book Sale

Hi Everyone!

I just wanted to let you know that if you’ve been on the fence about picking up one of my guitar reference/instructional books like:

Melodic Patterns (333 Pages)

melodic-patterns“Scott Collins’ GuitArchitecture method replaces the standard approach to learning guitar, rote memorization, with a simple, intuitive two-string approach that anyone can learn. This method, where players can actually see scales on a fingerboard, is called sonic visualization, and it can be applied to any scale or modal system.

In this volume of the GuitArchitecture series, The GuitArchitect’s Guide to Modes: Melodic Patterns, Scott has used his two-string method to create a reference book of thousands of melodic variations. With this information, you, the reader, will be able to create a near infinite number of unique riffs and melodic phrases, which you can use individually or combined to compose or improvise your own music. The GuitArchitect’s Guide to Modes: Melodic Patterns is an invaluable resource for both guitarists and bassists.”

Harmonic Combinatorics (410 pages)

harmonic-combinatorics“In this book of the GuitArchitecture series, The GuitArchitect’s Guide to Modes: Harmonic Combinatorics, Scott explains how to construct and analyze chords and how to create thousands of variations and progressions from a single chord using his unique visualization method. Harmonic Combinatorics is a vast harmonic and melodic resource for guitarists. With this approach, you can create an almost infinite number of unique melodic phrases and harmonic devices to compose or improvise your own music.”

Chord Scales (190 Pages)

guitarchitect-2“In The GuitArchitect’s Guide To Chord Scales, Scott Collins shows you how to make your own scales to use over chords and how to derive chords from whatever scales you come up with in an easy, intuitive and musical way. Over the course of its 190 pages, the Guide To Chord Scales not only offers extensive instruction and approaches, but also acts as a reference book covering chord scale options ranging from 3 notes right on up to the full 12-note chromatic. While devised as a guitar resource for instructional, compositional and/or improvisational material – this book can be a vital component in any musician’s library.”

Positional Exploration (254 pages)

positional-exploration“In this book of the GuitArchitecture series, The GuitArchitect’s Positional Exploration, Scott uses an introductory chromatic guitar exercise to reveal deep possibilities that exist not only in positional visualization, but also in technical awareness and development. The GuitArchitect’s Positional Exploration shows how to take a simple idea and modify it through melodic, harmonic and rhythmic variations that you can then apply to your own music.

Symmetrical 12 Tone Patterns (284 Pages)

12 Tone Cover small“In The GuitArchitect’s Guide to Symmetrical Twelve-Tone Patterns, Scott Collins has taken the approaches from his Melodic Patterns and Guide To Chord Scales books and applied them to a rigorous examination of twelve-tone patterns that can be used for melodic, harmonic, improvisational or compositional resources. Eschewing a reliance on academic jargon, Symmetrical Twelve-Tone Patterns investigates the material in an intuitive and accessible way that will help players access new sounds in their playing.”

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The Minor Pentatonic Scale (105 pages)

Minor Pent Front“Scott Collins’ GuitArchitecture method replaces the standard approach to learning guitar (rote memorization) with a simple, intuitive two-string approach that anyone can learn. This method, where players can actually see scales on a fingerboard, is called “sonic visualization”, and it can be applied to ANY scale or modal system. In this volume of his Fretboard Visualization series, Scott has used his two-string method to present the pentatonic minor scale in an easy, intuitive and musical manner. This book not only demonstrates how to “see” the scale all over the fingerboard, but also shows how to use the scale in a variety of contexts and presents strategies that can be applied to making any scale more musical. The Fretboard Visualization Series: The Pentatonic Minor Scale is an invaluable resource for guitarists who are looking to break through to the next level in their playing.”

You’re in Luck!

If you order a print edition of my books through LULU.com (click on the book graphics above for direct links) and enter the code GWW25 through August 17th – you’ll receive 25% off on the book!

(Full disclosure – my profit margin is much higher on my PDFs than it on my print editions.  I make more money selling PDFs and that’s what some readers want.  For me, it’s much more useful to be able to have a physical book on a music stand while playing.  With that in mind, I generally encourage people to get the print edition, so this is an amazing deal on books that are already a bargain for pricing!)

So, to clarify,  the sale is only on lulu (http://lulu.com/guitarchitecture) and only until 8/17!  Special thanks to Lulu for offering the deep discount!

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

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Update from Upstate

Hey everyone,

A few quick things from the wild woods of Upstate NY.

Guit-A-Grip

I should mention that there’s a recent post and a new podcast up on guit-a-grip that may interest you if you have any interest in project management or motivational aspects of guitar playing.

Guitar-Muse

Okay…projects on tap for Guitar-Muse I hope we can get out before the end of the year:

  • Pentatonic Extraction Lesson (Submitted)
  • Taping Lesson (Submitted)
  • Ridgely Snow Player Profile (almost ready to go)
  • Interview w. Chris Buono (in the pipeline)
  • Review of Relentless: A Memoir (in the pipeline – short version you should check it out)
  • Review of the JamUp Pro app (in the pipeline)
  • Interviews with several people including Daren Burns and Fernando Vigueras
  • Possible cool gear reviews in the pipeline
  • Other lessons and player profiles

I have a steady stream of things going out to them, and hopefully we can get them up in a consistent manner!

Acoustic Project

Boy, I’ve been having the hardest time getting players for the Shakti-ish / Balkan-ish / Middle Eastern-ish / ish-ish acoustic project that I’ve been trying to pull together!  That in and of itself isn’t a shock, but what IS surprising is that  I’ve never had a project that had so much interest, and then kept falling apart at the moment of – “sounds good – let’s get together to play”.

The flake out factor almost as bad as LA in that respect. ; )

If you happen to be in upstate NY here’s the posting, and know a violinist or a guitarist who wants to show up to play, please pass that along!

At any rate, I’ve met some good people that hopefully something can come from and in the meantime, I guess I’ll keep plugging away at it and in the meantime just get a solo acoustic set together and try to make some headway there.

Electrics ‘R Us

There are very real threats of me going to Boston to see John Harper of FnH to pick up some guitars that are waiting there for me.  In the electric realm, I’m still trying to figure out how to get the Rough Hewn material signed off on, and working on pulling together a new remote project with some long-time collaborators/co-conspirators of mine and will feature a lot of 12-tone ideas.

Again we’ll see what happens.

(Another?) Book

Oh, and a lot of work has gone into the forthcoming  Pentatonic Extraction book thus far.  I don’t have an ETA, but it’s going to be cool!  There should be a lesson based on that material coming out for Guitar-Muse.

In other book related news, as a precursor to getting it out the door – If you get a chance, to check it out the new podcasts on Guit-A-Grip will feature a serialization  of my project management book, Nothing ever got done with an excuse  to help people get their projects off the ground.

That’s it for now!  As always, thanks for reading!

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GuitArchitecture Series U.S. Book Sale – Worldwide PDF Sale

To celebrate my FretBoard Visualization update release, I wanted to announce some discounts on books that are available right now.

Softcover (Bound) Books

Amazon is currently offering 10% discounts on many of my books (with free shipping if the purchase is over $25).  For some reason, the cover photo’s of the books aren’t all showing up on the Amazon Preview – but they’re the same books that Lulu releases (Lulu is the printer)  So here are the books and the prices (you can click on any graphic to go to the page or click on the books tab above to read a detailed description about any of them).

Symmetrical 12 Tone Patterns:

12 Tone Cover small

284 Pages Softbound

List: $35.00

Selling: $31.50 (w. free US shipping!!)

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GuitArchitect’s Guide To Chord Scales

guitarchitect-2

190 Pages Softbound

List: $25.00

Selling: $22.28 (w. free US shipping if total purchase is over $25)

The GuitArchitect’s Guide To Harmonic Combinatorics

harmonic-combinatorics

410 Pages Softbound

List: $35.00

Selling: $31.50 (w. free US shipping)

The GuitArchitect’s Positional Exploration

positional-exploration

254 Pages Softbound

List: $25.00

Selling: $22.26 (w. free US shipping if total purchase is over $25)

The GuitArchitect’s Guide To Modes: Melodic Patterns

melodic-patterns

333 Pages Softbound

List: $30.00

Selling: $22.27 (w. free US shipping if total purchase is over $25)

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Fretboard Visualization – Pentatonic Minor Scale

Book Cover Full

isn’t on Amazon yet – but it’s only $15 on Lulu.

PDFs

Lulu has PDFs of my books for sale and they’ve all been discounted from $15 to $10!

If you weren’t able to order the 4-book pdf bundle before, it’s a great way to get the same deal!

As always, thanks for reading!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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?

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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).

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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.  

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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.

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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.

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

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I hope this helps!  Thanks for reading.

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

The 3 Secret Problems Of Jazz (And Jazz Is Not Alone)

A Book Excerpt or Marketing (Slight Return)

One interesting thing about publishing Kindle titles on Amazon is that Amazon does a web search to match various phrases with text you’re submitting.  This means that if you have any text on a website that you’ve included in your book, you’ll have to take it down from your site before the book is published.

I understand that the measure is there to protect copyright infringement (and make kindle content exclusive) but as a Kindle book excerpt exists to drive people to your Kindle title (and make money for Amazon),  it’s a flawed approach for most authors.

With that in mind, I may have to remove this post eventually, but for now – I hope you enjoy this chapter from Selling It Versus Selling Out (available here on Amazon).

Thanks for reading!

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The 5th person sending me the NPR / Kurt Ellenberger post about the difficulties of being a jazz musician, was the tipping point for me writing a post I’d held off on for a while.  I don’t play Jazz but I’m an improvising musician who went through a rigorous Jazz pedagogy, so take please take whatever observations I offer here with a big grain of salt.

I think that Jazz has 3 big problems as a genre, and musicians working in that realm have their work cut out for them to move forward in it.

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Duo or Trio wanted for restaurant

(no pay but you can sell your cd)

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This gig scenario is actually a microcosm of the problems Jazz faces as a genre.

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First, when you drive by a restaurant and you see a sign that says, “Tonight – live jazz!” have you ever turned excitedly to the person next to you and said, “Hey there’s a band playing there tonight!  I love Stella By Starlight!  Let’s go – maybe they’ll play it!”

No you haven’t. And no one else has either.  Because you don’t go to hear the music – you go to hear John McLaughlin or whatever other player interests you – and that’s the first big problem.  For the general public, Jazz has become a cult of personality for players instead of focusing on songs.

Many of the Real Book tunes date back to Tin Pan Alley.  Back in the day, Jazz players played on popular music.  People actually went out to hear the music and the band.   Remember the fire-storm Miles caused when he recorded a version of Time After Time?  He was just going back to that tradition of playing on tunes that people liked.  And yes, there’s been a lot of new music written – but as a genre, the focus is still on the players.  Once you put a focus on a player, you cut your audience down to people who like players and other musicians.  That’s really problematic if you’re trying to build a career.

No one (outside of musicians playing it or other musicians sitting with crossed arms at a gig critiquing a player hitting the changes) gives a toss about hearing Giant Steps live – they care about the energy the soloist is transmitting. The audience (such as it is) at every jazz gig I’ve been to is about 90% musicians and 10% fans.   I’ve mentioned this observation before, but in my undergrad experience I remember going to student recitals and seeing the band mindlessly getting through the head and then breathing a sigh of relief, “Thank God that’s over – now we can play some music!”  If you just want to solo with complete disregard for the song – why even maintain the pretense of playing the tune?

Mind you, the issue of repertoire is an over simplification.  I don’t want to discount that a lot of great music has been written.  While I think that is where Duke and Mingus got it right in keeping the focus on some great pieces, I don’t see any contemporary Jazz composer’s gaining traction in the same way they did.   There are a number of reasons for this (including saturation of the music market), but rock music survives because people sing along with the songs and dig the rock star.  As a genre, focusing on the Jazz star is a hole that will take a long time to get out of.

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“Stop collaborate and listen”

The next problem with Jazz (as indicated by the gig listing above), is the implication that Jazz is background music.  Any type of music is no longer music if no one is listening – and Jazz is a music that demands the listener’s attention to pick up on the nuances of the performance.   People go to a restaurant to eat, not to listen to the (unpaid) band.  Or fans of the band go to the restaurant to hear the musicians play and begrudgingly order food and the 2-drink minimum.  So other than people the band has brought (in reality – the only reason restaurants book music anymore) – the other patrons there aren’t listening.  Some bands fight this by playing louder and then the patrons just eat and leave.

Musicians take these gigs (and wedding gigs) because they need cash, but as a culture we have moved into an ADD mindset with regard to focus.  People are less likely to sit down with a record and dig though it and try to get something out of it.  They listen to 5 seconds of an mp3 stream and then move onto the next thing.

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Music and players are everywhere

As I mentioned before, the saturated music market is one of the biggest obstacles that challenges Jazz as a genre.  There are a lot of players with less and less venues to play in.  So you get musicians taking unpaid gigs at a restaurant and wondering why they haven’t sold any cds (and why management wouldn’t comp the food now that the sets are done).

There’s value in scarcity and people have infinite access to music.  If you wanted to hear Miles Davis electric band play back in the day, you went to go see them.  Now you go to You Tube.  There’s increasingly fewer reasons for people to go out and see a show for the sake of seeing a show.  In general, they won’t go just because a band is playing and it’s something to do.

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“…Those were the days…”

Derek Bailey has one of my favorite quotes ever about the conservatory experience.  (I’m paraphrasing here), “As soon as bebop became a set series of formulas taught in an academic setting it went from being the vibrant searching music that it was and became a maudlin reminder of the good old days”.

Many people associate Jazz with comfort (like sitting next to a fire with a glass of wine and listening to Sketches of Spain).  They have a nostalgic view about going to a bistro and hearing some jazz.  (Some of these people will also tell you that the LOVE Michael Bublé as evidence of a “Jazz” pedigree!?!  This is another problem where people have equated intrumentation and arrangement with a genre.) Comfort is a tough market to cultivate and maintain, but Jazz has also been equated with cultured music and as some people go see Jazz in the way that they go to a museum, this could be a key.

People want to be moved.

They want to center.  They want to focus.

People go to a museum to experience something.  They go to a show because they don’t want to miss an event.  As an audience, people are searching for something new.

That sounds like Jazz to me.  Ellinger is right.  In terms of output – Jazz IS thriving.  But its musicians (by and large) are not and if the musicians and composers aren’t thriving – then the genre is in real trouble.

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As a genre, I think Jazz needs a re-branding.

Many Jazz musicians are already doing this.  They don’t call their music Jazz anymore.  They come up with a million other labels and get new audiences in by playing venues guised as something other than Jazz – but playing Jazz at its core.  Playing “searching vibrant” music that moves people.

Appealing to people’s mind as cultured music is a good start.  Appealing to people as head boppin’ – ass twitchin’ music that grabs the ear and moves the soul is even better.

As a label, Jazz is too broad to be meaningful to most players – but to the public that label already has associations with it.  As a genre, Jazz needs to bring new fans into the fold with songs and then wow them with the musicianship behind them.

And it needs to happen, because it’s too beautiful a thing to let slip away.

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This excerpt is taken from Selling It Versus Selling Out (Applying Lessons From The Business Of Music) which is available as a Kindle title here.

If you like this essay, you may also like, An Indie Musician Wake Up Call also available on Amazon here.

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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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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.