Do you Know that Scale?

I see a lot of bogus advice on the internet about learning scales and (shudder) modes. Some of it's just plain wrong: amateurs who've got a confused idea about something and seen fit to post a "lesson" to communicate their misunderstandings to others. But some of it isn't exactly wrong but it's still massively unhelpful, because it removes theory from practice.

Chord Scales from the Maj Add b13

In my last post I talked about some ideas for using Add 11 chords, and this time I thought it'd be fun to attack another under-appreciated added note: the flat 13.

Exploring Add 11 Chords

Adding the natural 11 to a major triad is considered rather outré in the jazz world; usually a #11 is expected and 11 is considered an "avoid note". On the basis that one player's bum note is another's hip new sound, that makes these chords worth a look.

Harmonizing Scales in Fourths

We hear a lot about quartal voicings these days but apart from the diatonic ones there's very little information about them out there, so here's a bit about how to pull these harmonies out of scales and some ideas about learning and applying the results.

Voicings for Semitone Clusters

I've been experimenting with some 12-tone rows again recently and found I had to keep pausing to find voicings for stacks of semitones. The guitar isn't really designed for playing such things in close voicing, so you have to make some decisions about octave displacement just to make the things playable. I thought it might be useful to have some of these collected together, so here goes.

Building Vocabulary with Seventh Arpeggios

I revisited a past post on building vocabulary from scratch today and decided to extend it a bit. Here's what I came up with.

Advice for Guitarists from Two Magicians

Here's a video of two well-known stage magicians talking about advice for younger aspiring performers. If you can translate what they say into musical terms you'll find some useful insights here.

CAGED Considered Harmful?

Back when I was first learning guitar, it seemed like everyone who wanted to sell you a snake-oil method did it by using the mysterious "CAGED System". Today, it's the other way around: all the slick salesmen have a new "system", and CAGED is "harmful", "inefficient" and "incomplete". As someone who learned with CAGED and teaches it, am I doing something wrong?

New Free eBook: Hypermodes!

A while ago (a long while ago!) I made a post introducing what I called "hypermodes" -- scales and arpeggios that don't have root notes. I've finally managed to pull the material on hypermodes together into a PDF that's free to download. I won't repeat myself here -- head over to the link and check it out!

Building maj7b5 Vocabulary from Scratch

Say you've written (or a bandmate as written) a tune that features a sustained Maj7b5 chord. What do you play over it? Probably you don't have standard vocabulary for this type of chord, and since it's unusual it's not likely you'll find many ideas by transcribing. So how could you quickly build coherent vocabulary?