Thursday, November 5, 2009

Begining lead guitar

Recently, a long-time rhythm specialist was looking for some tips on how to cope with playing solos. I suggested:

Just work the key signature in the correct major or minor pentatonic scale and you'll sound like a rockin' guy. Don't play minor pentatonics over major key chord progressions. Don't play the relative major over minor progressions.

To which he replied:

I already know pentatonics, guys. I just remember sitting in an audience at watching a guy noodle through pentatonics and thinking "damn, he's ruining the song"
To which I replied:

He was probably playing the wrong pentatonic scale. wink
A lot of guys focus on the minor pentatonic, because its a close relative of the blues scale. That's more or less okay for a I-IV-V blues progression, but if the chord progression is more advanced, then there's going to be problems.

For instance, an A minor pentatonic will be a disaster on an A major progression. For an A major progression, you can just drop to an F# minor pentatonic, which is more closely related to an A major scale.

As you get more into the chord progressions of the songs, you can start incorporating pentatonic scales based on the root of the relative Dorian or Mixolydian modes. For instance, a C minor progression can be approached with a D minor pentatonic or G minor pentatonic.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Technology and Technique

Had a recent “conversation” on another website with a musician who was unhappy with the vocal recordings he was making. On reflection, what he is doing is to me an indication of what I feel is “wrong” with many current uses of technology in music.

In the course of the discussion, this guy mentioned that he preferred the way his old cassette recording sounded as compared to his modern digital recordings. The facts are that his old recordings were a microphone plugged into a tape recorder. His new recordings are using a digital audio recording computer program, and he now has access to all kinds of tools (EQ, compression, reverb, etc.) that he didn’t have in the old days.

The problem seems to be that he doesn’t really know how to use these tools that he now has available. By way of using them too much, he actually damaged the sound of his music. He felt like the tools were there, he ought to use them. The fact that he didn’t understand how they worked, or what his recordings really needed, had no impact on his decisions. Is it any wonder that he didn’t like the results?

My response to this situation is that technology is just another tool, with which you must apply technique to get the best results. A new tool will not help you if you don't know how to use it.