THE­ORy gOD­MOTHER

Post your posers and teasers to: The­ory God­mother, Unit 5, Pines Way In­dus­trial Es­tate, Ivo Peters Road, Bath, BA2 3QS; or email me at info@ david­mead.net – your ev­ery wish is Fairy God­mother’s com­mand!

Guitar Techniques - - NEWS -

Fin­gers in knots or brain tor­mented by some un­fath­omable mu­si­cal co­nun­drum? Then let Dave Mead be your The­ory God­mother.

In­truder Alert! Dear The­ory God­mother

I was look­ing through a song­book the other day and I found a song in the key of G that in­cludes the chord F#7. I know that F#7 doesn’t be­long in the key of G and so I’m won­der­ing how you’d ap­proach solo­ing over this change. The rest of the song ap­pears to stick to the chords in the key of G but this odd­ball change seems to up­set my at­tempts to play over it. Any ad­vice would be greatly ap­pre­ci­ated.

Dave I’ve out­lined the changes you sent me in Ex 1 and, yes, the F#7 re­ally does im­pose it­self as a visi­tor in an oth­er­wise G ma­jor chord se­quence. Nor­mally you would solo over the Gmaj7, Am7 and Bm7 us­ing a mix­ture of scale and chord tones and if we wanted to look at the pure vo­cab­u­lary avail­able, it would take the form of G Io­nian, A Do­rian and B Phry­gian (Ex2). So for three out of the four chords, you’re on pretty safe ground if you just stick to the G ma­jor scale. As you know, the trou­ble be­gins when we hit the F#7; in Ex 3, I’ve out­lined both the chord and the G ma­jor scale it’s vis­it­ing and you can see straight away that the note F# it­self is na­tive to G ma­jor, but both the C# and A# present a prob­lem.

My sim­ple so­lu­tion is not to look at a rel­a­tive scale for the F#7; as the chord has only a fleet­ing pres­ence in the se­quence any­way, the first place to look is at the chord tones them­selves. I’ve writ­ten out an F#7 ar­peg­gio in Ex 4 and as you can see, it in­cludes the notes F#A#-C#-E. If we treat the whole se­quence as a line of arpeg­gios, we will be­gin to hear the ef­fect you want to achieve (Ex 5). It might not sound too much like a solo, but it’s ac­cu­rately out­lin­ing the chords and get­ting the point across.

The next thing to do is to get those arpeg­gios un­der your fin­gers us­ing a back­ing track so you can hear ev­ery­thing fall­ing into place. Then try some ex­per­i­ments: al­ter the rhythm, play ex­tracts from the arpeg­gios, mix in some notes from the G ma­jor scale on the G, A and B chords and if you work at it, you should be­gin com­ing up with some­thing like Ex 6. It might not be too el­e­gant, but it’s bang on cor­rect!

Name That Tun­ing Dear The­ory God­mother

Hav­ing just be­gun to ex­plore the world of acous­tic in­stru­men­tal mu­sic for my­self, I am amazed at how many play­ers seem to have moved away from stan­dard tun­ing in favour of al­ter­na­tives. Some of these I can un­der­stand, like tun­ing to a chord ob­vi­ously makes sense for cer­tain pieces and even DADGAD is fath­omable in this re­spect. But play­ers like Andy McKee, An­toine Du­four and so on seem to choose the weird­est tun­ings for their mu­sic, some of which make no sense at all. So where do the acous­tic’s wilder tun­ings orig­i­nate?

Ross Ob­vi­ously, it’s dif­fi­cult for me to get into these play­ers’ heads, but I think that you can look at the wilder tun­ings in two dif­fer­ent ways. If you’re writ­ing a tune away from the guitar, it’s easy to come up with some­thing that’s very dif­fi­cult to put onto the fret­board. Ev­ery gui­tarist knows that we are lim­ited in terms of close har­mony or some in­ter­val stretches, so of­ten the so­lu­tion is to re­tune the strings to make life eas­ier. Some­times it might be a ques­tion of drop­ping the bass strings from E and A to D and G, and the dif­fer­ence is im­mense in terms of fin­ger­ing.

On other oc­ca­sions, I think adopt­ing an un­ortho­dox tun­ing can present a chal­lenge and has the ef­fect of fresh­en­ing up your mu­si­cal per­spec­tive. With the strings re­tuned in an ab­stract way, it forces you to ex­plore the land­scape anew and this is of­ten all you need to spark a great idea.

Well Read? Dear The­ory God­mother

I know you’ve been asked this be­fore, but what are your views on a gui­tarist to­day learn­ing to read mu­sic? Is it re­ally nec­es­sary or just purely a nicety and not re­ally that vi­tal? I ask be­cause my teenage son seems to be deadly se­ri­ous about pur­su­ing a ca­reer in mu­sic and he is putting up a lot of re­sis­tance re­gard­ing learn­ing to read.

Bob Had you asked me this 20 years ago I might have replied that it can’t hurt to ac­quaint your­self with mu­sic’s writ­ten lan­guage. Even if you just master the ba­sics it can pro­vide in­for­ma­tion above and be­yond the nu­mer­i­cal se­quences of tab. These days though the sit­u­a­tion has changed. The mu­sic in­dus­try isn’t what it was and it’s of­ten the case that freshly-grad­u­ated guitar stu­dents have to teach to sub­sidise their in­come while ex­plor­ing avail­able gigs; plus many gui­tarists look to­wards work in pit or­ches­tras or other sit­u­a­tions where a good read­ing abil­ity is es­sen­tial.

Com­pe­ti­tion for work in mu­sic that will pay enough to live on is far more fierce than it was when I en­tered the pro­fes­sion many years ago. It’s very much a ques­tion of only the most welle­quipped play­ers find­ing the best jobs. So why not ex­plore the idea of your son at­tend­ing one of the many guitar schools out there? A quick Google search will re­veal them to you and all are well aware of the skills nec­es­sary to en­ter the world of pro­fes­sional guitar play­ing. Tell him he needs to read!

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