Newsletter Vol. 3 # 66 – May 01, 2008


Welcome to Volume 3, Issue #66 of Guitar Noise News!

In This Issue:

  • News and Announcements
  • Email of the Moment
  • New Articles and Lessons
  • Exploring Music With Darrin Koltow
  • Forum Findings
  • Event Horizon
  • Random Thoughts

News And Announcements

So I’m taking a tour of this big cheese plant where they make Parmesan cheese. The real stuff. And we watch the various steps in the process as they put together these huge wheels of cheese that will later be put into a bath of salt and then moved into storage rooms to age. And they give us a tour of the aging rooms as well – shelves of wheels of cheese going up to the ceiling, and high ceilings they are, too!

We round a corner and there in the aisle are rows of fold-out chairs. And, waiting for us in front of the chairs are two musicians, one holding a flute and one seated at a harp. The two gentlemen beckon us to sit and then treat us to a short concert. And the acoustics in this cheese storage room are amazing!

Turns out that the concert, too, is part of the tour. They are promoting a series of concerts held right there in the cheese room during the summer. What a cool idea! And I thought that the Monterey General Store was wild…

Anyway, welcome to the May First edition of Guitar Noise News! My thanks to Charley, my cat, for covering for me while I was visiting various parts of Italy. And also my thanks to those of you who wrote to tell him “hello” or to tell him he’s got great musical taste (based on his “Guitar Noise Staff pick!) and also to those who wrote me to tell me to look out because Charley might permanently get my job of writing this newsletter! He’s thinking about it. It’s probably all going to come down to whether it takes too much time away from his true loves – eating, napping and getting petted. Not necessarily in that order, mind you!

As you might imagine, I’m way behind in my email correspondence, but I will hopefully get caught up before the May 15 newsletter.

In the meantime, though, through some careful planning, dumb luck and all out panic, we do have a bit of new material to share with you here at Guitar Noise. So let’s take a look at what’s been added to the website in the past fifteen days. But first, this timely email…

Email Of The Moment

Hello Mr. Hodge

I have become a great fan of your work on…… such a fan in fact the I just bought my own guitar (a Squire Fender acoustic electric) to continue further continue what I should have started 20+ years ago.

Because of your invaluable lessons on I have regained my interest in playing and was wondering if you have published a lesson (or because of this e-mail) will publish a lesson for “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas.

Looking forward to hearing from you

Thanks for writing and thank you as well for your kind words concerning my lessons at Guitar Noise. And your sense of timing is uncanny. We’ve just put up a lesson on the “pinch” technique for Travis style finger picking and the exercise I use to guide everyone through the procedure is none other than the introduction to Dust in the Wind.

And rest assured, a lesson on the rest of the song will be making its way to Guitar Noise in the very near future!

Speaking of which…

New Articles And Lessons

Want To Become A Professional Musician? Start Here!
7 Things You Should Do Now to Begin Your Music Career
by Tom Hess

You can sit around and hope things happen, usually talking yourself into believing they wont’ – or you can start to take important steps now that will help you get where you want to go. Tom’s advice is great for everyone, whether you plan to have a future in music or just simply have a future!

Add A Pinch
Basic Travis Finger Picking Tutorial (part 2)
by David Hodge

If you’ve read Part 1 of this tutorial, you’re probably amazed at how easy basic finger style guitar can be. Now, by simply changing one small thing that we learned last time out, even beginners will be able to find themselves playing a little “Dust in the Wind…”

Exploring Music With Darrin Koltow

Tip: key centers and chord roots

Here’s a tip on hearing and playing with key centers. This could help players who can already play a few songs. They can even be three-chord songs. You might be looking around for more songs, but also wanting to develop an understanding of what you’re playing. You can get that understanding if you study chord roots and key centers.

These two are really close relatives. Chord roots are the hearts of chords, and key centers the hearts of keys. Let’s get a bit more specific and practical here. Play any chord you know. Your task is to — by ear– identify and then sing the chord’s root. What’s the point here? The point is to become aware of the most important part of the chord. Without awareness of that part, I don’t think you can fully explore music the way you want to.

Exercise two would be to do the same thing for key centers: hear any portion of a melody or a chord progression, and identify and sing the key center. This skill, like identifying the chord root by ear, is pretty easy to acquire, and you don’t even need a guitar. You can train yourself to pick out key centers by ear in a number of ways. One fun way is to use the free computer program at

Once you can identify chord roots by ear, you can accomplish a number of important tasks. One of them is to recognize two different inversions of a chord as being the same chord. The advantage of this is that, if you’re reading a song’s chord chart, you’re not locked into playing the inversion the music calls for. You can play the same chord in a location *you* think sounds good.

Thanks for reading.

Copyright © 2008 Darrin Koltow

I know I’ve said this before, but a hearty thank you to Darrin for continuing to post his tips here at Guitar Noise News, as well as for his permission to use his older material at the Guitar Noise Blog. Darrin is a pillar in the Internet guitar community and one of the nicest people you could ever hope to know.

Forum Findings

GN Forum member Blueline has come up with an intriguing idea – having a “Battle of the Bands” here at Guitar Noise. For the “bands,” he’s proposing the sort of virtual online bands that folks have been putting together on the “Online Jams” page, made up of Guitar Noise Forum community members.

He seems to have put some thought into this and I hope that it comes about. Should be a lot of fun. Read about it here on his post.

So if you would like to team up with some of your Guitar Noise community to play a song, or help out by judging or even by producing a band, drop Blueline a note.

Event Horizon

As Charley mentioned last time out, Kathy Reichert and the Company She Keeps will be playing tomorrow night, Friday, May 2, at the Monterey General Store in Monterey, Massachusetts (right on Route 23 in the middle of town). It should be a big Guitar Noise night, not only because Kathy will undoubtedly perform many of the songs she’s written with the Sunday Songwriters Group (not to mention songs from other SSG writers), but Helena Bouchez and Mike Roberto (both contributing writers to Guitar Noise) as well as Forum members John (“the Celt”) Roche, Anne (“Annie”) O’Neil and Greg (“gnease”) Nease are planning to attend and perform. Rumor also has it that Nick might show…

Random Thoughts

In case any of you were interested in such things…

We have two cats, Charley and Lily. This week actually marks their first year living with Karen and myself.

A little over a year ago, our first cat, Rover, passed on from old age (he was eighteen or nineteen). Rover was a gift from one of Karen’s sisters. Where we live, you kind of really want to have a cat. It’s in the middle of the woods and, as far as mice are concerned, building a house in the middle of the woods is like putting up a twenty-four hour drive-in restaurant and hotel. That’s life, you know…

So we contacted a lady who founded and runs Animal D.R.E.A.M.S. (which stands for Dignified Rescues, Education, Advocacy and Medical Services) in the neighboring town. And she came and visited and talked for a while and then later brought Charley and Lily into our lives.

This organization rescues feral cats in the county. The cats are given veterinary care, spayed, cleaned and fed. If the cats are adoptable, they try to find homes for them. If not, then they place the cats in a territory that has been prepared for them and try to let them live out their lives.

Charley was caught and cleaned and, in the process of his treatment it was discovered that he was probably not a feral cat, but rather an abandoned pet. He gets along well with people, seeks them out, actually, because he loves to be petted, and is great at helping other cats.

Lily was born feral, but rescued at the age of three months. She is pretty wary of people, but after a year of living with us has gotten to the point where she will let herself be petted on occasions – usually when she’s resting with Charley. She actively seeks Charley out and loves his company.

This isn’t to say I’m a “cat person,” as opposed to a “dog person.” That’s kind of like saying I’m an “acoustic guitar” or “electric guitar” person. Like most things in life, there’s so much more than an “either / or” choice and, as you undoubtedly know, I truly think it’s important to see beyond the trappings of such “either / or” choices.

Until our next newsletter, play well. Play often. Stay safe.

And, as always…