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Modes- An intoduction to learning modes May 6, 2007

Posted by rgordon83 in Beginner, Guitar Lessons, Modes, Music Theory.
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This is a post I have been hesitating on for a long time. Since the theory behind a mode is somewhat hard to grasp at first, I was not sure how to break it down modes in a way that you could easily understand. But due to the importance of modes I decided I can’t push them off any longer. But I will try to cover modes in installments and as clearly as I can. This first lesson on modes will just outline what modes are and the names of the modes of the major scale. In later lesson I will cover modes in greater detail. So lets get crack’n.

Before you start this lesson you must understand how a major scale is made. If you don’t know this yet then see my post on building the major scale

What is a mode?

Simply, a mode is a diatonic scale that has 7 notes and one of those notes functions as the starting point (the “root” or the “tonic”). So the major scale is a mode because is has 7 notes and the first note of the scale functions as the “root” note.

Why do you need to learn modes?

The best reason to learn modes is because different modes have different sound qualities. They evoke different emotions. When you are writing a song or improvising you will want to express yourself in all different ways. Knowing different modes will allow you to musically express yourself and keep your songs and solos sounding fresh and interesting.

The 7 Greek Modes

There are 7 modes in western music that were named by the Greeks. These modes are used by almost all composers and songwriters today. There modes are 7 different scales that are derived from the major scale. Each mode is said to have a different type of sound and bring up different types of emotions. Here are the 7 modes and the moods they are said to evoke:
Ionian mode (AKA the major scale)- The Ionian mode is happy sounding
Dorian mode – the Dorian mode is sad sounding
Phrygian mode– The Phrygian mode is mysterious sounding. It is used a lot in flamenco guitar.
Lydian mode – the Lydian scale is happy sounding
Mixolydian mode– The Mixolydian mode is happy sounding
Aeolian mode (AKA the Minor Scale)- The Aeolian scale is sad sounding
Locrian Mode– the Locrian mode is used to create tension

Building modes

The modes above are all derived from the major scale. The different modes are made by starting and ending on a notes other than the root not of the major scale. Let’s see what I mean using the C major scale: C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C:
learning modes on guitar chart
If we start from a different note and end on that same note we have that notes mode. The mode that you are playing depends on the position of the note within the major scale. Starting and ending on the 2nd note will always give you the Dorian mode. Starting and ending on the 3rd note will always give you that note’s Phrygian mode. And so on in the same order that I have the modes listed above.

Now just as each degree of the major scale has a number to go along with it (The major scale is built as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7), every mode also has corresponding numbers that relate to that notes major scale. Here is what I mean:

We know the D Dorian scale is D, E, F, G, A, B, C, D So lets compare that to the D Ionian mode (Major scale). The D majo scale is D, E, F#, G, A, B, C#, D. So our D Dorian scale has a b3 and a b7 (because the 3rd note of D dorian is an F, while the 3rd note of D major is F#, so its flat. Same with the 7th note of C vs. C#). So to get any Dorian Scale all you have to do is make the 3rd and 7th of that major scale “flat”. So if we wanted to play a C dorian it would be C D Eb F G A Bb C. You can also build a dorian scale by using the Whole- Half formula of W-H-W-W-W-H-W

Lets look at the rest of the modes compared to their major scales to find out how they are made.

E Phrygian mode is E, F, G, A, B, C, D, E. Compare this to E major: E, F#, G#, A, B, C#, D#, E. So the Phrygian mode spelling is 1, 2b, b3, 4, 5, b6, b7 or H-W-W-W-H-W-W

F Lydian mode is F, G, A, B, C, D, E, F compared to F major: F, G, A, Bb, C, D, E, F. So the Lydian mode spelling is 1, 2, 3, #4, 5, 6, 7 or W-W-W-H-W-W-H

G Mixolydian mode is G, A, B, C, D, E, F, G compared t G major: G, A, B, C, D, E, F#, G. So the Mixolydian mode spelling is 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, b7 or W-W-H-W-W-H-W

A Aeolian mode A, B, C, D, E, F, G, A compared to is A major: A, B, C#, D, E, F#, G#, A. So the Aeolian mode (aka the minor scale) spelling is 1, 2, b3, 4, 5, b6, b7 or W-H-W-W-H-W-W

B Locrian mode is B, C, D, E, F, G, A, B compared to B major: B, C#, D#, E, F#, G#, A#, B. So Locrian mode is spelled 1, b2, b3, 4, b5, b6, b7 or H-W-W-H-W-W-W-

Remember that these formulas can be used to get any mode you want. Just apply the scale adjustments to any major scale to get that given mode, or start from any note and apply the appropriate whole-half steps.

Now the tricky part is how to use modes. I will cover that in a later lesson as you will need some time to digest what modes are before you begin to use them. Please post any questions if you have them. Stay tuned..


Buying a metronome May 2, 2007

Posted by rgordon83 in Guitar Gear.
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Since I always talk about practicing with a metronome I decided I would post some links to buy one in case you don’t have. Practicing with a metronome is probably THEE most important thing to do when learning to play guitar. It will build your speed, rhythm and overall technique. If you don’t know how to use a metronome see my post on How To Use A Metronome.

Here are three great, affordable metronomes. If you think about it, spending $30 one time so you can infinitely improve your playing is a pretty darn good investment:

Click on a metronome image to get more info or to buy it!

Moveable major and minor scale shapes. May 2, 2007

Posted by rgordon83 in Beginner, Guitar Lessons, Introduction.
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One of the good (and bad) things about guitar is that when you want to play a scale all you have to do is know that scale’s fingering on the fretboard and you can then apply that fingering to any note in any position. This is good because all you have to do is remember one shape for any given scale and you can apply that shape to any key. The bad part is that players tend to rely on shapes and aren’t really playing what they hear or feel. But for the sake of learning it is very important to know basic scale shapes on guitar. This lesson will teach you the condensed and extended versions of both the major and minor scale on guitar

So you already know that a major scale is derived from a series of whole and half steps (if you didn’t know that then you should read my post on how to build a major scale). Now we can take that idea to create a finger pattern that can be applied to any note on the guitar.

Below are two different major scale shapes that you can use to play any major scale. The black notes indicate the first note of the scale.
moveable condensed major scale fingering on guitar fretboard…………………. moveable extended major scale fingering on guitar fretboard
FYI: the notes in these two major scale versions are the exact same, but they can just be played in different ways. You should practice both.

These major scale shapes only work when you are starting from where the black note is. In other words, if you start from the 5th fret on the low E string you will be playing an A major scale because the note that the black dot starts on is the A note. If you start from the 8th fret you will be playing a C major scale b/c the 8th fret on the low E string is a C note. If you start from the 3rd fret you will be playing a G major scale and so on.

Now lets look at the minor scale shapes on guitar. So far we haven’t talked about how you make a minor scale. I will cover that in a later lesson. But just to give you some brief overview, a minor scale is the same as a Major scale but with a flat 3, 6, and 7. So if you take the major scale and move the 3rd, 6th, and 7th notes down a half step you will have a minor scale.

Below is the minor scale shape on your fretboard. The same rule applies; whichever note the black note starts on that’s what minor scale you are playing. So if you start on the 3rd fret you are playing a G minor scale:

moveable condensed minor scale fingering on guitar fretboard …………………..moveable extended minor scale fingering on guitar fretboard
FYI: the notes in these two minorscale versions are the exact same, but they can just be played in different ways. You should practice both.

Now what you should do is get out your metronome and start it at a slow tempo and practice these scales in both positions, going up and down. If you don’t know how to practice with a metronome then read my post on How to practice with a metronome.

If you have questions please post them to the comments. Goode luck!

Learning Arpeggios- What are arpeggios and how should I use them? April 29, 2007

Posted by rgordon83 in Arpeggios, Chords, Guitar Lessons, Guitar Tabs, Music Theory, Notes, Technique, Tips.
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Chances are 9 out of 10 (if not 10 out of 10) of your favorite guitar tunes have arpeggios in them. So what is an arpeggio? Simple. An arpeggio is chord notes played in succession instead of simultaneously. So if someone says to arpeggiate an Am chord what they mean is play it one note at a time, instead of strumming all the notes at once. Here is an example:

Am arpeggio

Using arpeggios in your solo is a great way to create interesting melodies and outline the chord changes you are playing over. A great way to do this is to use the arpeggio of the chords you are playing over to help indicate the chord changes and great nice melodies on guitar. Here is an example of using the arpeggios of the chord you are soloing over:

arpeggios over C and F chord

Having an arsenal of arpeggios at your fingertips will greatly improve your soloing technique and help you become a better player. Here are two great exercises to practice to help you learn arpeggios and improve your speed and technique. The trick to this exercise is to make sure you say the same of each arpeggio as you play it so you really learn their names. Also make you are alternate picking and using a metronome (Korg MA-30 Digital Metronome)! And lastly, make sure you are not going too fast for yourself. Always start slow.

The first exercise is to go through the C major scale and arpeggiate all the triad of the C major scale. First we will go up the strings in one position, then we will stay on the same strings and go up the neck:

(Quarter notes)
3 note arpeggio exercise in C diatonic scale

second part of exercise with arpeggios in c diatonic
Then play the same thing with 7 chord arpeggios

7th chord arpegio exercise in C diatonic
Then play triads on the A and D strings going up the neck and back down:
2 string arpeggio exercise in C diatonic

Now see if you can play the same thing but play 7th chord arpeggios. If you don’t remember how to make a 7th chord see the lesson on building 7th chords. If you go up the neck in a similar way as this you will need to use three strings to play the 7th note. I’ll get you started by showing you the Cmaj7 arpeggio:
See if you can figure out the rest ony your own going up the neck and starting each arpeggio from the A string. If you have questions post them to the comments!
After you master this in C you should play it in all other keys. That way you will know all the standard arpeggios in all keys and you will be able to apply them all to your guitar lines. Good luck!

Guitar Chord Finder April 26, 2007

Posted by rgordon83 in Chords, Music Theory, Notes.
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Here is a great resource for all guitar players. Not sure what chord you are playing? Well just place fingering on this virtual fretboard and it will tell you all the possible names for the chord you are playing. You can also hit the play button to hear the chord. This is a really great guitar chord tool. Check it out!

Alternate Picking- Video Lesson April 22, 2007

Posted by rgordon83 in Beginner, Guitar Lessons, Guitar Tabs, Picking, Technique, Tips, Videos.

There are many picking techniques guitarists use when playing guitar. An there is no “right” answer on which technique you should use. In fact, many guitarists use different picking techniques for different situations. But the focus of this lesson will be on alternate picking. This is one of the most widely used picking techniques and it is essential for any guitarist to be comfortable with alternate picking.

The tendency of most novice guitar players is to play most down strokes. Or randomly play down and upstrokes. Training yourself to use alternate picking takes a bit of time and practice. But once you get it down you will see that your chops will be faster and more fluid. Below is a video of some helpful exercises to help you master alternate picking.

Note that these exercises will use strictly alternate picking, though in reality many guitarists may use a combination of alternate and sweep picking for these. But for the sake of this exercise use strict alternate picking. The tabs for these exercises are located below the video. Also note that in order to get the most out of these, and any guitar exercise you NEED to practice with a metronome. If you don’t have one i put 2 links to two great, cheap, metronomes at the very bottom of this post, under the alternate picking exercise tabs.

G amjaor Scale


Chromatic exercise:

———————————————————————–4–3–2- 1
Move up to 2nd fret and repeat pattern. Go all the way up to the 12th fret

4th alternate picking exercise:
—-7–8–7–5–7–8–7–5–7 –etc…——-6–8–6–5–6–8–6–5 –etc..

and try this too:

and lastly:

–7–8–7–5—————-6–8–6–5—————-7–8–7–5 –etc.——

Getting a metronome will be one of the best investments you make if you are serious about playing guitar. Here are two great, relatively cheap, metronomes:

Matrix MR-500 Quartz Metronome


click one to buy!

Creating tension and resolution—the V7 to I chord change April 17, 2007

Posted by rgordon83 in Chords, Guitar Lessons, Harmony, Intervals, Music Theory.
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(Before you read this lesson you should make sure you understand Diatonic Harmony and Buliding 7th chords)
Good composition is about creating music that has movement. Music that has peaks and valleys. If your chord progressions don’t go anywhere, they are just boring. The best way to create music with strong movement is to create tension and resolution in your compositions. How do you do that? Well the easiest and most common way is with V to I (“Five to One”) chord changes.

The V I change is great b/c the V chord create tension and the notes in the V chord push your ear to the I chord. So when you play the I chord your ear hears resolution. But you can even increase that tension and resolution if you play a V7 to I chord change. The V7 is also called the dominant 7 chord. Lets see why this change creates such great tension and resolution.

Lets start by taking a look at the notes of the I chord in the key of C major:
C major has the notes C, E, and G.
C major guitar chord

Now lets take a look at the V7 chord in the key of C, which is G7. G7 has the notes G, B, D, and F

G7 guitar chord
Lets compare the notes of those 2 chords to each other:
V7 to I guitar chord resolution

The blue lines indicate that the notes G to C and D to G are a perfect 4th or a perfect 5th apart (see the lesson on intervals if you don’t know what this means). And the strongest sense of movement occurs when two notes are a perfect 4th or perfect with apart. So G to C is a perfect forth as is D to G. C to G is a perfect 5th apart as is G to D.

The red line indicates that B and C are a half Step apart and E and F are a half step apart. Notes that are a half step apart lead your ear to the note a half step up or a half step down. The fact that the B note in the G chord is a half step away from the C note in the C chord, the F note in the G chord is a half-step away from the E note in the C chord, and the fact that there are two perfect fourth intervals (the G note of the G chord to the C of the C chord and the D of the G chord to the G of the C chord) all make for a wonderful sense of movement, contrast, and resolution.

Try playing G to C slowly and hear how nicely it resolves. Then they playing G7 to C and notice how there is a little more tension. You can apply this V7 to I chord change to any key. Add it to your compositions to give them come character!

As usual, if you have any questions please post them to the comments!

How To Practice Guitar April 16, 2007

Posted by rgordon83 in Articles, Beginner, Guitar Lessons, Introduction, Tips.
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Here is a helpful article i came across:

How To Practice Guitar

By Gen Mason

To begin to understand how to practice the guitar for maximum benefit you must first understand what practicing is. To practice the guitar is not the same as sitting down and playing the guitar. While replaying things you already have mastered has its place later on in the practicing regime, practice is truly learning some new material to further build whatever skills you have already.

However, what if you are a new beginner to the world of playing the guitar? Where do you start if you know nothing? There are several basics that all new players must develop before they can move on to learning and perfecting sounds or songs. They are:

-Toughening your fingers. The strings on a guitar can be very sharp and can cause pain to tender fingers that have never been exposed to the pressure needed to apply to a guitar string. So working your fingers into a calloused state where the playing of anything is no longer painful is essential to beginning guitar players.

-Start to work your fingers and build your knowledge base of the guitar by starting with learning individual notes. Once the basic notes are understood, you can move on to more complicated combinations and new sounds.

-Having learned the individual notes will lead you directly into learning the chords and structures used when playing the guitar in a more advanced way. Chords tend to be the starting block for most songs out there and thus must be learned for application in differing musics.

-Developing your sense of beat or rhythm is of course essential to anyone who strives to learn a musical instrument. You have to be able to mark a beat and carry it steadily as tempos change and a song progresses.

-Learning your frets goes hand-in-hand with this and is important to chord learning as well as to song learning. You need to understand your instrument to best use it to your benefit to produce the music you desire to play.

-And of course there are different strumming methods to be learned so as to be able to effectively use them as they are called for in any formalized music. As tempos and beats speed up and slow down, different strumming methods are required and you must learn them in preparation for when they will be called into use.

Once you have begun to learn the basics in using a guitar to make music, it is often advised that a beginner look into getting a tutor. In doing this, you expose yourself to someone who is much more efficient when it comes to using the guitar and who has developed a philosophy of the music he or she creates. This is why it is important to learn a lot about a tutor you may want to hire before you begin to actually work with him or her as you want to make sure that their philosophy is as close to your own as possible, thus creating the most conducive learning environment for yourself. Philosophy is crucial in your approach to making music on the guitar and must work as well for you as it does for your tutor.

Once you have hired a tutor you are comfortable with, you will most likely be exposed to learning to read music. This may seem daunting at first but it will help you immensely as you continue your pursuit of learning the guitar as you progress to more difficult pieces and more advanced playing situations. Also, you will probably be exposed to learning the theories behind playing the guitar and behind playing music in general, all of which will only add to your ability to play more effectively as you begin to understand music more completely.

You will also be presented with a practice plan and it is important to realize that setting goals for a single session is not as productive as setting your plan for a week. Practice times are not to be etched in stone and a definite number of hours and minutes is only detrimental to the learning process. You must be dedicated enough to put in appropriate amount of time but also you must feel the music as you play, and not be distracted by clock-watching.

It is important to remember that while you may have a tutor you are paying to guide you on your exploration with the guitar, it is still necessary for you to find time to experiment and explore different ways to play. Once you have learned a few easy songs, repeating them as is does little to expand your learning . . . but trying them in a different key or improvising with them to add new sounds to the original song does, and you should find time to experiment with your growing knowledge base in your practice sessions.

Listening to a variety of different styles of music is important as you begin to play music yourself. It allows you to see a variety of ways the information you are learning is being used by professionals and semi-professionals around the world. This can also inspire you to try something new in your experimentations that perhaps you never would have contemplated before if you had not listened to differing styles of music. Soon you will begin to be able to pick out changes in chords, musical patterns, tempo, and strumming styles and recognize where they began and where they ended up.

It is also so very important to always remember as you begin your desire to practice and learn the guitar for the maximum benefit that the art of learning the guitar is not a race. Everyone will learn at their own pace, and it is not a dead-heat to the finish line. Take your time and learn every step of the way to your satisfaction and the music you end up producing will be the most satisfying sounds you ever heard emitted from the guitar you are so patiently learning to play. Practice is important if you want to learn anything but especially so in the guitar as it is much more complex an instrument to master than others.

Gen Mason is a guitar player from Florida. Discover free how to improve your guitar skills at Jamorama
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Gen_Mason

Free online guitar tuner April 12, 2007

Posted by rgordon83 in Free Online Guitar Tuner, Tuning.
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Here is a great free online guitar tuner. This is a flash based guitar tuner. All you have to do is click the note and then tune the corresponding string on your guitar. You should always make sure your guitar is in tune before practicing

You can use the arrows to switch from standard tuning, to drop D tuning, to double drop D tuning, to DADGAG tunis, to open C tuning, to Open D tuning, and finally, to open E tuning.

thanks http://www.Kiimi.com for the tuner!

How To Tune Your Guitar By Ear April 12, 2007

Posted by rgordon83 in Ear Training, Guitar Lessons, Tips, Tuning.
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Here is a good article I saw online about how to tube your guitar by ear. This should be helpful:

How To Tune Your Guitar By Ear
by: Mike Hayes

1. The very first thing you need to know is that learning to tune your guitar takes time.

Some things on guitar can be learned in minutes, some in days, and others in weeks, but tuning will sometimes take even longer, because you have to train your ears. If results come slowly or don’t seem to be making any progress, don’t be discouraged, just keep working at it.

2. It will help you to know that the ear is a very skilled instrument for taking in sound. Your ear hears four things in each sound: Pitch, Duration, Volume and Tone Quality.

Pitch is how high or low the sound is. Duration is how long it lasts. Volume is how loud it is. Tone quality is the “character” of the sound. If we were to play the same pitch, at the same volume, for the same length of time on piano, clarinet, flute, violin, guitar, doorbell, or car horn, your ear could tell one instrument (or car horn) from another because of the tone quality. That’s because each instrument has a different “character” or “personality” of sound. You can prove you have this ability to tell one sound from another by listening to sounds without looking where they come from.

The point I want to emphasize is that you already hear very well. Learning to tune your guitar is learning a new way of using your hearing.

3.The next thing to know is that when you are tuning your guitar you want to listen only to the pitch of the strings. The quality of the pitch will differ between two strings, and this may at first confuse your ear. You’ll mistake the difference in quality as a difference in pitch. For example when playing the first string open and the second string at the fifth fret, you may notice that the first string may sound ‘crisper’, while the second string will sound a little “darker” in quality. The darker quality of the string at first can be misunderstood to sound lower in pitch. (You may use different words to explain how the strings sound to you, but the idea is that the tone quality of each string will sound different). If you understand that the ear hears a combination of pitch, volume, duration and quality all at the same time, it will help you to filter out the quality from the pitch and overcome the basic problem of tuning.

4. The steps involved in tuning your guitar: The first step is to tune one string to a note from another source. You could use another guitar (one that has already been tuned), a piano, or somebody that know how to tune could guide you along.(click here to use my free online guitar tuner)

A better source is a tuning fork. (It’s better because you don’t need anybody else around or any other instrument. If, for example you learn to tune to a piano, you’re going to have a problem if ever you need to tune and there’s no piano handy).

A tuning fork is a U shaped piece of metal with a stem on it. The fork is designed to vibrate at a particular pitch. You can get one that gives you the pitch of the first string on the guitar. (Look for one that has the letter E and the number 329.6 stamped on the stem).

To use the tuning fork you hold it by the stem, tap the U shaped fork against something solid, and place the stem (not the tip of the fork) on either the body, or the bridge of your guitar. (For electric guitars can place it on the pickup). You should hear the note which the vibrating fork produced. The note is the correct “source”.

You now adjust the first string to match the pitch of the tuning fork. You do this by finding the correct tuning gear for this string and then turning the gear slowly in one direction or the other. After about half a turn you should hear the string change pitch either up or down. This will tell you which way you have to turn the gear to tighten the string (to raise the pitch) and which way to loosen the string (to lower the pitch).

Now compare the sound of the string with the sound of the tuning fork. If the string is lower than the tuning fork, tighten the string to raise the pitch. If the string is higher than the tuning fork, loosen the string to lower the pitch.

Go slowly. Do not turn the gear rapidly. Turn about a quarter of a turn and then compare the string to the tuning fork again. (You’ll have to strike them both again). You’ll probably have to repeat this process several times. When the string sounds close to the fork make smaller turns.

When you think the first string is in tune, use the following steps (one to five) to tune the rest of the strings. (Remember, you can only tune as well as your ears hear now. With practice, you can become a better tuner). The following steps repeat the process of matching one pitch with another. The difference is that instead of using a tuning fork you will listen to the string you have just tuned, and try to match the next string to this one.

1. Place the finger behind the fifth fret of the 6th string. This will give you the tone of the 5th sting. (A)

2. Place the finger behind the 5th fret of the 5th string to get the pitch of the 4th string. (D)

3. Place the finger behind the 5th fret of the 4th string to get the pitch of the 3rd string. (G)

4. Place the finger behind the FOURTH FRET of the 3rd string to get the pitch of the 2nd string. (B)

5. Place the finger behind the 5th fret of the 2nd string to get the pitch of the 1st string. (E)

About The Author

Mike Hayes is a guitar teacher, author, performing musician and session guitarist with over 30 years of professional experience. Mike’s methods are legendary and have earned the praise of top authorities in guitar instruction. He reveals his guitar secrets at http://www.GuitarCoaching.com