Nuggets for Newbies

Discussion in 'Studio & Stage' started by rugerpc, Feb 25, 2016.

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  1. rugerpc

    rugerpc A♥ hoards guitars ♥A
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    Learn basic music theory.

    Whether you want to be a songwriter or you just want to figure out that really cool lick by a musician you like, the basic is in music theory will help A LOT.

    I'll start with the concept of "intervals".

    An interval is the difference in two pitches, usually described in 'steps".

    In Western music (as opposed to Far East music), intervals are counted in multiples of half steps, with 2 half steps making one whole step. (because: math)

    On a guitar, each fret is one half step. If your think of the open string as a starting point, fretting a string at the first fret will raise its pitch one half step. the interval between the open note and the fretted note would be one half step too.

    Fretting a string on the second fret raises its pitch two half steps, the same as one whole step. /the interval between the open string pitch and the second fret pitch is therefore one whole step, though people rarely use the word 'whole', they will just say ' one step'.

    Note that the interval between the first fret pitch and the second fret pitch is one half step.

    If you fretted a string at the fifth fret, the interval between the open pitch and the fifth fret pitch would be two and one half (2 1/2) steps.

    Intervals are important in the construction of scales, chord, melodies, harmonies and just about everything else in playing and composing.
     
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  2. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    I've got another one, and it's about improvisation:

    Create melodies.

    Licks are cool, and make for great fills. But creating a melody is a different thing.

    In the history of great guitar solos, some are done at dazzling speed, with lots of licks and fills. And we all know and love those. But the ones we love do have melodic content.

    And others aren't really very complicated playing. Instead, they're simple and melodic. One iconic example is Clapton's solo on "Sunshine of Your Love." There is a very clear and simple statement of melody on it, that then Clapton riffs on. And what was Clapton thinking when he laid down that solo?

    In interviews, he's said that he was thinking of the Old Standard, "Blue Moon" for the first part of the melody. And if you listen to the record, you can actually sing "Blue moon, I see you shining above, without a dream in my heart..." right along with the solo. It's interesting that he thought of that 1934 tune when he was playing a rock track, right?

    Here's another iconic solo. Despite the little flourishes here and there, it's a pretty simple melody. Pink Floyd/David Gilmour:



    This memorable because you can sing it. You can remember it. It ain't just a flurry of meaningless notes, it stirs the emotion. Yes, he riffs on it, and he's a very fine player, one of the best. So he wrings every last bit of possibility out of it.

    But it still stands as a very melodic solo, not a flashy contrivance.

    You don't have to be a great player to come up with a solo that really moves people. The flash and the flourishes come later. However a simple, clear musical and melodic statement is something people don't forget easily. And to me, that's something that distinguishes great music from mere finger acrobatics.

    People often say to me, "Well, I can learn songs, but I can't improvise." And my answer is, "Just start by singing a melody over the chord changes. Get that melody idea going. Then play it."

    Everyone can come up with a melody they can hum. If you have a hard time thinking of one, start by simply playing the melody of the song that the singer sings. That's often a very good place to begin the exploration of a musical idea!

    I have two friends who score films. One comes up with these astoundingly memorable tracks. The other is a phenomenal orchestrator, but his melodic content is not memorable, he spends his time on the tutti and the counterpoint. Guess who gets more work? ;)
     
    #22 LSchefman, Feb 27, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2016
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  3. mmarshburn

    mmarshburn New Member

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    Funny you say this.

    I started a very similar process years ago. I will press down at the highest fret (22 or 24) and then pick up on the strings between the pickups. Then I slide back 3-4 frets and repeat. I do this all the way down to the first feet. My logic is that stretching parts isn't just enough. I want them evenly stretched from the highest fret to the lowest. Usually, the next day, I find little tonal variation.
     
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  4. Bill SAS 513

    Bill SAS 513 Just another old guy in a T-shirt

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    Just like the Blue Moon reference above, it's neat to incorporate familiar melodies into songs...you will hear people talking about scales as a lot, usually starting with the major scale. I always use the Sound of Music reference of the song "Doe a deer, a female deer...". This song follows the major scale, and ad libs a bit, as well.
     
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  5. Bill SAS 513

    Bill SAS 513 Just another old guy in a T-shirt

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    Also, if you take music lessons, you'll hear the terms used in the Sound of Music song to describe the major scale notes...doe, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, doe...hope this helps.
     
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  6. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    Interestingly, people once thought the major scale was a relatively recent invention - late antiquity at the earliest.

    One day some enterprising archaeologist picked up an ancient Egyptian flute, and decided to play it, not just look at it as an artifact. Sure enough...12 tone scale.

    Talk about relics!
     

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