Newsletter Vol. 3 # 88 – April 15, 2009


Welcome to Volume 3, Issue #88 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
  • Tutorial Tip
  • Event Horizon
  • Random Thoughts

Greetings, News and Announcements

Hello and welcome again to Guitar Noise News, your free twice-a-month newsletter from Guitar Noise. In case you’ve totally forgotten, today is April 15 and, if you live in the United States anyway, your taxes need to be mailed (or at least postmarked) today. So you take care of that and we’ll wait for you to come back…

Good to see you again. My thanks to Charley for subbing for me on the April 1 issue. He loves writing the newsletters, you know. Actually, he loves getting me to read his “fan mail” to him, so please allow me to thank the many of you who wrote to Charley in the past two weeks. Even Yvonne, who rescued Charley that rainy night several years ago now, wrote to say how glad she was to see he’s going well.

And thanks to you, too, Paul, for posting his picture up on Facebook. He was positively thrilled about that and we had to make it the new desktop photo for a week or so. And while I don’t think any of this attention goes to his head, I do think that he enjoys it all the same. Wouldn’t be surprised if he asks to sit in for me again in the near future.

Speaking of Facebook, I recently took a look at the listing of close to the two hundred and fifty fans we have on the Guitar Noise Facebook page and it’s amazing just how many places people are from. I know it’s a big world, notwithstanding the Disneyland song and all, but it’s still wild to see someone from my old state of New Hampshire and then to see the next person is from Morocco. Come on by an tell us a bit about your part of the world!

I’d also like to thank everyone who’s written with congratulations, encouragement or suggestions (and many combinations of the three) concerning my latest book project for Alpha Books – “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Playing Rock Guitar.” Since the folks at Alpha are planning on putting this book out around the end of this year, it’s going to be a big undertaking on a very short deadline so not only do I appreciate all the encouragement, I’m thanking everyone in advance for your patience as I’m sure I’ll be falling behind on my email correspondence yet again (and after almost getting totally caught up for a change!).

Seriously, though, I hope you all know that none of this would be possible without the incredible support that you’ve given Guitar Noise, and me personally, over the past nine-and-a-half years. And I also hope that I do you all proud with this new book.

Topic of the Month

For April, our Guitar Noise “Topic of the Month” for April is “Getting Up On Stage.” When you visit the Home Page of Guitar Noise during April, you will notice, up on the left hand side, close to the top, a list of articles all dealing with the topic of live performance as well as links to some of the many wonderful articles and lessons we have here at Guitar Noise about playing live, written by a wide range of contributing authors. You’re bound to find a lot of interesting and educational material on this topic.

And I find I truly cannot stress this topic enough. A big part of the joy of making music is when you get to share it with others. Some of the best stories we get to hear on Guitar Noise, whether in articles or just as threads on the Forum pages, are those concerning folks who have made the leap to performing in front of others. It’s incredibly inspirational and once you’ve tried it, you might also find it very addictive!

New Lessons and Articles

Nashville – Music City, USA
Our Musical World
by David Hodge

I’m pleased to introduce a new series here at Guitar Noise, spotlighting the many, many musical Meccas in this wonderful world of ours. First stop – Nashville, Tennessee. And if you’re thinking, “That’s only country music,” you’ll soon realize that there’s a whole lot more going on!

Comfortably Numb
Easy Songs for Beginners #39

by David Hodge

If you’re going to play an emotionally charged song, you can’t hide behind a single strumming pattern. In this lesson we take one of the highlight songs from Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” and arrange it for a single guitar, using many strumming and crosspicking techniques we’ve gone over in our Guitar Noise Podcast series. You’re going to have a lot of fun with this one!

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: Sweet Home Alabama, Ziggy Stardust, Mister Bojangles,

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 April 15 – Practicing Modes (Part 6)

Let’s go further into our mode study in this issue. Last issue we covered diatonic (within a key) C major chords whose melody notes lay on string 1. A natural progression for us this time would be chords for string two. Here they are:


A couple comments here: play the chords descending and ascending. You can also get creative and play leap frog: play the chord with the C melody note, then the A melody, then come back to the B melody, then G, then A, etc.

Note 2: don’t get dogmatic about these chords. There are many other possibilities besides the ones given here. Check out William Leavitt’s “Modern Method for Guitar” for a more intensive workout with chord voicings.

Thanks for reading.

Copyright 2009 Darrin Koltow

Tutorial Tip

Hi David-

I have read a couple of the “Scales into Solos” articles. I have learned from these articles and thank you for the help. But I still have a couple questions:

When you play a solo, do you match the notes from the scale with the notes that make up the chord being played? Also, I have been wondering if I should just make up a solo as I play, or if I should think about it (maybe even write it down) before playing? I was also wondering if you have any other tips on how I can practice to make better solos.

Thanks you for the help.

PS. Please write back!!!


Thanks for writing!

Let’s tackle your questions one at a time, shall we?

When you play a solo, do you match the notes from the scale with the notes that make up the chord being played?

A lot of people do, but then you lose out on all sorts of ways to make your solos more interesting. We started covering this topic in the latest
article, which you can find here.

Also, I have been wondering if I should just make up a solo as I play, or if I should think about it (maybe even write it down) before playing?

If you’ve read any number of my articles, you know that I usually answer any “either / or” question with “yes” and this one is certainly the case. Being able to make up a solo as you play is improvising at its best and an important skill to learn, but smart soloists will write down the ideas they came up with so that they can have them again very quickly. You really need to do a bit of both to get the best possible solo.

As for other tips, the best thing I can tell you is to learn to listen and pick out ideas for soloing from just about anywhere. Don’t make the mistake of only listening to guitar solos. Every solo usually has an interesting aspect to it and to be able to find ideas that you like and can transfer to the guitar will help you a lot.

The second thing is to remember most memorable solos are ones that have a good sense of melody. A person can sing along to them. So learn to listen to melody lines as well as to solos. This will give you no end of ideas with which to work on your own solos.

And, of course, practice a lot!

I hope this helps. Thank you again for writing and I look forward to hearing how things are progressing with you.


Event Horizon

On the local scene here in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, I’m thrilled that Marilyn Miller (one of my students) is having her first solo show at the Marketplace Cafe in Sheffield, Massachusetts, this Friday evening from five to seven. I’m definitely planning on going!

And speaking of local, I’ll be playing back-up for Berkshire songwriter Joel Schick this coming Monday night, April 20 at Club Helsinki in Great Barrington as part of their ‘Local Spotlight’ series. It’s a great little venue and there’s no cover, so come on by if you’re in the neighborhood.

Still on the local scene, I happen to catch New York guitarist Jason Ennis on Friday evening in Great Barrington and was totally blown away by some great music. He plays jazz, swing, Latin, and incorporates even more world rhythms into his playing and it’s just incredible.

He’s in the Western Massachusetts / Southern Vermont area the rest of this month. This Saturday, April 18, he’ll be part of the Bill Chapman Quartet, with Mike Fahn (valve trombone),

Mary Ann McSweeney (bass) and Bill Chapman (drums) playing some swinging straight-ahead jazz at the famous Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, Massachusetts (right around the corner from where Alice’s Restaurant used to be). Show starts at 9:00PM

The following weekend, Jason will be joining the Samirah Evans Sextet (Samirah Evans, Vocals; Michael Zsoldos, Tenor Saxophone; Jason Ennis, Guitar; Miro Sprague, Keyboards; Michael O’Brien, Electric Bass; Conor Meehan, Drums). Samirah is a wonderful singer from New Orleans who relocated to Vermont in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. She is releasing a new CD, ‘My Little Bodhisattva,’ a beautiful recording made in the emotional period just after the catastrophe in 2005 with musicians from New Orleans. To celebrate the release here up north, she has put together a truly slamming band that will be bringing some serious swing, funk, blues, Brazilian and Latin grooves to Vermont. There’ll be two shows on Friday, April 24, at 7:00 and 9:00PM at the Hooker Dunham Theater in Brattleboro, VT. Tickets are $15 and reservations can be made through the Hooker-Dunham box office starting April 17 by calling 802-254-9276.

And for those of you on the other side of the Atlantic, you can catch GN Forum member ‘Almann’s’ band, About Time at the George and Dragon in Barrowford, England. This will be Saturday, April 25. If I can trust Google, I believe the George and Dragon is on Gisburn Road.

Note to self ‘ I should get to England sometime soon. Maybe after this book deadline is met. That would be a great way to celebrate, no?

Random Thoughts

While working out the outlines and lesson ideas for “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Playing Rock Guitar,” I’ve naturally been reading a lot on the history of rock. “Rock and Roll,” I guess, would be the better phrase, because, to many of us today, “Rock and Roll” refers to one thing, music from Chuck Berry or Buddy Holly or Elvis, while “Rock” is something totally different.

And I can’t help but find that both funny and sad. Rock, like most music, has very deep roots. It’s easy to point to the ones that sprung up from the blues, but a great deal of it came from country, too. If you find that hard to swallow, then you should listen to Carl Perkins and see whether or not you think he might have influenced George Harrison in the slightest.

And then there’s also jazz, gospel and whatever you might want to call “old timey” music or mountain music.

Back then, rock and roll was something that brought many people from many different musical backgrounds together.

And, like pretty much most things it seems, folks are much more intent on dividing and subdividing and the power of music as a way of bringing people together doesn’t seem to matter when there are people who want to argue the difference between, say, rock and grunge, rock and alternative, rock and punk, rock and pop. You get the idea. People can get so into dividing things into “Us and Them” that they seem more intent on making boxes only big enough for “Us” to be themselves.

And, as a culture, we are kind of perpetuating this. How many concerts have you gone to where people aren’t into the music as much as they are into being part of the concert? I went to a show a while back where someone was more interested in recording the event on his cell phone to view later (presumably in private) rather than to enjoy the moment that was there for him.

It’s easy to think this is new, but it’s really not. More than fifteen years ago I was at a show that the artist called the show to an early end because he couldn’t deal with the noise coming from the audience. And these were people who were ardent fans.

You can look back further and see this kind of behavior has been part of sporting events for most of our lives and you can also see it in places you wouldn’t expect it at all, like the theater.

Perhaps it’s that we don’t know how to lose ourselves in the moment, to become part of something that’s a lot bigger. That idea scares a lot of people because they are afraid not so much of losing themselves but of the concept that they are a part of something and not apart from it. We’ve talked about this before, too.

Anyway, I’m having a blast finding all sorts of similarities in widely varied styles of music. And I’m hoping that when all this is done I remember that the reason that I play is to honor that something bigger than all of us.

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

And, as always…