Newsletter Vol. 4 # 10 – September 1, 2011


Welcome to Volume 4, Issue #10 of Guitar Noise News!

In This Issue:

  • Greetings, News and Announcements
  • Guitar Noise Featured Artist
  • Topic of the Month
  • New Articles, Lessons, Reviews and Stuff
  • Great Advice from Great Teachers
  • Spotlight on the Sunday Songwriters Group
  • Events Horizon
  • Random Thoughts

Greetings, News and Announcements

Welcome to the September 1 edition of Guitar Noise News, your free twice-a-month newsletter from Guitar Noise. Hopefully, we addressed you by name this time out and not by “[Name]” as we did last time. But the fact that we did do that should tip you off to the fact that we are trying to get more up to date by using sophisticated “newsletter software.” In the past, we used to type each one of these twenty-five thousand and change newsletters out individually in order to get all the names straight. Using this sophisticated software should cut down on us being late with the newsletter because it’s just Paul and I typing out all of them. Don’t know if you’re going to believe that or not, especially since this isn’t the April 1 issue, but I figure it’s worth a shot. We’ll see.

The big news for this newsletter comes from Todd Mack, musician, songwriter, producer and founder of Music In Common – producers of FODfest, and local and International school music education programs and various multimedia productions. He’s going to be doing a number of shows and other events in Taipei and Hong Kong between September 8 and 15.

On Thursday, September 8, he’ll be at Bobwundaye playing with Blues Vibrations for an 8:30 show.

On Saturday, September 10, Todd will be at Zhongshan Hall, the last of six speakers of a TED Talks conference. He will discussing his ongoing work of building community through music, which will undoubtedly detail a lot of Music In Common’s work across the globe. The whole event starts at 1:30 PM.

On Sunday, September 11, Todd will be one of the artists taking part at the Daniel Pearl Day Festival at Huashan Grassland in Taipei. This is a free concert that starts at 1:00 PM.

And then it’s on to Hong Kong where Todd will be playing a show on Wednesday, September 14 at the Hong Kong Foreign Correspondent’s Club.

You can find out more about these shows (not to mention the rest of Todd’s schedule) at his Facebook page:

Guitar Noise Featured Artist

Glen Campbell, who is hitting the road for one final “thank you tour” these last four months of 2011, is the Guitar Noise Featured Artist for the month of September. While many of you may know of Mr. Campbell’s career because of a single song, like “Rhinestone Cowboy,” the fact is that he has always been an incredible and much respected guitarist and musician. Read all about him on the Guitar Noise Profile Page.

Topic of the Month

Since September is traditionally the time when people start heading back to school, supposedly for the sake of an education, it seemed like a good idea to make the Guitar Noise Topic of the Month for September something to do with Absolute Beginners Lessons, to show our support for those of you getting back into the education mindset.

Visit the Guitar Noise home page and check out all the lessons and articles you’ll find about our topic, whatever it should happen to be called “Strumming for Beginners”, by clicking on the latest “Topic of the Month” up at the top of the middle of the home page, just below the blue banner.

New Articles, Lessons, Reviews and Stuff

Speed Secrets – Part 4
by Tom Serb

In the latest installment of Tom Serb’s series on adding speed to your playing, we’re going to try some more difficult speed drills. If you’ve been following Tom’s lessons on playing fast you’ll like these new more challenging patterns.

Strength In Numbers
by David Hodge

If you’re learning guitar and want the advantages of having a teacher but you’re worried about finances, taking group lessons may be just the thing for you!

Great Advice From Great Teachers

In this issue of Guitar Noise News, we reintroduce you to guitar teacher and Guitar Noise contributor, Paul Andrews, who offers some advice on developing your musical ear through transcribing:

Transcribing – Part 1

For this newsletter I thought I would address a topic that has arisen in numerous lessons of late with my own students and something that I feel needs addressing. This topic is the importance of developing a good musical ear through transcribing songs.

I often have students ask me if they can learn to play their favourite song (which is definitely something I strongly encourage) but they often look back at me horrified when I ask if they have tried working it out themselves. It seems this idea had never crossed their minds!

Go back a few years, though, and working out songs by ear was the primary means of learning to play the guitar. This is how most of our guitar heroes and legends taught themselves how to play. You read over and over again in interviews how they would sit with a vinyl record and play it repeatedly in order to learn the guitar parts they admired. Nowadays Internet tab and artist song books are a student’s first port of call but you can only get so much from a tab. If you want to get the true feel and tone of an artist you have to use your ears. Perhaps even more important is that you will learn to hear parts that aren’t always written out in transcription. There’s nothing stopping you from playing the saxophone part from a song like, for example, “Take Five” except, perhaps, your current lack of confidence in your listening skills.

So what is transcribing?

Transcribing, technically, is writing out a song so that another person (yourself included) can play it from your written notes. But because transcribing is becoming such a rare ability we tend to think of it these days as the art of working out songs through using your ears and also writing it down. But for now we are only looking at working it out at this stage.

It is important to note, though, that there are different levels of transcription. You could be doing something as simple as figuring out the time signature and the chords of a song so that you can strum along to it. Or you could be trying to work out a note-per-note transcription of a single guitar part. Or you could be working all note-per-note transcriptions of all the guitar parts of a single song. Since we’re just getting started, let’s focus on figuring out the chord progressions, okay?

So when do I start trying to transcribe?

As soon as possible, obviously this seems daunting to the beginner guitarist but developing a good musical ear is all about experience, so just give it a try but most importantly keep trying! Start with your favourite song and try to clap along with it, is it 4/4 time? Listen closely to the Bass guitar which often plays the root notes of the guitar chords, try to pick them out along the ‘E’ string and change chords with the guitar.

There are a number of excellent articles here at Guitar Noise that can help you get started. David’s “ear training trilogy” is a good place to begin. The first and, especially, the last lesson of this set are the ones to which you’ll want to direct your attention:

As mentioned, definitely take your time with the last lesson, which goes through figuring out three song examples step by step. And don’t forget that most people who teach have been working songs out by ear for quite a while so don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t come to you magically in an instance. Like everything about the guitar (and music), transcription takes practice. But at least now you’ve got something to go on in order to start practicing.

The song is too fast, I can’t keep up.

And, unlike your guitar heroes, you’ve also got a lot of help! There are many computer programs available such as Transcribe! and Amazing Slow Downer which allow you to slow down, loop sections and change the pitch of audio tracks. Plus the digital players in some computers also provide such assistance.

Homework assignment

So now you have an idea of where to start it is time to begin. Have a go at transcribing one or more of the four songs below, in this case “transcribing” meaning “work out the chord progressions, just as David did in “Solving the Puzzle.

To give you a hand, all the songs in question use some or all of the chords G, D, A, C, Em, and B7. All you have to do is work out which ones and in what order.

Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd
Wonderful Tonight – Eric Clapton
Hot & Cold – Katy Perry
Sweet Child O’Mine – Guns ‘N’ Roses

And don’t be shy about attempting songs not on the list! The more you practice on the better you’ll get at working out songs by ear.

I shall return in a few weeks with the answers but until then good luck and happy listening.

P.S. Extra credit marks for working out the guitar solos!

In case you’re not familiar with Paul, he has just recently launched the Online Guitar Academy. There is a 30% off Introductory Offer going on through the month of September, by the way!

And Paul has also recently co-written a method book called “Electric Guitar Playing,” which you can also find at his website. We should be having a review of it here at Guitar Noise sometime in the next month or so.

Spotlight on the Sunday Songwriters’ Group

I’m especially looking forward to this month’s Spotlight because, as of the time I’m writing this, I have no idea who is going to be our featured SSG artist! Vic has got a number of good choices and I’m anxiously awaiting his interview so I can post it up online as soon as it arrives!

And when that happens, you will find all that here.

Events Horizon

The Wishing Well, a fantastic Austalian band that’s been playing in Europe for a little more than the past year, makes its first trip to America and will be in Florida during the first half of September. Their first show is Friday, September 9, playing at the Barnacle Historic State Park (3485 Main Highway) in Coconut Grove, Florida. Show starts at 6 PM.

From there, they’ll head to the Dunedin Brewery. located at 937 Douglas Avenue in Dunedin for a 6 PM show on Sunday, September 11.

Then it’s on to Orlando and an 8 PM show on Wednesday, September 14 at the Peacock Room at 1321 North Mills Avenue, followed by an 8:30 PM show the next evening (Thursday, September 15) at the European Street Cafe, located at 1704 San Marco Boulevard in Jacksonville, Florida.

If you have the chance to see this wonderfully energetic band, stop in and give them a listen. You’ll have a great time!

Tom McLaughlin and his new band, Life is Drama will be at Exit 197, which is at 952 West Reynolds Street in Pontiac, Illinois on Saturday, September 10, playing from 10:00pm-1:30am.

Lee Hodge and his band Doesn’t Madder are going to be rocking out in North Carolina the first two weekends of September. Tomorrow, Friday, September 2, they’ll be at George’s on the Lake (101 Catawba Avenue) in Rhodhiss, playing from 8 PM until midnight. Then on Saturday, September 3, they’ve got a 9:30 PM to 1:00 AM show at Horsefeathers Roadhouse, located at 3746 Mount Pleasant Road in Sherrills Ford.

The following weekend they be playing Friday, September 9 at The Alibi, at 819 West Avenue NW in Lenoir and then on Saturday, September 10 they’ll be back at George’s on the Lake again for an 8:30 show.

Random Thoughts

It’s been a bit of a weird month, to say the least, especially this last week which saw the east coast of the United States get hit by both an earthquake and an even more sizable hurricane. Truth be told, we didn’t feel the quake at all where I live and the hurricane had thankfully dwindled considerably in size before it thoroughly soaked our neck of the woods.

But unfortunately, much of the rest of the country didn’t fare so well. Not all that far west of me in the Catskills of New York, and to the north in Vermont, small isolated towns were devastated by flash flooding, while areas in the Carolina, Virginia and other Mid-Atlantic states were also hit hard.

It’s easy to say that these are tough times economically, and saying that natural disasters take no notice of economies is a bit of a clich√©, but the truth is that there is almost always a need for assistance somewhere in the world. And while one can’t be constantly giving, being aware of it and treating people as kindly as possible can certainly help. Sometimes life is very much a matter of seeing what you have to spare (and it can be time or simply kindness and a willingness to listen) and offering what you can.

Until our next newsletter, play well and play often. And for those of you going out and about, my best wishes for safe travel.

And, as always,