Archives for category: Technique

So I only had about 90 minutes of solid practice before my students got to the shop and demanded Def Leppard, help with new guitars received from Santa, Led Zeppelin, and a bunch of other stuff.

I didn’t make the time for Harmonic Minor, which means I will start with that one today.

I ran my patterns for the major scales and then let iTunes randomly select a tune to play over.

That’s dangerous, because as a teacher, I have a lot of music that one would not want to expose oneself to.

Yes, that means Taylor Swift has some of my money.

I played on:

John Mayer’s Edge of Desire (it’s okay… and like him or not, at least he is talented) which gave me a waltz feel at around 130 BPM in A Major

Pigmy Love Circus’s Bone Orchard (HELL YES iTunes random decision maker!) and stuck to the intro which gave me a tune in 4 at around 104 BPM in A Lydian Dominant.
Supremely convenient, because I really need to work on integrating melodic minor into my daily playing.
That would happen more or less automatically if I played more jazz, but for practical purposes right now, I want to focus on what I can gig right now (rock, pop, blues, etc) as you don’t want to pay me to hear jazz.

I chose the songs randomly, and then imported them into “Transcribe!”
(seventh string software… if you don’t have this program, get it. ¬†Insanely useful)

I looped sections with no vocals and went to town.

I forgot to mention, I’m doing all of my practice standing, from now on, because apart from acoustic gigs, you just don’t often have a sitting gig.
It’s also obviously easier to take something you can do standing up and do it sitting down, on the instrument.

Finally, I’m trying to adjust my picking wrist angle a little bit.
I need to keep everything comfortable and efficient and really analyze things, so I don’t cause any sort of RSI issues.

This wouldn’t be an issue if I hadn’t let technique slide for so long.

Anyway, noticeable improvement on everything in just one session.
It appears I didn’t let things get too far gone.

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Let’s be honest here.

I haven’t been practicing technique specifically in a few years.
I’ve fallen out of love with certain types of guitar playing… that is to say, I don’t feel like there is a whole lot of interesting new territory to cover with a few of the guitar styles that I’ve spent a long time playing and listening to.
I buy a new guitar geek album, and generally what I will love most are the tones and the melodies.
I rarely have it in me to be impressed by the technical achievement anymore, as a listener.

This is a personal judgement, not something I’m putting on the players I hear or play with.
If I’m honest, musically, then I can’t invest too much time and energy into making sounds that I don’t care about.
I have to assume that an honest listener will have his or her own tastes, but is well within his or her right to not care about it either.

So I’d rather share sounds that I believe in, because it’s better to start with one person sharing a passion than to simply share “a thing I’m good at” and expect a passionate response.

The funny thing is, in order to push forward into the next phase of “making sounds that I give a damn about,” I am going to have to go back to practicing some of the things I don’t care about, as they are very efficient at developing technique and fluidity.

I came to this conclusion about 12 hours ago.

Last night I faced a few problems in my playing that were sort of new to me.

There was some pain from playing things that I’ve not played in a long time.
I wasn’t as coordinated, and didn’t deliver some of the sounds that I was aiming for.

This pissed me off.

I am not having that.
I’m certainly not going to let fall away the things that I worked so hard to achieve.

So day one, minute one, one of fixing this problem will be the moment I publish this post.

The first thing I will be doing is hitting some basic scales as a workout/warmup.

  • Major, Melodic Minor, Harmonic Minor – Position patterns and 3 note per string patterns
  • Sequences (generated on the fly) through any and all of these
  • Triads, and 5 note arpeggios through each of these (for some reason I enjoy the sound of triads, don’t care for 4 note arpeggios, and love them once again once there are extensions)

I will come back and detail specifics once the practice has concluded.

By the way… I am not using a metronome anymore, unless I’m working on time concepts (swing, dragging, pushing, non-metric playing etc)
I think a metronome is a hugely useful tool, especially while building chops.

I also think that it can become unmusical, and lead to lifeless playing if you’re not careful… but that’s not the reason I’m passing on the metronome.

The real reason is that I need to be applying anything I do, from this point forward in practice, to actual music.

So I will use “Transcribe!” to run loops of songs to play over, and I will let the song dictate the tempo.
In turn, I will play every note value that I can play at that tempo.
If it’s a slow tune, I’ll be everything from whole notes to 32nd notes.
If it’s a fast tune, I may not break 8th notes.

I will let the speed of the playing occur naturally.

And I will ALWAYS LISTEN as I play.
I will NEVER allow the notes I know dictate the notes that I play.
The sounds that I WANT will dictate the notes that I play.