Monday, March 31, 2014

Guitar I: Composing with the first three strings

Sample melodies using notes on the first 3 strings:

Time to do some writing. Please follow this link to compose using notes on the first three strings.


Thursday, March 27, 2014

GHS Guitar: Guitar II: Moveable Bar Chords on the 6th string

GHS Guitar: Guitar II: Moveable Bar Chords on the 6th string: Bar chords are often torturous for beginning guitarists, but they unlock the neck of the guitar like no other chords can do. With the 3 cho...

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Guitar I: Let's make a Loop

I may have mentioned in class that I am addicted to this app Looopy HD. I have spent a good deal of time creating loops of music. I though today we might try to create our own loop using basic chords and simple melodies with notes on the first 2 strings.

We will listen to this loop in class and then recreate it by each playing parts of the loop together.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Friday, March 21, 2014

GHS Guitar I: An example of Travis Picking (Home)

GHS Guitar: 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 ...

Guitar II: Minor Swing

Django Reinhardt was a major force in popularizing the guitar in the 30's and 40's. He was a virtuoso who got around the guitar neck by only using 2 fingers (his hand was injured in a fire).
We have been playing around with one of his trademark songs "Minor Swing".
The main melody of the song uses the primary chords in Aminor. The solo section also uses those primary chords, but in a slightly different progression.

Am / / /  |Am / / / |Dm / / / |Dm / / / |
E7 / / /  |E7 / / / | Am / / / |Am / / / |
Dm / / / |Dm / / / |Am / / / |Am / / / |
E7 / / / |E7 / / / |Am / / / |Am / / / |

A gypsy guitarist named Stefane Wrembel has created some nice backing tracks to a slew (that is the correct term when talking about Gypsy Jazz) of Gypsy Jazz standards.

While listening to the backing track, I would encourage you to try soloing using the A minor scale. This scale expands upon the pentatonic scale, giving you more note choices.

Here is the final chorus of the song Minor Swing. The theme is similar to the opening melody but follows the chord changes of the solo. It also has a great little chromatic lick to end the song.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

GHS Guitar I: Finger-style Accompaniments: Theme and Variations

GHS Guitar: Finger-style Accompaniments: Theme and Variations: Here is a collection of finger-style patterns for many musical occasions. The patterns are broken into two categories: Patterns in 4/4 time ...

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Guitar II: Inverted chords

A large part of our guitar life will be spent playing chords in what is known as root position. Root position is when the lowest note of the chord you are playing is the note that names the chord. When you strum away on a big ol' E chord, it is the low 'E' string that rings at the bottom of the guitar.

Occasionally you will want to play a song or chord progression in which the lowest note of the chord is not the root but some other note of the chord. When this happens you are inverting the chord.

Perhaps you've seen these types of chords when you are looking for songs to play.

F/C or G/B or E/G# or C/E

Guitarists sometimes call these slash chords (read "F slash C").

What these symbols do indicate is that you should play the chord before the slash and then use the note after the slash as the lowest note of the chord. In some cases you may be playing with a bass player who will "take care of" the bass note leaving you to play the chord and not worry about the inversion.


To do do this properly you are going to have to learn some new shapes...

For instance an E chord can become an E/G# chord through inversion.

An A chord can become an A/C#

A D chord can become a D/F#

Try these sounds and we will add more to this post as we learn more shapes.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Guitar II: Chord Substitutions

While tinkering in the guitar laboratory, we have come to the concept of chord substitution.

Musicians tinker with chord substitution all the time, trying to find cool sounding alternative chords for the the tired combinations played over and over again.

The first stop on this journey will be the substitution of relative Major or minor chords.

Every chord has a relative. For every Major chord there is a relative minor (and vice versa) that shares it's key signature.

Here are relative Majors and minors in list form:
C - am
G - em
D - bm
A - f#m
E - c#m
B - g#m
G# - e#m
C# - a#m
F - dm
Bb - gm
Eb - cm
Ab - fm
Db - bbm
Gb - ebm
Cb - abm

Try swapping out a substitute Major or minor chord next time you are playing your favorite song. Your ear will be the final judge as to whether it works or not, but it can sometime produce interesting results.

Another interesting sounding substitution is swapping a Major chord with the minor chord that is the 3rd of the Major key.

Here is a list of those combinations:
C - em
G - bm
D - f#m
A - c#m
E - g#m
B - d#m
G# - b#m
C# - e#m
F - am
Bb - dm
Eb - gm
Ab - cm
Db - fm
Gb - bbm
Cb - ebm

Try swapping a substitute 3 chord next time you are playing a familiar chord progression.
Listen to the results.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

GHS Guitar I: Blues Shuffle in A

GHS Guitar: Blues Shuffle in A: Here is the post on the Blues. We have been working through this classic riff in class and I wanted to commit it to the blog. This "shu...

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

GHS Guitar I: Primary Chord Round-up

GHS Guitar: Primary Chord Round-up: The previous post talked about primary chords (I,IV,V7) and their relationship to a key center. This post collects some of the Key centers a...

GHS Guitar I: The Theory Behind Chord Families

GHS Guitar: The Theory Behind Chord Families: I have spoken in class about how certain chords belong together because they are in the same family. Well, by family I am talking about the ...

Monday, March 10, 2014

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Guitar II: Major, minor, Blues, and the kitchen sink...

We have been breaking down some scales in class and discussing their usefulness in terms of improvising and riff construction.

We started out with the the minor pentatonic...
This is the classic rock and blues solo scale. By law you must play this if you own a guitar.

For today's purposes we will be working in the key of A:

Next we introduced the The Blues into the equation...
The Blues scale adds some notes that take the minor pentatonic and make it a bit grittier. You can see that a couple of notes have been added to the pentatonic shape.


We played a lick or two using the Major Pentatonic...
The Major pentatonic is the opposing sound to the minor pentatonic. This scale has a lighter quality when played in rock and blues. Ideally you want to find ways to mesh the minor and major scales to together.


Which brings us to...
You can view these scales as separate entities and work with them separately, or you can start to think of them as parts to a whole. Many great soloists build solos that seamlessly combine elements of each type of scale into one scale which, for today's purposes, we'll call the "kitchen sink" scale.


Try that on for size! This scale has elements that will work in a Major or minor Blues, over chord changes in A. There are a lot of options for the aspiring soloist. Have fun with it.