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Archive for March, 2012

Pentatonic on the circle of fifths

Pentatonic on the circle of fifths (Photo credit: Ethan Hein)

Not sure about that title – sounds like the “Pentatonics” might be a religious denomination or a sexual orientation. But they’re neither. Pentatonic scales are really useful constructions that creep into all kinds of music, from the simplest to the most complex. I’ve published a couple of music and TAB exercises – one each for major and minor – to help to guitarists get familiar with them and apply them musically.

The exercises are sequences based on G major and G minor – the cunning plan is that you practice them in all keys. (Refer to the Circle of Fifths diagram on the right – just start at any point and play in each key around the circle until you arrive back where you started.) The sequences are organised into the widely used CAGED system. There is method in this madness.

Try it!

And if you want to know more about pentatonic music generally, try this! (Alert: heavy-duty theory warning.)

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Check out this great video – a great solo acoustic arrangement of U2’s classic With Or Without You. Unfortunately I don’t know the player/arranger’s name. I’ve made a note-for-note transcription of this arrangement, which you can download here.

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Great lesson here from Stevie Snacks http://www.steviesnacks.com

“This Muddy Waters inspired rhythm can be heard on Hendrix’s Catfish Blues, and another variety on Voodoo Chile Blues. It’s very simple, using just a call and response technique to create a conversational feel. In this lesson you’ll learn the “call” lick and several “response” licks to use together.”

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I’m totally blown away by The Transatlantic Sessions, Series 5, being shown on BBC Four on Friday evenings. It’s worth the licence fee just for this!

The first session is unbelievably good – every performance makes me glad I’m alive to hear it. Here’s one that makes me melt – the wonderful Alison Krause singing Lay My Burden Down.

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Lovely article courtesy of The Blues Poodle on hearing bebop for the first time

The Blue Spoodle

Inspired by http://www.opus28.co.uk/bebopperp.pdf

While surfing the internet this morning, I stumbled upon this piece and I remembered how and why I fell in love with Bebop.

Bebop is so much more than just a small movement from the 40’s, with a meagre following of die-hard supporters. According to the article above, it is “pretty much the “grammar” of modern jazz, and bebop “licks” are not so much clichés as essential elements of speech within the jazz language”.

I got hooked into Bebop from the moment I heard it in my favourite Coffee Shop. It was Charlie Parker I believe…

The first 30 seconds or so of the track started off and to a practical jazz virgin sounded pretty generic, jazz standard. Then… the bomb dropped! The next 3 minutes would change the course of my taste in music (yet again).

I remember sitting there mesmerised by the skill of…

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This is a great song. The great guitarist Frank Evans once told me this was one of his favourites and I feel the same way. And here’s a great master at work on it. Barney Kessel is perhaps a bit less widely appreciated nowadays than he should be. He kicks off with some great chord melody playing here, followed by two stunning choruses where the rest of the trio joins in. That sweep picking really brings a smile to my face – hope it does to yours!

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It may only be March, but here’s an early taste of summer. A cracking version of Summertime with Kenny Burrell on guitar and Grover Washington, Jr. on soprano sax. Kenny sets up a great and simple dorian riff in the intro that just falls into place on guitar – one to add to my list of future transcriptions.

This is from the “One Night With Blue Note” concert/DVD (1985). Well worth checking out.

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