Last week I had lunch with a classmate who was a close friend during my growing up years. I was reminded of how much an inspiration he was to me after I first heard him play at elementary school. And reminiscing about our journey as kids trying to learn how to play guitar, I remembered how excited I was to figure out a top 40 hit or a riff from some player I really liked. As a raw beginner, it was so challenging to try and understand how the song went, not to mention the difficulty of figuring out the chord voicing and whether or not a capo was being used, or if the guitar was de-tuned, or even something more foreign to my fledgling ears. [Read more…]
Diminished chords traditionally take the 7th position in a major key. Their spelling is generally 1-b3-b5, read as 1 flatted-3 flatted-5 for a half diminished chord, or 1-b3-b5-bb7 (double flatted 7 or a sixth note actually) for a full diminished chord or seventh diminished chord.
Diminished chords pull strongly toward the major chord which is a half-step higher. Interestingly, the intervals between the successive notes are all minor thirds, which makes their spelling symmetrical and quite easy to define and use in a number of situations. Because of this symmetry, each diminished chord can have 4 different letter names, since each note in the diminished chord spelling can be used to name the chord. [Read more…]
Over the years I’ve tried every kind of pick; super thin to ultra thick, slippery to rough, thumb picks, picks with holes, frisbees, bread ties, and cut-out credit cards. Why do I care? Well, at home, it really doesn’t matter what kind of pick I use, but when I play in front of people, my picking is often very demonstrative (just another way of saying “I play really hard”). I tend to throw picks; they literally ‘fly’ out of my hand at times. So, I utilize a pick holder on my mic stand, so I can grab another pick quickly. If a pick is not available, I’ll strum with my finger nail. That works basically until it hurts. I’m also comfortable playing without a pick, but don’t generally do that ‘live’. [Read more…]
I learned at a relatively young age to play music in front of people; sometimes to the hoots and hollers of family members in our living room and then for the police officers who were just responding to the ‘disturbing the peace calls’ on our garage band. This gave me a slight bit of confidence, I must say.
I also learned to perform in front of peers, band competition judges, High School concerts, bar crowds, and church groups.
There is a particular dynamic at work when you play in front of people who are there to listen to you. Their attention is focused on you; they hear every nuance in whatever you play, sing or recite. By every nuance, I mean every screw up… every mistake. [Read more…]
As a kid, learning new things to play on the guitar centered around my love of certain kinds of music. Back then we had the radio and phonograph players, so I was building my record collection and appreciation of music around what I heard on the radio; mostly Top 40 hits. That was my motivation at large. [Read more…]