Saturday, December 25, 2010

Video Dump!

    Happy holiday of choice!  Here are some videos to get you through the family visit.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Fretboard Organizational Systems part II: String by String

    

    In the previous article on fretboard organizational systems, we discussed ways to divide the fretboard up into four-fret positions and use them as reference points.  This installment of the series will be a bit different in that I will introduce a method of learning how the fretboard functions by analyzing each string, rather than organizing the fretboard into specific reference points.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Fretboard Organizational Systems part I: Positions

    
    In this series of articles, I will detail several organizational systems for the fretboard of a guitar in standard tuning.  These organizational systems simply provide one with various ways to visualize the fretboard in order to make navigation across the neck easier within various musical situations.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

LIMITED TIME ONLY: Download "The Inconclusible Factology of Jam"

    For a very limited time I am offering a free download of my CD entitled "The Inconclusible Factology of Jam."  This is not a whole album, per se, but rather selections from three different albums I am currently working on.

    Please note that these songs are copyrighted and may not be reproduced in any form, without my express consent.  I am, however, granting all who download this file my permission to distribute it freely.

    Enjoy!

    The download period has expired, message me for info on obtaining the CD.

Other Musicians which appear on this cd are:

Derek Farris: Drums
Chace Burke: Bass

Friday, November 12, 2010

My Posterous

    I just started using Posterous, a blog-like webpage where I can freely upload music files and whatnot.  Feel free to check it out as I plan on occasionally posting new material I'm working on.  I just posted the first take of a song entitled "Dance and You'll be Fine" which will be on my upcoming album.  Release date unknown.

My Posterous

No Instrument, No Problem

   

     Everyone's busy, and unless you are one of the lucky few who get to make the entirety of their living from playing music, odds are more time is spent away from your instrument than with it in hand.  I have been very busy lately with one thing or another, which got me to thinking: How can I practice when I'm not around an instrument?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Missing Link

I forgot to post this in the previous link dump.  This is the website of saxophonist matt otto.  He's got a ton of stuff that I think is both hip and modern, including some tunes, lessons, and practice ideas.  Check him out.

Matt Otto

Links Dump!

    Everybody loves links!  C'mon, you know you do, don't deny it.  Anyway, here are a few sites to wet your appetite.

The Jazz Guitar Blog
Casa Valdez Studios
JazzGuitar.be
Ted Greene
Vision Music
WBGO Blog

    These are just some sites that have been of interest to me over the past few months.  Hopefully they will be useful or interesting to you as well.

The Joe Pass Method: Eliminating Rhythmic Variety to Construct Better Melodies

    

    In order to gauge the ability and creativity of new students, Joe Pass would make his student improvise over a given chord progression using only eighth notes.  This may sound unusual (or non-musical) to you, but the point is not to be a performance but rather a way to practice.

    By limiting yourself to only one note value to improvise with, it forces you to focus more on the shape and contour of your lines and how well they connect the chord changes.  Also, it will eliminate close to any chance of using cliches, which is probably a big thing for most musicians.

    Developing a linear approach to your instrument may not be what you are reaching for, but I feel that developing a good linear approach to improvising is essential to creating tasteful, singable melodies.  That's all I've got for right now, this post was short and sweet, however if you look at it the right way I just gave you an infinite amount of material to practice, so get to it!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

"Nardis" Arrangement

    It's been a very long time since I posted anything on this blog. I got a new guitar about a month and a half ago and just finally put it down to write a new post, so here it is. This one's going to be short and sweet. I have been working on some solo guitar arrangements of Real Book tunes, and I wanted to share with you one I did for "Nardis" by Miles Davis. 

     I also just got Sibelius, which is a music notation program. I figured writing out this arrangement would be good practice for using the software, and it was. I learned a good bit of keyboard shortcuts and such. Anyway, here is the arrangement. Also note that much of this is played at or above the 12th fret, so using a standard acoustic guitar without a cutaway will prove to be extremely difficult and force you to contort your hand in ways I wouldn't recommend.

(click on it to make it bigger)

    Have fun with it.




Friday, February 26, 2010

The Answers to All Your Questions are in Your Living Room

    

    My recent article "Music Before Theory" addresses the need to listen to music as opposed to just learning the terminology and the analysis of it.  In this article I will discuss the process of transcription, or as I like to call it, the art of aural thievery.  "How does one go about stealing sound?," you may be asking.  The simple answer is by listening.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Quick Update on My Real Journey

    It's time for an update on my Real Journey.  Things are moving a bit slower than I originally anticipated, but I'm making at least some progress.  So far, I've got down "Four," "Groovin' High," and "'Round Midnight" (Thelonius Monk's version, not Miles Davis').

    The next one one the list is called "Nardis," and is one of my favorites.  Here is a great video of Bill Evans playing the song.



Peace

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Music before Theory

    

    There is much discussion of music theory on this site, and while learning theory is crucial to developing into a good musician, it is important not to get bogged down in it.  It's very easy to get caught up in studying this kind of thing and neglect the music itself.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Position Studies and Guide-tones on "Four"

    To assist me in getting to know this tune I created a few position studies which are really just voicings for the chords so that they can all be played in one position.  The first set of voicings I used allow me to play through the entirety of the progression in the first position (within the first few frets of the guitar).  As always, good voice-leading is a must.  This means choosing voicings that have the least amount of movement between the individual notes in the chords.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

"Four" Triads and Other Fundamental Harmonic Structures

    I thought I would share some of the exercises I have been doing involving this tune so that you might see a bit into my method of learning (or teaching myself).  It must be mentioned that these are not all of the things I'm doing (or thinking about), and also that these exercises were chosen/created to cater to my specific needs.  That is to say everyone has different needs and goals and will most likely require different methods to address these specific needs.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Back with a New Tune on the Burner

    

    After an unintended but much needed break from the blog, I've returned with the first song in the "Real Journey" series:  "Four" by Miles Davis.  For anyone that has a 6th edition Real Book it's on page 149.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Black and White or My Real Journey part 1/2

    Less time than tunes, its time to lay down the law.  What constitutes learning a tune?  Most people, when attempting to learn a tune will learn the chords and/or melody and call it a day.  For my purposes, I need to go much deeper than that.  I want to get inside the harmony, be able to live there and call it my home.  For this I have devised a method.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

My "Real" Journey


  

    So I have done an assessment on where I am, musically, and where I want to be.  The results?  I'm not where I want to be.  What do I need to do?  I think I need to learn more tunes, so I will learn more tunes.  How will I do it?  I'll tell you how I'm going to do it.  I'm going to take my 6th edition Real Book and learn every goddamned tune in it.  All 400 and some.  That's right, I said 400 and some.  It's so many tunes that I can't even give you an exact number.  How long will it take?  A long time.  I will be posting regular updates on my "real" journey, so check back often to see how I'm doing.

    What's the Real Book?  I'm glad you asked.  The Real Book is a fake book.  Confused?  That's understandable.  A fake book is a book that contains lead sheets to tunes.  A lead sheet contains the melody and chords to a song, giving you the basic harmonic structure of the song.  The Real Book is just a slightly clever name for a fake book that contains the lead sheets to "standard repertoire" jazz tunes, otherwise known as "standards."

    My journey begins now.  Wish me luck.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Destination (Never an Arrival)


  

    I haven't been posting as much as I would like to over the past week, because I've been spending close to all of my time practicing.  I suppose you could say I've had a bit of a "practice fit."  On top of that, I have also been watching lots of music on youtube.

    Watching a few videos of your heros do what you want to do with ease can be quite inspiring, but after a certain point it starts to get to you.  Say, after about the 3rd straight hour of watching all the people I admire on youtube, I began to start thinking of myself as a hack.

    It's not the first time I've questioned myself as a musician, but it's the first time it really made me think about why I feel that way sometimes.  A friend of mine suggested it was just part of being an artist, and after a long pondering session with myself, I had to agree.  I think that it's what makes an artist an artist.  The artist is constantly trying to improve upon his/her work because he/she never feels that it is good enough.  Being an artist is the constant struggle to reach a destination that can never be arrived at.

    I came across an essay on this exact subject yesterday by Steve Khan.  That can be found here.  If you didn't know already, Mr. Khan is an incredible guitarist.  I first heard him on a live recording of the fusion group "Steps Ahead."  He has also written a couple of books for guitar which are also excellent and I would highly recommend them.

New Trio


  

    So a few weeks ago I gathered a couple friends and started a new trio, called Almost Jazz.  I feel that the name is quite fitting based on what we have composed so far.  Everything we have worked on up to this point is original, with the exception of a John Scofield tune.  This whole project is still in its infancy, but I am excited to see where it goes.  I really like the direction the music is taking us.

    Anyway, I recorded some of our practice today and posted some songs on a fresh myspace page, which can be found at http://www.myspace.com/almostjazzz.  Mind you these are working versions meaning that they can and probably will change.  I put them up so that you might get an idea of what is to come.

    Also, I added a new track to my own myspace page, at http://www.myspace.com/brianmaag.  It is my solo on a song called Phat Dip which was also written with the new trio and recorded today.

    Support my music by checking out the links above.  Hope you enjoy.

Cheers!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Thinking Outside the Box from Inside the Box


  

    The box I'm talking about here is the infamous "minor pentatonic box"  (shown above) which guitar players seem to love so much.  This box pattern is usually the first thing guitar players learn when first dealing with improvising over a blues progression, so most guitar players should be very familiar with this scale.  In this article I will be demonstrating how one could use this scale to play over a ii-V7-I progression, which is a common sequence used in jazz.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Drop-2 Concept


    (this is a scan of Bach's 8th invention, but as you can see he originally intended it to be his 4th.  What does this have to do with drop-2 chords?  Nothing.  It looks cool, though.)

    If you've been playing guitar for a reasonable amount of time whether studying privately with an instructor or on your own, you've probably at least come across the concept of drop-2 chords.  These chords are very useful to the guitarist, and learning them will open up your understanding of the fretboard and take your playing in new directions.  Actually, you're probably already using some drop-2 chords and don't realize it.  The concept is relatively simple yet will have a huge impact on the creative chord possibilities you have.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Stupid Guitar Tricks: Hexatonic Scales


  

    What the hexatonic is a hexatonic scale?  A hexatonic scale is a scale with 6 notes.  Because of the tuning of the guitar, playing the standard 7-note scales on the guitar provides a multitude of patterns to be digested.    How can we simplify a 7-note scale pattern so that it falls into a better looking and easier to digest pattern?  The answer is so simple it's stupid.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Doctor Is In...The Fundamental Checkup


    


    You think you know your way around the guitar and have some pretty heavy chops but you're not sure if you can sit in with the local heavies yet.  If only there was a way to figure out just where you are struggling and find the cure for it.  I've got good news for you: "The doctor is in!"  It looks like it's time to schedule your checkup.




Sunday, January 3, 2010

Get the Most Out of Your Practice Journal


  

    In keeping with the self-improvement vibe that seems to permeate everyone's lives this time of year, I thought I would share a tip for increasing the impact of your practice journal.  Previously, I discussed how it can be beneficial to keep a day-to-day log of your practice regime.  However, writing it down is only the first step to improvement.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Concern About RSI


  

    What's an RSI, you ask?  RSI stands for repetitive stress injury or repetitive strain injury, and it is something all musicians should be concerned about.  An RSI can be caused by any number of factors, one of which is repetitive tasks such as typing or playing an instrument.

    I have a friend who is a very gifted musician, but can no longer play his instrument because of an RSI.  It could have easily been prevented if he would have been aware of the symptoms.  As you see, repetitive stress injuries are no laughing matter and all musicians need to be aware of them.

    If you are playing your instrument and you begin to feel pain or tingling in your hand(s) stop what you are doing immediately!  Your instrumental abilities could depend on it.  I am not in the least bit qualified to discuss the specifics of an RSI, but I found the following website to be helpful in explaining it.

Musician's Health

    The Musician's Health website also has some stretches on the site to add into your daily practice routine in order to lower the risk of an RSI.  Also, do some searching on the internet yourself and see what you can find.  Try putting "Repetitive Strain Injury" into wikipedia or "RSI musician" into google.

    Please look in to this as it should be important to you as a musician, and also spread the word along to all the musicians you know.  It could save your/their creative ability.

    Peace