Sunday, October 31, 2010

Must Have Albums

Here's a list of artists and must have albums. These are some of my favorites. I feel every musician should have these.  I do not think of them as having an order, so to speak. These were just from my stream of consciousness.  Of course, there are many others but you can think of this as a starting point.


Prince - Purple Rain
          - The Gold Experience
          - The Hits

Guns and Roses - Appetite for Destruction

Led Zeppelin - I
                     - II
                     - III
                     - IV
                     - Physical Graffiti
                     - Houses of the Holy

Jimi Hendrix - Smash hits
                    - Electric Ladyland
                    - Are You Experienced?

Stevie Wonder - Songs in the Key of Life

Pink Floyd - Wish you were here
                  - The Wall

John Scofield - Agogo
                     - Bump

John Coltrane - Blue Trane
                      - A Love Supreme
                      - Giant Steps

Sonny Rollins - The Bridge

Chick Corea - My Spanish Heart
                    - Now He Sings, Now He Sobs

Miles Davis - Kind of Blue

Bill Evans - Everybody Digs Bill Evans

Elvin Jones - Live at the Lighthouse


Stevie Ray Vaughan - Texas Flood

Elmore James - The Sky is Cryin'

BB King - Live at the Regal

Johnny Winter - Whoopin' (with Sonny Terry)            

ZZ Top - One Foot in the Blues


Metallica - Kill 'Em All
               - Ride the Lightning
               - Master of Puppets
               - And Justice for All...
               - Metallica (The Black Album)

Ratt - Invasion of Your Privacy

Dio - Holy Diver
      - Last in Line

Megadeth - Cryptic Writings
                - Youthanasia


Tony MacAlpine - Maximum Security

Joe Satriani - Crystal Planet
                   - Flying in a Blue Dream
                   - Engines of Creation
                   -Not of this Earth

Eric Johnson - Ah Via Musicom
                    - Tones

 Steve Vai - Passion and Warfare

Paul Gilbert - Fuzz Universe

Jeff Beck - You Had it Coming

Joe Pass interview


How often do you take the time to actually listen to music?  As a musician I highly recommend devoting a specific time of the day for just listening to music.  One of my friends even likes to listen to music in the dark, His logic is that music is an aural art and therefore he doesn't want to focus on anything else but what hes listening to.  I agree and actually got this idea from him, I do this all the time but where he and I differ is that I always am listening to music,  every chance I get, in the car, while Im doing manual labor, house cleaning, etc...

    Another friend of mine likes to lay down in the dark, put on some Coltrane and burn some incense.  I have yet to try the incense thing, but I will say Coltrane is great in the dark.  I like to just listen and let the music take me where it does.  I mainly do this with jazz albums but there are a few other genres that are good for this as well, such as world music or Indian music such as Ravi Shankar.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Satisfied (Ian Moore)

Understanding Rhythm

Rhythm is perhaps the most important of all the musical elements.  Thus it is of the utmost

importance that we understand how it works.  The pulse of music is known as the beat.  The

rate at which the beat (or pulse) happens is known as the tempo.  The most common of the

times is called 4/4.  A basic way of thinking about is just to realize that we are counting

to 4 over and over.

When one is counting, equal time must be given to beats 1-4

Beats 1, 2, 3, 4  can be thought of as our quarter notes. An easy way of remembering this is

to think about 4 quarters to a dollar, or better yet 4 beats to a measure.

there are other types of notes that we will discuss as well, such as 8th notes, 8th notes

happen on the numbers as well as the "ands".  It takes twice as many 8th notes to fill a

measure.  8th notes are counted 1 and, 2 and, 3 and, 4 and.

Sixteeth notes are counted 1 e and a, 2 e and a, 3 e and a, 4 e and a.
it takes twice as many 16th notes to fill a measure. 

In general all we are doing is dividing the time into smaller units.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Roles of the Musician

The musician in general can be thought of as having three roles. They go in the following order:

  • The Functionary

  • The Accompanist

  • The Soloist

The Functionary can be thought of as a member of a group.  Someone that has a certain assigned role within the group such as playing rhythm, bass, etc...  The functionary should think of their role as someone that compliments the group and helps keep the group together musically.

The Accompanist is someone who backs up another musician, such as a singer or some other leading instrument.  They work backing musician within a duet type setting.

The Soloist possesses the skills of the other roles as well as the ability to hold their own on their instrument by playing solo pieces.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Guitar Wizard - Little Wing Instrumental (Monte Montgomery) Jimi Hendrix

Shut up and play your guitar!

Frank Zappa once said "Shut up and play your guitar!".  Those words still have relevance today.  Personally I couldn't tell you how many times Ive seen people with high-end, top of the line equipment, that do not know how to play.  Ive had students with better gear than I have that couldn't play a D chord to save their life.  The truth of the matter is only way you are going to get any better as a musician is to practice.  Whats the point of having awesome equipment if you do not know how to play it?  Having high-end equipment will not make you play great. Your skills will not fall out of the sky.  You have to develop them.  here's a list of things that warrant the response "Shut up and play your guitar!":

1. If you know what type of capacitor is on your tone pot, then you need to shut up and play your guitar.

2. If you have four or more different types distortion pedals, and yet you dont play rock, then you need to shut up and play your guitar.

3.  If you have ever sprayed any type of string lubricant on your strings, then you need to shut up and play your guitar.

4.  If you have ever considered the BlahBlahBlah tuning system, then you need to shut up and play your guitar.

5.  If you have purchased a hand exerciser of some type or other, then you need to shut up and play your guitar.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks - Old Friend

The Cycle of Fourths

The cycle of 4ths is one the most useful tools for practicing, it has other uses as well, but for right now lets just talk about what it is.  The Cycle of 4ths is a 12 note cycle that spells out all 12 keys, all of the notes are a perfect fourth apart.

A perfect fourth refers to an interval, now dont freak out, an interval is the distance between two notes.  The smallest interval we can have in music is a half step. Music only has 12 half steps.  A perfect 4th is 5 half steps. Of course there are other types of intervals, but for now lets just concentrate on 4ths.

Lets start with C and count up 5 half steps, if you have done this correctly you should end up on F.  Now go 5 more half steps you should end up on Bb. Eventually if you keep doing this you will eventually start over.  It  is to your advantage to memorize the cycle of 4ths.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

How I Practice

I like to think of my musical knowledge as a dictionary in my head.  Ill spend time working on the following categories:  Chords, Scales, Arpeggios

Here's how I practice these.  Ill start with chords, playing through all the chord families i know such as major chords. Ill play them in the cycle of 4ths.  I like using the cycle of fourths because it uses all 12 keys. after Ive completed the cycle ill then move on to a different chord family.  After I'm finished working on chords, ill then move on to playing scales with the cycle of 4ths, then its on to arpeggios.

Of course I'm assuming that you already know the cycle of 4ths.  If you don't know it, learn it.  Its only 12 notes that repeat themselves.  For that matter music in general only has 12 notes so don't let the system intimidate you. 

I highly recommend that you memorize the cycle of 4ths,  it is one of the most useful things you will learn in music.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

How to get the most out of your practice time

Try creating a practice routine in which you concentrate on certain areas that need practice, I often tell my students to think of their playing as an old car that we are restoring, one day we might be sanding down the finish, the next day perhaps we are redoing the interior of the cab.  There will always be some aspect in which we are trying to improve.  As a musician I ask myself, what aspect of my playing needs the most work?  This is how we grow as musicians.  I divided my practice into sections that I will work on for extended amounts of time.  First thing I check my tuning.  Then I warm up, I run through a series of exercises before I play that are designed to get me ready for practicing.  Warming up before you play or practice is very important, it gives your hands a chance to prepare for the workout they are about to receive.  Even if I do not want to practice and I just want to play I still warm up.  A warm up should only last about five mins or so.  After that you should be playing stuff.  We as musicians warm up before we play just like an athlete would stretch before they run.  I have enclosed a layout of how I practice.

Also another thing to think about is when to practice, I once had one of my professors recommend that i practice my technique in the mornings and work on my improv and writing during the evenings.  His logic was that its not until later on in the day that our creativity is at its best and that our technique is best worked on while we are still trying to wake up and get going.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The 3 Elements of Music

Music in general has three elements:




No matter the style or genre, the music itself will contain one, if not all three of these elements.  I listed them in order of their importance too, in my opinion rhythm is the most important,  if we do not have rhythm then we do not have anything so to speak. Rhythm is also one of the most commonly misspelled words in the English language:)

Harmony refers to chords.  A chord is two(diad) or more notes played together.  Chord possibilities can be infinite, however with instruments such as guitar, we are  limited to six strings(notes) that can be played simultaneously.  Other instruments such as piano are able to play many more notes simultaneously.

Melody is in reference to scales.  We get our melodies(riffs/licks) from scales, Scales are a group of notes that are played in a sequence or order.  There are all kinds of different scales.

This is just a simple generalization of music


This is the beginning of my blog, a place where people can come and learn how to play guitar, banjo, slide guitar, and bass.  I will be posting lessons, in the forms of articles as well as videos.  My goals are simple, I want to share my love of learning music with others.

more to come soon......