Memorisation – Part 1

Until quite recently I was quite poor at memorising pieces of music – especially long, complicated classical works. Over the past few months I’ve researched memory and found a number of helpful strategies that make memorising music easier. Although quite a few sites around the net offer tips, I found that only certain suggestions worked well for me, and these are not necessarily the ones that will work for you. So rather than simply compiling another list of tips and tricks I’m looking at first principles. By developing a solid understanding of how memory actually works you will be able to develop your own strategies and adapt existing approaches to your needs. So lets being by looking at the three basic stages of memory: encoding, storage and recall.
Read the rest of this entry »

Modes Explained 8: Modes and Progressions

Whilst a full discussion on chords and chord progressions is beyond the focus of a series on modes, a brief review is given here. However, if you are entirely unfamiliar with chord construction and chord progressions, I strongly recommend that you search the internet and explore this topic further before proceeding with the rest of this series.
Read the rest of this entry »

Modes Explained 7: Introducing the Melodic Minor Modes

The Melodic Minor scale gives us a whole new range of modal possibilities.
Read the rest of this entry »

Chord Theory 6: Omitting Notes

So far we’ve learned about the basic chord types (major, minor, diminished and augmented), and taken a cursory look at each of the possible sixth, seventh, 69, and extended chords that can be developed on top of these basic triads. However guitarists only have four fingers and six strings to play with, while these chords have as many as 7 notes. Its not realistic (or always musical) to play every note in these complex chords. Instead, we can omit notes which aren’t considered to be important to the sound of the chord.
Read the rest of this entry »

Chord Theory 5: Triads with Added Notes

The previous chord theory post looked at extending chords past the seventh by adding ‘tensions’. Tensions are the more ‘colourful’ notes of the chord and add interest to the basic chord’s sound. Adding tensions to triads is a way of adding more colour to triads, without needing to include the seventh.
Read the rest of this entry »

Chord Theory 4: Sus Chords

Unlike all of the chords we have learned about so far, suspended chords are not major nor minor, and are not built in thirds.
Read the rest of this entry »

Chord Theory 3: Extended Chords

In the previous chords post we learned about seventh chords. Today we are going to add even more notes on top to create extended chords.
Read the rest of this entry »

Modes Explained 6: Chord/Scales

This post looks at applying modes in the context of melodic construction (such as in composition or improvisation) over a predefined chord progression. Specifically we are going to learn about scale choices, and finding the most appropriate modes and scales for given chords. In fact, modes and chords are really just two different ways of thinking about what is essentially the same thing (so its definitely worth making sure that your chord theory is up to scratch).
Read the rest of this entry »

Chord Theory 2: Seventh Chords

In the last chord families post we looked at every possible three note combination of stacked major and minor thirds. Today we’re going to look at each of the four note combinations.
Read the rest of this entry »

Chord Theory 1: Basic Triads

Many guitar students know a few open chords and the ‘basic’ barre chord shapes, but get discouraged from furthering their chord vocabulary due to off-putting nomenclature (Gb7#9b13 anybody?) and immense (not to mention mostly useless) chord dictionaries with ’10,000 Chords You Must Know’ – just where is the student supposed to start? And what is a ‘sus’ chord, an ‘augmented’ or a ‘diminished’ chord, anyway?
Read the rest of this entry »