Category: Special Topics

Crafting Beautiful Sounding Chords Made Easy (Perfect for Songwriters)

Easy Tips for Creating Unique Sounding Chords on Guitar

Today, we’ve got a cool trick to share with you that can help you add a touch of magic to your guitar chords. It’s all about creating clusters of notes that sound elegant and unique, like what you might hear from a piano or harp. This technique is perfect for songwriters looking to spice up their compositions.

1. The Cluster Trick

Ever wondered how to make your guitar chords sound extra special? Well, the secret is in something called “clusters.” These are groups of notes that, when played together, create a beautiful, slightly dissonant sound that’s incredibly appealing.

2. Finding the Magic Dissonance

The magic happens when you combine open strings (G, D, or E) with fretted notes that are just a little higher or lower. This creates a lovely clash of notes that can make your music stand out.

3. Picking the Right Notes

Start by picking an open string (G, D, or E). Then, find a fretted note on a nearby string that creates that cool clash. For instance, if you choose the open G string, try fretting a note one or two frets away on the D string. Experiment with different combos to find your favorite sound.

4. Putting It into Practice

Let’s try it out. Say you want a unique chord progression. Use the open A string and pair it with the 12th fret of the A string, making it clash with the open G string. On the D string, fret the 10th fret to create a harmonious clash with the open B string. This combination can be a great starting point for a catchy melody or chord progression.

5. Get Creative!

The best part? You can adapt this technique to suit your style. Keep it simple or go all out with complex harmonies. The possibilities are endless. Explore, experiment, and let your creativity run wild!

In Conclusion

Creating cool-sounding chords with clusters might seem a bit tricky at first, but it’s worth it. This technique can help your music stand out and capture your audience’s attention. Whether you’re new to guitar or an experienced player, give it a shot, and let your music shine with the magic of clustered chords.

Why I Don’t Use Guitar Tabs (What I Do Instead)

If you’re a guitarist, you’ve likely encountered guitar tabs (tablature) at some point in your musical journey. Tabs are a popular way to notate music for the guitar, providing players with a visual representation of where to place their fingers on the fretboard. While tabs can be a helpful tool, there’s a growing movement among experienced musicians who argue that relying solely on tabs can hinder your musical growth. In this post, we’ll explore why some guitarists choose to steer clear of tabs and what they do instead to enhance their skills.

The Limitation of Tabs
Tabs have their place, especially for beginners and hobbyists looking to play their favorite songs quickly. However, tabs come with some significant limitations that can impede a musician’s development. Here are some key reasons why some guitarists, like the speaker in the original transcript, opt not to use tabs extensively:

  1. Tabs Connect Your Eyes to Your Fingers
    Tabs can create a visual dependency, linking what you see on the page directly to where you place your fingers on the fretboard. Music, however, is primarily an auditory art form. It requires you to develop your ability to hear and reproduce sounds, whether you’re playing a melody you’ve heard in your head or replicating a recording.
  2. Traditional Notation for Universal Communication
    Unlike traditional notation, which can be understood by musicians of various instruments, tabs are specific to the guitar. Traditional notation serves as a universal language for communicating music. It allows different musicians to collaborate seamlessly and interpret a piece accurately, making it a valuable skill to have.
  3. Lack of Rhythmic Notation
    Many tablatures found online lack rhythmic notation. Without rhythmic information, it’s challenging to grasp the timing and rhythm of a piece accurately. This limitation can lead to musical interpretations that miss the mark.

What Guitarists Do Instead
If not tabs, then what should guitarists do to improve their skills and deepen their musical understanding? Here are some alternative approaches that seasoned musicians often recommend:

  1. Transcribing Music from Recordings
    One effective way to develop your ear and enhance your musical skills is by transcribing music from recordings. This process involves listening to a piece of music and figuring out how to play it on your instrument by ear. It’s a skill that may seem daunting at first, but with practice, you’ll improve your ability to hear and replicate melodies, chord progressions, and solos.
  2. Transposing Tunes
    Transposing music involves taking a piece of music written in one key and playing it in another. This exercise helps you become more familiar with the fretboard and different chord positions. It’s an excellent way to expand your understanding of music theory and chord progressions while also improving your improvisation skills.
  3. Visual Learning from Videos
    When you can’t rely solely on your ears, watching videos of live performances or instructional guitar lessons can be beneficial. Visual cues can help you understand how a guitarist approaches a piece, where they place their fingers, and how they create specific sounds. While this approach is still somewhat visual, it provides valuable insights into technique and style.

The Role of Technology
Technology has made these alternative approaches more accessible than ever before. Musicians can use tools like music speed changers, loopers, and pitch-adjustment software to aid in transcribing music from recordings. These resources make the learning process more manageable and enjoyable.

The Journey to Musical Mastery
Ultimately, the decision to use or avoid guitar tabs depends on your goals as a guitarist. If you’re a beginner or a casual player, tabs can help you get started quickly. However, if you aspire to become a proficient and versatile musician, it’s worth considering the limitations of tabs and exploring alternative learning methods.

Learning to play the guitar is a journey that involves developing not only your technical skills but also your musical intuition. Embracing methods like transcribing, transposing, and learning from visual cues can lead to a deeper and more fulfilling musical experience. So, why not take the plunge and discover the joys of making music by ear and intuition?

Remember, music is not just about playing the right notes; it’s about expressing yourself and connecting with your instrument on a profound level. As you embark on your musical journey, don’t be afraid to explore new horizons and find your unique voice as a guitarist. Tabs may have their place, but there’s a vast world of musical possibilities waiting for those who dare to step beyond them.

In this blog post, we’ve explored why some guitarists choose not to rely on tabs and the alternative methods they use to enhance their musical skills. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced musician, the key takeaway is that developing your musical ear and intuition can lead to a deeper and more fulfilling musical experience. So, consider incorporating these alternative approaches into your practice routine and see where your musical journey takes you.

How Professionals Learn Songs Quickly: A Guide

Have you ever wondered at how professional musicians effortlessly pick up and perform songs in a flash? There’s more to their skill than meets the eye. In this article, we’ll explore the techniques that proficient musicians employ to learn songs quickly and effectively. Whether you’re a seasoned musician or just starting out, these insights can help you improve your song-learning abilities.

1. Ear Training and Musical Knowledge

Learning songs quickly is a blend of several essential elements, including ear training, instrumental proficiency, and a solid understanding of music theory. When we talk about learning songs swiftly, we’re referring to a scenario where you’re given a piece to play, perhaps in styles like pop, jazz, funk, rock, or metal. Let’s delve into the strategies used by pros to tackle this challenge.

2. Recognizing Chord Qualities by Ear

One of the key skills professional musicians possess is the ability to identify chord qualities purely by ear. While many people can differentiate between major and minor chords, experts can discern more complex distinctions. They can recognize a minor seventh chord from a major seventh, or a dominant chord from a major chord. This skill is honed through experience and helps musicians quickly identify chord progressions and harmonic nuances.

3. Embracing Functional Harmony

Functional Harmony is a critical concept in this process. It involves abstracting chords within a key to understand their functions. For instance, instead of just recognizing a C and F chord, professionals would identify them as the “one” and “four” chords in the key. This knowledge aids in transposing songs to different keys, a common practice due to varying vocal ranges and instrument transpositions.

4. Analyzing Song Structure

Upon receiving a new song, the first step for a seasoned musician is to analyze its structure. This step includes identifying sections like the intro, verses, choruses, bridge, and potential solos. Most songs follow standard structures or loops. Being attentive to variations in the form is key to understanding how the song evolves and staying prepared for any surprises.

5. Learning Melodies and Chords

Professionals often learn both the guitar part and the chords of a song. If time permits, they delve into chord progressions, ensuring they understand the song’s harmonic framework. This approach not only equips them to play the primary guitar part but also allows them to switch to chords if the situation demands it.

6. Focusing on Unique Elements

Rather than memorizing every repeated section, experts concentrate on what makes a section unique. By identifying transitions and variations, they can navigate the song seamlessly without getting bogged down in redundant passages.

7. Internalizing Sounds (tone, effects) and Rhythms

Beyond just notes, professionals also internalize sounds (tone, effects) and rhythms. Achieving the right tone and rhythm is critical for live performances. Musicians practice with metronomes, drum machines, or by playing alongside other musicians to refine their timing.

In conclusion, learning songs quickly is a holistic skill that combines ear training, functional harmony, music theory, and instrumental proficiency. Professionals rely on their ability to recognize chord qualities, understand functional harmony, and analyze song structures. Their focus on unique elements and internalizing sounds further contributes to their agility in learning and performing songs.

So, whether you’re an aspiring musician or looking to enhance your song-learning abilities, these insights can guide you on your journey to becoming a more versatile and adept musician. Remember, practice and dedication will help you build these skills over time, allowing you to tackle a wide range of musical challenges with confidence.

Yamaha A3M: Old is gold! Is the Revamped Version a Worthy Successor?

Hey everyone, today I want to share my experience comparing two incredible acoustic guitars from Yamaha’s A3M series. Having owned the old version for over a decade, it has been my loyal workhorse, perfect for gigs and long hours of play. But curiosity got the better of me, and I couldn’t resist trying out the revamped version to see if it could live up to its predecessor’s glory.

Let’s start with the old version. What drew me to it initially was its alluring vintage look, reminiscent of classic guitars. What set it apart was the thin electric guitar neck, which made playing for hours a breeze, especially during those jam-packed gig days. The preamp setup was a winner for me, boasting three types of microphones and a tuner. This combination resulted in a realistic and rich sound that truly stood out among other acoustic guitars.

The revamped version, on the other hand, featured a slightly different design both internally and externally. The bracing changes gave it a fatter sound, which was appealing in its own way. However, there were some trade-offs. The tuner was missing, and the preamp turned out to be noisier, with a peculiar honky resonance that was hard to ignore. Visually, the revamp went for a more modern look, akin to guitars from brands like Taylor.

Both guitars come with padded gig bags, making them ideal companions for musicians on the go. They are both affordably priced, being manufactured in China, but there is also a pricier Japanese version available.

As a musician, my focus has always been on live performances, although I do some recording too. For those who prioritize recording, the revamped version might be the better choice due to its improved acoustics. But for live players like me, who rely on plugging straight into the PA or front-of-house system, the old version truly shines.

Ultimately, choosing between the two depends on your musical preferences and needs. The old version, with its vintage charm and reliable preamp setup, works like a charm for live gigs and performances. And as it has been around for quite a while, you might even find it at a more budget-friendly price nowadays.

On the other hand, the revamped version has its appeal with the fatter sound and sleek design. If recording is your primary focus, it might be worth giving it a shot.

To sum up, both guitars have their merits, and it’s challenging to declare one as outright better than the other. They each cater to different musical requirements, so the choice ultimately falls upon the type of musician you are. I hope my experience with these Yamaha A3M guitars helps you in making an informed decision.

Unleashing the Power of Pentatonic: Creative Approaches and Versatility

Today, I want to take a moment to explore the timeless and indispensable concept of pentatonic scales. As guitarists, we all begin our musical journey with the Old Faithful pentatonic shape. It’s the go-to scale for rock and the starting point for improvisation. However, there’s another pentatonic shape that I believe is equally essential, and it offers even more creative possibilities.

Now, let’s introduce the “1-3-1-3 Slide” pentatonic shape. This unique pattern consists of five notes played on two strings and then repeated one octave higher on the lower and higher strings. Starting from the flat seven of a minor scale, the pattern goes 1-3-1-3, and you’ll quickly recognize this iconic sound from guitar legends like Eric Clapton. This shape, with its sliding motion, brings a bluesy and expressive quality to your playing.

You’ll notice that this shape offers a lot of freedom for rhythmic variations, making it ideal for blues and funk-inspired playing. For different tonalities, you can easily switch to major by moving three frets down from the root, playing the major pentatonic shape. It has a bright and soulful vibe, perfect for infusing a Clapton-esque sound into your guitar solos.

Next, let’s explore how we can alter the pentatonic scale by changing some of the notes, creating new and exciting variations. For example, the “Jog” pentatonic involves replacing the minor third with the major third. This modification results in a more ’60s-jazz-inspired sound. Here’s how it sounds in action:

This variation opens up a world of musical possibilities, and you can confidently apply it in different contexts to add a fresh touch to your solos.

Another intriguing alteration is the “Flat 7 to Flat 6” pentatonic, where you lower the flat seven to the flat six, providing a funky and soulful flavor. This shape pairs well with dominant chords, like E7 or minor 13 chords, and creates a funky Prince-like atmosphere. Let’s hear it in action:

The “Flat 7 to Flat 6” pentatonic offers rhythmic flexibility and is perfect for those looking to infuse funk and blues into their playing.

By experimenting with these various pentatonic shapes and incorporating them into your playing, you’ll notice a significant expansion in your musical expression. Remember, the beauty of pentatonic scales lies in their simplicity and versatility, allowing you to effortlessly move between different styles and tonalities.

So, take some time to explore these creative approaches, and don’t be afraid to mix and match them in your solos. As you progress on your guitar journey, you’ll find yourself confidently navigating these captivating pentatonic shapes and creating your own unique musical voice.

For more in-depth lessons and personalized guidance, feel free to reach out to me. Until then, keep practicing, keep exploring, and let your guitar sing with the power of pentatonic! Don’t forget to subscribe and share this video with your fellow guitarists. Happy playing, and take care!