Newsletter Vol. 3 # 14 – January 15, 2006
Welcome to Volume 3, Issue #14 of Guitar Noise News!
In This Issue
- News and Announcements
- New Articles and Lessons
- Guitar Noise Staff Picks!
- Exploring Music With Darrin Koltow
- Buried Treasure Of The Internet
- Forum Findings
- Email Of The Moment
- Tutorial Tips
- Event Horizon
- Random Thoughts
News And Announcements
Two weeks into 2006 and things seem to be going pretty well so far! Being the fifteenth of January, it must be time for the latest edition of Guitar Noise News.
It still seems rather odd, this new year. I seem to be playing a lot of “catch up” with things from way before the holiday season. There are a lot of lessons to edit and to start putting up online and I don’t even want to think about the piles of emails that I should be doing my best to answer.
But one thing I’d like to stress is that even though it’s a “new” year, there are still a lot of “old” things hanging about and one of them is actual need. Many people are still working to recover from the many natural disasters that befell last year and the year before. We would like to highly encourage our readers to think of others less fortunate as this year continues. If you have the desire, you have the ability to help others in countless ways. Money is obviously something one can contribute (and again we truly want to suggest that any money you might think of giving Guitar Noise might be better appreciated by the Red Cross or similar charities), but one can also contribute priceless commodities such as clothing, nonperishable food, blood and time.
Last year we rallied around “playing with others.” 2006 might be a great year to think about “helping others first.”
And now let’s take a look and see what’s new at Guitar Noise since New Year’s Day:
New Articles And Lessons
The Benefits Of Slide Guitar
by Matt Desenberg
Longtime GN reader Matt Desenberg contacted me last month about “giving back to the community.” Little did I realize it would be in the form of this terrific lesson that not only covers aspects of playing slide guitar, but also demonstrates how various slide techniques can improve your regular guitar playing. Thanks, Matt!
by David Hodge
This is a “back to basics” lesson, taking a simple, two-chord song and focusing on changing chords and strumming. You’ll also get a practical introduction to “slash chords” and, if you still need more to learn, there are a couple of fun and easy riffs for you to add.
Guitar Noise Staff Picks!
So what (or who) is spinning in your CD player today? Or what are you watching on your DVD player? Guitar Noise’s Alan Green sent me a review of one of his favorite Christmas presents:
Rush have been my favourite band since 1978. I have every album and saw them in London twice when I was younger. By chance, in 2004, I noticed an ad for their 30th Anniversary World Tour, which was coming to London. I grabbed tickets, and enjoyed a show that ran for over two hours – far longer than most headline bands play these days, even when you consider there was no support band. Just before Christmas 2005, R30 – the DVD of that tour – hit my local shop. My letter to Santa suddenly got an extra line on it.
The concert footage is from the Frankfurt Festhalle – amazing, I used to work a few hundred metres from the venue when I lived in Frankfurt. It’s almost the concert I saw in London; there are one or two changes to the London set list, but everything else is as I remembered. The video and sound quality is first rate, and if you turn it up loud you can feel the atmosphere. Rush have a reputation for a live sound that is very close to their recorded sound, and this offering maintains that reputation. Alex Lifeson is one of the world’s most underrated guitarists, Geddy Lee’s bass technique is (bizzarely) all upstrokes, and Neil Peart’s 9-minute drum solo is the subject of another series of DVD’s. On the stage, they’re simply unbeatable.
Exploring Music With Darrin Koltow
Without further adieu, let’s get right to Darrin’s offering for this newsletter:
New chord, new position
This has to do with playing in position, versus at different positions along the fretboard. this is really a topic concerned with improvisation, but also with straight melodies.
Here’s the gist: Do take the time and trouble to break out of staying within a single position. We’ll get to the reason in a moment.
You could be playing a melody for a tune, and maybe it stays completely within the key, or maybe is has some chromatics (notes outside the key). And you might be able to play it completely at fret/position V, for example. And it might sound great, too.
But don’t be satisfied with this. Instead, do the following: For each change of the tune’s chord’s, play the melody at a different position.
You’ll start by learning the tune’s chords: for each change in the tune’s chords, play a pattern for that chord in a different position from the last chord pattern.
Example, super simple: Louie, Louie, three chord tune. Say it’s in E: Chords E, A, B. You could play the E at position IV and the A at position V. Don’t. Play the A at position II.
Why? Why pick a new position for each chord change? Because when your hand stays in the same position, your lazy guitarist’s brain (don’t get angry, all our brains are lazy, mine especially) tends to think “Same position, therefore, same sound, same chord, same key, same, same, same…”
But when we move our hands to a new position, Lazy Brain turns into Thinking Brain: “Ah! new position! New sound.” And you will thus become sensitive to the tune’s chord changes instead of thinking in terms of one, monotonic set of sounds that probably sounds like the tonic chord.
I’m not saying use this exclusively. It’s an exercise. Try it.
Thanks for reading.
Buried Treasure Of The Internet
Guitar Noise is about guitars, naturally. But that covers a lot of ground. There are many, many wonderful websites out there that are a little more focused on particular types of guitar or music styles and other singular aspects of music and musicianship. Dale Cruse’s Big Bottom is a great place to get the latest news on your favorite bass players as well as bass guitars and equipment. Besides being a great source of news items, Big Bottom also runs interviews from their own contributing writers, such as this great piece by Helena Bouchez concerning the very innovative bassist Al Caldwell.
Like the guitar community, the bass guitar community is well represented on the Internet. If you’re a bass player, or would-be bassist, do yourself a favor and take the time to visit, meet and learn from some excellent musicians. Big Bottom is a great place to start!
I’d like to extend a warm welcome to Nils, the latest addition to our team of Moderators at the Guitar Noise Forums. The next time you’re on the boards, drop him a note!
Speaking of the Forums, 2006 no sooner started than we find ourselves with two new Forum Pages:
Meet And Greet
New to guitar or just new to Guitar Noise? Say hello here. Where are you? What are you playing, acoustic, electric or both? How long have you been playing? What styles do you like to play? On topic posts only please.
Indie Music Sales
Create a link to your own CD, or your favorite indie CD if you don’t have one. This forum isn’t for random discussion. Every topic should be a CD for sale. Comments/reviews discussion of that CD can be added to the original post.
And, while I’m thinking of it, I’d like to wish Forum Member “Lotto King” good luck with his upcoming move. That sort of thing isn’t always easy and we’ll be looking forward to your return to the Forum Pages.
Email Of The Moment
I took the slogan (“play well with others”) to heart and started playing with a few other guys. I live in Costa Rica so there a lot more spare time here than in the US. The result is a band called The Medicine Show and we play a few of the local tourist spots. I play mostly percussion (but stand in on mandolin and guitar) and the band is a plugged in acoustic group with an earthy feel that rocks the house. Thanks for the inspiration to play together.
You’re very welcome! I don’t know how many readers we have in and around Nosara, Costa Rica, but I hope that if you do hail from thereabouts, you take the time to see The Medicine Show at one of their gigs!
And if anyone would like to share their experiences of playing with others, please pass them on to me at [email protected] and I’ll be sure they get posted.
Hope you guys had a great holiday.
I have been playing guitar for many years. I find that I can’t quite get the hang of passing chords. I use some when I play, but I hear all these great Jazz pickers and they seem to be able to play a different chord for just about every beat.
I was hoping you could point me in some direction that might increase my skill level in this area.
Thanks for all the help
Thanks for writing. I may not be the best person to ask about passing chords because I’m still trying to get (a lot) better at them. The best advice I can give you is what a jazz guitar teacher told me – pretend you’re learning guitar chords all over again. You know how way back when you thought you’d never be able to switch between an E and an A in less than ten minutes? Same thing applies here. What helps,though, is realizing that most jazz chords involve “closed” shapes,” meaning they use no open strings. Once you’ve mastered changing between some of the shapes, you’re on your way to getting better at passing chords.
I hope this helps. If you’re able to, try to see a teacher of jazz guitar. Even if it’s only for a lesson or two, it will be a big help.
I look forward to chatting with you again in the future.
Digging Through The Archives
Speaking of jazz guitar, don’t forget to take a look at the many lessons on our Jazz Guitar page.
And also check out some of Peter Simms’ chord melody arrangements here.
Working slowly with these will certainly help you get started on making smooth transitions with passing chords.
Speaking of which, this comes from the band, LoNero:
The “No Regrets, No Excuses” tour is taking shape. LoNero will be hitting ten states starting late-March. The states are: AZ, TX, OK, TN, IN, MO, KS, CO, NV and CA. Two shows are confirmed for March 24th in Austin, TX and March 25th in Dallas, TX. More to come real soon!
Naval Air Station – LoNero has been invited to perform for the troops on Feb. 18th at the Lemoore Naval Air Station. We are very excited about performing for the brave soldiers that give so much everyday.
There is a lot more at www.LoNero.net, so stop on over and check it all out!
Thank you for your support and best wishes!
Rush: R30 – The Rush 30th Anniversary Tour
DVD Review by Alan Green
A terrific DVD of Rush’s 30th Anniversary Tour, taken from shows at the Frankfurt Festhalle. Top rate sound and video quality!
Alexandre De Guise: Can’t Be In Vain
CD Review by Jimmy Caterine
I would best describe the musical genre of this disc as Adult Contemporary and light Progressive Rock with a touch of Celtic Folk, brought to you by a top level guitar virtuoso.
Age Of Nemesis: Psychogeist
CD Review by Jimmy Caterine
Great progressive metal from Hungary, of all places! Highly recommended.
If you’ve read any of my song lessons or guitar columns, you know that one of my (many) “favorite subjects on which to rant” is the ever popular “how come the TAB doesn’t sound like the recording” or similar idea. Surprisingly, it can be a touchy subject and that truly surprises me.
Chances are that you picked up the guitar because you wanted to be able to play like “insert your guitar idol here” (popular chap, that!), and there is a great deal of pleasure from playing a riff or a lead note for note from a recording. And TAB, for whatever faults it may have, is great at helping a beginner achieve this small goal.
And I call it a “small goal” because, in the long-term life of a guitar player (and I’m assuming here that you intend to be playing guitar for the rest of your life), being able to copy someone else’s playing is indeed a small part in the big picture. At some point you are going to want to have your own voice, your own unique style. Being a mimic is a great talent, but being a mimic without creativity can be stale, and often very frustrating to both the player and his or her audience.
What we’re talking about here is the difference between creating music and re-creating music. This is a process that occurs in all walks of life, especially when it comes to the arts. If you go to any art museum, chances are likely you’ll see some students ardently working on sketches, coping great works from the great masters of painting and drawing. They are learning from the best.
Likewise, a musician (and especially a guitarist) normally evolves from the stage of copying his or her mentor. You might learn the guitar part to every Beatles songs (or Led Zeppelin, Oasis, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Metallica, Brad Paisley, Joe Pass, Django Rhinehardt, Chet Atkins, Julian Bream and the list goes on). And that’s great to a point.
But who are you really? Are you Jimmy Page or David Gilmour or Kaki King or are you yourself? When someone hears you play guitar, do they know if it’s you or if it’s you copying someone else? You might be surprised to learn that your audience is much more interested in you than in someone else. That’s why they are there listening.
The more guitarists you listen to, the more styles you will wind up incorporating into your own. That’s a natural thing. And the special combination of influences and abilities, unique to yourself, is what brings about your style.
Being hung up on sounding exactly like the recording, especially at the early stages of learning, can actually stunt your musical growth. If you were playing along with a CD and, as an example, strummed an A9 instead of an A7, you would probably get mad at yourself because you made a mistake. But would you notice that you came up with a perfectly good sounding chord substitute? Would you then start experimenting with similar substitutes, perhaps even come up with an original song using the chords you played around with? If your focus is solely upon sounding like the CD, then you probably would not. And that, to me at any rate, is very sad. It’s giving up a chance to be creative because being creative is not the priority. Re-creating is.
Not to be mistaken – there is a lot of good to be had from copying your idols. Lessons on timing, scale usage and fingering, the phrasing of leads, all these and more especially benefit from being able to copy. But only if you’re thinking in that fashion to start with! And far too many players, again in my experience, don’t learn in this particular mindset. I’m sure many of you can cite friends who are fabulous players – people who can play every Steve Vai lead note for note but still can’t strum their way through a single complete folk song.
If you’re learning the guitar, learn about being creative as well as being re-creative. Look at how things fit together. Take what you learned in one song and try out different ideas in other songs.
If you’re going to be learning guitar, then learn about music. You truly can’t separate one from the other. Be a sponge when it comes to listening to music, regardless of the genre. Look at every song as an opportunity to learn something and not as a reason to fiddle with the dial of your radio or to hit the “skip track” or fast forward button. You’ll be a lot better musician (and person) for doing so.
I hope that you all have a wonderful last few weeks of January. Stay safe and play well (and often!).
And, as always,