Monday, November 25, 2013

Fingerstyle Patterns for Guitar Part 1

Today we started breaking down a foundational fingerstyle pattern by using the opening of the song Home by Phillip Phillips. The important first step is making sure your thumb remains constant and alternating between the 5th and 4th string.

Here is video demonstrating the pattern and the components that build the above fingerstyle pattern.

Thursday, November 21, 2013


Next up in our exclamation point series is the natural consequence of the Hammer-On!
The Pull-Off is basically the reverse of the Hammer-On principal. Instead of striking a string and hammering up to the next note, a Pull-Off! begins with plucking a fretted note and then pulling the finger off allowing a note below to sound.

Here is what the notated E minor pentatonic scale looks like with pull-offs.
Just like the hammer-on, the pull-off is notated with the slur symbol.

Here is a video of the above example and an overview of the pull-off principal.

For the more advanced or adventurous players, here is a cool double pull-off lick used by Randy Rhoads, the one-time guitarist of Ozzy Osbourne.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


The Hammer-on technique is prized by guitarists because it can help them play fluid connected, lines without resorting to a lot of extra picking.
Basically a hammer-on is exactly what it sounds like. You "hammer" a note "on" to the neck of the guitar with your fretting hand instead of plucking a fretted note with your pick.
This technique takes a little while to get used to but has many applications and can create flashy scale passages across the neck of the guitar.

Here is our E minor pentatonic scale played with hammer-ons. The notation symbol for the hammer-on is a line called a slur which connects the notes involved in the "hammer"

Here is a quick video that demonstrates the hammer-on technique using the E minor pentatonic scale that we have been studying.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

GarageBand now free for iOS7!

Run! don't walk to your nearest App store and download GarageBand. It is now available for free with iOS7 devices. That iPad in your hands is about to become a musical playground. When I first got this app for iPad I was completely amazed that it could do what it did and only cost me $4.99. Now you will not have to suffer the loss of nearly $5 to have this app for your very own.

This post will not go through all the features of GarageBand, suffice to say that once you download it just start playing and exploring. I think you will be impressed.


Monday, November 18, 2013

E minor Pentatonic

It is said that when Prometheus was stealing fire from the Gods, he also grabbed the pentatonic scale for the expressed intent of making guitar players very happy. The 5 note pentatonic scale is an incredibly useful scale. Because the scale removes the "trouble" notes (4th and 7th), the happy guitarist can bang away at the remaining notes without fear of "wrong" sounding notes.

Another great feature of the scale is it's universal sonic qualities. Technically it is a minor scale, but it is equally effective playing over Major sounding chord progressions.

|Em / / / | Am / / / |
Try the scale over these minor chords and you will hear how it smoothly connects with the minor quality of the chords. A song like "Wish You Were Here" by Pink Floyd is a good illustration of how a minor progression and the minor pentatonic scale work hand-in hand.

|E / / / | A / / / |
When using major chords and the minor pentatonic scale you tend to get more of a bluesy sound. Jimi Hendrix was masterful at combining major blues progressions and using the minor pentatonic to get down and dirty.

For our more advanced (or adventurous) players, here is a cool pattern that makes use of descending groups of 4 notes within the scale. Patterns such as this one helps to get a lot of mileage from the 5 note scale.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Common Chord Progression

We have been studying the sound and construction of the G Major Scale.

If you take it a step further and build chords on each of the scale notes you get something that looks like this:

The big chords in this key are the primary chords (I, IV, and V7) G, C, and D7. These are the chords that outline the key and are used in hundreds and hundreds of songs and a entire genre of music (The Blues). 

Another chord progression that is incredibly common is the chord progression 
G, Em, Am, D7    (I, vi, ii, V7) . This chord progression makes use of primary (I, IV, V7) AND secondary chords (ii, iii, vi, vii). Like the I, IV, V7 progression, this progression has been used in hundreds of songs and will probably sound familiar to you as you build up clarity and smooth transitions between chords.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Major Scale: The building block of music

In class we discussed the construction of the Major Scale. Specifically we talked about the formula of intervals that is the backbone of the scale.

Ricci Adams, on his site, has a clear and simple to follow explanation of major scale construction.

If we want to build a major scale starting on G, the notes would look like this:

When we apply the formula: W W H W W W H
The notes of the scale become this:
G A C D E F# G

and the scale looks like this:

Play through the scale and listen to the sound of the notes and take notice of the distances between each note.

Understanding the idea of interval distances between notes will help you to understand the relationship between chords and how to find them on the neck of the guitar.