Thursday, May 17, 2007



Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Derek Trucks:


And ME! That was a great day.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Beginner Lesson: Changing Chords: How to

After making individual chords, changing chords is one of the first hurdles all beginning guitarists face. There are some good techniques, taught for hundreds of years, that can make your first transitions a little less "fretful." It also will make your first few chords "less forgetful."

Peter Vogl posts great free video guitar lessons on Youtube, and he teaches chord transitions in much the same manner as I do. I've posted Peter's video on changing chords below.

One "Easy Button" suggestion I'll make: If you are still finding individual chords a bit of a chore, try my alternate chord fingerings.

LOOK MA, ONLY 2 FINGERS:



Each of these fingerings uses only your first and second fingers, elminating the need to keep track of that pesky ring finger! I also think these chords "sound better," but that's just an opinion.

One thing you will notice is the use of the thumb, on the D chord, to mute the E string. In classical guitar technique, this is a no-no. However, a lot of American rock guitar, jazz guitar, and folk guitar techniques are based on banjo* technique, believe it or not. And that's a whole different ballgame. Check out this banjo technique hypothesis regarding jazz guitar legend Freddie Green.

My fingering adds a new challenge: you have no guide finger to get you back to the G chord from D. But, you will notice, the G fingering and D fingering are now the "same." Fingers one and two, hold the same shape. Practice moving that shape as a unit, back and forth from G to D. Now you're on your way to more chord transitions. With or without what Peter calls "Pivots" and "guides."

Here's how Peter suggests playing the chords, with three fingers:



Here's Peter's helpful free guitar video:



You can check out more about this lesson HERE.

*If you think banjos sound funny, you should hear a diddley bow!

***

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Beginner Lesson: Advanced Ipod Management.

This is not a post about playing, but about listening. 'Cause you won't be a very good player if you are not a discerning listener.

I recently added a Motorola SLVR to my list of listening devices, so that I don't have to hump an iPod and a phone everyhwere. Soon, the iPhone!

However, I was soon faced with the problem of the SLVR's max 100 songs. Which 100 songs to chose?

I do this with automated playlists. A master playlist for the SLVR calls up a subset of other playlists which select different types of music to listen to: Music to which I have recently listened, favorites, music to which I have not yet listened, etc.


Here's the master playlist. It selects music from any of the sub play lists. Notice it matches "any" of the rules:



Here are two examples of the subset playlists. Notice, both of these select the match "ALL" selection. This one selects the last 40 rock songs I've listened to, as I listen to mostly Rock on the SLVR. It filters out my own music, and music that is rated one, two or three stars.



Here's another example sub-playlist. This one picks out 20 favorite tunes that I have not heard in 90 days, and that I haven't skipped in the last 2 weeks. It also filters out lessons, and my own compositions. I have separate playlists for those. No lessons on the SLVR, though. I only rock out on the SLVR.


Hope you've enjoyed.

***

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Intermediate and Advancing Lesson: Triads and Inversions

Triads, in some ways, should be the first thing you play on the guitar. Here are some diagrams of Triads on guitar fretboards. I'll be stopping back to make annotations, so check back.

In the meantime, check these out. Play them. Listen to them. (You could do that at the same time!) Think about them, but definitely listen to them. Triads are your friends.

Here are some triads, of different types, shown on one string each, so you can measure the musical distance between the notes without tuning getting in the way.



Here are some ways you could play all three notes together at the same time. When the root of a triad is in the bass, it's in root position. These are closed position triads in all three inversions. Open position triads are fun, too. But none of the major triads are even close to being in tune on the guitar. Don't ask me why. Why? Because then I'll tell you.



Make what you will of the next two diagrams.
I can't explain them. But I can play them. Can you?



Sorry, the second one's kinda messy.
Dig the "whoops!"
Sort of indie rock Pavement-esque guitar lessons.
Oh Dandy Warhol, I'm so Bohemian like you:



***

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007


The Taxman Cometh: Jimi Hendrix Chord, Chord of the Week for April 17, 2007

This chord is labeled as a E7#9. Don't tell your jazz musician friends, but a #9 is really a flat 10. There is an D7#9 in the Beatles' song "Taxman", if memory serves. If you don't know what a sharp nine is, it's time to bone up on your music theory. Don't worry about that now, though.

Grab a guitar and play it!

Wham! There it is: "The Hendrix Chord."


I've heard guitarists refer to this chord as "The Hendrix Chord." It's featured in a lot of Hendrix original compositions, most famoustly, as the tonic chord in "Purple Haze". Stevie Ray Vaughan likes it quite a bit, too. Check out "Testify," and "Mary Had a Little Lamb".

This is a pretty good vid on more "Hendrix Chords":



You can grab the Tab for it HERE.

***

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Professional, fun guitar lessons for the Washington, D.C. community.

Saturday, March 31, 2007


Beginner Lesson for Opening Day 2007: Take Me Out To the Ball Game

Have fun playing this melody on one string. It's basically guitar tablature, but for one string only! The numbers written below the words represent fret numbers. Count your way up and down the guitar neck. Your guitar does not even have to be in tune!

If you look at all of the notes in the song, arranged on one string, you get something like the fingerboard diagram at the top. I've labelled the notes on the fingerboard with Solfege, in black, and Sargam, in blue.

If you want to know why I labeled one note with the color red, email me!

If you're still not sure what to do with this diagram, go here.

Go Nats! Go Sox!



***

dcguitar.com
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Student Rave: Margot MacDonald

I am so Proud of Margot.

A teacher could wait a lifetime and not find a student like this.

Thank goodness, she's a nice kid, too. This is what she has to say about me:

"Dan’s the man! He packs a lot into a lesson. And it’s not just a guitar lesson. It’s all about total musicianship and artistry. He constantly pushes me where I need to go … whether I like it or not! But always with great humor. Dan’s lessons are a workout yet incredibly fun. He’s a really cool teacher and an all around good guy."


http://www.myspace.com/MargotMacDonald
Her second album just dropped.

***

dcguitar.com
Professional, fun guitar lessons for the Washington, D.C. community.


She isn't even old enough to drive. Jeez!



***

dcguitar.com
Professional, fun guitar lessons for the Washington, D.C. community.
Police are New Wave, not Classic Rock.

They belong with the Jam, Elvis Costello, and The Clash (If you allow, as I do that a band can be both New Wave and Punk).

Basically, I think the Police, along with the Cars, and what the heck, I'll pick the Eurythmics for $200, spearheaded New Wave.

The clipped powerchords, synthy sounds, and let's face it, silly haircuts, got onto the Radio, and like after Nirvana in 1991, the Radio never sounded the same again. Previous to the Police's arrival, it was all classic rock, all the time: Blooze rock. Clapton, Stones, Who, ZZ Top, Aerosmith, AC/DC. When the Police and company showed up, something changed.

Andy's anti-guitar-solo guitar solo, and echoplex ingenuity had a lot to do with that. The Edge wasn't the only guy suddenly running out to buy every echo box he could find, but he was the coolest, and the one with the most musical goods.

Andy didn't noodle and wank. His friends played that stuff, and did it well, so he searched for another path.

He played one note, gradually louder for thirty seconds: "When The World Is Running Down, You Make The Best Of What's Still Around" or he played Lenny Breau harmonics: "Regatta de Blanc" also known as the bridge in "Can't Stand Losing You!"

Andy is the guy in Dire Straits' "Sultans of Swing". He is George, the one who knows "All the chords. He don't wanna make it cry or sing." He plays 11th chords, as in "Walking on The Moon."

And when he does "make it cry," he does so with such brutal economy you can scarcely believe what you just heard: "Driven to Tears".

Over and out.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Advanced Lesson: Roxanne Reharmonized

There's some very strange strumming going on in measures 9 and 10. I think Andy would quite like the wacko harmony on beat 4 of measure 10. That's just his kind of chord, though he'd probably put the Major 7th in the bass. See if you can finger this one out....


Tuesday, March 20, 2007


DEATHWISH by the Police: Bo Diddley on Polyrhythmic Steroids!

The basic groove of "Deathwish" is a great example of what I think Keith Richards refers to as "weaving."   It's an interlocking groove that would've made James Brown proud, god rest his soul.  ("Same tape I've had for years!") 


On top of a basic Bo Diddley beat, there are some serious polyrhythms going on. Check out the rhythm grid above, a visual representation, even for those who don't read music.



For those who read music, click on the image for a score of a few bars:



I'll try to describe what's going on, what the heck.

STING
plays a basic Bo Diddley* beat.  Say the following count (pronounce the +'s, too) while emphasizing the capitalized words, and you'll kinda hear it:

ONE + two AND three + FOUR + one + TWO + THREE + four +

STEWART's KICK DRUM
plays the same beat, except for beat four of the second measure.  There he delays one 1/8th after Sting's three, accenting AND, instead of Sting's THREE.**   This helps to accent a 3 over 4 feel thru the end of the bar... that's a really cool, really subtle polyrhythm. 

Try it:
ONE + two AND three + FOUR + one + TWO + three AND four +

ANDY's PRIMARY GUITAR
restates the first measure of the Bo Diddley beat, but shifted back one beat, his first accent is on beat two.  He manages to lock in very deftly while adding some great ad libs that flavor the harmony on beats two thru four of the second measure.
Try it:
one + TWO + three AND four + ONE + two + three + four +

ANDY'S QUARTER NOTE ECHO
The echo on Andy's primary guitar figure is set for one quarter note, so his "cloned" self enters, softer, and on beat 3.  An echo of an echo.

Try it:
one + two + THREE + four AND one + TWO + three + four +

*Other Bo Diddley Beats: "Hand Jive,"  the Who's "Magic Bus," and more recently, the Clash's "Julie's Been Working for the Drug Squad".

** Classic!  They're having a musical "creative difference!"

Monday, March 12, 2007

LOUD guitar: my second iMovie ad. Need to do some more of these. What fun!

Learning to Play, my first experiment with iMovie. Checking to see how the Youtube embedding works, in anticipation of posting some video lessons. Yeehah! For now, enjoy some levity.

Roxanne (The Police) for Fingerstyle Guitar

Here's a solo fingerstyle guitar arrangement for the first section of Roxanne, by the Police. If you click on the image of the score below, you'll get a bigger one you can print and place on your music stand.

A couple things to note on technique. The right hand finger's play Andy's guitar part. I've made them eighth notes to emphasize the reggae scratch style brevity of the chords. You can accomplish this by using left hand muting, or by playing prepared strokes with the right hand fingers. When the bass line enters (use your thumb) I find that you get the most musical effect by emphasizing beat two: hold that chord a little longer, or for a full quarter note. It makes the beat extra fat, and gives the groove its funk. On beat 4 of measure 8, switch to frailing (strumming with your fingernails) for the Fsus4 and Gsus4 chords. Practice that crescendo at bars 9 and 10 with your thumb, and you'll really have something that sounds quite rocking.

Notice how the bass line moves from the 4th string to the 5th string going from measure 4 to measure 5. This technique allows you to have the bass and chords travel in contrary motion: the bass line descends while the triad ascends. Very useful....

Monday, March 05, 2007


Parts of the Guitar, Labeled.

What this diagram lacks in penmanship, it makes up for in character. If you don't know the names of parts of a guitar, you'll learn something. If you do, you may get a chuckle.

Sunday, March 04, 2007




Measuring Music: One String Scales

Here is a piece of paper that I often give my students the first time that we meet.

I often suggest that they play major scales on one string with one finger. In this case, the A string. This way, I joke, they can practice playing music even when the guitar is not in tune. And, I tell them, use one finger at a time. When that fingertip gets sore, switch to another finger. Wow! Two of the biggest problems for this teacher’s soul are solved. The student has a way to practice even if they cannot tune the guitar AND starts to learn a little something about music at the very same time: they start playing by ear, even if they lack confidence in their hands, or their ears.

On our first meeting I also often teach my students three new chords. In this case those chords would be A, D, and E. There are diagrams for those chords on the bottom of the page. More on that very soon. For now, go and measure some music. Each of those dots on the fretboard is a musical place. Where can you go? What sounds do you hear? Do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti, do? Or if you are from India: Sa, re, ga, ma, pa, da, ni, sa?


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