Newsletter Vol. 3 # 52 – October 01, 2007


Welcome to Volume 3, Issue #52 of Guitar Noise News!

In This Issue:

  • News and Announcements
  • New Articles and Lessons Coming Soon
  • Guitar Noise Staff Picks
  • Exploring Music With Darrin Koltow
  • Blog Bulletins
  • Event Horizon
  • Random Thoughts

News And Announcements

It’s been a strange month. As I write this, the Guitar Noise website is down owing to some server problems. This started sometime on Friday and hopefully all will be restored soon (if things haven’t already been taken care of by the time you receive this newsletter), but the upshot is that some of the things I wanted to bring to your attention as new are now “coming attractions.” You’ll be able to read about those in the next section.

There’s even more news, or rather, news that’s in the works. The big project is that, hopefully, we’ll be launching the first of a series of Guitar Noise Podcasts sometime in the next two months. I’m in the process of recording them and, if they meet with Paul’s seal of approval, then we’ll start putting them up online for you to download. The first few will be lessons on strumming, each about thirty minutes long. There will be accompanying text (music notation and guitar tablature) for each lesson and we’re still wrangling where best to host those. It’ll either be here on the Guitar Noise website or on the Guitar Noise Blog. Stay tuned for details.

And there are some changes coming to the Sunday Songwriters’ Group on the Guitar Noise Forum page. Bob, who has been doing a stellar job of leading the SSG since its second year, has informed me that he will be stepping down as group leader and moderator at the start of the SSG’s Year 5, which begins in early November. I will be taking up his position to start and my idea is to have a rotating group of “assignment leaders” who will each take a turn at four or so lessons and then pass the baton to the next group leader.

And when the SSG’s Year 5 begins, we’ll also be launching a sister songwriting forum, tentatively called the “Composer’s Forum.” Like the SSG, this will be an interactive workshop where people can hone their songwriting skills. Here, though, the focus will be on the musical aspects of songwriting. I’ve already drawn up a half-year’s worth of assignments and I’m pretty excited about this new forum. We’re still working a few of the logistical kinks out, but we should be ready to launch within the next two months.

New Articles And Lessons – Coming Soon!

Walking Forwards and Backwards
By David Hodge

We continue our study of walking bass lines, looking specifically at how the timing and distance become our guideposts, helping us to map out our journey from one target note to the next. Examples from many songs, including a little of Bob Dylan’s You Ain’t Going Nowhere and Wake Me Up When September Ends by Green Day will serve as demonstrations in our lesson.

How To Become A Professional Guitarist And Musician
Part 4 ~ “Making It”
by Tom Hess

Everyone knows the extreme ends of the bell curve – either you’re a multimillionaire rock god (or goddess) playing for hundreds of thousands of people at a time or you’re playing at the local bus depot hoping to get enough spare change to buy your next meal. But there’s a huge number of musicians making a living, a comfortable living, playing music. Tom Hess takes a look at this “Silent Majority” and helps you to see how you might find your niche, doing what you love.

Guitar Noise Staff Picks

Life is funny sometimes in that you never know what might come at you where. My stepfather regularly sends me newspaper clippings from Chicago – recipes, hometown news, and anything he thinks might be of interest to me. So that usually includes a healthy dose of music news, local concert reviews, interviews and obits.

The last packet he sent included a review of a concert at the Chicago Theater (a great place, by the bye) by the Canadian group, The Arcade Fire. It wasn’t a rave review, but it did pique my interest and so I went and bought their first two CD’s – Funeral, their 2004 debut, and this year’s release, Neon Bible.

I’m almost embarrassed to say that I’ve listened so much to Funeral that I’ve not gotten around to Neon Bible yet! This debut album is incredibly rich, honest and heartfelt. The song arrangements are both exciting and surprising, full of intricate instrumentation and soundscapes. The Arcade Fire draws from musical genres all across the spectrum – while influences from the Pixies, Talking Heads and Roxy Music seem fairly obvious, you’ll also swear you hear Motown and David Bowie (from his days with Brian Eno). Funeral contains such a joy of life and music that it jumps off the CD and won’t let you go.

Now I’ve got to make friends with Neon Bible…

Exploring Music With Darrin Koltow

We’re continuing our lesson series Playing Guitar by Ear, which is geared to newbies.

Last time out we talked about the helpfulness of learning at least on major scale pattern when you learn melodies by ear. Now let’s talk a bit about major scale patterns in reference to the instrument that’s best suited to learning to play by ear: piano.

When you play a tune by ear on the piano, and that tune is in C major without drifting off into other keys, you don’t need to learn any patterns: all you have to do is hit the white keys. If this isn’t the best-kept secret in making music, I don’t know what is. And I sure wish that all guitar teachers would take students who’ve never made music before, and show them how to pick out a melody on a simple keyboard first, before they even lay a finger on the frets or even think the word “theory,” or even crack open a music book.

I want to prove to you how easy it is to play a tune by ear on piano. We’re now going to play a simple Christmas melody, which I’ve arranged to stay within one octave, and within C major. That means you only have to work with seven different notes. These notes occur only on the piano’s white keys, and that means you can ignore the black keys. (To be totally honest, we’ll be using a total of eight white keys: the note C occurs in two different octaves in this melody.)

Here’s the melody.

Obviously, we’re going to need a piano to do this exercise. Don’t worry: if you don’t have a synthesizer, organ, or piano, you can use a simulated piano. There’s one online here.

Once you have the piano in front of you, it’s time to play by ear. Start by listening to the song several times, and singing along with it.

Now that you’ve listened to the tune a couple of times, let’s begin finding its notes on the piano. Remember we only have to play with the white keys, and there are only eight different white keys we’ll make use of. In fact, I’ll show you the specific piano key for the first note of the melody. Here’s an illustration that shows you the starting note.

Now that you have the first note, find the next one. How to do it? Sing the melody again to yourself. Sing slowly. Ask, “is this next note higher or lower than the previous note?” If it’s higher, you’ll try out a white piano key that’s somewhere to the right of the last note you played. If the note sounds lower, that key will be located somewhere to the left of the last note you played. The more text you read about how to do this, the more confusing this truly simple process will seem. If I were sitting next to you showing you how to do this, you’d get it in a second. As Gloria Estefan once observed in that beautiful tune, “The words get in the way.”

So, I’m going to shut up, and let you figure out the tune. Thanks for reading.

Copyright © 2007 Darrin Koltow

Blog Bulletins

And speaking of Darrin, we’re pleased to be posting up his early postings for the Guitar Noise News at our blog page. That’s right, and just in case you haven’t heard, Guitar Noise now has a blog, which you can find here.

Every Friday we’ll be posting a new old piece from Darrin, and you will also find all sorts of articles and mini-lessons there as well, such as my recent musing on how to avoid frustration by gearing up for the long haul in your musical journey.

Remember that the Guitar Noise Blog is meant to be a fun place as well as an additional source of information concerning this terrific website we call home. Come on by and say hello when you have the chance.

Event Horizon

It’s the first Monday of the month, so that means Kathy Reichert will be playing tonight, October 1, at the Gallery Cabaret at 2020 North Oakley in Chicago. The talented Helena Bouchez will be backing up Kathy on bass guitar. Kathy gets the early 7:00 PM start on this one…

And then look for this duo to pop up here in the Berrkshires, playing Saturday, October 12 at the Monterey General Store, located right in the middle of “downtown” Monterey, Massachusetts. This is a terrific place to come hear music up close and personal. The music runs from 7 to 9 PM and look for Kathy to also do a song written by SSG contributor and Guitar Noise Forum member John “The Celt” Roche at her show.

Random Thoughts

There are, literally, thousands (perhaps hundreds of thousands?) of guitar and music related websites on the Internet. Guitar Noise has grown as a website because of one thing – the community of people who call this place home.

And I’d like to take time to explore this community, introducing you all to each other and hopefully helping everyone to share this sense of harmony with the rest of the world. So don’t be alarmed if one day you get a note from me asking you if you’d like to be featured in a new newsletter item that I’m working on right now and that should start appearing regularly with our next issue of Guitar Noise News. Take the time to chat with me and learn more about your fellow musicians from all over the world.

As always, thank you for your patience with our glitches. And thank you for continuing to make this website the friendly and informative and inspirational place it is.

Until our next newsletter, play well. Play often. And stay safe.

And, as always,