Friday, May 29, 2015

Compose Guitar Melody on the first 3 strings

Please use Noteflight to compose an 8-measure melody using notes on the first 3-strings of the guitar.


Your melody should have examples of Whole, Half, quarter and eighth notes.

Thank You

Friday, May 22, 2015

Pedal Tones on the Guitar

Using pedal tones (or notes) can transform the the sound of an otherwise everyday chord progression.
What is a pedal tone you may ask?

Here is a definition from the internet:
ped·al note
noun: pedal tone
  1. 1.
    a note sustained in one part (usually the bass) through successive harmonies, some of which are independent of it.

This is the way we will play around with pedal tones.

These are the chord shapes Randy Rhodes use at the beginning of "Crazy Train"
As you can see, the A note on the 5th string is ringing over each chord. That is the pedal tone.

We can do this with other open strings to get the pedal effect.

If we want to use the open D (4th) string for the same purpose, we might try these shapes:

We can do this with the Pedal E (6th) string as well:


Play around with these chords and see if you can come up with your own "Pedal Chords."

Monday, May 18, 2015

Playing with double stops in CMajor

Last week we started to explore the sound of double stops (2 note chords). Try to make some sounds with double stops over a simple C Major chord progression.

Here is the C Major Scale in double stops:

Here is a backing track to play with:

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Let's Invert some 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, May 11, 2015

Inverted Chords and Sam Smith

We have been messing around with bass lines in chords. What we are doing in most cases is inverting the chord. This means that the lowest note of the chord is not the naming note, but rather a different note within the chord gets promoted (or depending on your view) demoted to the bass.

I brought up the example of Sam Smith's tune I'm Not the Only One.

This song makes nice use of inverted chords. Here is a chart of the chord progression. It is not perfect in terms of form, but you hopefully get the idea.

This is not the original key, but it is a guitar friendly key that allows us to illustrate some of the inverted chords. You will recognize an inverted chord by the / symbol. (ex. B7/D#) You would read this as B7 with D# in the bass. 

Here are some shapes for these inverted chords (and for the fantastic Dsus chord)


Moving the Bass Line (Walking)

In class we have been working some chords and altering the bass notes. This can give us a more interesting sounding chord and often provides movement when a chord is played for an extended amount of time. Guitarists will often add a bass line to connect chords and give an accompaniment more activity.
Here is an example of a chord progression that uses a moving and alternating bass line to create more motion and activity. These chords are similar to the ones in the classic song "House of the Rising Sun"

You know all of these chords and the fingering for the moving bass line has been provided for you. Here is a video clip so you can hear the example.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Chord Transposition for the Guitarist:

A useful skill for the guitarist (or any musician for that matter) is the ability to change the key of the song you are playing. One option on the guitar (which some of you have discovered) is the use of a capo. A capo allows you to continue to play the same chords you "memorized", but changes the key depending on the placement of the capo. This is a viable option in some cases but it also changes the tone considerably if you are moving more than just a couple of frets. Another option might be an alternate tuning. Again, a viable option if you want to move the key by a half or whole step. Beyond that you are going to run into all sorts of problems.

This brings me to the point of this post:
Understanding transposition will help you out when those other options are either not appropriate or unavailable (hey, I forgot my capo!)

Let's take a simple chord progression in the key of G:


Perfect. Simple, a few primary chords. We'll we need to understand the relationship of the chords to the key and each other. We do that by thinking of the key of G and numbering the notes of the scale (these numbers will also correspond to the chords we build on those scale degrees).

G-A-B- C- D-E- F#-G
 I- ii-iii-IV-V-vi-vii- I

You will notice that I am using Roman numerals. These are the standard for music analysis. They are helpful because they have an uppercase and lowercase. Uppercase for Major and lowercase for minor.
Let's look ate that chord progression again with Roman numerals...


Once I know the chord numbers, I can move them to any key I want.

The Key of A

The Key of D
I-IV- I- V

Here is a Handy Chart of Keys and how they notes and chords in those keys are related:

Remember, uppercase Roman numerals represent Major Chords and lowercase represents minor Chords. If the the chord is a 7th, you can add that next to the number as well.