Newsletter Vol. 3 # 86 – March 15, 2009


Welcome to Volume 3, Issue #86 of Guitar Noise News!

In This Issue:

  • Greetings, News and Announcements
  • Topic of the Month
  • New Lessons and Articles
  • Coming Attractions
  • Exploring Music With Darrin Koltow
  • Emails? We Get Emails!
  • Forum Finding / Event Horizon
  • Random Thoughts

Greetings, News and Announcements

Yes, it’s always tempting to open this particular newsletter with “Beware the Ides of March” (especially as I like many of their songs), but I am trying to give up on obvious seasonal opening lines…

So, instead I welcome you to the March 15, 2009 issue of Guitar Noise News, your free twice-a-month newsletter from Guitar Noise.

Did you note something different when you last visited Guitar Noise? You may have noticed we recently updated our site with a snazzy new logo. Do you like it? We love it !

And to celebrate, beginning March 15th (that’s today) we’re going to start selling T-shirts with the new logo. We know times can be tough, so for a limited time, we’re offering a special $10 T-shirt. This will let you show your love for Guitar Noise without breaking the bank.

The Guitar Noise $10 T-shirt is made of cool, mid-weight 100% cotton and is perfect for summer weather. Click here to see what it looks like and get yours.

And before anyone asks, Paul informs me that golf shirts with the new logo are probably going to be available, too, possibly as early as April. These will (obviously) be more expensive than the T-shirts, but not outrageous.

Speaking of Paul, he’s been very busy of late. The logo and shirts are just the newest facets of the ever-expanding Guitar Noise universe. In the March 1 issue of Guitar Noise News, we also mentioned our Guitar Noise Facebook page, which can be found here. It is updated regularly with links for our latest lessons and podcasts and even the latest issue of Guitar Noise News.

And judging by the big jump in “fans” on that page, some of you must have come by and signed in! Our thanks for that.

And you can also keep up with the latest at Guitar Noise through our MySpace page or via Paul’s Twitter posts. You can sign on to follow Paul’s Twittering (is that the right word? Can you tell this is all new to me?).

Topic of the Month

In case you’ve not been on the Guitar Noise home page of late, and in case you’ve managed to miss all the other notices here in our newsletter, 2009 saw the return of this timeless Guitar Noise feature.

Our “Topic of the Month” for March is “How to Buy a Guitar.” On the Guitar Noise Home Page, you will notice, up on the left hand side, close to the top, a list of articles all to do with guitars themselves, specifically buying them and getting gear such as amplifiers and effects.

You’ll find links to some of the many wonderful articles and lessons we have here at Guitar Noise about practicing, written by a wide range of contributing authors. You’re bound to find a lot of interesting and educational material on this topic.

New Lessons and Articles

This is (another) one of those times where I’m racing to get six things done at once and it’s still, at this point anyhow, a coin toss as to what’s going to get done first. So if these two lessons are not online by the time you get this newsletter, don’t fret! They will be up for you to read and to listen to within the next twenty-four hours.

Sustaining Interest in a Target
Turning Scales into Solos (Part 7)

by David Hodge

Before moving onward with modes, it’s important to grasp the concept of “target” notes as well as to understand that a target note doesn’t have to be a part of the chord in a chord progression. Here we’ll look at how single notes can used to create far more interesting solos than simply using “safe” notes.

Lynyrd Meets DADGAD
A Celtic Arrangement of “All I Can Do Is Write About It”
by David Hodge

Since Saint Patrick’s Day is right around the corner, here’s a Celtic arrangement of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “All I Can Do Is Write About It” done in DADGAD tuning. A wonderful way to remember your home, whether home is in Alabama or Caledonia.

Coming Attractions

I can’t promise you what order these will eventually come out in, but here’s the current “short list” of upcoming lessons I’m in the process of finishing up for Guitar Noise:

Easy Songs for Beginners: Comfortably Numb, Sweet Home Alabama, Ziggy Stardust, Mister Bojangles, Suzanne, You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away

Songs for Intermediates: Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright, If I Had A Boat, Homeward Bound, Hello In There, Fire and Rain

Plus more on the “Turning Scales into Solos” and “Beyond Up and Down” series as well as a return of our “Chord Melody Song Arrangements,” which will deal with pop and rock songs, like Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song,” the Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” and the Ventures’ classic surf anthem “Walk Don’t Run” as well as many others.

Exploring Music With Darrin Koltow

Tip for March 15 – Practicing Modes (Part 4)

We’re going to continue exploring modes in this issue, the C Ionian mode in particular. We’ve used chords and arpeggios to convey the C Ionian sound, and have started on using scales to convey that sound.

The first scale to choose in giving the C Ionian sound is the C major scale, which we played in a couple of different ways last issue. Now let’s try yet another scale that’s not the C major, but that still gives the C major/C Ionian sound:


This is the C Lydian scale, which can often substitute for the C Ionian sound, or convey the same basic feeling or mood as C Ionian. C Lydian is played with the G major scale, which has six out of seven notes in common with the C major scale — that’s why we can use G major to give a C major sound. The key is to start and end the scale on the C note. If you start the G major scale on a note besides C, you’ll be conveying some other mood besides C Ionian /C Lydian.

Thanks for reading.

Copyright 2009 Darrin Koltow

Emails? We Get Emails!


Just wanted to say thanks for this great website with loads of helpful information. I started taking lesions in December and found your site on the internet and it has made huge difference in my playing and knowledge of the six string.

I like the way you approach the easy songs and make the reader think of different ways of playing. Especially since we often are not going to have a band or group to back ourselves up.

I am finally starting to get the hang of changing chords in a timely manner. Just really starting to work on the strumming and a little finger style and of course the songs.

My reason for writing today is related to tempo? Is there a standard number of 4/4 time would generally related to in BPM (beats per minute)? When using a metronome for example and playing “Margaritaville” or “Horse with No Name.” Would that be played a 120 BPM? Fast or slower? Is there a way to determine this without having the sheet music?

Thanks in advance,

Thanks for writing and thank you as well for your kind words concerning Guitar Noise. We’re glad you found our website and hope that it continues to be a source of education and inspiration to you as you learn more and more about the guitar.

Concerning timing and tempo, there are no hard guidelines. That’s to be expected as tempo is a very relative subject and everyone has a different idea as to what constitutes “fast,” “slow,” medium” or “faster than an SST but slightly slower than the Ramones.”

In general, songs tend to fall into three tempo categories – slow, moderate and fast. Classical pieces break this down further, using descriptive names like Largo (very slow), Andante (literally, “at a walking pace”), Moderato, Allegro (fast but not the Ramones) and Presto (even faster but still not the Ramones), not to mention a host of others.

But even these classical terms do not come with specific BPM (beats per measure) numbers. Rather, if you look at a metronome, you’ll usually see a range of BPMs that cover a general discriptive tempo marking. To make matters more interesting, not everyone even agrees on the ranges of BPMs sometimes. Some folks will say, for example, that “Andante” is between 76 and 108 BPM. Others might say that it’s really between 80 and 112.

Most sheet music will not have BPM markings. Generally “note for note transcriptions” will, but not always.

So, what’s a person to do? Here is one of those situations that your fifth or sixth grade math teacher would delightfully say “This is why you need math!” Listen to a recording of whatever song you’re trying to get a tempo for and have a watch with a second hand handy. When you are certain that you are tapping along precisely with the beat, count the number of beats for as close to ten seconds as you can. Then multiply that number by six. This should give you the BPM of that particular song.

Is this foolproof? No. For example, I just tried it out on “Horse With No Name” and counted twenty beats in ten seconds, which gives me a BPM of 120. According to a transcribed version of the song I have, it’s supposed to be 122 BPM. That’s certainly close enough to make me feel that I’ve got it.

And also don’t forget different versions of songs, even by the same artist, can be at different tempos.

I hope this helps. Please feel free to write again if you have further questions.

Looking forward to hearing about your progress,


Forum Findings / Event Horizon

In addition to finding out about gigs by GN folks here, you can often read about them on the “News” page of the Guitar Noise Forums. Recently GN Forum member “almann1979” posted a wonderful story about an interesting thing that happened to his band.

It’s not every day that you lose a gig to yourselves!

Al’s group, About Time, will be playing this Friday, March 20, at Cross Keys in Skipton (UK) and then the following Saturday, March 28, at the Bay Horse in Baxenden. Check them out if you’re in the area.

Random Thoughts

So I got a note from Ava, the wonderful woman who runs the Community Blog at Jemsite, asking me if I’d like to be interviewed as part of their “Guitar Hero series.” These are interviews with guitarists, performers, writers and teachers that are simply regular folks doing their best to bring music to the rest of the world.

Needless to say, I was (and still am) very uncomfortable with the idea of me being a “Guitar Hero,” let alone anyone’s hero. But I did do the interview and if you’ve absolutely nothing better to do, you can read it here.

I’d like to thank those of you who’ve already read it and also I’d like to dispel any rumors that I’ve going to appear in any upcoming versions of either “Guitar Hero” or “Rock Band.” Sorry if that ruins anyone’s day!

But I would like to also take this moment to announce that, if things work out the way they look like they’re going to, we’re going to be making a couple of very, very big announcements at Guitar Noise very soon. I know that’s a really big tease, but sometimes I just can’t help myself!

And, no, those particular announcements are not going to be April Fool’s jokes.

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

And, as always…