Monday, February 25, 2008

New Website Project - A Chord A Day


I've just launched a new website:

This might be a useful tool for you if you are interested in expanding your choices for chords when playing music. In this blog, I've avoided typical chord shapes that I had learned previously. Join me today in my chord adventures.

Thanks for checking it out and feel free to let me know what you think!

Best wishes,

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Some Latest Recordings on Solo Nylon String Guitar

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Ideas on how to learn a song

1. Study the song form

Songs use repetition to create familiarity and variation to create interest. By writing down the song form (and maybe even more details - like an analysis of the chords and key areas or when a particular riff or melodic phrase appears and reappears), we can understand the song better.

2. Study the harmony

Does the song stay in one key? Does it moves through many keys? Is it in a major key or minor key or both? Is it modal? Is it pretty static or does it change chords every two beats? What is similar between two chords that seem so different? By thinking about the harmony and figuring ways to voicelead and connect chords - the song will be more a part of you. Memorizing the chord changes is also very useful in further developing your personal approach to the song.

3. Study the melody

Same thing like the way we looked at the harmony. In fact, we should probably study the melody and memorize it first before looking at the harmony! Also, it's useful to look at how the phrases are constructed. Are they long? Are they short? Do they have a call and response type of idea? Are the phrases balanced or not?

4. Study the rhythms

Are there repeating rhythmic ideas? Is is very heavy on the downbeat? Is there a lot of syncopation? Where are these syncopations?

These are some things we can think about when we learn a song. Also, I find that it is very useful to learn the song's bassline, melody and chords (accompaniment) separately to be able to hear the parts. This thinking is applicable for any style of music that has these elements. Some styles may just have one or two instead of all three - particularly non-western based traditions that rely more on drones and melodies.

Most of all, remember to have fun and enjoy the process!

Till later, play on!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Some note choice possibilities for Improvising/Creating a melody over CMaj7


Improvise using only:

C Ionian Sounds:

1. C Triad - C, E and G. (Arpreggio playing - variations include playing along one string, in one position, two positions or all positions)
2. C Major 7 Arpeggio - C, E, G and B
3. C Maj7 (9) Arpeggio - C, E, G, B, D
4. C Maj7 (9,13) Arpeggio - C, E, G, B, D, A
5. A minor pentatonic/ C Major Pentatonic (A,B,C,E,G) (C,D,E,G,A) - same pentatonics - different starting notes
6. C Major Scale omit 4th (C,D,E,G,A,B,C) - this is a six note scale without the possibly clashing F note. The 4th actually works great but you need to resolve it for common usage sound.

C Lydian Sounds

1. D Major Triad (D, F#, A) - all the tensions of C Major7
2. B minor Triad (B, D, F#) - two tensions (9 and #11)
3. B Minor Pentatonic/D Major Pentatonic (B,D,E,F#,A) - (D,E,F#,A,B) - contains the guidetones and tensions of C Major7 (Lydian)

These are some of the most commonly used sounds over a Major 7 chord. There are many more possibilities but this is a good list to start with to experiment!

Have fun!

Best wishes and Happy New Year.

Till later, play on!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

My regular blog

I realised that I've been getting traffic from people who were looking for my regular blog and not this more guitar-oriented site. In case you have landed here and am looking for my gig updates and more of less tecnical ramblings, log on here:

az samad's acoustic gestures blog

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Improvised Solo Guitar Piece

This is a piece that I just improvised in an attempt to capture how I feel at the moment. It was recorded via the computer mic and I think you can hear some bird sounds at the background. Listening back, I thought that was a cool little addition to the mood of the piece.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Cool Links #10

The Secret life Of Notes by Jeremy Cohen

A good article on the multifaceted layers of a note!

Cool Links #9

Norm Weinberg's WebRhythms

Here's a good lesson in sightreading rhythms! Enjoy!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Cool Links #8

Jazz at Lincoln Center Online Lectures

I found this a while back and think this is really cool. I've watched the lecture on bebop halfway through so far (it's 2 hours long!) and it is very insightful. Enjoy!

Video Lectures Link

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Cool Links #7

Here is a good sample of the kind of ideas that Ed Tomassi talks about in the classes I took with him in Berklee. It's from where you find more free lessons from Berklee faculty.

Ed Tomassi Improvisation Lesson



Cool Links #6

While looking for lessons on walking bass lines, I stumbled upon this treasure trove of lessons from Berklee faculty Mark White. Lots of lessons here including on harmony, sight reading and chord scales:

Lessons from Mark White

Monday, January 29, 2007

Bb7 Lines

Classes at Berklee have started again so I'm busy again! But here are some lines that I wrote last week. It's all over a Bb7 chord. Enjoy! =)

Till later, play on!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

II-V arpreggio fingerings

Here are two fingerings for playing 7th chord arpreggios. The first example contains practical two octave root postion fingerings. The second example is kind of a short exercise using all the available arpreggio notes within the first five frets of the guitar neck. I've crammed the notes using a combination of 8th notes and triplets.

The next step after trying these examples out is to write some lines using these fingerings. There are obviously a lot of other fingering possibilities but these are two that you can try out. Enjoy! =)

Till later,play on!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Soloing Using Chord Tones

Here is a solo I wrote using mostly chord tones over the first 16 bars of a well known standard tune.


Three II-V lines for a Friday

Here are three minor II-V lines that resolve into a Major 7 chord. They contain triad arpregio ideas as well as some bop-type inflections.

Monday, January 08, 2007

An F7 Line

This is a jazzy line that I wrote over an F7 chord. It contains some bebop type ideas as well as some position changes.

Will blog a longer post with more examples in a future post.

Till later, play on!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

The Smart Box

This is a miniature that I wrote last week as a single note arpreggio study. It's kind of neo-classical but sounds really happy with it being in C Major and all. The title is a reference to it reminding me of music I used to hear when I watched Malaysia's local educational TV channel (TV Pendidikan) when I was a kid.

Right Hand Thumb Exercise

Here's a little walking bass line and chords etude I wrote to practice using the right hand thumb. It's over a 12 bar blues progression.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Single String Major Scales

Here is an alternative way of learning major scales that I learned from Mick Goodrick's The Advancing Guitarist book. Instead of practicing major scales in position, why not learn them on one string? He called this the unitar concept (one-stringed guitar). Mick suggests us to learn the scale on every string but here, I offer one way to start getting into this idea. I have written down all the twelve scales accompanied with the tab for the scales. There are no fingerings written so you can make your own or play the scale with one finger (as I learned from watching a Bill Frisell instructional video a while back. There are many benefits to doing this which include breaking out of position playing as well as discovering phrasing option s that one might not think of when playing in position. You might find other benefits too! Do let me know if you have any insights from trying this out.

And most importantly have fun and enjoy! =)

Till later, play on!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Theme of the day: Dmin7

I thought about what to write yesterday and I came up with four lines over Dmin7. Then, I thought why not write a little piece using just Dmin7 inversions to complement that. Here they are! Enjoy. =)

Till later, play on!

Monday, January 01, 2007

07 Etude #1

This is a little piece that I just wrote as an etude for the right hand. The right hand pattern is: P i m a m i thoughout the piece. I'm looking forward to write more short pieces like this and will post it on the blog when I get them done.

Till later, play on!

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Cool Links #5

This is a link to great articles written by Steve Vai that was originally published in Guitar Player magazine. A good friend and fantastic musician, Jack Charles Simon Lian (guitarist for the bands Naked Breed and Tempered Mental) shared this article with me and now here I am passing this to you. Enjoy and Happy New Year!

  • Steve Vai's 7-part article on Music

  • The Major Scale and its modes

    Here are the seven modes of the Major Scale shown in a paralel approach with all the scales starting on the same root. I found that playing modes this way was an ear-opener to me when I first started learning about modes. Rather than viewing them from the same major scale (C Major, D Dorian, E Phyrgian etc. -all are from C Major), by playing the modes from the same root, you get a better sense of how the modes sound in relation to one another.

    Although I've written them in the order that they appear in the major scale in the handout, I actually tend to organize them by the chord they go with:

    Major Chord Scales

    Minor Chord Scales

    Dominant Chord Scale

    Min7(b5) Chord Scale

    In terms of naming the modes (when someone asks - what are the notes of "your mode of choice"), I usually derive them by changing the notes from the major scale off the same root.

    For instance,

    To get Bb Lydian,

    First, I think of the notes of Bb Major:

    Bb C D Eb F G A Bb

    and then I sharp the fourth (because the difference between Lydian and Ionian is the sharped 4th in Lydian) - resulting in:

    Bb C D E F G A Bb

    Here is the information summarized in a chart: (Click on it for a larger version)

    I'll blog more on this in a future post! Like always, feel free to e-mail me at guitarharmony at gmail dot com should you have any questions.

    Till later, play on!

    Saturday, December 30, 2006

    Chord Voicings: Part 2 - Drop 2 Chords

    Here is a handout with a listing of root position jazz chord voicings. These ones are sometimes referred to as Drop 2 chord voicings which means that in reference to a close voicing (voicing the chords up in 3rds) the 2nd voice from the top is dropped one octave). In guitaristic terms, these particular chords can be viewed as chords that have the root on the 5th string of the guitar. You can also play these exact voicings with the bass on the 6th or 4th string. In a future post, I'll list some other common voicing types. These are useful because with these forms, you can pretty much play the chords for any jazz standard (as long as you play it with a jazz time feel - i.e. with jazz rhythms - that's for another post!)

    Enjoy and feel free to e-mail me (at guitarharmony at gmail dot com) if you have questions on these.

    Till later, play on!

    Friday, December 29, 2006

    The CAGED fingering concept

    The CAGED concept is something I first learned from watching a Joe Pass video. He related that the fingerings on the guitar can be derived from five basic chord shapes, namely - C, A, G, E and D. Hence - CAGED!

    He called them cowboy chords (refering to them all being Major Triad shapes - also known as open string chord shapes.) The cool thing about learning scale fingerings this way is that you have a very visual point of reference which is the major chord shape from where the scale is derived from. You could say that the scale actually weaves in and out of the chord tones of the shape.

    In this handout that I've made, I've notated the 5 shapes in their naturally occuring open string position along with the scales - starting and ending on the root but going throughout the range that falls within the position. Note that the true value of these fingerings come in when you move it up the neck. For example, if you choose C Major as the scale you wanted to learn all along the fretboard - The shapes would occur in this order: C, A, G, E, D. If you choose G Major, it would be: G, E , D, C and A.

    This lesson can also be used hand in hand with the previous post regarding major scale exercises by deriving the idea and applying it to all these fingerings.

    As with all my posts here, feel free to ask me questions if any of the explanations are unclear in any way.

    Till later, play on!

    Major Scale Exercises

    Here are some major scale exercises that I've practiced and come back to from time to time. They are condensed versions - meaning that in these - I've limited it to around one octave using using a C Major Scale fingering in the 3rd position. There are many ways of extending these exercises to an entire position, to the entire fretboard or on different string sets. These can be used as a springboard to other explorations of a scale. Enjoy!

    PS- I've also written some practice suggestions and compositions exercises on the handout. =)

    Till later, play on!

    Tuesday, December 05, 2006

    Chord Voicings: Part 1

    These are very typical and useful voicings for root position chords with the roots on the 5th string of the guitar. Click on the image to view it full size. I will post more voicings as they relate to jazz chord progressions in the future.

    Also, you can listen to me play the examples on my very first audio lesson:

    Till later, play on!

    On rhythm

    Been thinking about rhythm lately and about how to practice it. Here are some ideas that I've worked with over the years:

    1. Using a metronome
    2. Singing out rhythms
    3. Transcribing rhythms you like
    4. Transcribing rhythms in your head
    5. Playing Two part rhythms on guitar
    6. Tapping out rhythms
    7. Dancing/ Moving to Music
    8. Mouth drum
    9. Scatting out improvisational rhythm solos
    10. Treating the guitar like a drum
    11. Figuring out drum set/percussion sounds on guitar
    12. Practicing at extremely slow tempos to develop accuracy and time-feel (40-60bpm)

    Sunday, December 03, 2006


    Hi everyone!

    If you have suggestions on any particular guitar topic that you would like me to blog about, you can send me an e-mail at guitarharmony at gmail dot com. If I know anything about the subject and I think it would benefit other blog readers as well, I'll try to blog about it at some point in the future. =)

    Till later, play on!

    Sunday, November 26, 2006

    Great Guitar Books

    Here are some books that I love and constantly refer to and practice out of:

    1. The Advancing Guitarist - Mick Goodrick
    2. The Improvisor's OS - Wayne Krantz
    3. The Complete Guide To Harmony, Theory and Voicing - Bret Willmott
    4. Jazz Improvisation - Garrison Fewell
    5. Factorial Rhythm - Mick Goodrick and Mitch Haupers
    6. Mr. Goodchord's Almanac Of Guitar Voice-Leading Volume 1 and 2 - Mick Goodrick