Newsletter Vol. 4 # 15 – November 15, 2011

Nov15

Greetings,

Welcome to Volume 4, Issue #15 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
  • Events Horizon
  • Random Thoughts

Greetings, News and Announcements

Hello and welcome to the November 15 issue of Guitar Noise News, your free twice-a-month newsletter from Guitar Noise. Can you believe there are only two more newsletters between now and the one for January 1, 2012?

I know that this was our lead story last time out, but it truly bears repeating:

Our big news is that Paul has negotiated successfully with Alfred Music to purchase the rights to some of their songs for our song lessons here at Guitar Noise. Little by little, we’ll be bringing back some of our old song lessons, as well as brand new ones! This has been a long time coming and we can’t thank you enough for both your patience and your support.

We’ve chosen three R.E.M. song lessons – “Man on the Moon,” “Losing My Religion” and “Driver Eight” – to help us celebrate being able to bring back the music and tablature into our Guitar Noise lessons and we also do so to commemorate this great band who’ve recently decided to part ways. And we hope you will join us in thanking Alfred Music Publishing for working with us in order to bring copyrighted material back into our song lessons.

And as we bring some of these old lessons back, we’re going to try to tidy them up a bit. We hope you enjoy them and find them educational, entertaining and inspirational.

You can also read Paul’s “formal announcement” on the Guitar Noise site right here: The Return of Easy Songs for Beginners.

By the bye, “Hey There Delilah” will be the next lesson posted and that should occur right around the first of December. We should even have a few more announcements that may interest you by then.

Chuck Berry turned eighty-five last month. We’re giving him a belated birthday celebration by naming him the Guitar Noise Featured Artist for the month of November Read all about him on the Guitar Noise Profile Page: http://www.guitarnoise.com/artists/

Topic Of The Month

With the holidays coming up sooner than we’d like, it made sense to choose “Buying a Guitar” as November’s Guitar Noise Topic of the Month. We’ve had quite a few articles over the year dealing with the topic, ranging from going into the music store for the very first time to buying used instruments to making sure you’ve thought about your guitar’s shape when it comes to making a purchase. You’ll find all there and more by visiting the Guitar Noise home page and 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

When Do You Change Chords?
by David Hodge

Chord changes in songs are always a matter of timing. So when you’re looking at a chord sheet with lyrics how do you know when to change chords?

On Becoming A Musician
by Tom Serb

How do you go from being an amateur musician to a professional musician? Practice is important but the real key is in developing a sense of musicianship.

How Do You Find Time To Play and LEARN The Guitar?
by David Hodge

When you’re busy you not only have to make time to learn guitar, you also have to ensure you’re making the best of your time. But how do you make time?

A Practical Guide To Shopping For The Guitarists In Your Life
Gifts for Less than $30
by David Hodge

Buying a gift for a guitarist doesn’t have to break your budget! Here are a lot of gift ideas for the musician in your life – all under $30!

Revisiting The Capo – Part 1
by David Hodge

When you find yourself playing with a lot of other guitar players somebody’s going to have to slap on a capo. But how do you know which fret to put it on?

Great Advice From Great Teachers

This month, we’ve another great bit of advice from long time Guitar Noise contributor Tom Serb:

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Scales – Part 2

The Blues Scale

Almost all of the other scales we use can be seen as the pentatonic scale with the addition of one or more notes. This has led to teaching methods based on five scale positions (like the CAGED system that you might have heard of), but I think that’s limiting. As we add notes to the scale, we’ll end up with MORE than two notes on some strings, which opens up a lot more fingering possibilities. But for the next couple of scales we’ll keep things simple, and look at only five fingerings.

Blues is a traditional music that uses the pentatonic scale with additions. Many blues tunes use a number of additions to the pentatonic scale, but a lot of blues tunes add just one note – the b5 of the major scale, often called the “blue note”. That gives us a scale formula of 1-b3-4-b5-5-b7.

Looking at our first pentatonic fingering, here’s the scale you’ve learned:

 | 8  |    |    | 11 |
 | 8  |    |    | 11 |
 | 8  |    | 10 |
 | 8  |    | 10 |
 | 8  |    | 10 |
 | 8  |    |    | 11 |

Here’s the same scale with the addition of the “blue note”:

 | 8  |    |    | 11 |
 | 8  |    |    | 11 |
 | 8  |    | 10 | 11 |
 | 8  |    | 10 |
 | 8  | 9  | 10 |
 | 8  |    |    | 11 |

When we take this scale into the next fingering, we have a problem: not all of the note fit under your fingers. This is a lot like the situation we encountered in the minor pentatonic scale’s 3rd fingering, where we have to shift on one string. But now, because of the layout of the guitar’s tuning, we have a couple of different options…

We can add the “˜blue note’ by reaching back:

      |    | 11 |    | 13 |
      |    | 11 |    | 13 |
      | 10 | 11 | 12 |    |
      | 10 |    |    | 13 |
 | 9 || 10 |    |    | 13 |
      |    | 11 |    | 13 |

Or we can add the blue note by stretching forward:

 |    | 11 |    | 13 |
 |    | 11 |    | 13 |
 | 10 | 11 | 12 |    |
 | 10 |    |    | 13 |
 | 10 |    |    | 13 |
 |    | 11 |    | 13 | 14 |

Because we’ve got a couple of options, we now have more than five scale fingerings. The trick to unlocking the possibilities lies in learning which note is which in the scale fingerings.

Our first minor pentatonic scale fingering looks like this, in terms of the notes we’re playing compared to the major scale:

 | R  |    |    | b3 |
 | 5  |    |    | b7 |
 | b3 |    | 4  |
 | b7 |    | R  |
 | 4  |    | 5  |
 | R  |    |    | b3 |

“R” designates the root note (the tonic) of the scale; each additional pitch is now designated by its position in the major scale. The “˜blue note’ is the b5 of the major scale, which is one half step (one fret) below the 5… or one half step above the 4. Applying this to minor pentatonic fingering 1, we get this:

 | R  |    |    | b3 |
 | 5  |    |    | b7 |
 | b3 |    | 4  | b5 |
 | b7 |    | R  |
 | 4  | b5 | 5  |
 | R  |    |    | b3 |

Now let’s look at minor pentatonic fingering 2:

 |    | b3 |    | 4  |
 |    | b7 |    | R  |
 | 4  |    | 5  |    |
 | R  |    |    | b3 |
 | 5  |    |    | b7 |
 |    | b3 |    | 4  |

We can add the blue note by going one half step below the 5:

   |    | b3 |   | 4  |
   |    | b7 |   | R  |
   | 4  | b5 | 5 |    |
   | R  |    |   | b3 |
 b5| 5  |    |   | b7 |
   |    | b3 |   | 4  |

or by going one half step above the 4:

 |    | b3 |    | 4  | b5 |
 |    | b7 |    | R  |
 | 4  | b5 | 5  |    |
 | R  |    |    | b3 |
 | 5  |    |    | b7 |
 |    | b3 |    | 4  | b5 |

Changing the third minor pentatonic fingering is easy:

 |    | 4  | b5 |  5 |    |
 |    | R  |    |    | b3 |
 | 5  |    |    | b7 |    |
 |    | b3 |    | 4  | b5 |
 |    | b7 |    | R  |    |
 |    | 4  | b5 |  5 |    |

The fourth leads to two fingerings, one moving back:

 | b5 | 5  |    |   | b7 |
 |    |    | b3 |   | 4  |
 |    | b7 |    | R |    |
 |    | 4  | b5 | 5 |    |
 |    | R  |    |   | b3 |
 | b5 | 5  |    |   | b7 |

And one moving forward:

 | 5  |    |   | b7 |
 |    | b3 |   | 4  | b5 |
 | b7 |    | R |    |
 | 4  | b5 | 5 |    |
 | R  |    |   | b3 |
 | 5  |    |   | b7 |

The fifth position also leads to two different fingerings:

 |   | b7 |    | R  |
 |   | 4  | b5 | 5  |
 | R |    |    | b3 |    |
 | 5 |    |    | b7 |    |
 |   | b3 |    | 4  | b5 |
 |   | b7 |    | R  |    |
 |    |   | b7 |    | R  |
 |    |   | 4  | b5 | 5  |
 |    | R |    |    | b3 |
 | b5 | 5 |    |    | b7 |
 |    |   | b3 |    | 4  |
 |    |   | b7 |    | R  |

As you work with incorporating the b5 into your fingerings, you’ll see how being able to view it as the b5 (one fret below the 5) or as the #4 (one fret above the 4) will help your mastery of the fretboard.

Events Horizon

You can read the Events Horizon from this past week, which covers from October 12 through October 22.

Random Thoughts

This may be a little early, particularly since Thanksgiving hasn’t even gotten here in the States yet (although it made it to Canada last month!). Anyway, I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot of late and, knowing that I’d written something about it ages ago that I couldn’t do a better job of writing now, I went and got it out of our newsletter archives. This would have been written close to Christmas 2003, a very shall we say thoughtful time in my life as I was about to leave Chicago with a truck filled with close to thirty years of living there and drive to Massachusetts,where I had no job and knew no one save the woman I would be living with. Sometimes that still seems like just yesterday, Of course, sometimes it also seems like the dinosaurs were still stomping around and keeping us up nights…

Christmas is upon us this week and this newsletter is a little short owing to all of the things going on in my life, but I’d like to tell you something about Christmas that has always bothered me. It’s how people say “if only every day was like Christmas” without thinking that making that particular wish come true is actually very easy.

Last August, the Riverside Jam was held in Chicago. Many of my students were very keen on participating and I’d like to tell you of one in particular.

On Saturday night of the weekend-long event, we’d rented a bar and were playing several sets. Each set was geared to either a specific musical genre or skill level; participants selected (in advance) which set or sets they wanted to play in.

The student in question opted to take part in what we called the “beginners” set. It was mostly straightforward rock and roll songs – the idea being to keep things as simple as possible. We played things like Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams, Wooly Bully, Jump Jive and Wail, Wild Night and CCR’s Midnight Special.

Long after the show, he made it a point to thank me not only for being able to take part in the Jam but also for having to learn songs that he’d never played before and probably would never have learned otherwise. For the performance he had come up with several simple leads for many of the numbers and the beginners’ group probably got more compliments than any of the others. To him, the greatest part of the night was finding out how much other people enjoyed hearing him play. And, he admitted, they probably wouldn’t have heard him play if they weren’t interested in the songs in the first place.

So what’s all this got to do with Christmas? Well, depending on how you look at things, this holiday (and all the holidays at this time of year) are either about getting or giving. We like to think it’s more about the giving…

When we play music, we often exclusively play things that interest us. This is what brings us happiness. But part of any musician’s joy is a shared emotion involving an audience. So guess what happens when you learn a song for someone else?

Think about how wonderful a gift that is. Caring enough about someone in order to learn and play music especially for them. The beauty of music is that you can make anything incredible personal. Your performance, whether in front of a group of people or on a tape or CD or just between you and one good friend, is an ultimate expression of what life is all about.

When you give gifts like this, here is what you get: the spirit of the holidays each time you play. In other words, Christmas, or whatever you choose to celebrate, can happen every single day of your life. It’s all in your hands.

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,

Peace

About David Hodge

Since joining Guitar Noise in November 1999, David has written over a thousand articles, lessons, interviews and reviews. He also serves as the site's Managing Editor, supervising all content in addition to the continued writing of his own lessons and articles. In April 2013, David joined the writing staff of Answers.com, heading up their Guitar Pages. And if that wasn't enough to keep him busy, David contributes to regularly Acoustic Guitar Magazine. He is also the author of six instructional books, the most recent being Idiot’s Guide: Playing Guitar.