Monday, October 27, 2014

A Post For Jack Bruce

My very first CD was the Very Best of Cream. The original power rock trio. I was initially interested in the guitar playing of Eric Clapton, but became a huge Jack Bruce fan because of his powerful voice and adventurous, fuzzed-out, fretless bass playing.
Jack Bruce passed away this past weekend and I wanted to honor him by presenting a couple of his great contributions to guitar lick-dom. The first song and lick is the Cream classic White Room.

The opening of this song is an essential riff on the D chord that has been copied and re-imagined by countless other groups.

It is a descending bass pattern that breaks up the D chord.


Here is the White Room riff in notation and Tab.

Sunshine of Your Love Coming Up Next...

Quarter 1: Self Reflection

All Students in Guitar 1 must complete the following self-reflection survey at the end of Quarter 1.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

You Too Can Write Your Own Song! (or, at the very least, collaborate nicely on one)

Beginning Guitar
You Too Can Write Your Own Song!

At this point you should all have the basic skill sets for writing your own music.
  • Basic Chord Vocabulary
  • A variety of strumming, picking and finger-style patterns
  • A guitar

With those skills and the guitar (which isn’t so much a skill as more a medium through which your musical ideas can find an expressive outlet) You Too Can Write Your Own Song!

To make this process easier for you, I have outlined the basic chords in a chord matrix to help you get started. Play around with these chords. Put them in different order. Try different strumming and plucking patterns, different tempo (speed), etc.

Chord Family Matrix (The grayed out chords are ones we have not reviewed in class, but feel free to explore them as well.)
Often we play these chords in a line across this matrix (G-C-D7-G), staying within the same family. But many times when we experiment with chords outside a family we can get interesting results.
Ex. D-B7-Em-G These chords are from different families, but it may be a sound you like or can work with.

 Remember a D chord can be spiced up by using a sus2 or a sus4

Write down your ideas so you remember your original chord progressions and any other notes that can help you remember your ideas.

The key ingredient is experimentation. Some musicians spend hours going back and forth over chords using trial and error to come up with a sound they like. You will be surprised with what you can come up with when you experiment a little bit.

Classic Chord Progressions (These ones have already been used a lot!)
G-Em-C-D7-G-Em-C-D7, etc. (Many songs of the 50’s and 60’s)

G-C7-G-G-C7-C7-G-G-D7-C7-G-G (The blues. Played everyday since 1890 or so.)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Chord Families

We can play quite a few primary chords within a number of chord families. Remember the primary chords are the I-IV-V of any given key. We can play chord families in Major and minor keys. Here is a rundown of what we can do...

Guitar 1:

Key of G

Key of A

Key of D

Key of E

Key of Em

Key of Am

Guitar 2: All of above and...

Key of C

Key of F

Key of Bb

Key of Eb

Key of Ab

Key of Db

Key of Cb

Key of B

Key of F#

Key of C#

These examples are all listed in Major tonality. Guitar 2 students should play all of these chord families in both major and minor. In minor, the 1st and 4th chords would use a minor shape.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Blues Shuffle

Here is a post on the Blues shuffle. It is one of the most classic riffs in all of guitardom and I wanted to commit it to the blog. This "shuffle" is the early sound of rock guitar. This is the model in which blues guitarists still make their music and with which rock guitarists build their style. (image 1)

The A minor pentatonic scale is one of the most common scale patterns used by guitarists to build solos and write classic riffs for songs. (image 2)

To finish off your blues you might want to use this classic lick that has been passed down through the decades... (image 3)

The blues shuffle pattern at the top of the post (image 1) is the backbone. That is your foundation. On top of that you can play a solo using the pentatonic scale (image 2) and incorporate your classic blues lick (image 3).

Monday, October 6, 2014

Compose a Simple Melody: Getting familiar with Noteflight

Today we will play with a new music notation program.
You will compose using Noteflight an online/cloud-based notation program. Noteflight allows you to compose on a desktop and/or tablet. It allows you to collaborate on composition much as you would a shared document. During class, we will learn how to work with Noteflight. The object is to start building familiarity with the program.
Here is a quick assignment to try your hand at finishing a melody.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)

Here are the chords and some of the lyrics to the Green Day song. This song works with a fast syncopated strumming pattern. This is a good song with which to practice chord transitions. 

"Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)"

                            G                               C                       D        
Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road
                      G                                        C                          D
Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go
                       Em               D               C                          G
So make the best of this test, and don't ask why
                         Em         D                    C                        G
It's not a question, but a lesson learned in time

                                                                                                                                         Em                    G                Em                G                                             It's something unpredictable, but in the end it's right.
                                 Em                       D               G
I hope you had the time of your life.

                      G                                         C                         D  
So take the photographs, and still frames in your mind
                         G                           C                              D
Hang it on a shelf in good health and good time
                            Em           D                  C                  G
Tattoos of memories and dead skin on trial
                           Em               D                 C                  G
For what it's worth it was worth all the while

                          Em                   G                Em                G
It's something unpredictable, but in the end it's right.
                        Em                      D                G
                     I hope you had the time of your life.

                      Em                   G               Em                G
It's something unpredictable, but in the end it's right.
                        Em                      D                G
                     I hope you had the time of your life.

                     Em                    G               Em                  G
It's something unpredictable, but in the end it's right.
                        Em                      D                G
                     I hope you had the time of your life.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Power Chords!

Power Chords are awesome! These wonderful 2-note chords can function as Major, or minor chords and can move all over the fingerboard. Just by learning one simple form, you are now able to play dozens of chords anywhere on the guitar.

Sounds great, right? Well the sound is something you have to consider when using the power chord. Because the chord can be used as both Major and minor, the chord does not sound either Major or minor. For certain styles this is perfect because we are not interested in the quality of the chord, we just want something that has a strong sound. This is why these chords are used quite a bit in rock and metal styles.
You may notice that some of these shapes use 3 fingers, 2 fingers or 1 finger. This depends on the position of the chord (open pos. vs. moveable) or if you want to double the root note with your pinky.

When placing your power chords, you have to have a good idea of the mapping on the 5th and 6th string of the guitar. Here are the notes on those strings to help guide you when playing moveable chords.