Newsletter Vol. 3 # 42 – April 15, 2007


Welcome to Volume 3, Issue #42 of Guitar Noise News!

In This Issue:

  • News and Announcements
  • New Articles and Lessons
  • Guitar Noise Staff Picks!
  • Exploring Music With Darrin Koltow
  • Forum Findings
  • Event Horizon
  • Reviews
  • Random Thoughts

News And Announcements

Okay! Owing to the way things fell into place on the calendar this year, you need not panic if you get this newsletter and say to yourself, “Oh my God! It’s April fifteenth and I’ve not even gotten around to doing my taxes yet!” Tax Day has been graciously moved back to Tuesday, so you’ve a few days’ grace.

Of course, if you don’t live in the United States (as many of you don’t), then you’ve no worries to start with. At least as far as paying American taxes are concerned.

And those of you who do live in the States might want to first ask yourselves whether or not I’m still locked in “April Fools’ joke” mode…

And while you’re pondering that, let’s move on and see what’s gone up online at Guitar Noise since we last chatted…

New Articles And Lessons

Jean Baptiste “Django” Reinhardt: Gypsy Genius
by Colette Dumont

When the lists of “world’s greatest guitarists” are compiled by magazines, they tend to forget that there were some incredible players long before guitars became electric. Django Reinhardt was certainly one of them and Colette Dumont has been kind enough to whet one’s appetite for gypsy jazz by giving us a brief biography of this incredible musician.

If You Could Read My Mind
by Allan Abbott

A hearty welcome back to Allan Abbott, who brings us a beautiful and easy to play chord melody of this classic Gordon Lightfoot masterpiece.

Guitar Noise Staff Picks!

I was truly lucky in that one of my good friends at college was very into David Bromberg. Not only that, my friend got to sit in on a radio interview with David on fine day. The interview turned into a jam session with David and Tom Chapin (brother of the late Harry Chapin), a fine musician and songwriter of his own.

I was also lucky to live in Chicago while Bromberg lived there. He had taken a sabbatical from the music business to learn violin making. No lie. But occasionally he would put on a show somewhere. Like a free show at the newly opened Navy Pier Ballroom way back when.

Mr. Bromberg now lives in Delaware and holds open mics and jams at his music venue there. Tuesdays and Thursdays if you’re interested.

And he’s recently released his first studio album in ages. Just David and his acoustic guitar. He still sounds fine and if you’ve never had the pleasure, this is a great place to start. Whether playing his own material, digging out some obscure traditional gem, or covering someone else, he has a style no one else can match. Listening to Bromberg’s cover of Robert Johnson’s Kind Hearted Woman or Dylan’s It Takes A Lot To Laugh It Takes A Train To Cry or Elizabeth Cotten’s Shake Sugaree, reminds you of the power the single acoustic guitar, in the right hands, can wield.

Do yourself a favor and try to see David if he happens to be in your neighborhood. You will have a great time.

Exploring Music With Darrin Koltow

Modeling a Melody, part 1

Here is a draft of a method I wrote to understand a nifty melody and produce a your own nifty melodies. I hope you find it useful.

What does “modeling a melody” mean? It means “doing what a particular melody does without duplicating the melody.” So we explore a melody, find out why it goes where it goes, and say “how can I do that?” Or, “how can I make more of that stuff? It sounds good.”

Let’s have some steps here, a process.

  • Listen to the melody, first of all. Kind of obvious.

What are we listening for? Key idea coming up:

  • List the SAMES you hear
  • List the DIFFERENTS you hear

Great melodies often use a lot of repetition. For example, what happens in one measure might have been almost exactly what happened in the previous measure, with a few different notes at the end.

  • Next step: List Cool Sounds. Especially Cool Sounds that are cool for reasons we don’t yet understand
  • Next: Notate (transcribe) the melody. We could write volumes on this. But…not now. Get the melody on paper or your computer. Get a visual representation – in standard notation, not tablature. What’s wrong with tab? Tab does not show (consistently) difference in pitch as immediately as standard notation.
  • Print out the melody and repeat above: List the SAMES and DIFFERENTS.

Try the steps just mentioned with a favorite melody, and see if you don’t come up with some insights into how that melody *works* to sound good. We’ll do more steps to modeling a melody next time.

Thanks for reading.

Darrin Koltow

Copyright © 2007 Darrin Koltow

Forum Findings

One thing I never tire of is hearing how people are taking their music to others. This past week I got to read an excellent report from Chris, who goes by “Dogsbody” on the Guitar Noise Forums, about his first two experiences playing at an open mic night. Way to go!

If you’re looking for some inspiration as to why you play, or simply want to get some good tips or maybe even get a chance to support some of the Guitar Noise community by attending their gigs, however big or small, then be sure to visit the Gigs and Jams Forums.

Event Horizon

I’m both thrilled and honored whenever I get the chance to play with some talented musicians and even more so when those talented musicians are good friends of mine. So I’m very excited that Nick Torres, Greg Nease, Anne O’Neil and Karen Berger will be joining me for two gigs at the end of the month.

Friday, April 27 will find us at the Monterey General Store in Monterey, Massachusetts from 7 to 9 PM. We will be joined by Jim Martin and Joel Schick on bass and harmonica, repectively.

And the following night, Saturday, April 28, we’ll be at the Silverbrook Café in Sandisfield, Massachusetts from 8:30 until 1. In addition to Jim and Joel, we’re hoping to be joined by other GN folks such as Wes Inman and John (“the Celt”) Roche as well as local Berkshire music icons Todd Mack and Eric Martin.

If you’re in the area, do come and join us. Email me first if you want to sit in on a number!


KIRK LORANGE: PlainTalk – The Truly Totally Different Guitar Instruction DVD
TUTORIAL DVD Review by Nick Torres

This DVD is the perfect companion for Kirk’s outstanding book, PlaneTalk. An exceptional tutorial for learning the fingerboard of your guitar. Nick Torres gives us his take on this terrific aide to understanding your instrument.

KIRK LORANGE: How to Play Slide Guitar in Standard and Dropped-D Tunings
TUTORIAL DVD Review by Nick Torres

Another outstanding tutorial DVD from the author of PlaneTalk! This DVD guides you through the ins and outs of playing slide guitar in standard tuning, as well as Drop D. Plus it uses a fantastic three-way split screen method that displays slide placement, the left hand and the right hand all at the same time.

Random Thoughts

Thanksgiving Day, 1975, I was in Chicago. Evanston, Illinois, actually. It cost too much to get home just for the weekend and I had it in my head that staying at the dorm was a good thing.

One of my roommates (all of whom were gone for the weekend) was taking a class where they were reading every book that Kurt Vonnegut had written up to that point. So during those four days I managed to read Player Piano, The Sirens of Titan, Mother Night, Cat’s Cradle, Slaughterhouse Five, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, and Breakfast of Champions. This experience led me to eagerly await and then read the rest of Vonnegut’s literary output throughout our lives. And re-read. And re-read.

Lots of tributes will be written about Kurt Vonnegut, owing to his passing two days ago. The best tribute I can think of is two-fold: first, to be thoughtful and kind to people because that’s what people should do for each other. Second, to get started reading all those wonderful books yet again.

Until we chat again, play well. Play often. Stay safe.

And, as always,