Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tuck Andress, ninja master.

Hotel Foxtrot Sierra, how is it that I have not paid any attention to Tuck Andress until now?

I need to document the series of YouTube videos that someone has made from what must have been a VHS tape.  They are phenomenally dense, in terms of what they present;  Andress has a master instructor's poise and delivery, which wholly aside from his jaw-dropping guitar mastery is simply impressive to watch.

The first video is here:

Other ones in the series seem to go to volume nine, and those were all just gold-mines of information.  This short captures an example that Andress makes of his technique of playing multiple parts at the same time:

The guy really is a Jedi Master of guitar-fu.  And in addition to all the instructional stuff, it's equally inspiring just to watch him play:

Well.  If it took me this long to discover this resource, I'll damn sure see if I can make the most out of the discovery now.  :-)

Diatonic scales with CGDEbGC

Another documentation post, really.  In working with this open minor-add-9 tuning (C-G-D-Eb-G-C) I've been exploring the top three strings somewhat methodically, which is a bit amusing since the intervals of Eb-G-C are the same as the standard tuning (G-B-E, two whole steps up), and I've never really studied the standard tuning yet.  Which has led to an observation I'll get to shortly.

First was triads on these strings, done within my usual "box" of three voicings per triad, advancing each string one chord tone to achieve it.  So, in this tuning, at the nut is C/E, C/G is at the fourth and fifth frets, and C in root inversion is at the seventh and ninth frets...et cetera.  Shortly I was running through a standard exercise that has me play, up and down, backward and forward, the C major scale in triad forms, from nut to octave.  So:  C/E, C/G, C, then Dm/F, Dm/A, Dm, then Em/G, Em/B, Em, and so on.  Along with each of the main forms I also tried to note where the sus4 would go, and I'm pretty comfortable that this will shortly become a standard part of the internalized chord library.

Then, I tried adding bass notes to these basic forms, to try and figure out where the fingerings should go.  This is an interesting exercise, since there is often a choice of where a bass note can or should be located, and I'm not by any means done with it yet.  Inadvertently, the little working I've done so far has suggested a specific approach to diatonic seventh forms, wherein the chord is constructed of an appropriate bass note and an appropriate top triad.  This brings back the "tertian arithmetic" idea in a very practical way, and I'm happy to think of a Cmaj7 as an Em triad over the C3 note on my fifth string, or the C2 open sixth...or maybe the Em triad in up-neck inversions over the C4 note on the fourth string.  And that's just with root inversions;  I think I'll dig into that a little more when the library of top-three-string triads becomes more purely autonomic.

It also suggests an interesting idea with respect to tunings:  if I really can master the basic triad and sus forms on the standard tuning's intervals in the top three strings, I might be able to shift the bottom three strings around more at-will, to make available a family of tunings with a common set of top intervals.  So...with a real mastery of "GBE" chord construction, I could take advantage of fifths in the bass with CGDEbGC or CGDGBE, fourths with EADGBE or DGCEbGC (or similar), or a combination like DADFAD.

Which brings me to today.  I was able to work out the seven modes of the major scale on the top three strings, which of course is a great exercise to start to help you to "see" all the notes of the key everywhere on the neck.  I've still got a few fingering decisions to work out, or perhaps to learn them all so that they'll all be available depending on what else I'm doing at the time.  More work on up and down, backward and forward:  my fingers should tell me what is going to be most efficient.  What was encouraging was that I also started to see how I could connect a "lower octave" scale from the bottom three strings, to the "upper octave" scale on the top three strings.  The basic concept here might do well with that "family of tunings with differing bass strings" idea.

More on that as soon as I can.  With the ability to play all the triads and sevenths of a key, and the ability to play all seven modes of the scale, we're really getting somewhere important.  With that in hand, plus the ability to take advantage of the harmonic mayhem of a minor-second interval between fourth and third strings, I should become pretty dangerous in this wacky experiment.  :-)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Working with CGDEbGC

A bit of a documentation post here.  After some nice experiments with the DADFAD tuning over the summer, I somehow ran across the idea of CGDEbGC, and have been quite enjoying it.  This tuning has some interesting features:
  • Top three strings are standard tuning intervals.
  • Bottom three strings are the fifth intervals I know from Guitar Craft.
  • The two three-string groups are offset by a minor second (D-Eb).
  • Sixth and first strings are two octaves apart.
  • Fifth and second strings are one octave apart.
  • Open, the tuning is a Cm add9, which is nice.
  • There is an entire G harmonic minor scale in harmonics available on the fifth, fourth, third and first strings;  if you omit the subdominant note (the first harmonic on the first string) this is extremely convenient to the fingers.
Obviously there are going to be some interesting options in chord construction, but I'm not fully there yet.  I think I might get around to it, though--some of the sounds are just gorgeous.  This last week I've turned my attention to the triads on the top three strings (remember, I'm actually new to standard tuning), and thought about how to incorporate a bass note intelligently.  In that regard, having the fourth string offset a whole tone above the first string (D to C), instead of below (as with D to E), it seems more comfortable to finger the three-string triad with middle, ring and pinky fingers and leave the index finger to find the bass note, rather than relegating that role to the pinky.

Melodically, I'm finding that I'm gravitating toward the "ignore the third string" philosophy, and thinking of the basic minor scale in terms of fifths intervals for the first octave and fourths intervals for the second.

The next step with chords, once I've really got the triads down, is to tackle sevenths.  I suspect that is where I'll find out whether this can be a general purpose tuning, or should be relegated to tunes specifically composed to take advantage of it.  Depending on how the fingerings work with that fourth string, I may look at solving the problem with a polychord approach, and I admit that forcing myself to use that concept as a core portion of my playing might not be a bad thing at all.

In addition to the ongoing tuning thoughts, I've been working a little bit more deliberately on a controlled three-string burst with the right hand, ascending (i-m-a).  For whatever reason, my fingers have always seemed to be pretty comfortable with such a cascade descending (a-m-i), but I've been impatient with the reverse and haven't given it the attention it deserves.  In trying to incorporate it into my triad work on the top three strings, my ear has something much more specific to focus on and it's suddenly started to improve.