Archive for August, 2008

Megadeth gearing up for new album

Posted in Guitar General, Heavy Metal on August 29, 2008 by Staff Writer

Hoorah! Let’s hope that it’s every bit as awesome as United Abominations!

P.S. Lars Ulrich smells – go Dave!

http://www.musicradar.com/news/guitars/megadeth-prepare-to-start-new-album-167581 

Dave Mustaine and Megadeth are preparing to start recording a new album, so says a statement issued on the band’s website.

According to Megadeth‘s webmaster, Dave McRobb: "So…. I was talking to my beloved master [Dave Mustaine] tonight on the phone and he wanted me to let you all know that things are moving along oh so well with the brand new studio! The project is in its initial phases… large warehouse type deal… slowly converting into part deluxe recording studio… pre-production… start recording new album in fall! Reminiscent of Evolver, wouldn’t you say?!

"In fact we (yes, master Dave M and I) talked about filming aspects of the process and who knows, eh? Sure do love them ‘fly-on-the-wall’ recording DVD’s don’t we all?! (heh, no promises yet on that one but it was definitely talked about!). So ya, Dave is quite psyched about this studio and getting the band in, and everyone else involved to lay down some tracks and put out the next stellar MEGADETH album! Ahh yes, life is good."

Expect the angry new release sometime in 2009.

“…yes and there he is – Jimmy Page…”

Posted in Guitar General on August 25, 2008 by Staff Writer

So, I’m vegetating in front of my TV taking in the closing ceremony of the Olympic games, which to be honest, were pretty frickin’ awesome, when they start doing this ‘handover to London’ bit. It started out amusing enough as the ever flamboyant Boris Johnson (Lord Mayor of London) bounded on to the stage (the commentator used the word ‘flamboyant’ about 10 times) to receive the Olympic flag and wave it about while mouthing stuff inaudibly to the crowd and shaking his fist (I’m not an expert lip-reader but I’m sure he said something like ‘Give us back Hong Kong you motherf*ckers!’) then surprised me with a Ninja-like appearance of none other than a certain James Patrick Page.

This odd looking red double-decker bus drives onto the stage. ‘Cheesy’ I thought. Then a bunch of acrobats and faux-wheelchair-bound folks milled around for a while (frankly the choreography against the backdrop of Zhang Yimou’s vast extravaganza, did look just a little bit school-play-amateurish) followed by the top of the bus unfolding and then this chick appears (Leona Lewis – whoever she is  – maybe Carl Lewis’ sister?) on a platform that rises into the air and I’m sitting there thinking she’s gonna do some shit vocal-histrionic-laden Whitney Houston number when the commentator slowly says, his voice rising in excitement ‘and yes – there he is… Jimmy Page!”. 

At this point, I sat bolt upright, dropped my baby and my beer onto the floor and sat there aghast, lower jaw flapping around loosely, as he launched into a ripping version of ‘Whole Lotta Love’ for the entire world to see while the chick (now standing and showing some nicely tanned thighs) did her best Robert Plant impersonations.  Pagey did great – an awesome rendition of the classic solo, some great lip pouting, a bit of the ol’ stagger and of course sweating like a dog.

 

The firework show was shit after that. I retrieved my beer.

Taxi drivers – is there anything they don’t know?

Posted in Guitar General on August 25, 2008 by Staff Writer

Traveling to Master’s house for my lesson yesterday, I had that not-so-rare misfortune to have one of those chatty taxi drivers who won’t hesitate to pontificate on all and any subject, regardless of whether the passenger cares or not (I did not).

After an opening tirade about how the guitar should be in the trunk of the car rather than in the passenger seat (I tried to explain that the guitar was probably worth twice as much as he earned in a month without success) he then began wittering on about what he knew about guitar playing, of which he was 100% convinced (despite not being a musician himself) and which amounted to this distilled gem of mobile wisdom:

Guitarists, in order to be good, need woman hands.

Yep. According to my cabbie, any guitarist who has ever been famous, even if they were fat of body and face, always had long slender hands and fingers like those of a woman. “Look at Eric Clapton!” He exclaimed in his broken English (for those of you viewing outside Singapore, we call this ‘Singlish’ and yes, unfortunately a lot of people do talk this way), as I stared disinterestedly out of the window. “very fat fat! but you see his hands lah? He has woman’s hands. Jimi Hendrix too – you see his face? Fat, but long, long fingers like a woman. That is how to be good guitarist – must have woman hands. Got fat hands cannot play – no good – no matter how much you practice you will never be great unless got woman hands.”

So: there you have it. Look long and hard at your own fingers and search your heart – can you really be successful with those short fat sausage fingers? Give up now.

Now to search Google Image search for some pictures of Fat Clapton and Fat Hendrix – I’m sure I saw them somewhere…

Lesson 16: Solo time! (fail)

Posted in chord changes, Guitar Playing, Jazz Guitar on August 25, 2008 by Staff Writer

This week, things were a bit different. We spent some time doing some practical application, starting with a ‘bandstand-ready’ intro to How High The Moon followed by me playing the head through a couple of times, only really flubbing up the second time round.

It was at this point that I discovered how poorly I knew *anything* when Master suddenly shouted out ‘SOLO!"’. It started well enough – I simply quoted the first phrase of the melody, then correctly played something G Dorian-like over the Gmin7, followed by a colossal failure to remember the next chord, key, melody or anything.

I stopped. Master carried on.  I tried to pick up again and play part of the melody where I though he was in the song. Fail. I tried to soldier on from the second time round – picking up the main melody for a bit and trying to play around that, but forgot it when it got to the EbMajor7 part.   Master stopped mercifully.

“Erm. I kind of got lost.” I stammered.

“Eh, yeah – let’s start to break it down a bit…” He did, however, commend me on one successful strategy – that was trying to stick to the melody. He explained that a ‘right’ thing to do was always to have the melody going on in the back of my mind as a framework to fall back on and to be a jumping off point to doing stuff more exploratory.

We then started to work slowly from Gmaj7 to a Gmin7, staying in second position (Master was quite insistent that I didn’t try to wander all over the neck). He played rhythm thus :  Gmaj7| Gmaj7 | Gmin7 | Gmin7   to give me bit of breathing space. I was to focus on making my phrases continuous, i.e. when the chord changed, play across the bar line and try to target either chord tones or key differentiating notes, i.e. the Minor 3rd (Bb) on the Gmin and the Major 3rd (B) when getting back to Gmaj7.   Apparently I started to get quite good at this after about 5 minutes.

He then explained that I should try to take a simpler approach to the song, concentrating on the important changes (I had been trying too hard to follow every single chord – a surefire route to failure for the beginner) and should instead think about moving from G major to F major to Eb major to G minor (Bb) steadily instead of going G Gmin C7 Fminor Bb etc. which is too much for the brain to handle at the outset. He also explained that I should take a patten oriented and positional approach, rather than try to play the whole neck at once (guilty).  I practiced this for a while at home and started to get better at it.

Jesus TFC, is Steve Vai’s Passion and Warfare really coming up to 20 years old?

Posted in Guitar General, Shred Guitar on August 19, 2008 by Staff Writer

Wow. I scared myself thinking about this when I dusted off this platter for a quick spin at the weekend – Vai’s Passion and Warfare (which unofficially jostles with Yngwie J. Malmsteen’s Rising Force album for ‘Best Shred Album Ever’ )was released in 1990! Scary because it shows a) how old I am and how long I’ve been playing and b) how it’s looking increasingly unlikely that I’ll be living the Rock Guitar God lifestyle anytime soon being a hamfisted musical cretin, who, unlike the statuesque and hawk-featured Vai, suffers gross physical deformities (including dwarfism) which preclude appearances in public places such as on stages of the rock stadia around the world.

19-fucking-90! 18 years ago! (yes – I bought it the day it was released).  That muthafucker has stuff all over it that to this day nobody else can play. I’ve had the tab book of it for at least the last 10 years and I can probably play about 3 notes from the entire album (the first 3 notes of the backing of For The Love Of God if you must know – the 3 slowest notes on the album).

Just goes to show what a super guitar stud Vai is/was. Ignoring his quasi-spiritual silliness for a while and the fact that he ‘dreamt’ the concept of album while high from tantric orgasms (see here for how he approached his music-making back then [and perhaps still does]) one can’t deny that this is one of the highest of high water marks ever committed to tape, that hasn’t been bettered since for sure. Technical? Check. Musical? Check. Melodic and harmonically sophisticated? Check. Jawdroppingly fast? Check? Experimentally groundbreaking? Check. <Insert other superlatives here>

If you don’t have, it, what the hell are you waiting for?

Passion and Warfare

http://www.amazon.com/Passion-Warfare-Steve-Vai/dp/B000002BWP

Surprise Yngwie encounter…

Posted in Shred Guitar on August 19, 2008 by Staff Writer

Very very interesting how the eclectic tastes of people can surprise one. I had taken Master to be  a dyed-in-the-wool jazz and blues purist (remember he is an aged stonehead from Mississippi) but it turns out that he’s also a dedicated student of the Classical repertoire (beats the shit out of my Yamaha Grade 6 capability) and also harbors some secret love for none other than the Swedish Metal Shredmeister himself, Mr INGWEEE JAY MALHHHMMSTEEENNN!!! Oh yeah!

While he was surfing through his iTunes collection to try to find a version of HHTM to playback to me,  I noticed that he also had Yngwie’s “I’ll See The Light Tonight” track nestling in there. I called him out on this and immediately launched into the main riff followed by a bit of the interlude/solo. Yep. I could tell he was impressed by the plinky little shred sounds coming from my unplugged flatwound stringed Pat Metheny semi…

Not.

Anyway, with this little crack in his armour exposed, I now plan to expose him to the entire Yngwie back catalogue and totally convert him to metal shredder. This is my new mission.

Lesson 15: How High The Moon. Is scat singing related to scat munching?

Posted in chord changes, Jazz Guitar on August 19, 2008 by Staff Writer

I was embarrassed to have to report that I hadn’t been practicing very much since our last lesson due to having spent too much time working on my Top Secret Project.  Master, however, had recently been involved in a motorcycle accident that caused a serious fracture below his knee and was sufficiently immobilized to be unable to beat me too severely.

Instead, we did a recap of How High The Moon which I’d been struggling with getting the chords down properly to. Anyway, here they are in their most basic incarnation:

Gmaj7 | Gmaj7 | Gmin7| C7 |

Fmaj7 | Fmaj7  | Fmin7 | Bb7 |

Ebmaj7 | Ebmaj7| Amin7 | D7 |

Gmin7 | Gmaj7 | Bmin7b5 Bb7 Amin7 | Gmaj7

<fix me>

He showed me a number of ways to play it and I will do some cack-handed out-of-time recordings of it this weekend to throw up here. At the moment I can only play it very straight and am just trying to get the chords down cold. The next step for me will be to futz around with different chord voicings, get a walking baseline established and then try to start playing solo over some of the recorded changes.

What I like about this tune is the fact that it modulates, i.e. changes keys. As much as I love Autumn Leaves, in its basic form, it’s still all in one key. HHTM moves from G to F to Eb and in-between which I find very interesting – you can see ii V I movements in each of those keys occurring throughout so this is a great song as a Jazz study.