Sweet Georgia Brown

Haven’t shared much on here from the main band I play in, Swing from Paris.  Last night we had a band practice and decided to arrange this old jazz standard from the 1920s. Here is the end result:

 

The Beatles: Something

 

I saw Paul McCartney last year and loved his arrangement of ‘Something’. He played the first half solo with his ukulele and then the band kicked in for the solo. I tried to go along those lines, didn’t turn out quite as I thought it would, bit of a clash of styles, but it was fun to do! The verse has one of my favourite chord sequences.

I’ve been listening to a lot of Bill Frisell lately, particularly his recordings of Beatles songs. So I guess his influence has rubbed off.  I initially checked out a Ted Greene arrangement, but ended up working out my own thing.

Excuse the one fingered bass playing, injured my middle finger 😦

The rhythm guitar is played with a capo at fret 3. Harrison originally wrote the song in A (check out the demo version) and then put a capo on for the album version, this gives you some of the open strings that you wouldn’t have with barre chords.  Harrison apparently told McCartney to play a simple bass line……message must have not registered!

Here is a great version from the Concert for George:

B minor atmospheric backing track

 

As a bit of New Year’s resolution I decided that given all of the backing tracks I use on YouTube it was about time I gave something back and put up some of my own. My first backing track is in the key of B minor. It contains the following chords:

  • B minor
  • G maj7
  • E7/G#
  • Aadd9
  • D maj7
  • F#7
  • Asus4

I suppose it’s an intermediate backing track as you can’t use the same scale throughout. The chords to watch out for are E7 and F#7 as these both contain notes outside of the key. Check the video description for further information.

The song structure is:

  • Intro
  • Verse
  • Bridge
  • Chorus
  • Interlude (same as intro)
  • Verse
  • Bridge
  • Chorus
  • Middle
  • Bridge
  • Chorus
  • Outro (same as intro)

I also thought that rather than having a static picture or chord chart it would be nice to have some images for you to look at whilst you improvise. These are pictures from my very amateur photography. They were taken in a small fishing village in Cornwall, England.

If you wish to use this backing track for anything other than practicing soloing, please email me stroudguitar@gmail.com

Please comment below if you have any feedback on the backing track or what sort of style I should go for next.

 

 

Jimi Hendrix 73 today!

If Jimi Hendrix was still with us he would have been 73 today. I would love to have seen what musical direction he would have taken in the ’70s and even ’80s. I’m sure there would have been some great collaborations if he’d been able to shake off his management team.

To mark Jimi’s birthday here is my cover of his classic tune: ‘Little Wing’.

If you’re trying to learn the intro to this song then the first thing to do is to learn the chord structure, which is as follows:

little wing intro chord shapes

This helps you connect the individual rhythm licks together and memorise it.

Here is a transcription of the whole song that I found:

LittleWing PDF VERSION

I would suggest slowing the song down so you can hear the licks, as they are quite intricate. I learned this when I was about 15 and don’t play it note for note today, I think of the chords and then embellish them as Jimi did.

 

The Beatles The End

London 1969, Abbey Road Studios – The Beatles were putting their finishing touches on what would be their final album produced in the studio. Looking for a way to end it, they came up with a medley that culminated in a drum and guitar solo that featured all four of them as soloists.

Here is my cover version. I’ve tried to use guitars to emulate the sound of their guitars. Nobody seems to know for sure what guitars were used, just that in the studio at the time were: casinos, strats, teles and McCartney’s esquire.  I think you can hear that John is using his casino as it does sound like a P90 pick up.

Had the pleasure of seeing Paul play this earlier this year. They extend the solo live and it’s such a great jam number. Enjoy 🙂

 

Half the World Away

Having just seen the new John Lewis Xmas advert, it looks i will be teaching ‘Half the world away’ by Oasis in the lead up to the big day! People seem to get quite attached to these adverts, I think last year was ‘Real Love’ by John Lennon. Whilst the advert is recorded by a little known artist, Aurora, the original by Noel Gallagher features an acoustic guitar instead of the piano arrangement for the advert.

Here is the advert  version:

And the Oasis version:

The paradox of successful practice

‘There is one common theme..that underpins success of all kinds; the capacity to learn from our mistakes’  (Matthew Syed)

musician-923526_1920

In last weekend’s paper there was an interesting article by Matthew Syed, a former table tennis champion turned journalist on what makes people successful in whatever they do. It naturally made me think of the guitar and the art of successful practice.  Whilst practicing it can be incredibly frustrating making mistake after mistake and often it’s easier to simply move onto something you are comfortable with playing. Being able to learn from your mistakes will ultimately lead to an improvement in technique and ability, but one thing will often prevent people from doing so ; their mindset. In his article, Matthew discussed his own battle with success and society – in particular aviation and the mistakes that led to progress (after some disasters)! The point that stood out for me is the idea that the ‘paradox of success is that it is built upon failure’. This could be regarded an obvious statement, but how many of us confront this and treat failure as a necessary step to progressing on our instruments?

For a long time I don’t think I every really thought how i actually felt/thought about practicing, it was just something I did.  Perhaps that is due to when being younger, failure isn’t such a worry. Whilst teaching and through my own practice I think the following points can help you in your pursuit of the best mindset for approaching practice and maximising the potential of your mistakes:

  1. Ditch negative self talk for logical problem solving: Instead of listening to the voice that says negative things like: ‘why do I bother with this?’, ‘why can’t I do this?’, treat each mistake as an opportunity to problem solve.  Your instrument is simply providing you with some information that something needs either slowing down or revising the way you play it. Logically, analyse what you are doing eg. the right hand, the left hand fingering, is the technique required not fully developed?, are you going to quickly? do you need to look back at the music? or is it a case of poor memory of material?
  2.  Embrace your mistake; Isolate, slow down and repeat: If there is a problem passage and it can be easy to think, ‘oh it should get better the more I play it’ or ‘I can do most of it and get away with that one bar not being quite right’.  What you want to do instead is deliberately focus on your mistake, use step 1 and then slow it right down to a snail’s pace. From your problem solving, focus on the element(s) that are causing you to make a mistake. It is then a case of gradually building up the tempo, perhaps with a metronome. The gradual increase in speed is essential, if you ramp up the speed too quickly you will go back to making mistakes. Slowing down is one of the most vital strategies of a practicing musician. Ignore the final tempo of the piece, yes that is your ultimate goal, but it won’t always happen as quickly as you’d like. The isolation could be of two bars or maybe even four notes! At this point you have to consider how you will practice the material effectively.
  3. Visualise: visualisation is a technique often used by athletes, but I’ve found it to be appropriate to the world of music. This can work in two ways with mistakes. Firstly, imagine how you would feel when you can it play it perfectly, use that feeling to fuel your motivation to practice and take your mistakes for what they are; information to inform practice.  Secondly, imagine playing the section perfectly, imagine this in detail, how relaxed your right wrist is, how the notes are played effortlessly and most importantly, how it sounds. This will act as positive reinforcement.

Tackling your mistakes will help you overcome any problems you face on your instrument. However, sometimes you may have to accept that a piece is perhaps too challenging for you currently and again, treat this as information to inform what you practice. For example, a song might expose your technical deficiency in playing triplets or hammer ons. In this instance it might be better to work on those aspects in isolation before returning to the piece. Overall, analyse what you do  with an inquiring rather than negative/judgemental mindset.  Remember that any of your favourite guitarists will have made countless mistakes before, don’t ignore them, welcome them and then determine what area of your playing you need to work on. I think we all know deep down that success is built on failure, it’s just that sometimes we don’t want to face it or it is simply nicer on the ego to play something we know and can play flawlessly.

New Stroud Guitar Facebook Page

guitar-102708_640

I thought it was time to start a Facebook page for my teaching business for new students to find me and for me to share things with current students.

The page can either be found by searching for ‘stroud guitar’ or via this link. 

Hope to share a few things on there related to learning the guitar and guitar in general!

 

 

 

Should I start on electric or acoustic?

A question I often get asked by beginners is whether to start on an electric or acoustic guitar.

Whether you start on an acoustic or electric guitar will depend on a few things:

  • The sort of music you wish to play
  • Budget

In terms of whether you should start on an electric or an acoustic your first consideration should be: which one will help me play the music that I want to play? If you want to play rock and lead guitar solos then electric is the way to go. If your favourite artists use acoustics, then you will need one to replicate that sound. It used to be that people started out on an acoustic before progressing onto an electric. The guitar market is now flooded with low cost electrics, which means some people skip out learning on acoustic. The one downside of starting out on electric is you may find it harder playing acoustic later on. Below is a summary of the pros and cons of acoustics vs electrics.

steel

 

Steel strung acoustic

Pros:

  • There is an abundance of cheap models
  • No need for any other equipment eg. Amplifiers
  • Great for fingerpicking
  • Steel string acoustics have a nice and bright sound (more so than a nylon strung guitar).
  • Harder to play lead guitar on (guitar solos)
  • Strings are slightly tougher on the fingers than electric guitar strings. You therefore have to apply more pressure to sound a note than on an electric guitar
Nylon strung acoustic Pros:

  • Again, there are plenty of cheap models available
  • Strings are soft on the fingers and require less pressure than a steel strung guitar
  • Good for fingerpicking/classical
  • No need for any other equipment
Cons:

  • These guitars have quite a mellow tone, on cheaper examples this could be described as ‘dull’!
  • They have quite a wide neck radius to get your hands around
  • Changing the strings on a nylon guitar is a bit fiddly
Electric Guitar

 

 

Pros:

  • Less pressure is required to play notes, meaning it is easier than an acoustic guitar.
  • Neck radius isn’t as large , which for some people makes it easier to play
  • Work better for guitar solos than acoustic.
Cons:

  • You will need some additional equipment ( a lead, amplifier and strap)
  • Depending on what you buy, can be a bit more expensive than starting on acoustic.
  • You may find it hard to play acoustic if you start on an electric as you won’t be used to the required pressure needed to play notes.

There is a light that never goes out

marr

Here is another example of how I write songs out for students. My aim when teaching is to make you a rounded musician, so rather than write out a simplified version, I prefer to teach students to look at both the tab and the music notation. In this song you have to watch out for tied notes as the strumming isn’t always steady eight notes.

Johnny Marr’s playing had a massive influence on a generation of guitarists, and he always seeked to use interesting chord shapes and also ways to support the vocals. Anyway here is ‘There is a light will never go out’ for your learning pleasure!

PDF is below:

There is a light that never goes out Capo