Practiced playing a swung 16th note phrase with a different feel than what I was used to. I started off at 40 bpm and played up to 115 bpm with the goal of playing the phrase comfortably at 100 bpm. The bold font indicates the notes I originally accented:
a | 1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a rest
… and here are where the accents were placed with the new feel:
Chord voicings in 4ths always sound so hip. I was working through various inversions of minor 6 chords played in 4ths along the neck, using all 6 strings initially and then breaking the shapes down into 2, 3, 4 and 5 note chords. For example, in C minor (dorian) starting from the lowest string, the voicings can be spelled out as follows:
- 5, R, 4, b7, b3, 6
- 6, 9, 5, R, 4, b7
- b7, b3, 6, 9, 5, R
- R, 4, b7, b3, 6, 9
- 9, 5, R, 4, b7, b3
- b3, 6, 9, 5, R, 4
Then, I combined 2 shapes into a scale and practised playing the notes as fast as possible ascending and descending. Taking the first 2 formulas above as an example, the new collection of notes becomes:
- 5, 6, R, 9, 4, 5, b7, R, b3, 4, 6, b7
It sounds pretty cool! A refreshing alternative to pentatonic runs. :)
I recently downloaded 6 lessons from NY based guitar guru Wayne Krantz (available from the link above). He discusses scales, chords, rhythm, rhythmic imagination, phrasing and a 4 fret approach to practising. The lessons, which are about 45 minute long audio clips of Krantz playing and talking, are a really great addition to his book, “An Improviser’s OS”. They are full of insightful gems of information! It’s amazing how a simple change in perspective can significantly alter one’s playing. Inspired by Krantz, I’m going to explore a more rhythmic approach to improvising and writing… :)
I love the way the altered scale (R-b9-#9-3-b5-#5-b7) sounds, although it’s always been a challenge for me to incorporate it into my playing in a seamless and interesting way. I followed Krantz’s orders (see the Improviser’s OS below), shedding the scale along the fingerboard through what he describes as the “twelve zones”. With the metronome set to 80 bpm, I practised playing the scale in quarters, eighths, triplets and sixteenths to get it under my fingers, before freestyling for a while. Then I worked through all 12 keys. The freestying part of this exercise through all of the zones could easily be a lifelong study promoting creativity and personal expression.
I think the Ted Talk below ignited a creative spark. And it’s Spring. :) I’ve been writing, charting and jamming through several new compositions lately…
When I wrote my first album, Suites, I consciously incorporated chord progressions, tempos and grooves that I enjoy and feel comfortable playing. The music I’m writing now is a lot more challenging for me. I’m writing songs that I need to learn how to solo over!
Here’s one in particular. It’s an adaptation of the chord progression I put together a few weeks back (see Hour 3), with a melody. I don’t have a title for it yet. Imagine it with a hip hop drum groove.
I’ve been using the looper on my TC Electronic FlashBack Delay pedal to record one or two chords at a time. From there, I’ve been jamming over top, trying to create fluid phrases, with a strong sense of time. I recently read an article by Wayne Krantz about the effect of caring about time - very insightful.
I’ve been delving into the melodic minor scale since this song incorporates an Eb7#11 chord (aka lydian dominant, or the fourth mode of the melodic minor scale). New revelations are brewing…
“TonePrint gives you instant access to tones that are custom-tweaked by your own guitar heroes!”—
My mind is blown. I just “beamed” signature guitar sounds from world renowned players to my TC Electronic Shaker Vibrato pedal using my iPhone. Technology is amazing. Check out the free TonePrint app and the TC Electronic website for more info!
Thanks to the kind folks at TC Electronic, I was introduced to a number of new pedals while I was at the NAMM show in Anaheim, California earlier this year: the Shaker Vibrato, FlashBack Delay, Hall of Fame Reverb, Vortex Flanger, Mojo Overdrive and PolyTune Mini. They’re totally rad. Toneprint is taking things to a whole new level.
This opens the door to hours of fun. So many pedals, so many sounds… so little time!
I went to the Tranzac the other night to see my friend Trevor Giancola play with his trio, plus a vibraphonist. He was running two amps at once and when he hit the delay pedal, it sounded amazing. I usually play a Traynor Bass Master from 1972 through a Dark Horse cabinet. I also have a Marshall 4 10” cab (for bigger venues) and a Dark Horse head (for small clubs). I was inspired to set up a stereo rig. I plugged the DH15H into the Marshall, grabbed some old cables and got to work. I didn’t realize how easy it would be! I just connected all of my stereo pedals together through the second jack, then into the second amp rig, and voila! - stereo sound. If you have two amps, you’ve got to give this a try! I think I’ll play through my new rig this weekend with the Electric Band. :)
I was feeling pretty bluesy this weekend, so I cranked Albert King’s Live Wire/Blues Power album, turned up my amp and jammed away. I think this is one of the greatest live blues records ever. As I was listening to this album, I had two epiphanies: 1) when it comes to bending, Albert King is the real deal and 2) it’s really cool to hear how much of an influence he had on Stevie Ray Vaughan’s playing. Check out the link above to preview the music.
I become nocturnal on tour. It’s 3:34 in the morning. I just wrapped up today’s practice session. It went by pretty fast! I made up a few 1 - 2 bar rhythms and jammed them out during the first hour. I find this is a good way to play new lines: if you limit yourself to a specific rhythm and try to make it sound good in the context of an improvised solo, unfamiliar phrases start to pop up.
I was inspired to do some writing. You’d think being in a hotel room in a medieval citadel in Transylvania might inspire a spooky composition, but instead, I put together these chord changes (to be played with a jazz ballad feel):
Bb9#11 I Ebmaj7 I Dmin7 I Eb6 I F6 I Abmaj7#11 I Gmin9 I Gmin9 I
The melody still needs to be refined. I’m going for a vibe with a similar spirit to Beatrice by Sam Rivers (played famously by Joe Henderson) and Infant Eyes by Wayne Shorter. These are two of my favourite jazz ballads. Both of these songs have very colourful, moody, beautiful chord changes.
And last but not least, I played through a jazz-blues in the key of F trying to incorporate the whole tone scale a lot: over the F7 going to the Bb7 and implying a C whole tone leading back to F. I think the whole tone scale sounds rad… and it’s a symmetrical scale, so it’s pretty easy to learn on guitar!
Welcome to my blog, Electric Love 300; a personal practice journal. I will be documenting details about what I’m working on, musical thoughts, revelations, ideas, things to check out, sources of inspiration, etc. This is where the guitar geek in me will really come out. I decided to start this blog for a number of reasons:
As a personal journal to keep track of what I’m practicing, that I can refer to, to inspire new musical ideas.
As a session musician, I’ve found that it’s easy for me to slip into a routine of working almost exclusively on other artists’ material, for upcoming gigs or recording sessions. I think it’s so important to balance this with personal practice time because of the creative freedom it allows. Maintaining this blog will help me stay on top of things, and as a result, will help me to further develop a personal sound.
The music nerd in me hopes that this blog will inspire more artists to keep a similar journal. If any of my favourite musicians blogged about what they’re working on, on a daily basis, I would be so hooked!
To talk about music with other players, gear heads and music fans. To challenge, inspire and excite. :) Please feel free to submit comments and join the conversation!
Over the years, my practice routine has greatly evolved. Sometimes I worked on one musical concept for months. Other times, I worked on a whole bunch of things, just a little each day. My approach for 2012 is to wood shed whatever appeals to me on any given day and to have fun.