Monday, December 20, 2010
I just bought your book "chord-tone soloing" and I have a question with the first chapter. You are a playing A to D which is just a I IV chord progression in A major. Why is it that you are using the minor pentatonic scale and not major scale? Would both scales work? A marriage of major and minor? Your using the C note to lead in to the A major chord. Is that just considered a passing tone? I guess this all just boils down to why does the minor pentatonic scale work over an exclusive I IV V major chord progression? Any help would be great. Thanks a lot for your time!
To your questions:
"Would both scales work?"
Yes, both major heptatonic and minor pentatonic scales would work, depending on the stylistic context.
"Your using the C note to lead in to the A major chord. Is that just considered a passing tone?"
Yes, the C notes on track 3 would be melodic passing tones in harmonic common practice. (See Piston, Harmony, 5th edition, p.116.)
"I guess this all just boils down to why does the minor pentatonic scale work over an exclusive I IV V major chord progression?"
This is a stylistic sound that is best considered outside common practice harmonic theory. Most guitarists have heard plenty of rock and blues music where minor over major happens all the time, so I start the book with it. It's a type of dissonance that people are accustomed to now but might have been strange during the "common practice" era of harmonic theory in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Minor-based notes over major harmonic progressions (interpreted into a series of dominant chords) are usually attributed to Western classical harmony blending with African influences to give birth to blues, ragtime, jazz, gospel, and similar styles.
The Chord Tone Soloing book has three parts. On page 2 it says "Part One is a very simple preview to show you where the book is going." It helps everyone---including beginners who may have never heard of a key center or don't know the difference between major and minor chords---to understand what's coming. This means you're ahead of the game a little, so that's good.
The examples in Part One just show how important it can be to choose the right note when the chords change, even when playing within a single scale. They do not teach any new information for most players. I use A minor pentatonic in 5th position because even beginning guitarists are likely to know the fingering already.
Right from the beginning we get a non-chord target tone, in Chapter Two. This shows that while we need to know where chord tones are, they will not always be our targets.
Analysis of chords and progressions comes after the foundation of scales, chords, arpeggios, and diatonic harmony. Later we go back and see how blues and rock conventions let you play minor sounds over dominant 7th chords and major triads. Starting after p. 74, non-diatonic notes of this type appear throughout the rest of the book.
It sounds like you know some theory already, but please make sure to read all the introductions and all the text in the book as you go. I tried to make it short, but sometimes people skip the words and go straight to the examples. For this book that can cause problems because we're learning concepts, not licks.
Thanks very much for the excellent questions.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
I like your book Chord-Tone Soloing,
In page 108 (track 69) at the beginning of the chorus you have a Dmi7sus chord.
How do you construct such chord?
Dmi7 has b3, but a suspended chord replaces the third. So, how do you build it?
The m7sus chord has the same notes as a dominant 7sus chord.
1 4 5 b7
For the Dm7sus chord on page 108, those notes are D G A and C. On the guitar I'd put the 4th an octave higher like this: D A C G.
The different chord name is there to provide a context for improvisation. In the progression
you would play a scale that includes the minor 3rd, F natural, not the F# that would be implied by D7sus4.
The book tells you to play C Dorian over the chord progression. That gives you D Phrygian over the Dm7sus chord. You would not want to play D Mixolydian.
Also, if you were playing rhythm guitar instead of soloing, you might want to play a riff or embellished chord figure instead of just strumming the chord as written. The m7sus chord symbol assures that your rhythm playing should not include F#, the major 3rd.
Friday, October 29, 2010
I get a lot of inquiries on how much to practice exactly which items in specific order, when to move on to a new exercise, and so on.
The main advice is that whenever a topic is new for you it needs to be practiced for at least 2 weeks in order to enter your long term memory and for you to be able to use it without stopping to figure it out again. It could be 4 weeks or 6 weeks. The test is whether you know it enough to use it easily.
That means you should review any unfamiliar material in one chapter of any book every day for 2 weeks before moving on to any other topic that has that material as a prerequisite. This way you're not figuring out two things at once. When you feel this happening it means you are advancing too quickly.
I believe this applies to any educational process, not just music.
For these two books in particular, there's no worry about pacing one to match the other, because the two books cover different areas. I always write a book to stand alone as much as possible. You can study one for 10 minutes, then the other for 10 minutes, doing that once a day for several months, and see a lot of improvement in both fretboard knowledge and rhythmic command of music.
Friday, October 22, 2010
> I have your fretboard and chord tome soloing books.
> I'm in a jazz band. Pretty much self taught, and still
> learning. Your books are terrific.
> I'd love to have some soloing ideas stemming out of the
> standard jazz progressions. Any thought to applying your
> skills to such a work?
Thanks for using my books! I'm glad you like them.
You'll find chapters 20-23 of Chord Tone Soloing contain major and minor II V I progressions to play over with linear targeting.
I have a new book out, Rhythmic Lead Guitar, which discusses motific development, long (4- and 8-bar) phrasing, and handling song forms (12, 16, 32 bars, etc.) when soloing. These are all very important concepts for jazz improv. It also has examples of solos for jazz waltz, 4/4 swing, 16th-note shuffle and other grooves on the accompanying CD.
Along with checking that out I'd suggest that you include regular transcription and analysis of your favorite solos by other players. Take time with the analyses to look for elements that you've been exposed to in your studies, so you can see how they are applied to make the solos stronger.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
> first I just wanted to thank you for the work you have put
> in your books, I am currenlty following the Chord Tone
> Soloing. I have to tell you it has help me fill the gaps and
> have a more rounded picture of music.
> Barret, I wanted to ask you if you could share more
> Practice Plans, that could help me organize the content of
> your book as i progress.
> I would appreciate if you could do that.
> Again, thanks for sharing your knwoledge.
Thanks for writing, and for using my book!
I often get asked to create a schedule telling how many minutes to practice each thing, and how many weeks to keep it on the practice list.
I could only do this if I watched your every practice session and constantly tested your ability to apply what you've learned. A private instructor can help, but you should learn to take responsibility for your own development and your retention of material. I am not copping out; it really has to be your job.
When you find you are using elements of an exercise in your own soloing vocabulary, that means you know that exercise well enough to retire it from your practice schedule to make room for advancement. If you forget how to use it in your playing, it's time to go back and review.
To learn anything takes repetition, so your first practice schedule should include reminding yourself daily of the above parameters for moving ahead in your practice. Otherwise, you might forget what we talked about here and find yourself either repeating stuff you already know when you could be moving ahead, or setting material aside before you really have a handle on it.
If you are a beginner, you should only practice for short sessions, playing slowly and accurately so that you teach yourself good technique habits. With time you will be able to cover more material in a session, and the sessions can get a little longer. New exercises are added each week, while the old ones get covered in less time because 1) you already know them and 2) you can now play them faster.
Friday, October 1, 2010
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Even though they're about the same general topic of melodic guitar playing, Rhythmic Lead Guitar and Chord-Tone Soloing are very different. Rhythmic Lead Guitar is a top-down approach to understanding time, form, phrasing, and melodic development. The title does not refer to playing lead and rhythm at the same time. Learning the concepts in this book will help you make a coherent contribution to the song's message, not just insert a bunch of random notes or licks. It's crucial information for any style of music.
The other book, Chord-Tone Soloing, is a detail-oriented method that teaches you to feel each note as part of a line carrying momentum as it moves toward a new chord at a specific time in the future. Applying this skill makes your melodies an integral part of the band, capable of standing alone and implying the sound and movement of the chord progression. It does NOT mean that you play only chord tones in your solos.
Both topics are important but seldom covered in commercial books. They're hard to teach. Each of these books took me over a year to write. The study of form and phrasing (as in RLG) does get covered in classical composition textbooks (one reason it's a good idea to study classical). The chord-tone approach gets coverage in some jazz method books (one reason it's a good idea to study jazz!), but it applies to any style of music.
Thanks again for checking out my books, and best of luck to you in your musical pursuits.
Rhythmic Lead Guitar on Amazon
Chord-Tone Soloing on Amazon
Monday, August 16, 2010
I loved your last post on the "In Class Demonstration - Black Magic".
Since I cannot take lessons directly from you, I have to resort to your books and DVDs. I currently have:
Guitar Reading Workbook
Guitar Fretboard Workbook
Hal Leonard At a Glance Series: Scales and Modes
I am currently reading and studying the Guitar Reading Workbook and wanted to make sure that this is a good starting point for a beginner. I have been practicing for about two years now and know some notes on the fretboard and a few chords but that is about it. Besides the above 3 guitar learning aides, I have way too much material and I am at the point of frustration. I just wanted to pick your brain to make sure that I am at the right starting point for learning the guitar.
A beginner guitarist and a Fan.
Thanks very much for your kind words.
It's important to limit the things you work on, so that the guitar is always attracting you back to play it. If you do too much or organize things so that you can't see your progress, you're right, you'll become frustrated.
I recommend you continue to work on the the Guitar Reading Workbook (it's fine for someone with 2 years experience), but also put a strong focus on just learning things you'll enjoy playing within a short time, depending on your taste. For me, that might be copying some blues tunes and solos from Albert King. Crosscut Saw is a good example.
At two years, the Black Magic Woman solos might still be too hard, but you could make it a long term challenge, to go along with the other easy stuff. I do this myself. I have lots of easy songs to keep me seeing instant progress, and then one or two harder ones to kick my can.
Lots of other songs/licks/concepts might grab your attention, but resist the urge to wander over and work on them. Stick with one project for a few weeks at a time. Getting in a band with players near your level is one way to make that happen; you'll decide on a list of songs and by necessity only practice those until you're ready to play a party or club.
Friday, August 13, 2010
Friday, July 30, 2010
> I'm currently working through your chord tone soloing book.
> Thank you for this by the way, I'd been introduced to the
> CAGED system from a previous teacher, but ended up leaving
> him, and had been looking for a source that systematically
> took you through learning the guitar based on this method.
> So in that regard it's great, all the information I've been
> looking for in a well-organized, and surprisingly thin book.
> There's just one thing missing though, fingerings! I'm
> having difficulty with the arpeggios, for instance, for
> pattern 2 do I really need to play the notes on strings 4,3,
> and 2 with my pinky? That's how I've been doing it, but it
> seems really awkward. I have other questions, but that's
> really the most pressing one. As per your book, I've been
> making my practices more regimented, and I think it's
> helping. There's still a lot I wonder about whether I should
> be doing or not, but I feel like this a good start.
There's no universal agreement among teachers about the best way to approach fingering. A final decision might be based on: if it sounds good (that's my main one), does not throw your hand into an awkward position for later notes, does not tire you, and does not form bad habits that cause these bad things to happen later.
Here's one way I practice fingering a Pattern-2 major 7th arpeggio. There are many other ways that work well for different reasons. This is a good one because it forces you to plan a little ahead.
FH 2 1 3 2 3 4 1 4 1 4 3 2 4 1 2 1 2 1 2
FH = fretting hand
We don't want an unnecessary string jump where an open string might ring out, or to get forced into an awkward move with the pinky finger. In the third note of the fingering you can see how I'm planning ahead by using the ring finger. The general idea is that we don't run out of fingers while we still have notes to play.
We want to play the fourth note with the middle finger, so that the next one can use the ring finger, saving the pinky for the sixth note, which is on the same fret as the one before. That is a situation that requires special care. I avoid using the same finger twice in a row unless it is for a specific sound.
These decisions may seem impossible to accomplish on the fly as you solo, but the idea is that you train your reflexes to do things while practicing so that they are automatic later.
Here is an excerpt from my upcoming book on technique and interval studies (still in the draft stage) which helps with the fingering challenge you mentioned: multiple single notes on the same fret but different strings.
The Fretting Hand
As a general rule, use one finger per fret. (Some scale patterns cover more than four frets and will require a position shift.) Use the pinky or 4th finger just as much as the others. It may feel weak at first, and there will be situations like string bends where you may substitute the 3rd finger for it later. But now you should make the commitment to use it.
You should push the string onto the fret with the minimum pressure required to get a clean note with no buzz. Any more than that will waste energy, slow you down, and also possibly cause the note to go out of tune. Try steadily picking a string, and gently touch the fretting finger to it, right behind the fretwire, slowly increasing the pressure until the note sounds clearly. You may be surprised at how little force is required, as long as your thumb is centered behind the neck.
The First Challenge
There will be many times when you will follow a note with another one on the same fret but a different string. This can be hard to play cleanly. If you just lift the same fingertip up and put it down on another string, there will be a gap between the notes during the time your finger is in transit, and the still-vibrating string will sound its open note during that time.
There are two ways to deal with this situation, and I recommend practicing both. The first can be summed up by saying, "avoid using the same finger twice in a row." Think about it. Assume you have two notes on the 5th fret, on adjacent strings. Play the low note with the index finger and the higher one with the middle finger. This order is preferred over the opposite, which can tilt your hand into a slightly awkward position (though in rare cases it will be necessary).
The same notes might need to be played with fingers 2 and 3, or fingers 3 and 4, depending on what came before and what's coming next.
The above classical-based technique helps maintain proper fretting-hand posture, with the fingers curled over the fretboard, ready to attack notes with efficiency and speed. It gives you clean, solid-sounding tones. Applying it to the interval studies will teach your reflexes to plan ahead for proper execution of notes that are coming up.
Now let's consider the other method of switching from string to string on the same fret: finger-rolling. Play the lower note with the fingertip, and then roll the finger over by unflexing the last joint, to play the higher note with the pad of the finger. The tip should roll off and damp the lower note so that only the higher one is now heard.
When rolling the notes in the opposite order, you have to plan ahead by fretting the higher-sounding note with the finger pad, so that the lower note will be played by the tip when you flex the joint. (Flexing is when you curl the finger more, the opposite of extending.) The two notes should not ring together as a chord unless that is specifically what you want.
At first finger-rolling may be difficult, and you might end up moving your entire hand to get the finger to fret the next string while damping the previous one. Work on minimizing that rocking hand motion in this little finger-rolling exercise. It doesn't use a scale or any musical concept; it just rolls all four fingers. Press the 3rd finger on top of the 4th finger if it won't flatten by itself.
With practice, you'll learn to relax the last finger joint in a way that allows it to flow into the flattened position. When you're finished with the notes that require this technique, return your fingers to the curved posture.
Thanks for sticking with me up to here!
find out more about my books -
Rhythmic Lead Guitar: Solo Phrasing, Groove and Timing for All Styles
Guitar Reading Workbook
Chord Tone Soloing: A Guitarist's Guide to Melodic Improvisation
Guitar Fretboard Workbook
Throttle Twister: the Transcriptions
Monday, July 19, 2010
In any case, thanks so much for the great books.
I had to think about your question a bit because I don't know of other guitar books that use the workbook approach, except for some college textbooks that come with a workbook for ear training exercises. You need audio for those though, so you probably won't want to do them on the bus.
But now you know a bit about chords and diagrams and notes on the staff, you can start to create your own chord diagrams and notation of music you know or are trying to read. Do it without a book.
Take a Real Book chart for a tune like "All the Things You Are" and draw a diagram for each chord. If you've gone through both the Fretboard Workbook and Guitar Reading Workbook this will be possible, if still a bit challenging.
(The "Fretboard Logic" you mentioned is a book by another author and I'm not very familiar with it.)
When I was learning notation this next thing helped a lot. Take a piece of blank staff paper and write out nursery rhymes ("Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" etc.) or any other simple familiar tunes like "Happy Birthday" or songs you sing on religious holidays. At first you'll need to figure them out on guitar and then write them down at home, but after awhile you'll be able to just write down the notes you hear and check them for accuracy later. It's very good for connecting notes you hear in your head to the fretboard and the written notes.
Thanks for working with my books. I'm sure you'll like Chord Tone Soloing, although you're correct, it is not a workbook. You need the guitar in your hands for it. You'll also like another book about soloing I did recently, "Rhythmic Lead Guitar." It relates all those rhythms you're reading about to actual application.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
i've been playing for a while (i'm 56) - never really got it together but know enough about the fretboard and theory to make the investment and enjoy the results.
of course i am ordering your fretboard workbook.
i am also looking for a learning tool that will help me strengthen my fingers and improve speed and coordination.
as for style - i like blues, old rock, and jazz
Thanks for using my book!
To strengthen the fingers and improve speed and coordination, you should just practice scales and etudes in time with a metronome or a drum machine and track your progress on a log sheet. That's all you need. No gadgets or anything special.
For the etudes, you can use anything you like hearing yourself play. I used classical violin studies like Paganini's Moto Perpetuo and 24 Caprices, and some Bach partitas. I also played lots of Charlie Parker melodies from the Real Book, eg. Donna Lee, Au Privave, Confirmation etc.
Monday, February 8, 2010
The transcription is here:
The backing track was created by my friend Michael Sherman. He's a great piano player, among other things!
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Supercross Superheroes make mayhem in Anaheim. Soundtrack by Barrett, from the album Throttle Twister.
Monday, January 18, 2010
Just turning 50 and I figured it's time to learn how to play the electric guitar :-) I recently bought a left-handed Les Paul Studio and I'm interested in your course material, but I assume your books are written for right-handed guitarists and don't know how difficult it would be for a left-handed guitarist to use them. Any insight/suggestions? Thanks!
Yes. For a horizontal neck diagram turn the book upside down on the music stand and it will show a mirror image of your fingering position. String and fret numbers will be the same. Plant your fingers, then turn the book over and see how it relates to what you're fingering.
Right-handed guys have to do some mental work to figure out the diagrams too. For them, the diagram is always upside down and they have to mentally crane their necks over to look upside down at the fretboard.
For a vertical neck diagram, you can tilt the book onto its right side and it will again be a mirror image of your fingering. Sit in front of a mirror with the guitar to see what I mean.
The Guitar Fretboard Workbook explains all about string and fret numbers right on the first page so you start out reading standard diagrams correctly. They are shown the way they appear in 99% of other guitar books.
If you're just starting out I recommend getting the Guitar Fretboard Workbook along with a beginner's method book like the Hal Leonard Guitar Method, and a book of fun songs to learn like the Beatles Complete Chord Song Book (ISBN-10: 0634022296). Concentrate on their early songs with only a few chords in them, like Love Me Do, PS I Love You, etc.
I also highly recommend you take at least one or two lessons in person from a reputable instructor who knows a little about both classical and electric technique. They are slightly different. Tape-record everything he says about technique and follow it so you don't develop bad habits that you will have to unlearn later.
Then be patient and practice in short bursts only at first. At age 9 it took me a year to be able to play an F chord as it appears on page 47 of Hal Leonard Book 1. I was considered a quick learner.
Above all, try to make it fun. Let me know when you hit that F.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
You'll apply exact timing to bends, slides, legato articulations and grace notes to get your soloing under your complete rhythmic control. No prior music reading knowledge is required, but you will learn a bit about correct rhythmic notation as you go. Over 150 examples are tabbed and notated, and demonstrated at slow tempos on the CD.
Chapters 12-19 cover motific development; setting up audience expectations with form signaling; odd meters; creating syncopation with displacements, additive rhythms, pedal tones, polyrhythms, and metric modulation.
This Book/CD combo is now available exclusively at Barrett's amazon.com marketplace.
Monday, January 11, 2010
I've been playing guitar for 10 years now, but I am going through your Guitar Fretboard Workbook to be able to visualize the fretboard better. So far, knowing the root shapes is definitely coming in handy. However, I have come across something that doesn't quite make sense to me. When I get to the Natural Minor Scale section of the book, exercise #13 doesn't quite make sense to me. For example, #3 is E Minor Pattern 1. I understand the scale formula and I also realize that the Natural Minor corresponds to the 6th degree (aeolian) of diatonic harmony. Now, I can see how you would conclude that #3 deals with "root" shape 1, but it doesn't make sense to me that you would call it "pattern" 1. That particular scale shape seems like it corresponds with "pattern" 5 in terms of playing all the notes of the scale. Hopefully you understand what I am trying to say and can clear things up for me. I really am enjoying your book, but for some reason exercise #13 doesn't quite make sense in terms of what pattern you would call each scale. I would greatly appreciate your help. Thanks much, take care.
I think I understand what you're suggesting. You're saying it would make more sense if a scale fingering were to retain the same pattern number no matter which of its notes is used as the root.
For example you want to refer to E minor scale Pattern 1 as Pattern 5, because it is the same fingering as G major scale Pattern 5, and just remember that the roots are different.
(The relative minor concept is drilled on Exercise 14, right after where you are.)
That approach might seem easier at first, but it is harmful to musicality later. Unfortunately I may not be able to explain why it is disadvantageous until you've looked at later chapters. But I'll make a short good-faith attempt.
When you work with chords, arpeggios, intervals, and modes, you'll see that the root shape determines the pattern number in every case, and all the other notes of these things are measured in comparison to a major scale from the same root---not from a different root. Do it this way until you have these basic shapes clearly planted in your mind. The method you're proposing as your primary thought process will help you later in certain circumstances, for harmonic substition and mode location.
So, we are going to say that because it has root shape 1, the E minor scale in 4th position is a Pattern 1 minor scale, even though the Pattern 5 G major scale uses the same notes and the same fingering, and in spite of the hardship of recognizing the b3, b6, and b7 in the "new" scale.
Any note except the root can be altered against the natural-degree markers on the yardstick of the major scale. For example, you can have a scale that is the same as C major except its 7th is flatted: C Mixolydian. Its Pattern 2 fingering is at fret 2, like C major. We call it Pattern 2 of C Mixolydian (again, even though it is equivalent in fingering to F major Pattern 5).
When you play the C7 chord that goes with this scale, it'll help you understand that we don't necessarily want to be thinking about F major.
This chord does go to F major quite easily, but it could also be used in other situations that have nothing to do with F at all. Therefore we want to measure it in comparison with a major scale from its own roots: Pattern 2 in this spot on the fingerboard. The scale is C Mixolydian. Start with the 2nd finger.
This explanation may or may not make sense to you at your current position on the learning ladder. If not, I'm going to have to ask that you temporarily trust that the book's system contains the most-reduced and simplest methodology and reserve any suggested changes until after you've gotten through Chapter 21. Please contact me when you reach page 67!
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
I'm trying to keep up more posts on my blog. This week I've got a little 8-bar blues solo for you.
Here's the sound file:
And here's the transcription:
Till next time!
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