Newsletter Vol. 3 # 21 – May 01, 2006


Welcome to Volume 3, Issue #21 of Guitar Noise News!

In This Issue:

  • News and Announcements
  • New Articles and Lessons
  • Exploring Music With Darrin Koltow
  • Digging Through The Archives
  • Event Horizon
  • Reviews
  • Random Thoughts

News And Announcements

A very Happy May Day to you all. And, if you’re in England, Happy Labor Day! And, if you’re Guitar Noise Forum Moderator (and wonderful classical player) Alan Green, then I also wish you a very Happy Birthday!

If I missed anyone or anything, do let me know, okay?

As far back as last November, Nick and I have been working out the logistics for this next announcement, and I’m truly pleased to be able to offer you a chance to attend:

Guitar Noise Mini-Camp 2006

“From Online To Onstage” or “Open Mike 101”

This year we’re going to take Guitar Noise’s logo to heart and prepare our campers to face the bright lights. There’ll be classes and instruction, all geared toward making your first performance at the Guitar Noise (Relatively) Open Mike Night.

And, we have Nick Torres coming as our special guest teacher and vocal coach!

Dates are from Thursday, July 6 to Sunday, July 9, 2006.

Classes and instruction will include:

Choosing your set of songs – what works, what doesn’t, what might

Singing basics – learning to breathe, support and staying in tune, finding and increasing your range

Arranging your songs – picking a key, adding some flair to your playing with simple techniques, ordering your set

Preparing for your performance – how and what to practice, how to mark up your score sheet/lead sheet, dynamics, memorization tricks

Theory and performance – a crash course on the capo, playing with one or two others

How to perform – prep for performance, dealing with and understanding stage fright developing a stage presence, using a microphone

All will culminate with a performance by all participants (both solo and groups) at our “virtual” open mike to be held at Uncommon Grounds Coffee House in Great Barrington, Massachusetts on Saturday, July 8 from 5 to 9 PM. We’re calling it “virtual” because the performance will be invitation only. There will be an audience but the only performers will be the Guitar Noise Mini-Campers and staff.

Thursday and Friday evenings will feature a jam and we’re hoping the weather will cooperate and we’ll have a sing-around-the campfire hot dog roast on Friday.

For this particular camp, you want to be comfortable playing first position chords and willing to take a stab at performing. If you’re at the point where you’re playing and singing songs in your home, then you should have no problems. If you’re close, meaning that you can strum along with someone else singing, then you certainly will get a lot out of this Mini-Camp.

The focus will be on performing with the abilities that you have. Obviously, the more you know the more nuanced your playing will be. But, as you’ll learn in camp (not to mention in real life), playing very complicated pieces doesn’t always translate well on stage.

The very first night of camp will be spent brainstorming about what pieces you’ll want to perform solo as well as part of a small group (duet, trio or quartet). If all you decide you’re comfortable with is Horse With No Name, For What It’s Worth and Knocking On Heaven’s Door (or any other two and three chord songs), then you’ve got a set, believe it or not! And we’ll help you put it together to make it as polished as possible.

Cost of the Mini-Camp is $750. This includes lodging at my home and all meals (except for Saturday night). If you’d prefer to stay someplace else other than my home, then cost is $600. If you’d like to bring a spouse, friend, partner who won’t participate in the classes but will attend meals and the evening events, there would be an additional charge of $200.

Owing to the individual nature of instruction and the privacy of the “open mike” night, Guitar Noise Mini-Camp is limited to six participants. If there is enough interest, there will be more of these in the very near future.

To reserve a spot or to ask any questions, write me directly at [email protected]

I look forward to seeing you there.

In other news, you might have noticed that we moved to a new server last month. This resulted in a number of things getting lost (particularly in the Forums) and we’re sorry about any inconvenience that may have resulted. Hopefully, though, you’ll find the site running and responding a whole lot faster.

And now let’s take a look at what’s new here at Guitar Noise:

New Articles And Lessons

Improving Your Chord Changes
by Graham Merry

Getting better at making chord changes is an early goal for every guitarist. Graham discusses how using the art of visualization can help you develop smooth chord changes, both in learning new chords and in practicing the ones you already know.

The Pain That Is RSI
by Paul Andrews

RSI, or Repetitive Strain Injury, commonly affects musicians owing to the repetitive nature of playing music. The wrist and neck areas are especially at risk to the guitarist and beginners (especially those learning on their own) are particularly susceptible to these injuries. Paul gives us some tips as well as exercises to help properly warm up and to hopefully avoid RSI problems.

Four Tactics To Pack Fans Into Your E-Mmail List
by Sean Farrington

Have you been dreaming of a huge email list? The kind of list that with one click of the “send” button hordes of fans mobilize to come to see your shows, or play your new track at Sean Farrington of shares four techiniques on how to build a marketing powerhouse mailing list.

Exploring Music With Darrin Koltow

This time out, Darrin talks to us about ninth chords:

This tip is about the major 9, major add 9, and 6/9 chords. We’re going into this because it’s nice to know there’s other stuff you can do with a major chord to keep it from sounding like the same old 3-note sound.

Just what does this 9 refer to, in C major 9? First, take the plain C major chord: C, E, G. This can be built on the C major scale (among other scales). Here’s that scale: C, D, E, F, G, A, B and again C. Keep going now, one more note: D again, right? Let’s bring in the numbers, just assigning them to the scale:

C scale

Notice the number under the D, 9. We don’t assign 2 to the D, because we’re building this chord from lowest pitch to highest: C is in the bass, then comes E higher up, then, G, maybe B, and then D as the top note, higher than all the others. If we were to say “C major 2” instead of C major 9, we’d first get some funny looks from more experienced fellow musicians. Then, we’d see our mistake by spelling out the “C major 2:”

C in the bass, then D is the next note, just two steps higher, then E two steps higher than D, and on up. If you think this *looks* okay, think about how you’d try to play, C, D, and E on your guitar like this:


In other words, C on string 6, fret 8, D on string 5, fret 5 and E on string 4, fret 2. Besides ripping the webbing between your fingers in just attempting this, if you do manage to sound all three notes at once, you’ll hear it sounds pretty muddy.

This is getting a bit long, so let’s break this topic onto the next installment, where we’ll go into some specific shapes for playing the major 9 and related chords.

Thanks for reading.

Darrin Koltow

Digging Through The Archives

Both our new lessons made me think of Jamie Andreas’ “Guitar Principles” book and the various lessons she’s posted here at Guitar Noise. Jamie is very big on posture and positioning and, as any teacher might tell you, proper posture can often solve problems you might have forming and changing chords.

If you’re interested in this particular and important aspect of playing, take a look through our archives on this page.

Event Horizon

Forum member “Bish” drums for the group HapHazard. In May, you’ll find them at the following places:

May 5 – 11th Street Bar and Grill
May 13 – Bettendorf J.C.’s
May 20 – Conesville, IA
May 27 – Ducky’s, Andalusia, IL

If you’re in the northwest part of Illinois, you can say hello for me!


In the meantime, let me first add that I truly screwed up big time last time with the reviews. It’s a long story and involves adult content (swearing and violence with a computer) and it’s not worth getting into at the moment. Suffice it to say that you’ll be seeing a host of new reviews in the near future, some that you should have seen about a month ago!

Instead, let’s check out the latest reviews to be posted on our site:

A Triggering Myth: A Remedy of Abstraction
CD Review by Jimmy Caterine

The sixth release by Triggering Myth (Rick Eddy on keyboards and guitar and Tim Drumheller on keyboards) finds them joining forces with the fantastic violin work of Akihisa Tsuboy of Japan’s progressive fusion group, KBB.

Canvas Solaris: Penumbra Diffuse
CD Review by Jimmy Caterine

Some serious fusion and progressive influences from some guys rooted in heavy metal. Think of a blend of King Crimson and Metallica with hints of Pink Floyd and I think you’ll have a good idea of this instrumental music.

Random Thoughts

I’d like to take a moment to remind everyone that Guitar Noise has a “sister” site, Music Careers. The focus of this site is to provide the same kind of information, inspiration and support that you find here at Guitar Noise, only concerning the subject of careers in music.

I bring this up because many of my friends tell me how wonderful it must be to be “living your dream.” Truth be told, I never dreamed about making a career out of music. Even when playing in bands in Chicago, I had no thought of “making it.” Teaching music and writing about music for a living came out of a long evolutionary process and I don’t think, as far as my life is concerned, that I could have gotten here without all the meandering steps I took throughout life.

But making a career out of music is certainly something that many people can do with their lives. The main thing to remember is that, as in all professions, there are many levels that you may reach. If you’re not obsessed with stardom and huge dollar amounts, and if you’re not adverse to working hard and long hours, you could very easily make a decent living somewhere (or many somewheres) in the music industry.

Performing is obviously the thing most people think about first. But even then there are many, many levels of performing. Not everyone gets even remotely close to the “star status” we often associate with performers, but if you look closely around you and your community, you’d probably be surprised at how many people actually play for a living. Or most of a living.

There’s teaching, recording, working in recording and publishing. There are managers and agents and publicists of bands and artists. And people running music stores as well as venues for performers. There are luthiers and guitar technicians and sound engineers and roadies and a whole host of concert-related occupations.

So if you have a dream of “doing what you love,” I would like to challenge you to broaden your horizons and to look at the huge canvas you have to paint on when it comes to the field of music.

But also look with an eye on reality. If you’re thinking of skipping college to be in a band, then think about taking business courses, at least at a community college level. Learn about the business you intend to be spending your life in. It beats learning about it the hard way…

Until we chat again in a few weeks, I hope you all stay safe and play well.

And, as always,