Thursday, July 12, 2012

Guitar Blog on Hiatus

I started this blog the last week of 2011 with the intention of posting one blog a month for the year 2012. I figured this would be easy as I was planning on simply posting old, but still completely valid, articles I had written but that had never been published. A friend quickly suggested I post something once a week and I acquiesced, and I'm glad I did. In the past six months I have managed to post several old essays and lessons as well as write many more from scratch. As of this posting, which I shouldn't really count but will anyway, I have written twenty-eight pieces, more than twice as many as I had originally planned.

Currently I find myself in the final stages of a guitar book project that I have been working on for quite some time. In deference to the book's needs I have decided to put this blog on hold. I love writing this blog and I am sorry to have to put it on hiatus but the book...the book is really good! And I want to devote as much of myself to it as possible. Though the blog only takes up a small amount of my time every week, I do feel those hours would be best spent, for now, working on the book.

That said look for big news on this blog in the coming months and please stay in touch. Thanks for reading.

Sincerely, Shawn Persinger



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Sunday, July 1, 2012

Django Reinhardt: Six Essential Licks by Shawn Persinger


The following chart contains six of the most common licks used by the great Gypsy Jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt.  Below the chart you will a list of recorded songs in which Django used these lines along with some of the chords he plays them over. This is a very abbreviated list, so Django aficionados should feel free to send me more references. 




One Myth Regarding Improvisation

There is a myth regarding improvisation, especially jazz improv, in the thought that the musicians are constantly making up everything they are playing. This is not true. More often than not the players are varying, transforming and rhythmically manipulating ideas that they have practiced hundreds if not thousands of times. This makes the habit of learning and practicing licks, yours own as well as those of others, a legitimate use of your time.

Where to Hear Them

1. Diminished Arpeggio
    1. Minor Swing over E7
    2. All of Me over E7
    3. Belleville solo measures 9 & 10. D diminished over D / Em A / I ii V
    4. Appel Direct: In melody: C diminished over C major chord.
    5. Swing 42: Solo measure 20: E diminished
    6. Bouncin’ Around: C diminished arpeggio over Gm6 (he does it four times, though it is possible it is intrinsic to the originally melody, which is not Django’s.).
    7. Honeysuckle Rose: Three times.
                                               i.     F# dim. (also C) over a C7 chord and second time C# over the same C7!
                                             ii.     A dim. over F9
    1. Les Yeux Noirs: C# diminished over A7, twice.
    2. If you like this diminished sound I recommend the tune “Djangology” because he utilizes this sound throughout the intro, melody and solo.

2. Major Arpeggio
    1. Dinah (twice)
    2. Old Folks (six times in the same place! In the key of F#.)
    3. Ain’t Misbehavin’
    4. Rose Room
    5. Daphne
    6. Nuages
    7. Bouncin’ Around
    8. Honeysuckle Rose
    9. Swinging with Django

  1. Minor Arpeggio: You hear this lick played by everyone from Charlie Parker to Yngwie Malmsteen!
    1. Tiger Rag
    2. Rose Room
    3. Minor Swing
    4. Nuages
    5. Swinging with Django

  1. Major 6th or simply minor with the third in the lowest note.
    1. Old Folks at Home in two different positions (five times).
    2. Djangology (D6 arpeggio over a D7 chord)
    3. Swing Guitar (A6 arpeggio over an Ab7 chord: complex melodic movement b9)
    4. Ain’t Misbehavin’ (twice: A6 arpeggio over a Bm chord)
    5. Rose Room
    6. Minor Swing
    7. Daphne (Bb6 over G6, gives a bluesy sound employing the b3)
    8. Nuages
    9. Bouncin’ Around (twice, descending and ascending)
    10. Swinging with Django

  1. Combination Major to parallel minor.
    1. Daphne
    2. Also functional in All of Me F to Fm.

  1. Chromatic Movement: This lick and dozens of variations. Influence on Les Paul to Jeff Beck. 
    1. Dinah
    2. Djangology
    3. Limehouse Blues
    4. Minor Swing
    5. Rose Room
    6. Swing 42 (with open G string)
    7. Belleville: The melody (Django’s) is chromatic.
    8. Bouncin’ Around: Chromatic octaves
    9. Honeysuckle Rose: Twice: Once, more or less, as written and, earlier, a nice, two string, variation.
  
More Django Resources

I would like to note that I am by no means a Django expert. I like...okay I love Django's music but there are many, many, many more qualified Gypsy jazz players who have devoted their entire lives to the study of Django. Below are some links I highly recommend you visit.





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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

34 Easy Ways to Make Your Guitar Solos and Improvisations More Interesting by Shawn Persinger

On first glance this list of “34 Easy Ways to Make Your Guitar Solos and Improvisations More Interesting: For All Levels, Styles and Situations” should seem obvious to many intermediate and advanced players. But a closer look will indicate that you a actually meant focus your attention on any one of these techniques/approaches for an entire solo. For example I am suggesting soloing with only one finger for two to three minutes. Then try a different finger. Then try two to three minutes of only doing slides. Or try restricting yourself to using only three different notes. It is the idea of serious limits that we want to have work within. This demands we as players do at least two things.

1. It makes us become as creative as possible. Just how many different ways can you use grace notes? How many different vibratos can you employ? Can you play an entire melody by bending only one initial note and then coaxing all the other pitches out of that one starting point?

2. It really centers our attention on one seemingly simple idea and you start to realize there is a lot more to any given technique than you thought. After two to three minutes of only performing slides you learn that there is a lot more to a slide then just moving from one fret to another. How many frets should you slide? How fast should you slide? How slow can you slide? How long can you sustain one attack, sliding from note to note to note? How often do you slide with your pinky? Etc. The possibilities of each of these techniques is limitless but only with sustained concentration.

PRACTICE ROUTINE

1.     Record short chord vamp your choice (or just try Am to D), for two to three minute.

2.     Play corresponding scale(s). Ascending and descending. Play the scale a few times with rhythmic variations. If you go with my vamp suggestion Am – D then play the G Major Scale, this will give you a Dorian sound a la Carlos Santana.

3.     Solo focusing on only one of the techniques listed below. Take a break after two to three minutes. Try it again with a different technique.

TECHNIQUES

1.     Rest!

2.     Play with a small number of notes: 3, 4, or 5.

3.     Vibrato.

4.     Staccato: Short notes and phrases

5.     Legato: Long phrases and ideas. Let notes ring.

6.     Slides (slurs)

7.     Hammer-ons & Pull-offs (slurs).

8.     Grace and ghost notes (from above and below).

9.     Call and response / Question and answer.

10.  Motives/Motif

11.  Bends.

12.  Tremolo

13.  Sequences: Intervallic, 3rds, 4ths, etc. Groups of 3, etc.

14.  Play on one string.

15.  Play with only one finger.

16.  Large interval leaps.

17.  Play only in one position: Think Miles Davis.

18.  Play in only one position but two octaves: up 12 frets.

19.  Repetition licks, ideas and phrases.

20.  Unisons.

21.  Approach from a half step below. Half step above.

22.  Octaves and triple stop octaves.

23.  Double-stops.

24.  Speed

25.  Don’t play on the “1”. Rest on it, or sustain a note through it.

26.  Chords.

27.  Changing rhythmic phrases measure to measure i.e.: From quarter notes to quarter note triplets to eighth notes to eighth note triplets, etc.

28.  Changing dynamics from measure to measure i.e.: soft to loud and as many levels as possible in between.

29.  Use only your fingers to attack the strings.

30.  Trills.

31.  Chromatic movement.

32.  Playing with a swing feel over a straight groove or vise versa.

33.  Playing poly-rhythms: Playing a 3 or 5 note phrase (steady quarter or eight notes) over a 4/4 beat or playing a 4 or 8 note phrase (steady quarter or eight notes) over a 3/4 beat.

34.  Think in shapes:
  1. Jagged lines or Flowing lines
  2. Broken lines
  3. Curving waves
  4. Circles, Squares, Triangles, etc. 

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

All the Guitar Harmonies You'll Ever Need by Shawn Persinger

So are the following six pages really all the harmonies you’ll ever need? Maybe…but not really. Anyway there are still more than most people will ever use, unless you are Leonard Bernstein or Aaron Copeland

I am presenting these harmonies, which range from easy and ordinary to complex and "outside" (the last one reminds me of the sort of thing Allan Holdsworth might play), in the context of Yankee Doodle. As silly as that sounds it is much easier to understand harmonies if you put them into practical context. Learning them by rote with scales is uninteresting and provides very little applicable knowledge.







I wish the theory behind this was self-explanatory but unless you have some knowledge of intervals and scales it is not. But we'll leave the theory for another lesson. For now just realize they are very fun to play and that is what I want you to do. Just start playing. The intervals you are playing are noted at the beginning of each example. These are all diatonic (in one key). Enjoy and I’ll see you next week. 

Note: To download the sheet music simply: 1. Click on the image, 2. Right click the image once it becomes bigger, 3. Click "Save image as..." That's it!

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Friday, June 8, 2012

The Beatles' "And Your Bird Can Sing". Harmonies Lines for One Guitar by Shawn Persinger


Last week’s “Allman Brother’s Harmonies for One Guitar” was so popular that I thought I would do another song, from a different band, with two guitar parts arranged for one.

I read that as a teenager Joe Walsh made a name for himself in his hometown by being the guy who could play The Beatles’ “And Your Bird Can Sing” intro (originally a duet played by Paul McCartney and George Harrison) on one guitar. So I thought I’d try it myself. 

 
Example 1 gives the basic note order (although not the rhythm) for guitar one of “And Your Bird Can Sing”.

Example 2 is guitar two.

Just like last week’s harmonies for The Allman’s “Jessica”, “And Your Bird Can Sing” is made up of a combination of harmonized 3rds and 4ths and there is even a minor 6th in there too.

Example 3 gives both parts arranged for one guitar.

There are several fingering options available to us as guitarists for this composite. Besides being what feels most comfortable to me, the fingering shown in Example 3 is, more or less, arbitrary. I suggest giving my arrangement a shot then you should try out a few different fingering and position options of your own. 

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Friday, June 1, 2012

Analyzing The Allman Brothers' harmonies for “Jessica”.

This week’s blog is a quick lesson on guitar harmonies using Dicky Betts' classic tune "Jessica". I've given the basic theme as arranged for two guitars and then a second arrangement for one guitar using dyads (two notes at a time) and a third arrangement utilizing triads (three notes at a time).  


Example 1 gives the basic note order (although not the rhythm) for The Allman Brothers Band song, “Jessica”.

Example 2 is the harmony guitar. This harmony is a combination of diatonic (all in one key) thirds and fourths.

Example 3 gives both parts arranged for one guitar. Lots of fun.

Example 4 shows you what the harmony part would be if it were played only in thirds.

Example 5 shows you what the harmony part would be if it were played only in fourths.

Hopefully can hear that strictly thirds or fourths is not nearly as interesting or compelling as a combination of both.

Finally, Example 6 adds the keyboard’s additional harmony note to give you the melody in triads. Harmonically speaking this is quite simple, to play it up to tempo is not so easy.

For more on playing double and triple stops I highly recommend Scotty Anderson’s DVD "Red Hot Guitar".  


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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

How to Learn New Chords and Create Your Own Chord Melodies by Shawn Persinger


When I was less experienced player and I wanted to add some new chords to my playing I would learn twelve new chords, find a use for one of them and forget the other eleven until the next time I wanted more chords. While at least I was learning one fresh harmonic idea I knew there must be a better way to memorize and incorporate additional chords into my everyday use. That’s when I came up with the idea of arranging chord melody variations to Frere Jacques. This ubiquitous nursery rhyme lends itself quite well to chord melody for several reasons.

1. It uses six of the seven notes of the major scale (and I’ll show you how to incorporate that seventh note in as well),

2. It moves in stepwise motion through the scale and

3. It is repetitive.

Note: To download the sheet music simply: 1. Click on the image, 2. Right click the image once it becomes bigger, 3. Click "Save image as..." That's it!


Example 1 shows the most basic chord melody using only triads with the root in the bass and on top. Note that the second chord in the last measure of all the examples have a substituted viidim chord for what should be the V chord, this allows us to use all seven notes in the key.

Examples 2 – 4 are three variations using nothing but diatonic 7th chords in G with various voicings (note: The chords in example 4 could also be considered GMaj7, Am7, etc. but I chose to name them with the bass note functioning as the root: Bm6 and GMaj7/B are the same chord).

In example 5 I have transposed the melody into the key of C and reharmonized the chords to start on a G7.

There are almost an infinite number of variations you can perform on these chords. Modifying one or two notes in each chord or reharmonization using all 12 keys or altering the voicings, are just a few of the options. The real purpose here is to get you putting your new chords into practical application as you learn them.


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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

D.I.Y. World Tour (Part II) by Shawn Persinger

Part II of "Global Guitar" my 2007 D.I.Y. World Tour 

Fourteen countries, in four months, with two guitars.

Guitar Player Magazine 
In addition to the "Global Guitar" lecture format I also wrote an article for the Nov. 2007 issue of Guitar Player Magazine. This link "Global Guitaring: GP" will take you to a PDF download of that piece (note: download will start automatically).

Angkor Wat: Cambodia




I am unfortunately in such a “over-the-counter” percocet drug haze from the motorbike accident (see last week’s blog for details) that I actually asked someone wearing a shirt with “Cambodia” emblazoned upon it, “Oh, how was Cambodia? We’re going there soon.”

Hao Long Bay, Vietnam

Playing on one of the Hao Long Bay boats in Vietnam, outside of Hanoi. The Princess Cruise Line of the Third World.  Hanoi is a great city for contemporary art.

Hong Kong


The glorious “Peak” overlooking Hong Kong and Kowloon. The number one tip to know about Hong Kong? The H.I., Hosteling International Hostel is located not far from here, with a similar view, for a fraction of the cost of almost every hotel in Hong Kong. Hong Kong has something like 12 of the most expensive hotels in the world but you can stay at the Jockey Club Hostel for practically nothing.  

Potala Palace: Lhasa, Tibet 



The number one travel tip in Tibet? Check the warning labels on all over-the-counter drugs. The one recommended by the local pharmacy for altitude induced headaches causes, rare, but not unheard of cases of a disease that causes your skin to FALL OFF! This drug had been banned in most of the country for three years but in Lhasa you could get eight pills for just $5! 

Mt. Everest, Tibet


We took about 100 photos in this spot and I remember someone saying, “Let’s go, there is plenty of time to take more photos later.” “Take more!” I said. Twenty minutes later the mountain was gone! Hidden behind a shroud of clouds. It did come back but I’ve heard tell of people at Everest for days without ever seeing it.

It does not get much better than a gig at Base Camp Everest.

Great Wall of China


110 degrees, 80% humidity and 100% smog. The touts lazed about but insisted I play something…I played, “Gimmie Some Money” by SpinalTap…they got the joke.  

Ulan Bator, Mongolia


A quick 10-minute stop at the Ulan Bator train station in Mongolia. I wish would could stayed longer but the Trans-Siberian railroad from Beijing to Moscow waits for no guitarist!

Red Square: Moscow, Russia


Couchsurf in Moscow! We stayed with Deric and seven other surfers. Deric is a couchsurfing legend.

Prague, The Czech Republic


The Charles Bridge in Prague. The last city on our world tour.

In Conclusion 

1. Buy a one-way ticket and 2. Don't plan anything else. 

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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Global Guitar (Have Guitar, Will Travel) by Shawn Persinger

PechaKucha


I was fortunate enough last week to be invited to present my "Global Guitar (Have Guitar, Will Travel)" talk at the New Haven PechaKucha. For those of you who don't know PechaKucha is a is a presentation methodology in which speakers present 20 slides for 20 seconds each on a topic of their choice. Thus, each presenter has just 6 minutes and 40 seconds to explain their ideas before the next one takes the stage. The format keeps presentations concise and fast-paced. It's also a lot of fun.

My PechaKucha talk was a highly condensed version of a lecture I have given at several music camps, schools and performing arts centers around the country. My "Global Guitar" presentation relays the story of my 2007 World Tour during which I traveled to 14 countries, in four months, with two guitars and gave countless performances. The talk also puts an emphasis on how you can do it too! What follows is the, first half of the, abridged version I presented at PechaKucha last week (with a few extra bits thrown in). Feel free to read this in 3 minutes and 20 seconds, just look quickly at the photos my wife took or peruse at your leisure. The second half will be published next week. 

Guitar Player Magazine 

In addition to the "Global Guitar" lecture format I also wrote an article for the Nov. 2007 issue of Guitar Player Magazine. This link "Global Guitaring: GP" will take you to a PDF download of that piece (note: download will start automatically).

Istanbul, Turkey


In 2007 my wife and I took a four-month, 14-country trip around the world. I played guitar and my wife took some pictures of me playing guitar. This talk is a little on what we did and how you can do it too, for less than $40 a day.

The first thing to do is to buy a one-way ticket to Istanbul, Turkey, or the destination of your choice (though I do advise a trip to Turkey). But it must be one-way, that way you’re stuck.

In preparation for the trip we also bought two tickets on the Trans-Siberian Railroad, (from Beijing to Moscow) and a couple of visas. That’s it.

Giza, Egypt



Once we got to Turkey we found it unusually expensive to fly from Istanbul to Egypt…so we went via hydrofoil to Cyprus and then flew to Cairo (that is a very funny, but also very long, story I cannot tell in under 20 seconds. You can find it here Molly's Travel Blog). We ended up flying all over Egypt, unusually inexpensive to do this and a major time saver.

Egypt is highly recommended if only for a photo like the one above that people constantly ask, "Is that photoshop?"

Rishikesh, India



Off to India. Here in Rishikesh where The Beatles wrote many (most) of the songs on “The White Album”…in honor of this I have grown sideburns.I advocate for sideburns...if you're in India.

By now you may have noticed I have two guitars.

Taj Mahal, Agra, India



Guitar Player Magazine mislabeled these two men as “panhandlers” but they are most definitely not! They are businessmen! They charged us $5 to take photos with this camel.

My favorite photo from the trip. Do you want to know how to save money in India? Don’t pay to see the Taj Mahal twice (I had been there in 2000), just go around back.

Kathmandu, Nepal



Not much to say about this photo, I just like the bird taking flight. 

Monkey Temple, Kathmandu, Nepal



The monkey temple is an amazing place. There are literally thousands and thousands of monkeys swarming everywhere...except for the day we were there! It was too hot for monkey gallivanting, they were sleeping in the forest. Luckily a local woman was able to call out to some monkeys and a few showed up for the photo shoot. 

This picture was taken just moment before a very large monkey jumped on my head to grab food out of my hand. I began “freaking out” as my wife puts it, yelling, “I'm going to get some monkey disease all because I wanted a stupid photo!” “Monkey very impatient for food and camera,” was the all too late warning from a local. Who knew monkeys were such divas.?

Bangkok, Thailand 


An all too brief, 36 hour, stay in Bangkok. Luckily I'd been to Thailand before. For the budget minded traveler Bangkok is the perfect destination. The city itself is inexpensive and lots of fun but it also serves as a hub to fly almost anywhere in Asia. We booked four flights using a package deal from a Thai airline, something like $180 for four flights, in three countries.

Vientiane, Laos #1



This photo has by far the longest story to it…long story short…I am unable to lift my back leg off the ground in this photo because 45 minutes earlier we had a very bad motorbike accident…which I found out just last year (four years after the accident) left me with a permanently broken collar bone.

That said, a full work up, with X-rays and painkillers from the Laos hospital only cost $8. And it wasn’t their fault the collarbone break was missed, it took an MRI to see that.

Vientiane, Laos #2



Another shot of the Buddha Park. The Buddha Park is an amazing park/garden outside of Vientiane, the capital of Laos. To read more about it on Wikipedia click the link above.

Vientiane, Laos #3

 

One last photo of me at Buddha Park trying to pretend I'm not in excruciating pain. 

One quick note on the people of Laos. They were absolutely lovely. Besides the motorbike accident we had a joyous time in Laos. A beautiful country and a wonderful holiday, within a holiday.

Next week part two of the D.I.Y. World Tour including stops in Hong Kong, Mongolia, St. Petersburg and many, many more wonderful locales.


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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Answer to Guitar Riddle No. 1 by Shawn Persinger


            And the Winner is…

So either last week’s “Guitar Riddle Contest” was either too difficult or readers/listeners simply didn’t have the time to send me their guesses. I am assuming a little of both as I had more, “I have no idea,” entries than legitimate guesses for either song or guitarist and I had fewer entries overall than Soundcloud plays: Guitar Riddle No. 1 MP3

Sadly, as a result there is no definitive winner. Two readers/listeners got the guitarist I as imitating, PinkFloyd’s David Gilmour, and two others correctly named the song, Mozart’s “Turkish Rondo”, also known as “Rondo alla Turca” and more specifically Sonata in A, K. 331, Third Movement Theme (see chart below) but not one person was able to name both song and guitarist. So perhaps I’ll try this game again in the future but make it a little easier…maybe.

The Riddle Arrangement (not Nelson)

A few notes on the guitar riddle’s arrangement and performance.

Last week I included a transcription of the riddle as played by yours truly, in the style of David Gilmour. The riddle arrangement featured Gilmour’s slightly chorused, lead Strat tone, with a touch of ambient delay. For the accompaniment I used a wash of chorused and phased chords. Both lead and rhythm attempt to mimic Gilmour's tone as heard in “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” from the record, "Wish You Were Here". The performance of the melody was featured in the key of Dm (the saddest of all keys), which is also the key Gilmour solos in during “Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)”. 

Guitar Style
Stylistically speaking the two main elements I tried to imitate in Gilmour’s playing was his highly melodic bending style, in particular his 1½ step and 2 step bends, with exaggerated vibrato and his propensity for unintentionally hitting open strings, yet not editing them out of his solos. 
 
This week’s chart contains none of the bends/frills found in the riddle chart but there are a few fast grace notes to keep a look out for. Otherwise, besides the diminished chords, this chart is pretty straight ahead, enjoy. 


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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Guitar Riddle No. 1 by Shawn Persinger


This week’s blog was a fun little experiment: a variation on Bruce Adolphe’s fabulous “Piano Puzzler” as heard on NPR. If you are unfamiliar with “Piano Puzzler” the premise is quite simple. Mr. Adolphe arranges a famous piece of music in the style of an equally famous composer and listeners get to guess the song and composer. Imagine J.S. Bach composing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" or Chopin performing "Can't Buy Me Love". Bruce’s arrangements are fantastic and I highly recommend you download the free podcast that is available on iTunes.

My “Guitar Riddle” works exactly the same way as “Piano Puzzler” except rather than performing in the style of a specific composer I (attempted) to perform in the style of a specific guitarist.

Below is the link to the Sound Cloud MP3 (download it for free or simply listen on Sound Cloud). I’ve also included the sheet music and tab so you can play along with the recording.

ENTER TO WIN

You can e-mail your guesses/answers to me at:
PresterJohnMusic@gmail.com

I will randomly select a winner and announce the song, guitarist and winner in next week’s blog. The winner will receive copies of my CDs, “The Art of Modern Primitive Guitar”, (my solo fingerstyle recording) and my latest PRESTER JOHN duo recording with mandolinist David Miller, “Rise O’ Fainthearted Girls”.

Click the link below for the Soundcloud MP3. 



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