Archive for Heavy Metal

Some qualification here…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on November 23, 2007 by Staff Writer

Although I’m a Jazz beginner, I’m not a beginning guitarist or musician. I’ve been playing for 21 years mostly rock and metal type stuff. I’ve even had about 18 months of Classical lessons so I can read music on a beginning/intermediate basis. In case you were wondering “hey – he said he just started taking lessons and is a beginner, but he’s blogging about playing outside lines, seems reasonably technically accomplished and seems to know quite a bit of theory” then that’s probably why.

I’ve picked up a whole bunch of knowledge and even some Jazz insights from books and magazines over the past few years from my own research and interest in improvisation and harmony so this isn’t an absolute cold start. Instead, think of my sojourn into being a student as getting disciplined and learning the ropes properly prior to going off and breaking all the rules.


Jazz is not dead, it just smells funny…*

Posted in jazz, Jazz Guitar with tags , , , on November 20, 2007 by Staff Writer


Well, I finally caved in and did it – I got desperate and got a Jazz guitar teacher. Books and magazines are great up until a point but they can’t take you where a grizzly 50-year-old gig-hardened Mississippian (go check the spelling and see) veteran can in terms of imparting experience, anecdotes, knowledge and spontaneous licks.

The problematic part is this – I don’t actually like Jazz – at least, for the most part the stuff I’ve heard (and trust me, I’ve been in plenty of elevators) doesn’t really stimulate me as much as say a wild ‘n’ heavy thrash metal riff from Megadeth or a wailing distorted Yngwie Malmsteen solo, or a fusionesque and tortuously twisted Allan Holdsworth lead might. No – my musical interest and motivation is in IMPROVISATION, i.e. spontaneously making up some music on the spot without any premeditation and the Jazz realm is where this happens in its most refined and evolved form I suppose.

So, having already said that I don’t like Jazz let me qualify that by saying that generally, those Swing and Bebop tunes don’t really appeal to me though I do appreciate the harmonic sophistication and the musicianship that comprises a lot of it – I want to learn these techniques and apply them in a way that doesn’t sound quite so happy and jolly as a lot of Jazz does (of course I’m deliberately showing my ignorance here – no offence intended :)). Maybe I’ll dive into this in future to avoid too many flames on a new blog – (wishful thinking that there are even any readers out there…). Commentators may feel free to suggest Jazz which is non-happy and non-jolly sounding.

In browsing various magazines I happened across this (highly paraphrased) quote from Pat Martino: “sooner or later the guitarist is confronted with having to learn how to play over changes” – so that’s where I am now. A player for 20 years in various rock and metal styles, the time has come when I’m faced with a chord chart that shows more than just a static E minor chord vamp, but instead has a G7#5b9, B7+-\G, Em7, F+, C13#4b2sus3 and I am scratching my head saying ‘huh? How the heck do I play over this without looking like an idiot?’ – albeit an idiot with a fuckin’ bitchin’ looking pointy-headstocked metal guitar.

Part of the effort of this blog will be to document ‘before and after’ scenarios so I’ll be posting examples of my playing as I progress through my journey with my new guitar teacher and hopefully will be able to demonstrate some kind of improvement. I’ll also try to lay down some of what I was shown so if you’re so inclined you can copy some of it too.

Are you sitting comfortably? Then let’s begin.

*attributed to the late great Frank Zappa – another totally bitchin’ guitarist and a unique improvisor.