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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The End.
See you next week. 
For more on Shawn Persinger is Prester John please visit: 

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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The End.
See you next week. 
For more on Shawn Persinger is Prester John please visit: 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

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


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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The End.

See you next week. 
For more on Shawn Persinger is Prester John please visit: 

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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The End.

See you next week. 
For more on Shawn Persinger is Prester John please visit: