Allan Holdsworth, 1946-2017

This weekend saw the passing of a giant in the world of guitar. I've no business writing an obit but here's a personal favourite track; I think it encapsulates his lyrical imagination and harmonic adventurousness as well as, of course, that famous legato:

Finding your Voice and Being Contemporary

By chance I happened across three people giving somewhat related advice about learning jazz, but from very different directions.

The TL;DR here is that every musician needs to develop a way to figure things out for themselves in their own way, and that this is a creative process rather than a chore. Formal education can be useful for some specific things but spoonfeeding leads to weak forms of learning that you can't rely on and standardised syllabi produce standardised results. You need to know the tradition but it's raw material for you to form into your own voice.

Elective Affinities: 1971

Here's my account of what was going on in the album releases of 1971, including John McLaughlin, Quincy Jones, Alice Coltrane, Terry Riley, Woody Shaw, The Last Poets, and, yes, The Moving Gelatine Plates.

Elective Affinities: Introduction

We define ourselves as musicians not so much by what we play as how we develop it, and this happens in various ways. One that everyone can agree on is listening to recordings. These come to us from the past, and our relationship with records develops into a kind of personal history: not a history of when I heard a particular record, or when it was made, but a retrospective picture of how it fits into my own (past and future) development.

DIY Effects Pedals

I wanted to let it be known I'm still alive and kicking, and still playing, just not thinking about theory / vocabulary ideas at the moment so my posts here have been scarce. I feel like I have a big backlog of stuff to work on on that front and a small amount of time available to do it, so adding to the pile isn't very productive. But also, my musical activities have been slightly taken over by a new thing: building effects.

David Stern's 12-Tone Patterns

Here's one of those 10-page PDFs that will take you several lifetimes to explore, David Stern's "12-Tone Patterns". Being a Dropbox link, I recommend downloading it in case it disappears.

A New Sound from Harmonic Minor

While noodling around in the practice room today, I discovered a new (to me) application for a Harmonic Minor mode. I'm sure I'm not absolutely the first person to spot this, but I got some good sounds out of it so I thought I'd note it here, especially as I also stumbled across an exotic scale in the process.

Modulation Staging

I think the next "big thing" in effects might be modulation stacking. At first it sounds crazy to have, say, a flanger and chorus going into each other because the overall result will probably be a big, seasickness-inducing mess. But the technique offers a way to create complex effects that can be quite subtle.

Advice for Jazz Beginners

"I'm already a competent player and I want to learn jazz" is a common position for people to find themselves in, at least if online forums are any indication. Here's my compendium of advice I wish someone had given me when I was starting out.

Minor-Major 7 Arpeggios on Dominant Chords

This is a quick note on a John Stowell video, giving a summary of the idea he describes and then extending it a bit. It's pretty much the same general approach I advocate in my Arpeggio and Scale Resources. Commenters on the video express some confusion about the presentation so I thought it might be helpful to boil it down to a summary and then couldn't resist adding my own twist.