Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sonny Rollins - Tenor Madness and more

Even more stuff coming up now... for example, my transcription of Sonny Rollins' Tenor Madness. I played it at a slow pace, used some blues chord substitutions. All in all a great standard and fun to play. No tab for the melody, figure it out yourself or ask me ;-)

Also, a sort of simple analysis of the progression and ideas to use for improv. I haven't embellished this section too much, and I put the emphasis on the melodic minor since I've had more experience soloing over blues. But the good part is a 90 second jam track you can noodle on for a while. Look at the changes, be smart, mess with the melodic minor suggestions. I'm just working out a few positions (6th and 12th fret), but obviously would like to cover the neck. We'll see how it goes.

Other than that, chord voicing charts have come together a little more. I hope to get some melodic minor vamps up tonight to practice those modes. Sort of like how I used to practice the Dorian scale over a Dmin7 vamp or something, but now for the melodic minor modes.

Friday, August 7, 2009

More references - key signatures, transcriptions, intervals

You can see where this database is going now. I've been continually adding new stuff so that I'll have every tool at my disposal. Ideally, you could open up a few windows so you have fingering charts, key signatures, intervals, etc. It's simple without a lot of flair, but that makes it easier to navigate. Check out the new changes here. Lots more to go up Sunday. As I go through some jazz standards, I'll be putting up my notes for the song there. Theory analysis, comping ideas, melodic ideas, scales, etc. Some recordings too hopefully.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Chord voicings for comping

I'm in the middle of uploading my chord charts that I use for comping on the guitar. Most of these are engrained in my head by now but I always like to have something to reference. It's always helpful to know the inversion of chords so that, given any chord tone in your bass string, you can still form that same chord and not worry about moving all over the neck. Substitute in some embellishments like a 6, 9, or 13, and now it starts to sound jazzy. Check out the Major 7 Chord Inversions and Minor 7 Chord Inversions. Obviously more to come, specifically the min7b5 and dom7 chords. A work in progress.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

7th mode melodic minor - Superlocrian practice

Now we're rollin... I decided to setup a simple website to keep track of my materials. I have lots of materials stored on my computer that I created myself, and it's hard enough to navigate through that. With a website, I'll be able to organize things more logically and let anyone else access them. I've called it the "Jazz Guitar Project" because I eventually hope to have a large database that many people can contribute to. Free jazz guitar resources for the broke, aspriring jazz guitarists out there like me.

I've only uploaded a few things so far. First is my practice for the melodic minor scale. I'm practicing the superlocrian (7th mode melodic minor) since it is prevalent in so many tunes. The progression I chose was a 4 measure excerpt from On Green Dolphin Street. Check it out here.

Buckling down on the melodic minor!

Ok I'm super motivated this time around to nail down the melodic minor. Not in one day of course, but worth starting. My plan of attack is to learn the positions just as I did with the major scale back in the day, and get comfortable with the fingerings and sound of each mode. I'll throw it right into practice of course with applying it to Stella by Starlight again. This makes use of the 6th mode a lot and the superlocrian (7th mode), as well as some others. Gonna post tonight some charts I am going to use to get crackin and do some old fashion muscle memory.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Music theory iPhone app reviews

If you're like myself and find yourself with time to use your iPhone
or iPod touch (ex. commuting), I find it beneficial to have some
music theory apps to keep yourself training when you're away from your
computer or instrument. I've come across some free and cheap apps that
I either use often or regret buying, so here's a look at some of them:

Key Signature by Jason Neufeld

This little app is simple and all you need to test yourself on key
signatures. Best of all, it's free! You start by choosing whether you
want to test yourself on major, minor, or both keys. You can also
focus on sharps, flats, or both. It also times you and keeps track of

your mistakes so you can see what you're good or bad at. I don't
really care for the timing thing. I just think that knowing key
signatures can help in so many ways. For example, if I know that F
major has one flat in it (Bb), I can then easily construct all the
diatonic chords from there (F major, G minor, A minor, etc...) as long
as I know my C major scale in thirds (a little tangent here but useful).

Neufeld has a paid guitar train
ing app also but I've yet to check that


This is a neat little application I paid 99 cents for. It's a great
reference to have at your side (like when you want to double check the
formula for the 6th mode of the melodic minor scale). It's divided up
into four sections: scales, chords, harmonizations, and notes. It will
give you the notes to every chord or scale you could ever imagine. Or,
start from any note and get all of the arpeggios, scales, and chords
from that note. The downside: some faults on notation. I was a little
confused at first when I saw the way he wrote a dominant seventh
chord. I still think it's a good tool to have at your side for any
instrument, as long as you don't mind some notational differences here and there.


I've never wanted my 99 cents back so fast until I got this app. I
just wanted a simple way to practice my sight reading abilities in
treble and bass clef. So from the pics the app looks okay. But why,
why the hell would you make a simple app like this that DISABLES your
music playing just to use it?! Absolutely crazy if you ask me. I don't
have perfect pitch so I'm not concerned with the sound of a G thank
you. After I got past this, I gave it a shot with my headphones in and
was mistified by the horrific choice of sound when you hit a wrong
note. So bad that now I can't even use it. I'll be on the lookout for
another app just like this as long as it doesn't punish me from the start.


Ok this one I really like and I think it has huge potential to be the
best music theory app out there. At the moment, it's really basic and
just has basic interval, scale, and major chord theory. Like really
basic. And so is the interface. It looks as if you are picking songs
to listen to, but he divides topics up into Theory and Practice. The
theory articles are good and make for good review I guess, but the
practice sections are phenomenal. You get to practice by entering
major chords and scales note by note. Practice the circle of fifths/
fourths. What's the diatonic fourth chord of F# major? Only has major
scales and chords at the moment, but imagine when other modal scales
are added and the quizzes can test you on practically everything? Pure
gold. And at 99 cents with free future updates, you're nuts not to get
this before the price goes up. Hell I would pay ten bucks for this

Sunday, July 12, 2009

I love the 80's (drum machines, that is)

I recently got my hands on a used Roland DR-550 Dr. Rhythm drum machine for maybe a tenth of the price when it first came out. Granted that was back in the eighties, but I'll sacrifice a little memory space for fun. I currently have a Boss RC-2 loop station that I love except the drums are so limited. Shouldn't have that problem anymore now that I can make any pattern I want and throw it in there. Combine that with a newly acquired used bass and I'm golden (all for under $100).

I had a good laugh when I came across the 1986 ad for this thing from an old Gearwire article.