Newsletter Vol. 3 # 79 – December 1, 2008


Welcome to Volume 3, Issue #79 of Guitar Noise News!

In This Issue:

  • Greetings, News and Announcements
  • Email of the Moment
  • Another Email of the Moment
  • New Lessons and Articles
  • Coming Attractions
  • Exploring Music With Darrin Koltow
  • Podcast Postings
  • Event Horizon
  • Reviews
  • Random Thoughts

Greetings, News and Announcements


And here we are, facing the first of December, 2008 already. Where does the time go?

I just (almost literally) got in the door after spending the weekend in New Jersey, playing music with some friends. Guitar Noise Forum moderators were well represented by Nick Torres and Dan Lasley. One of the big musical highlights (for me, anyway) was getting to play two of Nick’s newest songs – Without Words and It’s Not A Love Song, both recent submissions to the Guitar Noise Sunday Songwriters Group. Definitely worth a listen at Nick’s Soundclick page the next time you find yourself with a moment to spare.

One thing that I’ve mentioned (too many times to count) before is that the holiday season seems to bring out a lot of questions about donating to Guitar Noise. Paul has put up a donation page.

You can hopefully get any answers to questions you may have right there. Also please note that while we thank you for your contributions (your donations made a record amount in November), there are also many other charities that can certainly benefit from your time and effort. We’ll talk more about that later in the “Random Thoughts” section of our next newsletter when it comes your way on December 15.

Speaking of Paul, if you didn’t catch the news last time out, our esteemed leader has taken to putting the latest updates concerning our website on “Twitter.” You can catch all the news here.

Since we’re now in December, it seems okay to roll out some new holiday lessons! So let’s see what’s new here at Guitar Noise since we last chatted. But first, another

Email of the Moment

Hey Dave

Why is it that lately, like in Vol 3 #77, there is no link for some of your articles (ie “Color me Blue”)?

Am I overlooking something?

Thanks for writing and my apologies because it’s pretty much my fault. I write the newsletters in advance and sometimes the lessons aren’t ready exactly when I think they will be but I know it will only by within a day of the newsletter so I ask Paul to keep them in the newsletter. But since they aren’t on the site, we don’t have a link to them. Same thing happened the last time out with the November 15 newsletter. The lesson in question that time was “Man on the Moon.” I had a disaster with the notation/’tablature software and had to redo it all on Monday, a feat not helped by the fact I also had to remix the Podcast (already on line) five times in order to salvage the nonexistent vocals. Both are up and online and doing fine.

So I’ll take the responsibility for this one and hopefully it will never, ever happen again.

I can’t thank you enough for your patience.

Look forward to chatting with you again.

Another Email of the Moment

Not all the mail we get at Guitar Noise is actually for us! I recently got this note for Peter Simms, who contributes a lot of lessons for us:


Being a beginner (or, slightly advanced) when I come across a song with a difficult part I would always move on or “make it up”. Usually, I would just move on and maybe come back to it someday.

Well, when I heard this great little finger picking tune I decided that NO, not this time! I’m going to work it out. I did what they recommend and play the difficult part slow, then, speed it up. It didn’t take long.

I just wanted to thank you personally for the great little tune and confirming the fact that if I really TRY, I can play it!

Oh, I’m a rabid fan ofWaterfalls so please keep contributing.

And, of course, the main reason I bring both of these emails up is because it’s the very same Peter Simms who kicks off our holiday song lessons this year, plus I’m working like crazy to make sure my lesson gets finished and off to Paul this evening, right after I send him this newsletter!

New Lessons and Articles

The First Noel
by Peter Simms

Not so much a lesson as a nice chord melody arrangement of this beautiful Christmas song, courtesy of Peter. Never too early to get started on your holiday material.

Silver Bells
by David Hodge

Following in Peter’s footsteps, here’s another chord melody arrangement that most beginners should be able to get a handle on fairly quickly. As a bonus, it’s arranged so that you can play it either finger style or with a pick.

Coming Attractions:

We’re constantly working on new lessons here at Guitar Noise. Sometimes we even get them up when we think we will! Here are some you’ll get to read (and listen to) very, very soon:

Part 2 – Trickier Timings

by David Hodge

In the second installment of this series on strumming, we’ll look at rhythms that are slightly more complicated and involved than simple quarter notes, eighth notes and sixteenth notes. In addition to dotted notes and triplets, we’ll also take a look as “swing rhythms.”

Turning Scales into Solos – Part 6

by David Hodge

Knowing a single major scale opens the world of modal soloing to you, if you know how to read the signs. We’ll take a look at how to recognize when to use the Dorian scale, and also take a moment or two to compare and contrast it with the minor pentatonic scale.

PLUS: More holiday song arrangements, including the return of Guitar Noise favorite, Doug Sparling!

Exploring Music With Darrin Koltow

Tip for December 1: Continuous Scale Exercise

Here’s a scale exercise you might especially helpful if you’re interested in improvisation, especially modal improvisation. This exercise uses three different modes of the major scale (with a couple of chromatic alterations) to create the feeling of a I-iv-V-I progression in Bb minor.

The striking thing about this exercise is the way it communicates the feeling of the underlying chords using only stepwise movement. Hearing the changes is a piece of cake when you play arpeggios, but using scales to hear the changes requires some understanding of how modes work. I hope this exercise helps build that understanding for you.

These are all eighth notes, except for the last note, which is a half note.


Thanks for reading.

Copyright 2008 Darrin Koltow

Podcast Postings

Again, this time hoping for a little bit better luck, our latest Guitar Noise Podcast is going up online today. Guitar Noise Podcast #22 continues our study of the traditional Irish folksong, “The Star of the County Down.” This time out we’ll get through the rest of the verse and start to address the chorus. Plus, a long overdue look at the importance of “playing loosely.”

Paul and I try to post a new Guitar Noise Podcast every other Monday, and hopefully we’re (finally) back on schedule. Look for the next one in two weeks on Monday, December 1, 2008. There should be a new newsletter that day, too!

Event Horizon

Maybe you’ll get to meet some of your Guitar Noise friends at upcoming holiday shows!

Kathy Reichert, one of my favorite singer/songwriters, will be performing along with her band, The Company She Keeps, at Borders Music and Books at 595 Central Avenue in Highland Park, Illinois (847-433-9130) this coming Saturday, December 6th. Show starts at 8 PM.

And the following weekend, Kathy will be back in Highland Park (right down the street, in fact) as part of the “Experience the Holidays Festival” in downtown Highland Park, playing a solo performance at Kaeher Travel Works, 654 Central Avenue. This is an afternoon show, beginning at 3PM. You can call 847-436-3123 for more details.


Jack Frost and the Christmas Band: Volume 1
CD Review by David Hodge

Nine Christmas songs done in an “easy jazz feel” – right down to the vocals straight from the 1940s to the wonderfully articulated piano lines.

Random Thoughts

The week before Thanksgiving, I got a note informing me of the death of a woman who had been my very first employer. I’m not mentioning this for sympathy, but rather to illustrate how all our lives are more intertwined than we might know.

When I got notice of her passing, I was, naturally, sad and thoughtful, thinking back to those days of working at Gerry’s Ice Cream stand in Seabrook, New Hampshire. We called her “Boss” and she taught us how to make ice cream by hand and how to deal with the everyday workings of the business.

It’s impossible to think of what life was like then and not go on thinking about how much has changed in all that time. How long ago was that? Well, we’re talking maybe thirty-five years. About as long as I’ve been playing guitar.

And that made me realize something. It was that first job that got me my first guitar – an Ibanez twelve string that I reversed all the strings on in order to learn left handed. I worked extra hours in order to buy it, since all the money I was making that summer was supposed to go towards college.

And this realization made me appreciate life a little bit more. It’s easy to wake up and wonder how you got somewhere, but more often than not, you’re just taking step after step on what Robert Hunter called “a long strange trip.” Even though I had music in my life, Boss made it possible for me to have a guitar in my hands. She even let me bring it in to work and do a little bit of practicing, usually on cold and rainy days, and I made sure that everything else that could possibly be done at the store be done first.

But even more than this, she also planted the idea in my head that work could be enjoyable. I’ve been very lucky in that I’ve almost always found the jobs I’ve held through life to be fun. Maybe the work was tedious, but the people that I met and worked with, when I took the time and made the effort to get to know them, were usually very interesting to talk to and to share ideas with and to learn from. Many of them were either musical or wished that they were, so there was always something that we could find in common. One of the reasons I listen to so many different types of music even now is because I knew so many different people.

It’s easy, when asked about our “influences,” to name famous musicians or musicians that we’d like other people to know better or even obscure ones we cite more often than not to bring more attention to ourselves than to the musicians. But, truth be told, some of our more important influences might not have been at all musical. We can hold up writers, painters, political or historical figures, almost anyone at all as someone who pointed out a few steps along the way to who we’ve become. Family and friends. Employers and coworkers. Teachers and students.

This past Thanksgiving, I was lucky enough to be with friends who, hopefully, know how thankful I am and how lucky I feel to know them and to share in their friendship. I hope that, as we go into this holiday season, you also get to feel the same sense of thankfulness and awe at how weirdly wonderful life turns out sometimes.

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

And, as always…