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!