I managed to stand on the head of one of my guitars last night while restringing it. It slid to the floor when I was throwing out the old strings and the head was sticking out from the end of the couch. The guitar is fine. I thought I had just bruised my foot but when I looked at it there was a flap of skin torn away so Ive been limping around all day.
I have a day off tomorrow so I decided to record a couple of covers to get more experience recording without having to worry about writing anything. Should be interesting, I think I will start with The day you went away by Wendy Mathews for something different. It’s a lovely song and can be done with a thin arrangement, so it should be easy to record and it will be a good challenge vocally. We shall see how the day pans out.

Aside | Posted on by | Leave a comment


Well after teaching this week I treated myself to a new presonus audiobox to interface better with my computer. Well it has cut down the latency, but there is some there still. After reading the required specs I’ll need to get a better computer (or use the wife’s) to get rid of it altogether. Anyhow just tapping in with the count in gives me something to line up visually is a quick fix, I just have to remember to do it with the vocals. With that asside it’s great. I can now monitor and play along. It also came with some nice headphones and an awesome mic. The audiobox also has phantom power but still only runs off USB. So having the ability to just plug in, turn a few knobs to get a good mix and start putting tracks down has been great, now I just need to get a few tracks I like. 

So I have only put down one vocal track so far and I have to work on finding my voice. I am sure ( well hopeful) that many singers have struggled with this. It’s not too hard to copy someone else’s sound, but to find your own is a challenge, one worth it as no one likes to listen to a copy, it’s got to be original.

I am going to have to restudy mixing, it’s been a decade since I’ve done anything in a studio setting. I know what sound I want but have to learn how to get it out of that speaker. I am going for a much warmer sound than I am achieving right now, I’m going to run the guitar through a few different amps but I have been eyeing off the tesla pickups at work, so that may be my next upgrade.

I have also been having fun with GarageBand, the drums most of all. Not being a drummer, the drum machine has been great. Going through a bunch of random settings is giving me plenty to bounce off. Also being able to make a quick backing track/loop to play over is proving to be a very useful tool. It also has a very simple way to cut, paste and drag parts around to change the form of the song. It still needs a peripheral to plthey guitar/mic into the iPad. Once I get that I’m sure it will become an even more useful tool.

So back to it.

Link | Posted on by | Leave a comment

Sticky fingers

There was a definite theme today while teaching and that theme was chords and fingering, even on the mandolin. So one teaching trick I am trying with the kids lately is sticky fingers. I write the chord out or use a piece that basicly starts with an arpeggio as the melody. I get them to play the melody using the fingering of the chord as opposed to what they would use fThea melody. Once they can play the melody cleanly I tell them to pretend that he fretboard is sticky and that they have to hold their fingers down and let the notes ring. This way they are playing all of the strings cleanly before they start strumming, so far it seems to be working. The only drawback is when I get someone who is good at playing melodies but does so with flat fingers as they end up muting strings. This is why I try to make sure that my students play on the tips of their fingers. This may sound like a basic thing to but with some beginners it can be easier to let them play with atad technique if it is getting the right sound so as not to dishearten them with a lack of progress. You just have to be sure to correct them before it stalls progress later on. Thibe stalling later on can be even more damaging than a slow start astudent almost almost has to start again andmays feel that they have wasted their time ( and money)

Anhow once they can roll through the chord I get them to start strumming it, some good progressions to get them going are usually 12 bar blues in Am, G or even E if they can get around B7 (you can always get them to play a lick there if not) C presents the barre unless you use the 4 string F7 or use some sort of riff/lick. Or any of the trad songs that they have already learnt. Most books now come with the chords above the melody.

Another way to get them started on chords is with the basic blues shuffle in A. This is great because they only need to learn one riff that they then move to the two strings above or below



so for A it is on strings 5 and 4, D is 4 and 3 with E on 6 and 5. A neat little riff that they should have heard at some point that can even get them jamming with other people.

Posted in Music teaching | Leave a comment

Lyrics and melody

Well this is something that has it all really. What is a good song without good words and a memorable melody. I ran something past someone on the weekend and was told it was ok but had no melody. I think what happens to me is that I am still getting around playing the guitar part and getting the words to fit. In doing so the melody, even though I harmonize whith the chords, is quite flat with a small range.  Ive worked out how I made it this way. I am still new to creating the lyric melody while playing the guitar even though I can sing and play ok, it is something I should work on especially for creative purposes. A quick solution is going to be recording something before I normally would. So instead of using my whiteboard and playing the thing a million times, just record the sections and cut, copy and paste within the software Untill I get the form I like and work the lyrics over that. If this approach will save me spending a day at work with a song in my head trying to change the melody with a peak here and a dip there then so be it I’ll put the whiteboard down a bit earlier. I won’t get rid of it though as I love the feel of rubbing out something and scribbling a new idea down instead of hitting delete, much more satisfying. And anyhow who says that you need to enter the vocal olimpics every time you sing a song?

Posted in Music writing | Leave a comment

Tech troubles

Well this is an interesting learning curve. I am trying to upload videos to YouTube but am so far having issues. Mainly due new tech, ie the ipad. I know that it can do the upload but it has been so long since I logged into YouTube that the password reset goes to an old email account and phone number. Well while I was putting that on the back burner Untill tomorrow I did have a go at GarageBand on the iPad and found it somewhat usefull to put down a simple bass line and record a vocal. This has been something I’ve wanted so that I can  quickly put ideas down on track before I forget them. Then I can do a better job later on the computer, but that is another story. My laptop is dying and I am having latency issue, but I will upgrade soonand get a good interface.

One more issue I’m having is typing and editing on the iPad, the auto correct is driving me crazy and getting the cursor where I want it…. New computer here I come.


Anyhow I do intend on putting clips up on what Im talking about, just another way of me keeping track of what I am doing.

Aside | Posted on by | Leave a comment

Three chord wonders

How many songs can you play once you know three chords?  Plenty. These would be I IV and V (1) . Most people learn the key of toro C to start with. C is easier for theory as it has no sharps, but it has the chord F as IV and this can be hard for a beginner to play as it is a barre chord. The key of G has one sharp (f#)but all the chords are open (G D/D7 C) and is usually taught. There is also many many songs that use only these three chords. It’s a good start but add one easy chord and the boundaries blow out greatly. The chord being Em (iv).

So I was noodling and came up with something using these four chords. As others have before me, I shifted the tonal center to Em (making it E phrydgian) I also extended the chords for some more color. The chord progression is Em7 C9 (no 7) G D/F#







Em7. C9  G.  D/F#

I don’t strum these chords, instead they are broken up and a melody is added in.

The D/F# is very important as it gives the the bass line momentum . I use this device lots when playing solo.

There is meant to be a video here


I use roman numerals as a standard way to expressscale notes from which the chords are built from. They an show harmonic progressions and what type of chord it is. Upper case is major, lower case is minor, an added * ordegree sign ( which I can’t get out of my iPad yet!) means diminished and a ^ is augmented. So in the key of Cmajor you would get C / I , d / ii , e / iii , F / IV , G / V , a / vi and b / vii*



Posted in Music writing | Leave a comment


I’m thinking lots about music and my guitar lately. I want to put it all down in a way that others get to share and learn with me. I’m no novice, I have a degree in music and have played in several bands, but have been lying low for ages. Now I want to get writing music but am so used to playing of the page I forget where to start. Scales chord progressions, voicings, rythem, words…..; I gues I’ll work it out, here we go.



Posted in Music writing | Leave a comment