~ jamm loops :) ~

'tune on up and off Ya go ... '

A first jam in A minor with a Lydian V7 twist, just sort of a chunky rhythm guitar and a couple of suspensions to the chord tones. s

A minor
Lydian
V7
melodic suspensions

Tunings. In Essentials, we take take the term tuning a couple places. Of course we can tune our guitars and we do this various ways. There's a standard tuning that is probably the most common and then various open tunings that too are popular.

Another discussion around this term has to do with why these tunings produce the sounds they do on our fretted instruments. This theoretical discussion falls under the heading of 'building a tuned guitar.'

Musical styles / tunings. Do we tune our instruments different ways depending on musical style? In some cases we surely do. In others we don't but can sound better if we tune our guitars so that the areas of the fingerboard we use in creating our music sounds best. For while our tuning is as equal as equal can be, for individual guitars there is a wide spectrum of a particular instruments ability to play in tune. The ability to hear this is simply an aural evolutionary process we each go through as musicians.

Thus, the following discussions of tuning are split into two basic threads. Both are based on the pure theory of equal temper tuning, whose theories are included throughout many discussions. So continue reading for various ways to tune up our gits or click to the discussion of how and where the frets end up where they do.

equal temper tuning
building a tuned guitar

Intonating our instruments. So is your guitar in tune with itself ? Meaning are the strings and frets in the right pitches and locations ? There's and easy check for this and knowing our instuments degree of intonation will help us tune our strings to the pitches we need to create the musical sounds we want to make.

tuning fork
A 440

Standard tuning. While most of us nowadays use some sort of equal temper digital tuner, in the olden days cats tuned by ear, oftentimes starting off with a tuning fork pitched to the A=440 to get the 5th string just right. From there, depending on the instrument, there's a couple of common ways to tune up.

tuning fork
A 440

'E A D G B E.' From low to high strings, we simply tune up to these pitches. The most common method is probably the one where we simply find the next upper pitch on the lower string. This occurs mostly at the fifth fret. Then there is a shift to the forth fret to get the B natural for the second string. Our two outer 'E's are two octaves apart. Here are the pitches. Example 1.

octave interval
tuning fork
A 440
E
A
D
G
B
E

'E A D G B E harmonics.' A way to check things out, to see if your guitar is in tune with itselfrom low to high strings, we simply tune up to these pitches. The most common method is probably the one where we simply find the next upper pitch on the lower string. This occurs mostly at the fifth fret. Then there is a shift to the forth fret to get the B natural for the second string. Our two outer 'E's are two octaves apart. Here are the pitches. Example 1

equal temper
tuning fork
A 440

'Tunings.' In Essentials, we take take the term tuning a couple places.

equal temper
tuning fork
A 440

Combining old time magic with modern science. In the following discussion we get to combine the old school magic of natural sounds and the precision of our mathematical sciences. We git players are lucky in that we get both sets of pitches on one ax and depending on our rig, a rather portable one as well.

Numerical equivelents become natural sound. Our present day musical resource as modern guitarists is in part based on the weaving of two central DNA strands of tuning theories; the equality of the 12 pitches of the chromatic scale and the more variable pitched blue notes. We combine and use both to create all of our musical styles.

modern guitarist
equality of 12 pitches
chromatic scale
blue notes
musical styles

On a well crafted instrument, this equality of pitch enables us to uniformly recreate with good intonation all of our intervals, scales, arpeggios, our various chords and pitch clusters, from each of these 12 pitches. This tuning ability motors our entire harmonic resource and allows MIDI to happen.

intonation
intervals
scales
arpeggios
chords
harmonic resource
MIDI

For the advancing artist, this marvelous tonal dexterity has the distinctive title of 'anything from anywhere'; that all of our musical sounds can be equally created from any of the 12 equal pitches of the chromatic scale.

We also get, at any given musical moment, our beloved blue notes, whose pitch, thus tuning, are left up to the artist to find and define. We know when we're hearing these pitches tuned up nice when our hair stands up or our eyes fill with tears of compassion. This ability to 'physical tune' happens mostly in live performance when we 'rub' our blue notes up against the equal tuned ones.

anything from anywhere
chromatic scale
blue notes
equality of pitch

The modern American guitarist. Our present day musical resource as modern guitarists is in part based on the weaving of two central strands of theories. of ththe equality of the 12 pitches of the chromatic scale, as created by equal tempered tuning and of course applies to all of our musical styles. On a well crafted instrument, this equality enables us to uniformly recreate with good intonation all of our intervals, scales, arpeggios, our various chords and pitch clusters, from each of these 12 pitches. In this text, this marvelous tonal dexterity has the distinctive title of "anything from anywhere"; that all of our musical sounds can be equally created from any of the 12 pitches. And as we'll see as we progress in this study, our ability to slide our theoretical complexity indicator seamlessly through the popular musical styles is made possible by this equality of the pitches.

Building a tuned guitar

"How we physically build this silent architecture into our fretted instruments."

The modern American guitarist. Our present day musical resource as modern guitarists is in part based on the weaving of two central strands of theories. of ththe equality of the 12 pitches of the chromatic scale, as created by equal tempered tuning and of course applies to all of our musical styles. On a well crafted instrument, this equality enables us to uniformly recreate with good intonation all of our intervals, scales, arpeggios, our various chords and pitch clusters, from each of these 12 pitches. In this text, this marvelous tonal dexterity has the distinctive title of "anything from anywhere"; that all of our musical sounds can be equally created from any of the 12 pitches. And as we'll see as we progress in this study, our ability to slide our theoretical complexity indicator seamlessly through the popular musical styles is made possible by this equality of the pitches.

mmmm.mmmm

intonation

intervals

scales

arpeggios

chords

pitch clusters

 

Today we think little of changing keys, moving ideas chromatically, further extending arpeggios beyond a tonal center, we even stack tonal centers on top of one another. Advanced musicians often will spontaneously transpose written music on sight to better accommodate a melody to a person's vocal range etc. Sky's the limit. Acquiring these skills is more about shedding, not wondering if the key we're going to is in tune with the key we just left. As we evolve through our musical styles in this text and sense the gradually increasing complexity of their musical elements, knowing that the structural basis of equal temper tuning provides these artistic resources could very well provide the intellectual basis for further evolution of our musical resources and the art it creates. Is there something beyond the method of equal temper tuning and its artistic elements?

 

changing keys

extend arpeggio

polytonal

shedding

The problem to be solved. Ever wonder why the width between the frets on our guitars, and most other fretted instruments, gradually gets smaller as we ascend in pitch? As pitch is determined by frequency of vibration, it is our fret placement that properly divides up our string length, thus creating the different vibrations. What is needed for equal tempered fret spacing is a way to divide the octave into 12 equal parts or semitones (half steps) while realizing that our numerical cycles per second doubles in number from our root pitch to the octave above.

 

half steps

cycles

A(5)

 

"So if the distance from A(4) 220 Hz to A(5) 440 Hz is one octave, we're multiplying 220 Hz times two to get 440 Hz. To divide that octave into twelve equal (in pitch) increments, we need to use that number which, when multiplied by itself twelve times, equals two. And that is the twelfth root of two." (1)

 

(1)fn.

"12th root of 2"

The solutionist. We can trace the solution of this problem by taking the wayback machine some 450 years to the later Renaissance era of Florence, Italy. Here we find Vincenzo Galilei (1529-1591), father of famous astronomer Galileo. Written historical records reveal to us that Papa Galilei's main musical instrument was the lute and that he was an accomplished performer and noted composer. While movable frets were not uncommon in this era, Vincenzio preferred fixed, parallel frets which would produce a consistent intonation over the range of his instrument. Fixed, parallel frets ... seems awfully familiar doesn't it? (3)

 

wayback machine

Renaissance

V. Galilei

(3)fn.

To tune such an instrument, Mr. Galilei is credited with creating and implementing the "rule of 18", first written mention of which is in his instructional text for lute. So named for the number to divide a string length, the "rule of 18" produces the division of the octave into the 12 pitches of equal temper tuning. Galilei is credited with solving the tuning issue for the fretted instrument players of his day while his brethren keyboard players would continue to grapple with the same tuning issues for another century and a half. (4) While we can trace our guitar ancestors back to the 12 century Moors, and our modern version of the classical guitar to the early 19th century, we have used the rule of 18 to create the fret spacing to equal temper tune the pitches of any of the stringed instruments with fixed, parallel frets. (5)

 

lute text

(4)fn.

(5)fn.

Application of the rule. The rule of 18 places the first fret of a fingerboard 1/18th from the nut of the total length of the string. The second fret is located 1/18th of the remaining distance plus the distance to the first fret. We consistently measure each fret from the fixed "nut" to minimize errors. Do remember that we still have to saw a groove and hammer in the metal fret. We simply repeat this process for the number of frets we need. Today, with the better calculating and physical measuring resources, the more accurate figure of 17.817 is used for equal temper fret placement and derives from the math associated with the 12th root of 2 discussed above.

 

17.817
This factor of 17.817 is used to calculate the 12 fret locations between the two pitches of the octave. It will work for any scale length and any number of pitches (frets) we need. Here is the formula to find the location of our 1st fret and the math that creates this 17.817 fret spacing constant. We'll examine the numbers associated with a 25.5 inch scale length of string and use the solution of the 12th root of 2 as 1.0594631.

 

1) Scale length ( 25.5" ) divided by 1.0594631 = 24.0688"
2) Scale length ( 25.5" ) - 24.0688" = 1.4312", the distance from the nut to the first fret.
3) Scale length ( 25.5" ) divided by 1.4312" = 17.817", our fret spacing constant.
4) Finding the placement of the 2nd fret, we now can use the spacing constant divided into our shortened scale length. Thus; 24.0688" divided by 17.817" = 1.351", to this we add our first fret spacing of 1.4312" to get 2.2782", our second fret is located 2.782" from the nut. Cool?
5) Third fret: 25.5" - 2.782" = 22.718" / 17.817 = 1.275" + 2.782" = 4.057"
6) Fourth fret: 25.5" - 4.057" = 21.443" / 17.817 = 1.203" + 4.057" = 5.261"
7) Fifth fret: 25.5" - 5.261" = 20.239" / 17.817 = 1.135" + 5.261" = 6.397"
8) Six fret: 25.5" - 6.397" = 19.103" / 17.817 = 1.072" + 6.397" = 7.469"
9) Seventh fret: 25.5" - 7.469" = 18.031" / 17.817 = 1.012" + 7.469" = 8.481"
10) Eighth fret: 25.5" - 8.481" = 17.019" / 17.817 = 0.995" + 8.481" = 9.436"
11) Ninth fret: 25.5" - 9.436" = 16.064" / 17.817 = 0.901" + 9.436" = 10.338"
12) Tenth fret: 25.5" - 10.338" = 15.162" / 17.817 = 0.8510" + 10.338" = 11.189"
13) Eleventh fret: 25.5" - 11.189" = 14.311" / 17.817 = 0.803" + 11.189" = 11.992"

14) Twelfth fret: 25.5" - 11.992" = 13.508" / 17.817 = 0.758" + 11.992" = 12.750"

 

Each of the above calculations work with the full scale length to find the distance from the nut to each of the frets. In theory, builders measure each successive fret from the nut, as opposed from the bridge, to minimize goof ups. Having to measure the smaller distance apparently creates a greater accuracy. The octave at the 12 fret, being one half of the string length, provides a reset point of perfect clarity for the frets above #12.

 

Cool?

Maybe get your ax out and find a tape measure at some point and see what you come up with. Having never personally built and fretted a fingerboard, I honestly do not know the difficulty. For purposes here, we simply need to recreate the math for our own edification. This understanding forms the core basis of how our tuning is created and built into our instruments and creates the foundations of our music theory discussions.

 

 

That's all for this first chapter folks. By understanding how our musical system of pitches is created and tuned and how we build that structure into our guitars provides us with the foundation to discover a lifetimes worth of new music and always have a to build new ideas into our existing system. We've also laid the footings to build new systems organically from within our existing structures. We also gain a sense of what makes a good instrument and why it is worth having. So read the review and take the quiz which follows or if you're cool with the topic, then off to our next one where we begin the ascent to discover the core colors of the American sounds we love.

 

loops of pitches

Review.Our modern six string guitar has many ancestors from many cultures. Its tuning we can reasonably trace to the later Renaissance of Florence, Italy. Here we find Vincenzio Galilei, an accomplished performer and composer for the lute. We credit Mr. Galilei with what was then called the "rule of 18", which properly laid out the fret spacing on the lute to achieve an equal temperament of tuning. Successive generations of builders refined this rule as newer was of building and measuring were discovered. Standardizing classical guitar construction in the early 19th century in Spain, from that point forward our instruments have been nearly identical in how the frets are positioned and the pitches they create.

 

vocabulary terms for "building a tuned guitar"

intonation
the quality of being in tune
scales
succession of notes usually by a combination of whole steps and half steps
arpeggio
Italian for "harplike", usually a succession of notes in thirds
chord
simultaneous sounding of multiple pitches
modulation
moving from one key center to another, i.e., changing keys
polytonal
two or more key centers sounding simultaneously
shedding
slang for practicing
cycles
a loop of ordered events
12th root of 2
formula to divide the octave into 12 equal tempered pitches
Vincenzio Galilei
credited as the father of modern tuning on fretted instruments, rule of 18
17.817
factor derived from 12th root of 2 for fret placement

matching quiz

shedding
the quality of being in tune
17.817
succession of notes usually by a combination of whole steps and half steps
arpeggio
Italian for "harplike", usually a succession of notes in thirds
cycles
simultaneous sounding of multiple pitches
Vincenzio Galilei
moving from one key center to another, i.e., changing keys
12th root of 2
two or more key centers sounding simultaneously
intonation
slang for practicing
chord
a loop of ordered events
polytonal
formula to divide the octave into 12 equal tempered pitches
modulation
credited as the father of modern tuning on fretted instruments
scales
factor derived from 12th root of 2 for fret placement

 

A(5) These designations pitch come from the 88 piano keyboard. The pitch A(4) @220 Hz., is below middle C known as C4, while the pitch A(5) @ 440 Hz., corresponds to the A above middle C on the standard 88 key piano keyboard. Reblitz, Arthur A. Piano Servicing, Tuning and Rebuilding, p. 206. Vestal Press, Maryland. 1993.

(1) Mike Doolin / mike@DoolinGuitars.com / Mr. Doolin took the time to explain this essential component and word the fret placement / tuning problem so eloquently to me by e-mail.

(2) The "12th root of 2." Reblitz, Arthur A. Piano Servicing, Tuning and Rebuilding, p. 206. Vestal Press, Maryland. 1993.

(3) Isacoff, Stuart. Temperament ... The Idea That Solved Music's Greatest Riddle, p. 162-163. USA Alfred A. Knopf, New York. 2001

(4) Isacoff, Stuart. Temperament ... The Idea That Solved Music's Greatest Riddle, p. 210-212. USA Alfred A. Knopf, New York. 2001

(5) Denyer, Ralph. The Guitar Handbook, p. 42. Great Britain. Pan Books, London. 1982

“If I fail, I’ll face it,” he said. “But I can’t live with not trying.” Jonathan Bender / New York Knicks 2009

 

American melody

"Melody defines emotion"

Objective. To become stronger melodic players by (if necessary) simply overcoming the apprehension or downright fear of playing the melody of the songs we chose to play.

How? Well in our American music for guitar, so much of what we play is improvised. So in getting over our apprehension to play the melody, we need to strengthen the connection between what our hearts are telling us to play and then getting our hands to find this sweetness. Of course in completing this connection we need to go through our brains too and that's where our apprehension often lives.

Connecting our hearts and hands. We can create and strengthen this connection by playing American melodies we might already know, from way back when we were kids, then work our way up from there. For if we can quickly work out and play the melody of say "Oh Susanna" by ear, and really capture something of its joyous, rambunctious energy in a decent tempo, we're off to a good start here in solidifying our heart / mind / hands connection.

Do this enough with a varied selection of melodies and chances are our apprehension for playing the melody begins to vanish and our ability to project our emotional side onto our gits will gradually strengthen. We can charge our melodies with our art.

The idea here is if we can really get "Oh Susanna" to swing, and we can, chances are we'll be able to transfer this swing over to other melodies and groove right along. Chances are if I can't get songs such as "Oh Susanna" to swing, then I'll probably have trouble getting other melodies to swing also.

Thirty tunes by ear. Included in this section are 30 American classic melodies. They range from "Oh Susanna" and other Folk songs to the Blues and Gospel standards. All are diatonic melodies that we hopefully know from way back when. Otherwise, consider learning them here.

Play through these melodies by ear. There's a chart for each and a playback file, but play them by ear they way you know them. Find the nuance of these melodies that's in your heart and figure out how to speak it through your git.

For Jazz players. I can't be certain about the other styles, but so many of my Jazz heros were initially taught to play in the public schools of the 1930's and forward. I've a copy of a music book used in these days. You should see the list of melodies in this book. Needless to say, many are included here. If the heavies cut their teeth on these lines and went on to create some of America's finest melodies, surely the process will work for all who apply themselves.

Learning to swing. Trying to figure out where the swing is in the rhythm, in any of our American styles, is tops on the list for many of us evolving guitarists. "It's all about time." I learned to swing by simply singing favorite melodies and phrases in a swinging style. I developed this sense of style by singing along with recordings of horn players that I felt captured the magic. I then worked at transferring this inner sense swing to my git. Once I could transform a melody and make it swing in my singing, I knew I had captured the magic. I could feel it, and over time, it just organically came out in my playing.

swing

Power of the pitch. In every melody, there are just those pitches in the line that ignite the magic and bring the idea to life. So often these same pitches support the central lyrics of a song. We as theorists simply want to understand the why and how of this magic.

So depending on your current level of playing and stylistic directions, find your one melody that you totally dig, can relate too and know from way deep down in your own muse. A melody that sings within that you can vocally belt out. Sing / play it every day for a month if need be, with a metronome if available, and totally lock into its important pitches.

sing / play
metronome

Take a big picture view of your tune and figure out its theory; of its key center, what are the key pitches in the line? Root, third, fifth etc. Examine the relationships between the melody pitches and the chords supporting them. Explore by the numbers if that works for you. Learn the power of that pitch in relation to its neighbors, for you'll probably see it again and again in other similar melodies.

key center
melody / chords
by the numbers

What we gain. In strengthening this heart and hands connection we can become better improvisors, a core artistic component of creating American music. Depending on the styles we play and the depth of our committment to the music, making this connection brings great joy and fulfillment to us as players. In performance it enhances our collaborative ability not only with our bandmates but with our listeners as well. If we can recreate on our gits what our hearts and minds can imagine, then we might say we've really got "it." :)

A melodic strengthener. So anytime we can work any of the above suggestions "in time" as created by a metronome, we're probably doing ourselves a favor. For once we develop the ability to rhythmically count ourselves into metronomic musical time, we place ourselves in music's gravitational force of forward motion. Thus our whole physical and emotional mechanism for creating melodies needs to step up into this environment and a strengthening will occur.

List of tunes. The following list of tunes to facilitate this proces internalizing / swing process is alphabetical order. Each is linked to a chart and playback sound file. Once the line is under your fingers and the pitches in your head, play by them by rote. Simply sing or hum the melody and match it up with your guitar playing.

Other theoretical aspects of melody. The next menu of choices takes the reader to other potentially important considerations in regards to American melody. Simply choose a topic and explore.

Additional ideas about American melody. If you're curious, do continue reading for more general ideas about American melody.

Overview. Perhaps more than any other of our musical components, American melody has best captured the spirit and history its people. And I'd imagine this holds true for all cultures that create and preserve their melodies by either written or oral tradition. In our American music, we can go back in the written literature easily to 1850's, the days of Steven Foster, perhaps even further back through letters to various spiritual organizations of our founders, and get a sense of early Americana Gospel melody song.

Moving forward in historical time we eventually bump into the Ragtime and Blues of the early 1900's, which together hold the musical seeds for the future evolution of American melody. With the emergence of recording and radio broadcast, and the solo voice in musical arrangements, we get the essential palette for the composing and performance of American melodies of the 20th century.

20th century America

Elements of melody. From the Ragtime we gain the essential diatonic, relative major / minor group of pitches and nearly all of the harmony these pitches might create over a 4/4 time and eighth note subdivisions. From the Blues we get the blue notes and the 12 bar form that becomes so historically essential just down the road as tempos accelerate towards the Bebop of the 1940's. This 12 bar form also becomes the original core form of the Rock and Roll of the 50's.

major / minor pairing
blue notes
12 bar blues form

A third component becomes the marching band music that was a big part of American life in earlier days and in many communities continues to be an important musical tradition. From these larger ensembles we gain the basic rhythmic four beat, walking pulse of American wonderlust, which evolves to become the heartbeat of our basslines. By the turn of the last century all of these elements are in place for the meteoric evolution of American melodic line that transpired during the first half of the 20th century.

walking bass lines
blue notes
composers

The theory component. In the musical examples of this melody section, what we'll see to a certain extent is the gradual addition of pitches as we move between our core American styles. Starting with our five note pentatonic groupings in Folk music, we next add the Blue notes as we stylistically move to the Blues and Blues influence in Rock and Country. In our Pop music and surely in Jazz, all of our 12 equal tempered pitches, and the ones in between, are all in play.

groups of pitches
blue notes
equal tempered

America's cultural "melting pot." Perhaps the greatest influence on American melody is the diversity of cultures of its people. We all love music; to make it, listen to, motor up the dancers, and back in the day, for every conceivable social event which people undertook. That in theory America is equally inclusive helped in creating the diversity of its melodies. And perhaps due to this equality we get the best of both worlds. That any cultural style can influence another while purely ethnic traditions can also be maintained.

melting pot

American Native Indian melody. Our Native American Indian melodies tend to fall theoretically at the core of our music theory and its pitches. We can find the five pitch pentatonic grouping in the traditional music when performed today. This ties our Native American peoples into our global musical DNA if you will.

global musical DNA

We can find these same pitches throughout the world of indigenous peoples. Mostly in a minor key and monophonic, supported by drumming, our indigenous American sounds are unmistakeable in character and resound with an earthy natural depth all their own.

Melody defines emotion. While all of our cultures have the same basic human needs, oftentimes their individual way of expression is unique. That the melody of a song is so often the part that defines the emotional statement, no surprise that we'll find cultural nuance in so many of the melody lines we dig. Couple this cultural mix with the American diatonic pitch core, the Blue notes and a basic four beat walking rhythm and the recipe for Amercian musical magic appears.

Melody is what we copyright. In that melody defines and captures our artistic and emotional statement, no surprise that the melody and lyrics of a song is what we most often copyright, making it our own intellectual property. In American popular music we often have what we call the hook, that catchy phrase of words that sticks in folk's heads, giving us something to hum along as we go on down the road.

Something unique, catchy or beautiful. At college years ago, our Jazz professor Dr. Miller would often say that well crafted songs and their melodies always have something that makes them special. We oftentimes call these songs standards. Our task as learners was to find this uniqueness and bring it forth in our interpretation of the song. Furthermore, a song's particular coolness was also a component that we might extract, examine and then shed, for use in the performance of other songs.

standards
shed

This component of course could be a lot of different things. A nice melody or hook, an interesting interval leap or melodic sequence, a unique chord / melody pitch relationship, an infectious rhythm, a unique twist on a basic musical form. By doing this we each can begin to create our own bag of licks and tricks.

leap
melodic sequence

Students that I can get to commit a bit of shedding time to this process will gradually improvise more melodically and phrase conversationally in their soloing. I think the strongest benefit of working through this power of the pitches is in regards to our ability to interpret the melodic lines of the songs we perform. I'm pretty sure it has to do with developing a strength of what I term melodic confidence.

melodic confidence

Learning songs and melodies. As guitar players we have a lot of options as to what to play, and oftentimes the melody is not one of them. We can strum chords and sing the line, backup other instruments who play the melody, just hang in the rhythm section and be a part of the rhythm motor. And wait for our turn to solo :)

copyright
hook

But when we think of the guitarists that we each most admire, and of course stylistically we must be careful here, but so often the top players are strong melody players. Their guitar sound/voice and how they interpret the melody is the magic we dig. From a commercial standpoint, in my neighborhood, strong melody players tend to be leaders also, thus get more work and the financial that goes with it.

copyright
hook

Aspiring pro players. Professional Jazz trombonist Bill Watrous once shared a cool idea. Learn three melodies / tunes a week. Melody, words, chords and form. In a year's time well not only have quite a book of music for gigging but quite a bit of melodic material for our improvisations. .

Bill Watrous
gig

Review. "Learn that poem ... learn that poem ... becomes "learn that tune ... learn that tune." As kids growing up we often watched a t.v. show called The Little Rascals. One episode is about the young fellow that skips school to go fishing. Caught playing hooky, the teacher said he couldn't return until he memorized a certain poem.

So there he is, fishing at the river, watchin' his bobber and his inner voice is saying ... "learn that poem ... learn that poem." As American guitarists we have a rich tradition of spontaneous improvisation and playing by rote. Thus we chant "learn that tune, learn that tune" :)

"What we play is life."

b2
2
b3
3
4
#4
b5
5
#5
b6
6
b7
7
8
b9
9
#9
-10
10
11
#11
12
b13
13
b14
14
15
#15
song title style
Amazing Grace folk
America patriotic
Arkansas Traveler bluegrass fiddle tune
Auld Lang Syne traditional
Take Me Out To The Ballgame traditional

Billy Boy

3bhr

 

3bmd

Camptown Races

folk / country
charlies  

clem

dixie

 

easy_blues

3eyes

 
gotell  
hush  
josn  
joy  
kumbiya  
lacucaracha  
lamb  
london  
michael  
mtn  
oldjo  
rail  
saints  
shen  

shortnin /

3sny

 
skip  
smoky  

snin

3ssb

 
suz  
swinglo  
this_old_man  
twink  
yank  
yellow  
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

 
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

In a nutshell. Here in Essentials, while ideas about time and rhythm are peppered in throughout the whole text, once the core concepts, vocabulary and counting skills are accounted for, there's just three main discussions here about the musical time of American music. Everything else to be based on these topic centers.

The downbeat. By downbeat we mean the first beat of each measure. In this next melodic sequence of quarter notes, the downbeat is 'accented', meaning it is played a bit stronger and so sounds a bit louder. Example 1.

 

With this technique Duane built climaxed solo's that can almost make your hair stand up. It's oftentimes in this repetition of a few notes or musical phrase where we can most clearly hear the rhythmic pull of the melody pitches against the 2 and 4 of the drumming that creates Duane's unique sense of a very hard driving swing. One of many Allman Brothers tunes to spin to hear his sense of time and swing is ?????.

Review. Here at Essentials, at the core of our American rhythms lives an accented pulse on the 2nd and 4th beats of a measure of 4 / 4 time. We can find this pulse somewhere in every conceivable musical style and their myriad of sub genres. By accenting the 2 and 4, we create a sense of 'pull' away from and towards the downbeat pulse of each measure. It is believed here that in this pulling or stretching of musical time is where the magic of the American swing thing happens.

We can learn to rhythmically swing by singing our melody lines and getting them to capture the essence of our own unique sense of time. We then only have to transfer these ideas to our guitars. Quarter and eighth notes are the swing note values. Even 8th's are perhaps Latin derived and also swing just fine in other styles, although in a bit more of a modern sense perhaps than the traditional 8th note / triplet feel so common of the early Jazzer's of the first half of the last century. And perhaps it's best to simply remember that ...

Silent Architecture
The organic and historical origins of our pitches.
Loops of Pitches
Examining the unbreakable loop of our pitches.
Groups of Pitches / Evolution of Scales
Examining the Yin / Yang our our musical system.
Major / Minor tonality Our groups become our musical scales.
Evolving Scales into Arpeggios
How our scales become arpeggios.
Evolving Arpeggios into Chords
How our arpeggios become chords.
Evolution of Tuning Tuning of pure pitch into modern musical tones.

I'm always thinking about creating. My future starts when I wake up every morning ... Every day I find something creative to do with my life.

Miles Davis
Footnotes:

(1) Isacoff, Stuart. Temperament ... The Idea That Solved Music's Greatest Riddle, p. 40-42. USA Alfred A. Knopf, New York. 2001

(2)Aebersold, Jamey and Slone, Ken. The Charlie Parker Omnibook. New York: Atlantic Music Corp., 1978.

'It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing ...'

Duke Ellington