The­ory God­mother

Guitar Techniques - - Q&a -

Post your play­ing posers and tech­ni­cal teasers to: The­ory God­mother, Gui­tar Tech­niques, 30 Mon­mouth Street, Bath, BA1 2BW; or email me at info@david­mead.net - ev­ery wish is your God­mother’s com­mand!

Neck Pain Dear The­ory God­mother

I’ve heard so many meth­ods of learn­ing how to know the notes of the neck thor­oughly but with so much in­for­ma­tion out there, it’s hard to pick out which is the best for learn­ing them well. Are there any tried and tested meth­ods you know which are very ef­fec­tive in learn­ing this? And if so, what is a good way of putting this into prac­tice with the things you al­ready know on the gui­tar?

Jordan-Lee The gui­tar must be the only in­stru­ment where its play­ers ques­tion the ne­ces­sity of learn­ing where the notes are. A stu­dent once asked me if he re­ally had to know the names of the notes on the fret­board; my flab­ber­gasted re­sponse was that it would be a good idea, as he wanted to learn to play jazz! It’s vi­tal for com­mu­ni­ca­tion: if a key­board player told you he was play­ing an E flat ma­jor chord with an F in it, you’d be able to find it quickly with that in­for­ma­tion. It’s im­por­tant, too, for the lo­ca­tion of root notes for barre chords, dif­fer­ent scale vari­a­tions and many, many other things. It’s bonkers to ig­nore it!.

Write out a neck chart (don’t just copy one, as pen mem­ory is a good first step). I’m guess­ing you know the notes on the bot­tom two strings from play­ing barre chords, so the next step is to find the oc­taves on the other strings. If you know that G is the 3rd fret on your sixth string, then try to find it on the fourth and first strings, too. Your big clue is the E shape barre chord (Ex 1 - Gs are ar­rowed) as these two notes are within that well known shape. The A shape barre will fill in fur­ther gaps (Ex 2).

Af­ter that, try notes nearby - now you know the Gs, where are the Fs and As? Once you know the oc­taves, find­ing other pitches is merely a ques­tion of work­ing things out al­pha­bet­i­cally; con­stant ref­er­ence to your neck chart will speed up the process, so keep it some­where you’ll see it ev­ery day.

Jazz Dilemma Dear The­ory God­mother

I’m slowly get­ting the hang of solo­ing in a par­tic­u­lar key where you ef­fec­tively use one scale to ac­com­mo­date all the chord changes, shift­ing tar­get notes as you do so. But what hap­pens over chords with no di­a­tonic re­la­tion­ship? A few friends and I are try­ing our hands at some mod­ern jazz. One tune calls for an in­tro where the chords are two bars of Amaj7 fol­lowed by two bars of Ab­maj7 re­peated sev­eral times - and I’m meant to pro­vide some sort of melodic con­tent over the top.

As there’s no com­mon de­nom­i­na­tor in terms of rel­a­tive scale I won­der how you would ap­proach this? Com­mon ground has eluded me so far!

Mal­colm You’re right in think­ing that the two chords you men­tion have no re­la­tion­ship di­a­ton­i­cally - so why try to find one? Why not cel­e­brate the dif­fer­ences in­stead? It might sound dif­fi­cult to find a melodic so­lu­tion to your co­nun­drum, but you’d be sur­prised. In Ex 3 I’ve played some­thing that sounds fine, yet tech­ni­cally, all I’m do­ing is re­fer­ring to the A and Ab ma­jor scales at the ap­pro­pri­ate mo­ments.

Apart from this, you could play a sim­i­lar phrase in the two keys (Ex 4), or even a slight vari­a­tion (Ex 5).

Record a loop of the two chords and find some com­pat­i­ble melodic state­ments to play us­ing the re­lated ma­jor scales. It might seem like trial and er­ror at first, but that’s how we all learn and de­velop.

There are, of course, other ways to ap­proach this sit­u­a­tion, like the use of chro­matic notes or what’s known as ‘an­tic­i­pa­tion’ where you en­ter the new chord a lit­tle early and let the har­mony catch up; but if this kind of idea is new to you, then what I’ve out­lined above is a good start to make. Af­ter a lit­tle prac­tice I’m sure you’ll come up with some nice melodic state­ments.

Key Change Blues Dear The­ory God­mother

I’ve been play­ing in a band for a while and we’ve had the same singer for a cou­ple of years. But that singer has moved away and we’ve been hold­ing au­di­tions to find a speedy re­place­ment as we’ve got some gigs quite soon. Luck­ily we’ve found a fab­u­lous fe­male singer who will add a whole new di­men­sion to the sound (our pre­vi­ous singer was a guy). The trou­ble is, her vo­cal range is to­tally dif­fer­ent and she can’t sing some of the tunes in the keys we’ve been play­ing in. This isn’t a prob­lem for the key­board player since he can ini­tially use the trans­pose fa­cil­ity on his piano un­til we get the new ar­range­ments sorted. But I have to trans­pose and sub­se­quently re­learn tunes I’ve been play­ing for ages and I don’t know where to start. Trans­pos­ing is more than just shift­ing a few barre chords up or down the neck and so I won­dered if you’ve got any tips on a quick fix so I can do the gigs while I fran­ti­cally write out all the charts in their new keys and learn them.

Trev Ul­ti­mately, you’d aim to trans­pose the songs and re­learn them in their new keys. And as long as your knowl­edge of move­able chord shapes is up to scratch, it won’t take as long as you imag­ine. It’s just a lit­tle per­plex­ing that some of those big, open po­si­tion chords might no longer be avail­able; but hey ho, wel­come to mu­sic’s whacky world!

In the short term, have you thought about a capo? It’s the equiv­a­lent of your key­board player’s ‘trans­pose’ but­ton and could be en­gaged with only a bit of thought be­fore­hand. If you cur­rently play a song in C and the new key is Eb, all you’d do is place the capo at the 4th fret and use the same shapes as be­fore. This might be the quick fix you’re look­ing for (al­though there’s no shame in mak­ing it a per­ma­nent one) but it will al­low you to per­form con­fi­dently on up­com­ing gigs while you wood­shed the new ver­sions at home.

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