New (additional) resource available

Here’s some exciting news… Yesterday (6/6/14), I launched my new video channel on YouTube (the channel uses my same user name: onevoiceinc). So I wanted to take a moment and talk about both the video channel and this GUITAR 101 site.

click here to go to my youtube channel

 

First, I wanted to say that both resources are designed to work together. This site contains all the charts, deeper explanations, and examples. My YouTube channel will merely have brief video explanations to accompany (and reinforce) this site. Second (especially for those of you who are viewing this site for the first time), I wanted to better explain how to navigate this site. For PC/Mac/laptop users, there is a site navigation on the right. For smart phone users, the site navigation is at the bottom of the screen. Being that this site is a blog site (converted into a guitar/music theory site), the entries are formatted in order from most recent post to older posts. To use this site as it was intended, click on INTRODUCTION in the navigation to go through the lessons in chronological order. Or you can click on individual sections on the navigation to go to specific areas of interest.

Currently (as I am posting this), I have 5 YouTube videos released:

1. GUITAR 101 Lesson 1 – the Major scale,

2. GUITAR 101 Lesson 1 pt. 2 – the CAGED sequence,

3. Xtras Vol. 1 – Major scale exercises

4. GUITAR 101 Lesson 2 – the Minor scale

5. Xtras Vol. 2 – Minor scale exercises

major scale exercise

CONTACT INFO. Throughout this site, I have always disabled the ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ (since day one), only because I wanted it all to be focused on the theory knowledge itself. My e-mail address has always been listed on my BIO page, and I thank all of you who have either sent encouragement or had questions. I appreciate your kind words, and as far as questions, you know I’m always happy to help. We’re all brothers and sisters in music, and we’re in this together. On this page (and only this page), I will be opening discussion/comments. All I ask is that anyone who comments please be respectful of others. Music is a tool to build each other up – not tear each other down – so let’s keep it that way, okay? And please, no spam. Info linking to any of your music sites is encouraged. I totally appreciate your cooperation.  :)

Next, feel free to subscribe to this site and to my YouTube channel. The videos I created so far came from my belief that they may be helpful, and your continued participation will inspire me to make more and more videos. If they’re not being watched or used, however, there really is no point in making more of them (because it’s about sharing with/giving back to others, and not about me). Ultimately, they are there for YOU. If you want more videos or you liked what you see, let me know either by subscribing or by clicking that little ‘like’ button underneath the video.

Lastly, I wanted to encourage YOU. You are capable of pretty much anything you set your mind to do. Set goals, learn all you can always, practice, BELIEVE in yourself, and watch as the possibilities open up right in front of you. Thank you for allowing me to share what others have shared with me.

Joe

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Visualizing the Bigger Picture (Pt. 5)

The beauty of theory is that it teaches us rules or guidelines, but after learning all the rules, we can bend them. The old saying holds true: rules were meant to be broken. However, with anything, the rules first need to be learned so a foundation and greater understanding can be established. Those who don’t understand those rules (in this case, the inner workings of music) are destined to guess their way through their journey… and contrary to the thoughts of comfortable under-challenged musicians, there is very little freedom in that.

In this lesson, I want to first return to the original 7 ionian modes and incorporate some additional ideas. In this first example, I created arpeggiated scale patterns in a straight walkup from the I chord all the way to the vii chord. Take your time, and play it slowly and evenly.

Notice on the vii (locrian), I ran the ascending portion according to the actual scale, but on the descending portion, I incorporated the use of a diminished arpeggio before returning back to the locrian scale. These kinds of things add a cleverness to solo work when used tastefully. On occasion, while playing a particular scale or solo line, I may borrow tones from other scales to throw in the mix, whether blatantly or as a quick passing tone. The key (as always) is in experimenting, and using your ear as a guide. Any one of the above examples could be tastefully altered, depending on the chord type. The key is in learning the scales first and then experimenting in altering them.

In my own playing, I have been experimenting with the mixolydian a lot lately, due to its versatility. First I will give an example (based loosely on the one in the above example):

Sometimes I will throw in another scale entirely in its place. Like the hindu scale:

Or even the phrygian dominant, depending on the chord type, the progression, and the kind of feel I’m going for:

Recently, I even found myself utilizing the dominant b2 scale (the fifth mode of harmonic major):

Notice the similar tones in all of these scales. Through study, practice, and experimentation, you will gain an understanding of how, when, and where to add these kinds of changes. They add a unique element to the typical song. Experiment with these 4 examples over the V chord and see if you can incorporate them into your own style. Then based on all the scales we have covered so far, see what you can come up with over various chords (and/or scales) in a given progression. The possibilities are endless!!

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Visualizing the Bigger Picture (Pt. 4) – A little deeper

T-Rex was clearly the rock star of the animal kingdom. It was big. It was heavy. It was loud. It was fast. It was the latest and the greatest.. and in spite of all those things, T-Rex eventually became extinct. So apparently being big, loud, heavy, fast, or the latest and greatest has little or nothing to do with longevity or the bigger picture. The same holds true in the music world. Music can be seen as many things, but it is a form of communication – a language that can transcend the physical and tap into places of deeper consciousness. It can be more of a spiritual thing. It can soothe, excite, relax, inspire, and convey thoughts and ideas that transcend our ability to verbally communicate. There is certainly nothing right or wrong with playing fast or slow, playing heavy or soft, playing loud or quiet,  seeking a mass audience or just playing for ourselves. These things involve conscious thought and action, but music can be so much more than this.

We are more than physical creatures. We are mind, body, and spirit. All three are connected, and the more in sync we are with all three, the more complete we are. The same is also true with our music. If anything, music can reflect spiritual ideas that we can not easily verbalize – a kind of mirror of (and to) the soul. The spirit seeks to communicate in harmony with the mind and body, and it seeks to communicate in harmony to (and with) others. Tapping the spiritual side of music will allow one to feel (and hear) the music inside them. It will also allow one to know what needs to be played and when. Like scales and musical techniques, which have to be developed and maintained, the same is true of being in harmony with our spiritual being. A fast-paced, chaotic, noisy existence will often produce an out-of-sync life. The same is true with music. We have to learn to listen more… to shut out the hectic pace, if only for brief periods… to slow down and be who we were meant to be… to let the music flow out of us.

I know when I am “in tune” with who I am, music just harmonically flows. When I am focused on my busy week or just too much in conscious thought about other things, it manifests itself negatively in my music. So it has to be learned, developed, and maintained. In doing so, I can assure you that you will be far more than you ever knew possible.

Obviously, with music being a language, the more we learn, the more we can add to the vocabulary and the more clearly we can communicate. The learning process involves asking questions. Question everything. Look for depth in everything. Look for theoretical and practical applications for everything. Never glance over anything. In doing so, the musical journey becomes a more fulfilling one… and the better an artist you will become.        

The only limitation to knowledge is that while it can satisfy a great part of us, it will never fully fulfill us. The trick is in balancing service and knowledge. In this, the world becomes a more fulfilling one. An interesting trait in humans is that we are the happiest (and most fulfilled) when we are giving to and/or serving others. This is a truth and a paradox: we have to give to receive. Those who don’t quite get this will often times find themselves pursuing things that will only make them temporarily happy. This will lead them to a pattern of jumping from thing to thing, and never quite getting the satisfaction they are seeking. Serving ourselves will never truly give us the satisfaction we so badly want and long for… that satisfaction that was wired into us to pursue. This is something to think about and really ponder over. Find a place to direct your music. To share it. To connect and be a part of something bigger than yourself.

So take some time, slow down, and tap into the fullest potentials of who you were meant to be… and watch as you become far more than you ever knew possible! Let the music flow! See you in the next post.

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Visualizing the bigger picture (pt. 3)

A common lines I hear among guitarists: “I am just a ‘rhythm guitarist’.” On the other side of the spectrum, I sometimes hear ‘lead guitarists’ make very derrogatory comments about playing rhythm, as if it is beneath them or as if playing rhythm is something that is dull and boring. Both of the above are greatly lacking vision. Both are missing the bigger picture. The first doesn’t see an amazing world of possibilities that is just waiting to be opened. Perhaps the person has found a comfort zone and will never grow beyond it. If we are not growing, we are dying. I say this a lot. Comfort is often a killer of potentials. The second mindset is also missing a larger part of what music really is (and is about), and he/she is also missing a much larger world.

Rhythm is vital to and in music. It IS music. It is also what adds color and texture and depth and dimension. A melody or lead line with a shallow rhythm is often times a weak one. In my own lead playing, I use open strings often (to build thickness in the sound), and I will often use arpeggios so the lead lines themselves are still very much connected to the rhythmic structure of the song. If the 2nd guitarist can’t make it, it’s no big deal, because I don’t view what I do in terms of rhythm and lead as much as I do just playing guitar. If a song calls for a lead line, I’ll do the lead it calls for. If it calls for a rhythm, I’ll do what it calls for all the same. Like all the other instruments, the guitar has a role. To lose that is to limit one’s self.

I will admit that sometimes popular music progressions do run in circles, and to emulate them could become rather predictable (and dull) over time… so do something about it. Don’t settle for the same old dull chords. Expand. Experiment. Express! In the first example, let’s expand on a simple D major and/or D minor chord.

Instead of playing the same old staple ‘open D’ that I learned in my first year of playing, I got creative and found other ways of playing it… and I threw in some color (the added 9th). The same is true with D minor. Added color and texture. Behold – the power of experimentation! I bet I could find all other sorts of ways to play the same chord up and down the neck. And so can you. Now let’s look at a A maj. and A min.

Notice for the D chords, an open E string was all that was needed to add a 9th for color. In the A chords, the open B created the 9ths… Now you may be saying, “Okay, so now I can play a couple chords different ways. Now what?” Let’s expand this idea with a pretty basic rock chord progression. In the example, I will use a standard vi – IV – I – V progression in the key of E.

I included a chord chart above this particular example. Notice the rhythmic structure basically stays the same, but new possibilities of exploring the same old progression were introduced. New shapes, colors, and added dimension. Nothing dull here.

Lastly, I included a Spanish/jazz-sounding progression based loosely on a song I wrote. A lot could be dug out of this progression, not to mention, it changes modes…  (and if you have a sample pedal, try recording it and improvising over it).

So to bring it all to point: rhythm will be only as exciting, creative, and inventive as you allow it to be. Lead, rhythm, scales, and chords are directly connected. Experiment with new chord shapes, structures, and rhythms. Unleash your creativity!!

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Visualizing the bigger picture (pt. 2)

There are two sayings that hold true: 1. Humans inherently follow by nature. 2. We are more likely to accept what already looks like us than to try something different. This being said, it is easy to just cruise through life and just do what everyone else is doing and no more. It also holds true that this can restrain our thinking in a ‘box’ of sorts. Being that you are reading this, I am assuming you are looking for an alternative than just the norm, and you want more out of your playing, so read on.

Let’s take a new look at the same old fretboard. We often use a previous string to tune the following open string. This is a tuning method, but it also contains a pattern. For example, the 5th string 5th fret is the same note as open 4th string, or open D (see ex.1). Going further, the 5th string 7th fret is the same as the 4th string 2nd fret, or E (see ex.2)… and so on and so forth… 

The pattern never changes as we go up the fretboard, obviously. This being said (carrying it further), there are alternative ways of playing the same lead riff – often times many different ways. The next example sheds a tiny bit of light on this (see ex. 2a and 2b).

There are many other ways to play the example above. Experiment with this example and with familiar riffs in your own arsenal. In playing riffs in different places across the neck, it makes the fretboard a bit more familiar… and often times playing a riff in a different place will open up new ideas to add to the riff. The possibilities are pretty endless.

For the next example, I want to take it a little further. Let’s look at open strings for a bit. Example 3 is a cool acoustic riff I heard Joe Satriani play once (and yes, I incorporated it into my playing as well). Example 3a shows the notes of the riff in descending order, while example 3b replaces certain notes with open strings. The notes themselves do not change, but the sound and feel totally change. (Satriani is so clever!) Example 4 is an open string riff that I created. Ex. 4a shows the notes of the riff in more of a ‘box’ pattern, while ex. 4b replaces certain notes with open strings. 

Some songs that have great examples of this sort of thing include “Garden” from Pearl Jam as well as the intro to “Just Take My Heart” from Mr. Big (and yes, guitarist Paul Gilbert from Mr. Big is a shredder – don’t be fooled!).

Take some time to dig in and learn all you can with this. Experiment! Your creativity is unlimited, so let it flow.

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Visualizing the bigger picture (pt. 1)

Being that this is about guitar essentials, I wanted to switch gears for a moment and focus on a question I got recently concerning tone. When you hear artists like Eric Clapton, Joe Satriani, David Gilmour, Jerry Cantrell, Eric Johnson, The Edge, Adam Jones (Tool), Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix, Prince, etc., you instantly just know it’s them. Each of these artsists has their own recognizable tone. Hopefully, I can try to steer you in the right direction in finding yours, if you haven’t already found your tone. 

One thing I see a lot is guitarists naturally setting their amp’s EQ to what is called the ‘V’ shape. (Bass and treble all the way up, and mids all the way down.) The distortion/gain is cranked all the way up to 11, and the master volume is cranked up pretty loud. If there is a ‘presence’ knob, it is cranked up pretty high also. (see example 1)

If you are wanting something that will blend in while still being able to cut through, you may want to try a different approach. Some things to consider:

1. The ‘V’ shape can get lost in the mix and lose fullness of sound sometimes when playing with other musicians. This typically leads to turning up the volume (in order to hear one’s self), which causes the other musicians to have to do the same (in order to hear themselves), ultimately leading into a big volume war that nobody wins.

2. The more volume you have, the less control you will have when using distortion… and these days, more venues are using in-ear monitors, so the need for excessive stage volume is slowly diminishing.

3. The goal is to be able to hear one’s self along-side the drums, not to lose one’s hearing prematurely. Save the higher volumes for the stadium gigs, not your band practice or smaller venues.

4. Mid-range – not treble – in my experience, is where all the sweet notes come from. Mids help to call up some great harmonic feedback. Mids also add body and fullness to one’s tone – and without all the volume.

As a suggestion, try flatlining everything out. Bass, mids, and treble each at half way. From there, tweak a little here and there, and see what works best for you.

Now let me share what works for me. First off, I play a 2×12 combo amp, that I lean against a folding, half sized guitar stand. It gives my amp a 45° angle, so the speakers are directed at my ears, instead of at my knees. This helps provide clarity of sound. I always keep my amp at 6- 8 feet away, so if I need to get harmonic feedback, I move closer, and if not, I am not affected. I only turn it up as loud as is absolutely necessary (only loud enough to get feedback from around 3-4 feet away from the speakers, but no louder). To reiterate, more volume means less control. From there, my settings are pretty much as followed (in examples 2a and 2b). I tend to use my guitar’s volume knob a lot, along with different guitar pickup variations, so there are endless tonal possibilities.

Try flatlining everything, and go from there. Ultimately, only you can know how you should sound. An amp is only the base sound. From there, the volume knob and pickups can shape tone a lot further, and it puts you in the driver’s seat. Experiment and see what you come up with. Good luck!!

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5.8 – Overview: Scale formulas

I created this chart that lists the diatonic modes we have covered so far: the 7 ionian modes, the 7 melodic minor modes, and the 7 harmonic minor modes. Scales based on the major 3rd are in blue, and minor scales are in red. Beside each scale, I also listed what specific type of scale each is (major, dominant, augmented, minor, diminished, minor/half-diminished). This should be helpful in coming up with chords and arpeggios of your own.

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