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alternate (Tunings) Universe


TABLE OF CONTENTS

CONTENTS 5 A WORD FROM THE PUBLISHER Keeping the fire alive

6 THE MAGNIFICENT MYSTERY

Exploring how steel strings and a box somehow convey and elicit intense emotion

12 A DAY IN NASHVILLE

An inside peek at the crazy recording day of Robben Ford’s album

24 THE HAUS OF HAMM

Connect with bassist Stu Hamm and check out his 7 Deadly Sins

30 LOOKING BEYOND THE FRETS

Adam Levy seeks inspiration from the unlikeliest of places

34 LESSON: A WHOLE LOTTA TONE LOVE?

A DAY IN NASHVILLE

12

An inside peek at the crazy recording day of Robben Ford’s album

A spotlight on how to hip up the whole tone scale

38 LESSON: TIME TO TAKE A REST!

PLASAIR D’AMOUR

Rest strokes create more distinctive and stronger tone

42 LESSON: VIBRATO - THE SOUL OF A NOTE Define yourself and your playing with an approach to vibrato

46 LESSON: NEXT LEVEL TECHNIQUE:

THE MAGNIFICENT MYSTERY

Exploring how steel strings and a box somehow convey and elicit intense emotion

PENTATONIC QUINTUPLETS

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Adam Levy seeks inspiration from the unlikeliest of places

Technical and demanding, this technique once mastered will pay off melodically

30

48 LESSON: STRUMMING PATTERNS AND

HOW TO CHOOSE ONE

Learn how to approach rhythm patterns and practice with these four gems

50 LITTLE BREAKS ADD UP

INTERACTIVE RIFF CONTENT Reading offline? Be sure to visit: http://riffjournal.com/links-v2 for an easy link directory to all online assets

Angus Clark’s approach to work and life add up

THINKING ABOUT GETTING BETTER

Just how much the mental game impacts your playing and progress is up to you

56 THINKING ABOUT GETTING BETTER

Just how much the mental game impacts your playing and progress is up to you

56

62 THE REAL DEAL

Connect with Mimi Fox’s vision of music, jazz and communicating with the audience

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

LITTLE BREAKS ADD UP

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Angus Clark’s approach to work and life add up

68

DREAM CATCHER: ROCK AND ROLL DREAMER

74

STUDIOWIRE: DON’T TRASH THE TRACKS

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10 NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS FOR GUITAR PLAYERS

Anthony Stauffer’s dream catches fire

Part two of the three part series on home studio recording

Kick of a new year with a new approach

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GEEK SPEAK

Expand your vocabulary with guitar terminology

79

SIX-STRING AFICIONADO: STUDENT SPOTLIGHT

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RIFF JOURNAL ARTIST DIRECTORY

STUDIOWIRE

Part two of the three part series on home studio recording

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A spotlight on TrueFire student Diana Rein

Full listing and interactive links from the featured artists and educators

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RIFFAGE: FEATURED ALBUM COMPILATION

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CLOSING SNAPSHOTS

Get your FREE download of featured music from Riff artists

Photos from backstage, behind-the-scenes and on the road

TOP 10 NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS FOR GUITARISTS Kick off the new year with some top notch new year’s resolutions

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CONTRIBUTORS

RIFF BAND

“When I hear music, I fear no danger. I am invulnerable. I see no foe. I am related to the earliest times, and to the latest.” - Henry David Thoreau

Meet the Riff Band. We can’t wait to present our second edition to you and share our passion with readers each quarter. In the meantime, shout out to us anytime online with feedback, questions and tasty tidbits. riffjournal@truefire.com

@riffjournal

ALISON HASBACH Editor-in-Chief

Ali (a.k.a. prioress of the ‘Fire) is a founding partner and chief shooting & branding officer who likewise holds a M.B.A. (master of brewing administration) in Coffee Imbibement. She is fanatical about all things artistic (especially TrueFire Artists).

BRAD WENDKOS Publisher

Born in a cross-fire hurricane to itinerant Appalachian mountain people and then sold for a barrel of gunpowder to a wandering clan of Eastern European gypsies, Brad (thankfully) found his way home at TrueFire.

TOMMY JAMIN

Studio Department Editor

Tommy Jamin is a graduate of the Recording Arts program at Full Sail University and has been crafting top-quality video and audio content as a professional digital media producer over the last 14 years. In addition to being Director of Production at TrueFire, he’s also a singersongwriter, production gear & tech enthusiast and family man.

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facebook.com/riffjournal

AMBER ROPELIS

Creative Director Amber is a cat lovin’ coffee drinking graphic designer and the newest edition to the team. She holds a BFA in Graphic Design & Digital Media from the University of North Florida and is the Creative Director here at TrueFire.

JEFF SCHEETZ

Educational Department Editor

Jeff is the Director of Education at TrueFire, has released 8 music CDs, and 6 video instruction courses. He’s been a teacher for over 30 years and brings his own method and style to students from around the world. He has written guitar columns for many magazines and conducted workshops and clinics throughout the US, Europe and Mexico.

ZACH WENDKOS

Technology Department Editor

Zach holds a real M.B.A. and scavenges the planet for the latest and greatest in online marketing and technology applications. He leads the charge in honing the student online experience at TrueFire and dreaming up the new and cool.


A WORD FROM THE PUBLISHER Photo by: Alison Hasbach

I

f I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music... I get most joy in life out of music.”

Albert Einstein’s passion for music was sparked long before he contemplated the wonders of the universe. His mom put a violin in his hands at age 5, but like most kids, he practiced because he had to, not because he loved to. All that changed at age 13 when Albert discovered the violin sonatas of Mozart. Now passionate about the music, he chose to teach himself without “ever practicing systematically. Love is a better teacher than a sense of duty.” While Einstein’s passion for music took root in his early teens, it blossomed throughout his life and work as a scientist. More significantly, music greatly influenced that work. “The theory of relativity occurred to me by intuition, and music is the driving force behind this intuition. My new discovery is the result of musical perception.” Albert’s older son recalls his father’s relationship with music, ”Whenever he felt that he had come to the end of the road or into a difficult situation in his work, he would take refuge in music. That would usually resolve all his difficulties.” Very few of us can relate to Einstein’s scientific theories but we can all relate to his musical experiences. We appreciate the

educational and inspirational value of studying music that we love and have passion for. We can relate to learning without “ever practicing systematically.” And we too have taken refuge from the challenges of life with the music that we make on our instruments. Whether you’re in need of refuge, inspiration or just a good hang with the geniuses of TrueFire, you’ll find it all here in this volume of Riff. Spend a day in Nashville with Robben Ford and then shoot for the stars with Angus Clark. Go deep with Mimi Fox and catch a dream with Anthony Stauffer. Need more inspiration? Set your sights beyond the frets with Adam Levy and explore a most magnificent mystery with Greg Bennett. Stop by the Haus of Hamm to avoid 7 deadly sins and think about getting better with Marc Schonbrun. Itching to pick up that guitar? Check out exclusive lessons from Rob Garland, Roberto Dalla Vecchia, Jeff McErlain, Jeff Beasley and Susan Mazer. Then sit back and tune in original music from all of the featured contributors. This RIFF’s for you!

Brad Wendkos || Head Smoke Jumper

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The

Magnificent Mystery by

Greg Bennett

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I

In November, 1978 it became inescapably clear that I was not going to be the next Eric Clapton. It was a sobering moment, but an honest moment that helped me make the transition to a career in the guitar industry. It also made music a source of pure enjoyment. I have never stopped playing or dreaming.

Over the last 40 years, I have been witness to countless discussions about guitars and the power of music with my colleagues; men and women on the same career path, driven by the same love of guitar. Curiously, not one of these discussions among us served to answer why music has had such a profound effect on us. We talked about that euphoric rush of deciphering some elusive riff and the sheer joy of expressing ourselves through music; that mystical connection that occurs between a player and the audience (sonic clairvoyance) - but never why it is so. Endless debates raged on: “ Who was better, the Beatles or The Stones?”; “Is Hip Hop on a par with Beethoven?”; and, has American Idol proven to be a blessing to the music community or a hideous perversion of the process that gave us musical greats like Ray Charles, The Beatles, and Stevie Ray Vaughn? The debates were motivated by such deeply personal feelings that we could never find a definitive answer.

THOUSANDS OF YEARS AGO, THE GREAT PHILOSOPHERS HAD ALREADY WEIGHED IN ON THE POWER OF MUSIC. UNDERSTANDING THAT MUSIC WAS BASED ON MATH, THEY BELIEVED THAT MUSICAL ABILITY WAS A CLEAR INDICATION OF CREATIVE PROBLEM SOLVING AND THE ABILITY TO LEAD OR GOVERN. We tried to imagine what our favorite films would be like without music. Could those moments of tenderness or fear ever be as intense without the support of music? We were amazed at the difference between our memories of songs before and after the video age.

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Before MTV, music was the sound track to our own life experiences. Videos came along and presented prepackaged memories. The video told us how to feel and what to think. Eyebrows were raised as business and the media learned that it was easier and more effective to create brand identity through the seductive power of iconic rock songs, rather than extolling the actual merit of their product. Some accused artists of selling out, while others saw it as the just and proper reward for artistic genius. As a history buff, I learned that, from the first gathering of human beings into small tribes to the largest, most sophisticated modern industrial state, music has been employed to engender patriotism, to unite the population behind a common cause. Wildly conflicting activities have harnessed the power of music; religious movements created music that inspired people to devote their lives to faith, while military campaigns have used it to summon up the courage of warriors marching to certain death (what Abraham Lincoln described as, “the last full measure of devotion).” Schools have their fight songs and modern corporations leverage music to ignite team spirit among their sales people. Thousands of years ago, the great philosophers had already weighed in on the power of music. Understanding that music was based on math, they believed that musical ability was a clear indication of creative problem solving and the ability to lead or govern. These are just a few of the ideas that have received serious consideration, and again, they address the effect, but not the why. Most of life’s experiences stimulate an emotional response; the passing of a loved one, the birth of a child, a promotion at work or the acquisition or loss of a prized possession can create intense joy, sadness or regret. The reason, the “Why” for the particular response, seems clear. Music is different and, remarkably so, when you consider what it is in a physical context. A player strums an acoustic guitar, causing the strings to


WE TALKED ABOUT THAT EUPHORIC RUSH OF DECIPHERING SOME ELUSIVE RIFF AND THE SHEER JOY OF EXPRESSING OURSELVES THROUGH MUSIC; THAT MYSTICAL CONNECTION THAT OCCURS BETWEEN A PLAYER AND THE AUDIENCE (SONIC CLAIRVOYANCE) BUT NEVER WHY IT IS SO.

Photos courtesy of Public Domain

set the top in motion. This movement creates waves in the air, alternating groups of compressed and relaxed molecules. The molecules roll out in waves across the auditorium and bounce off the listener’s eardrum. This stimulus is transmitted to the brain and, in moments, several thousand people are overcome with sadness or happiness, grown men are driven to tears or to their feet dancing, unable to sit still. Why? How is it possible for a steel string attached to a wooden box to convey the musician’s deepest feelings and then, elicit such an intense range of emotion in the listener? Why does a D major chord sound happy and a D minor sound sad? This is even more remarkable when you realize that our western scale is made up of only twelve notes: twelve notes that, through the relentless power of individual creativity, have given us everything from Mozart to Glen Miller, John Lee Hooker to Elvis, Gershwin to Dylan and The Beatles to Hip Hop.

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HOW IS IT POSSIBLE FOR A STEEL STRING ATTACHED TO A WOODEN BOX TO CONVEY THE MUSICIAN’S DEEPEST FEELINGS AND THEN, ELICIT SUCH AN INTENSE RANGE OF EMOTION IN THE LISTENER?

Just twelve notes; the language of music, arranged to express ideas and feelings that cannot be accomplished by any other means; notes that slam the senses without any need for interpretation. How can Pete Townsend, Segovia and Dylan play the same instrument to such astonishingly different effect? What is it that draws a listener, almost uncontrollably, to Stevie Ray Vaughn, another to Metallica, and yet another to Chopin? The last, and possibly most disturbing, question is “Why is it that one person can be emotionally overcome by music and another person feels nothing? Are some of us simply more primal in our emotions, or others, more pragmatic”? After 40 years in the industry and 53 years playing, I still don’t have the answer. It is only slightly consoling that scientists from Darwin to modern neurologists can explain our chemical and neurological response to music; the “Why”, however, remains shrouded in mystery. I suppose it is a bit like trying to explain love. For many of us, music, like love, is the force that makes life worth living; life enriched in ways that defy understanding. Maybe it’s best that we simply appreciate the countless ways that music enhances our lives, and not concern ourselves with the “Why.” And, whenever possible, to nurture and support this magnificent mystery that makes all of our lives a little bit better.

Written by Greg Bennett

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A Word From Robben I went to Nashville to record nine songs in a single day, with six new songs my band had never played before and a fractured wrist. (Who’s idea was this?!?) Indeed, my co-producer, engineer and dear friend Rick Wheeler and I had decided to pull off this stunt having come to find that the live tracks we’d recorded in Europe for this purpose were not up to snuff. So, live in the studio in one day was the call. (We hadn’t counted on the wrist thing.) Our good friends at TrueFire were down to video the whole project from beginning to end and, as happy as I was about that, it definitely caused a little extra apprehension on my part. But it turned out that their vibe and way of working made them not only Not an obstacle in the studio, but an enhancing factor to the entire project. It was great to have them there. Nine songs in a day just isn’t done anymore, and I would say it speaks volumes about all of my co-conspirators. The band: Wes Little on drums, Brian Allen on bass, Ricky Peterson on organ, and I must include Rick Wheeler recording us, did something very rare that day. We played that music right there and then, spending often less than an hour on each song, with six of the songs having been written over the threeweek period prior. We’d never even played them together yet as a band. (You have to imagine we were sweating it a little bit!) We had brought in guitarist Audley Freed for the tracking day to provide some needed support for me, and he too became an indispensable component to our success. From there the ball was pretty much in Rick Wheelers court to mix in three days. Wes and Brian visited to give suggestions and moral support, but Rick did an amazing job under pressure, not only in the mixing, but in recording all that music in a single day, in a studio that was experiencing some problems that needed some serious circumventing. I guess all that landing of jets on aircraft carriers can give you nerves of steel!

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By Brad Wendkos

W

We’ve had some pretty special days here at the ‘Fire but Friday, October 27th of 2013 went straight to number one with a bullet. Robben Ford invited us to film the making of his next record. He planned to live track nine new songs for his next album, in a Nashville studio with a 6-piece band, and do it all in a single day. What?!

We didn’t think twice. Tommy cleared our studio schedule and three weeks later Tommy, Ali, Todd and myself packed the truck and dead-headed to Nashville with our gear and bated breath. I keep a shoot log when we go out on location, mostly to help sequence our footage and track hours on the shoot. The following time sequence is pulled directly from that log and it’s accurate to the minute. I think you’ll be as impressed as I was with what was accomplished within that time frame. Here’s how our day in Nashville went…

6:34 AM

- Day starts a little too early due to unshaded wall of windows in our Nashville loft. Rousts me out of an already restless sleep. Not pleasant, but no biggie.

6:42 AM

- Tommy and Todd still sleeping soundly so I make ample noise to likewise roust them. Apparently, much more of a biggie for them. Grouchy dudes.

7:33 AM

- Starbucks. One grande triple cappuccino, reverse red eye with low fat milk, dash of cinnamon and chocolate. One grande iced coffee with milk and one squirt low-cal sweetener. One tall dark roast, black. Everybody almost happy again.

8:14 AM

- Pick up Ali downtown at her hotel. Mandatory drive-thru at Jack-In-The-Box to feed her taco addiction. Twelve tacos for her (eats six, stashes six, does not share). Bacon and egg for the rest of us. Hits the spot and now everybody is smiling again.

8:58 AM

- Unload and set-up at Sound Kitchen Studios. Big Boy Room. Really, really big tracking room. We thought we’d be first there, but everybody’s either already there or just arriving. Lots of activity. Apparently, they start real early in Nashville. Country thing?

9:18 AM

7:21 AM

- Load cameras, tripods, laptops, cables, lights, audio equipment, power equipment, and case after case of technical doodads back into truck. Dudes still grouchy.

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- Wes Little getting drums mic’d in the main room. Brian Allen setting up his acoustic bass in an iso room and his electric in the main. Trombone monster Barry Green warming up in another iso. Back in the main, Ricky Peterson dialing in settings on his organ. Audley Freed tuning up his guitar out there as well.


9:37 AM

- Robben and co-producer Rick Wheeler in the control room refining the day’s session schedule. Engineers and techs hustling back and forth. Everyone appears cool, calm and collected, but wait a minute…is that a soft cast on Robben’s wrist?

NOTE! Robben injured his wrist a couple of weeks before the session date, fought through the pain for a few shows on the 2-week tour leading up to the Nashville date. (check out the Snapshot on page 85!) He ultimately had to cancel the rest of the tour to prevent further damage. With just a week to rest his wrist, Robben decided to keep the session, but changed the format whereby he’d lead the band and record all of the rhythm tracks live in the studio, but only lay down scratch guitar and vocal tracks. Robben then returned to Nashville a few weeks later to record all his parts at the House of Blues studios and was kind enough to invite us back to film that as well.

10:53 AM

- Musicians are set-up, plugged in and now sound checking and adjusting their cans and mix for the first tune. We have four lock-down cameras and four manned cameras good to go. Getting real close.

12:48 PM

- Robben removes the soft cast and leads the band through four takes of “Green Grass, Rainwater”. The four takes are only necessary for dialing in the overall mix on the console and levels of the musician’s monitors - the band is definitely on their game. This is a very original original - impossible for me to classify its genre. I guarantee you will dig it as much as I do.

1:51 PM

- I can’t stop rocking back and forth behind my camera during “Just Another Country Road” (wish it took more than one take!). If you’ve been pining for more of that inimitable Robben Ford-ish electric blues guitar — massive doses of the stuff can be found here. Dig in.

2:42 PM

- Only two takes to nail “Different People,” a beautiful love song co-written with Michael McDonald. Everybody in the band named this tune as one of their favorites. I made a note in my log to ask Robben to show me the exquisite chord voicings he used on this tune.

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RIFF Photos of Brian and Barry by: Mascha Muenzesheimer

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Photo by: Alison Hasbach

3:32 PM

- Robben leads the band through his arrangement of “Poor Kelly’s Blues,” a Big Maceo Merriweather tune. Spiced just right with bluesy guitar lines and a killer B3 solo from monster session player Ricky Peterson.

4:07 PM

6:11 PM

- If this album was recorded in the good ‘ole days when bands made a living selling albums and fans lined up at the local record stores to buy them, “Ain’t Drinking Beer No More” would be the song blasting from everybody’s radios while everybody sang along. Sadly those days are gone. Happily we can still sing along and sing along we will.

- Apparently I was rocking back and forth again with “Top Down Blues” because Tommy later told me I had a little too much camera shake on my angle. Ha! Robben tours with Brian Allen and Wes Little and herein is ample testimony as to why. Barry Green’s trombone grabs your ear from the start of this tune and just won’t let go. His contributions to the entire record are massive. One of only two instrumentals on the record.

- The second instrumental, “Thump and Bump” rounds out the eclectic range of tunes on the album. When you hear this one, and you consider that it is now the eighth tune tracked on this day, and that it only took forty minutes to lay it down in the studio, you will understand why this day was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Tommy, Todd, Ali and me.

5:09 PM

7:43 PM

- “Midnight Comes Too Soon” took five takes, but still no longer than an hour to put to bed. It’s here that we got to witness the organic and creative process of top-notch pros interacting in the studio, refining sections and making subtle tweaks to transform a great song into a brilliant musical experience.

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7:03 PM

- How Robben and the band had the energy to track “Cut You Loose” at this point in the session still amazes me to this day (have you noticed there’s not even any scheduled lunch or dinner breaks in the timeline?). Only two takes to get this one in the can, but selfishly I wished for more because I didn’t want the day to end.


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Photos by: Mascha Muenzesheimer


Brian Allen

Wes Little

8:52 PM

- After listening to the last track in the control room, Rick and Robben call a wrap. The musicians pack up and we break down our gear. In that moment, I don’t think anybody fully appreciated what had been accomplished that day. It wasn’t until the next day, when we all returned to the studio for interviews with the musicians that we wanted to film, that the wow factor really kicked in.

10:17 PM

- Tommy, Todd, Ali and me are huddled around a table at The Whisky Kitchen downtown Nashville scarfing ribs, burgers and beers. Usually we run down our on-location shoots, but for some unspoken reason, none of us brought it up and so

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Audley Freed

Barry Green

we didn’t talk about it at all that night. Looking back, I guess we are all processing the experience in our own personal ways. That day in Nashville is a day we will never forget. I’ve listened to A Day In Nashville a thousand times since and every time I do, I feel myself rocking back and forth, my ears wide with amazement.

www.robbenford.com


Robben Ford

Ricky Peterson

A DAY IN NASHVILLE Green Grass, Rainwater Midnight Comes Too Soon Ain’t Drinkin’ Beer No More Top Down Blues Different People Cut You Loose

CLICK THE TRACK TO SEE BEHIND THE SCENES MAKING OF THE ALBUM

Poor Kelly Blues Thump and Bump Just Another Country Road

Link to Lead Sheets and Lyrics RIFF

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Written By Brad Wendkos

You’ve seen the movie. Bunch of guys on an adventure of some kind. There’s the intellectual one. The one that makes the boys crack up. The one that takes charge when necessary. And the one that makes the girls giggle. Stu Hamm is all of those characters. And he’s a really, really good bass player. My first encounter with Stu will stick with me for a long time. It was one of those spur-of-the-moment kind of things that could easily inspire a scene in a future sequel of The Hangover. Stu won me over that night Ali and I were at Musicmesse, the mega music convention in Frankfurt, looking for European partners and artists. The show was closing and we just happened to bump into Stu as everyone was headed to dinner. He and a bud were headed to a local joint, off the beaten track, that served big mugs of German draft beer and delicious pig-knuckles. They invited us to join and while I had trouble connecting the word “delicious” to “pig knuckles” we tagged along. Sure enough the beer was magical and the mugs were massive (they are very serious about their beer there in Germany). Somehow, countless shots of vodka worked their way into the equation. And yes, Stu and I went with the pig knuckle deluxe special. The others, not so courageous. I’m not a big drinker and so things went a bit foggy for me after the third round of beverages (see movie for precise details of the night’s adventure). I do remember the tavern’s proprietor goofing with us and thoroughly enjoying our broken-German (he finally let on that he spoke English better than any of us). I remember scarfing down those pig knuckles with Stu (indeed delicious!). I remember the best Crepes Suzette I’ve ever tasted (isn’t that French?). Most of all,

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I remember Stu cracking us all up so many times that my jaws hurt for the rest of the week. I don’t exactly remember when I asked Stu to work with us, but I must have at some point during the night, and he must have said yes because we’ve done five projects together since and currently working on number six. Over the following years, I was repeatedly impressed by his musicianship and musical intellect. When performing as a sideman, he performs the role impeccably. And when it’s his album or tour, he’s as generous and dynamic a bandleader as they come. I was also impressed by how well-read, educated and articulate he is — whatever the subject, Stu can chime in with the best of them. He’s also one of the hardest working musicians in the biz today. Stu’s either traveling the seven continents as a performer and educator extraordinaire, or he’s in the studio tracking a new project. No moss grows anywhere near the House of Hamm. Given his vast experience as a pro musician, I asked Stu to write up and share with Riff readers what he thought were the 7 Deadly Sins of Pro Musicians. He happily complied with the sidebar article you see herein. Incidentally, Stu drafted the article on the plane from LA to a gig in Mexico City and then finished the piece on tour through Chile, after which he returned to LA to start work on the next album. Where in the world will Stu be next? Wherever it is, I hope you too get a chance to share a beer and plate of pig knuckles with him. Stay away from the vodka though…


Photo by: Alison Hasbach

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THE 7 DEADLY SINS OF THE

PRO MUSICIAN By Stu Hamm

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#1 - COMPLACENCY

If you ever get to a place musically where you think that you have nothing left to work on musically and have your instrument mastered, it’s time to look for work elsewhere! Being a musician should be a continuing journey to improve and grow, so like a shark you have to keep moving to stay alive. Try playing the same song in a completely different way at least once a week. Swing your Bossa Novas, rock your ballads, try to solo like Hendrix the Cannonball!

#2 - AUDIENCE APATHY

You would be shocked at the number of musicians who I have seen “phone it in” and perform with little or no enthusiasm or respect for the audience. This is totally disrespectful to the people who are putting down their hard earned money so that you can make a living. I have also seen too many musicians adapt an attitude that they are “smarter” than their audience and relish in playing complicated music in casual social settings that does not entertain, but instead alienates the listeners. I’m not saying that you have to play “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” at every gig, but there’s nothing wrong with playing music that the audience can relate to and will enjoy - in fact — that’s the point!

#3 - NEGLIGENCE

Gather ‘round people Wherever you roam And admit that the waters Around you have grown And accept it that soon You’ll be drenched to the bone If your time to you Is worth savin’ Then you better start swimmin’ Or you’ll sink like a stone For the times they are a-changin’ Amen Bob! The musical and technological landscape is rapidly changing and you must keep up with current trends in social media and marketing if you expect to continue making a living.

#4 - SELF-ABSORPTION

Playing music is being involved in a conversation, and no one wants to have a conversation with someone who monopolizes the conversation and does not listen to others or let them contribute. This

also means not listening to other styles of music. If you say, “I can not listen to that song, it’s Death Metal, and I only like Symphonic Metal,” then you’re putting yourself into a musical box and closing the lid! Keep an open mind and open ears and listen to EVERYTHING, I guarantee there’s something that you can take away from any piece of music.

#5 - SHORTSIGHTEDNESS

I am often asked what I regret and what I would change if I could go back in time. My answer is that I wish that I had started doing yoga at a younger age and had become aware of the physical aspects of playing music much sooner. It may seem like a macho thing to do to carry that 8x10 cabinet up the stairs by yourself when you’re 20, but it will come back to bite you in the back when you’re 50, IF you’ve survived all of the other body beat downs that happen to a working musician. Start developing a warm up routine and listen to what your body is telling you and you’ll be able to have a longer pain-free playing career. I recommend The Bassist’s Guide to Injury Management, Prevention and Better Health by Dr. Randall Kertz.

#6 - EGOTISM

It is a sad thing when people confuse their own personal opinions with fact. I know musicians whose egos will not let them listen to what others are playing and adapt and react, and believe me, they are a drag to play with and it is disrespectful to the music and the other musicians. Lighten up. You are not better than anyone else because you have sold millions of records or can solo over “Giant Steps” in any key — we are all fellow travelers on this road and need to help and respect each other!

#7 - DEPENDANCE

I have reached the point in my life where my friends and peers are dropping like flies. Do I really need to list all of the great musicians who’s lives were cut short by drugs and alcohol? What would Jaco and Jimi have accomplished if they had lived longer? It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt and I’m not against mood and mind altering substances by any means, but if it starts to RULE you and RUIN your life (and skills) then get help immediately. As I heard someone once say, “Play you instrument every day. Avoid a serious drug and alcohol problem. Keep your overhead low.”

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The advice I’m about to give is probably not what you’d expect to hear from a devoted guitarist and guitar-based educator, but I hope you’ll take heed if you’re serious about bumping up your musical growth. Here it is: Take a few lessons from a musician who is not a guitarist. If you’re wondering why, that’s good. That means your imagination is already kicking into gear. What do you think you could learn from a clarinetist? From a drummer? I’ve learned lasting lessons from both and I’d like to share with you some of what I gleaned.

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Adam Levy: Feature Looking Beyond the Frets

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Several years ago when I lived in Berkeley, California, I was searching for new ways to approach improvisation. While I’d already done plenty of studying at that point, and was gigging regularly, I felt like my musical growth had hit a dead end. Around that time, I happened to hear a local clarinetist named Ben Goldberg and I was really struck by the imaginative way he improvised. I could hear that he was using scales and other familiar material in his playing, but the way he strung his ideas together was really fresh. I managed to nail him down for a couple of lessons.

Ben Goldberg | Unfold Ordinary Mind: Parallelogram

The things he suggested I work on were mostly about phrasing. In one of Goldberg’s exercises, we were improvising on a song that had one chord change per measure. (Many classic jazz tunes are structured this way.) Instead of soloing on each chord as it came along, as I’d been doing, Goldberg asked me to blur the bar lines. For example, if the first two measures of a tune called for four beats of Dm7 followed by four beats of G7, I might think of five beats of Dm7 and three of G7 — or vice versa. It’s a small change, but I found that it led me to play lines that sounded less pedantic, less predictable. When I started thinking about longer phrases this way, my improvisations got freer and freer — even though I never abandoned the song’s core structure. More recently, I took a lesson from Mark Stepro — a drummer in Los Angeles, where I live now, because I wanted to improve the rhythmic clarity of my guitar playing. Stepro focused my attention on rudimentary skills. He set a drum pad on a stand and had me sticking left, right, left, right, as evenly as I could, over and over. Done correctly, the stick tips should bounce back up from the pad with each stroke. Solid drummers make this look like kid stuff, but I can tell you that it’s not. The whole lesson was nothing more than left, right, left, right, as I strove to even my strokes and perfect the bounce. This got me thinking on how I could better my picking strokes on the guitar. Since my lesson with Stepro, I’ve spent a lot of time working on that…choosing one string or a pair of strings and picking down, up, down, up, not fretting any notes with my left hand. This routine helps me keep my picking hand as true as possible. I’m still thinking about how I might incorporate my left hand into this regimen.

Excerpt from My Sticking Lesson with Mark Stepro

As a TrueFire educator, of course I encourage you to soak up absolutely everything you can about guitar playing from instructors who are passionate about our instrument. But anytime you find yourself in a rut, remember that there are lots of experts on other instruments who are just as passionate about what they do, and there’s plenty that we can learn from them. For further exploration, I’d like to share three YouTube clips with you. The first is a live performance by Wayne Krantz, one of the most rhythmically adventurous guitar players I know of. Watch for the sudden change in tempo and groove at 2:20, not just in Krantz’s guitar part, but in the bass and drums as well. Throughout his improvisation, Krantz uses rhythmic concepts to propel his solo.

WINTER 2015 | ISSUE 2


Wayne Krantz, Ari Hoenig, Anthony Tidd at Chris’s, Philadelphia, June 2013

The next clip features guitarist Jim Hall with the Art Farmer Quartet. I love so much about Hall’s playing here, including his warm tone and his unusual chord voicings, but the part I really want to draw your attention to is the guitar/flugelhorn duet that starts at 4:56. When the rest of the band drops out, Hall and Farmer just keep on swinging. That takes real rhythmic conviction.

My Kinda Love Featuring Jim Hall & Art Farmer

Finally, here’s Julian Lage performing his Etude #1. I admire Lage’s facility on the instrument. How could one not? But the main reason I’m including this clip is that I hope it inspires you to write your own etudes. Want to work on a specific technique or concept? Write a piece of music that will challenge you to grow.

Julian Lage Performing Etude #1

Written by Adam Levy

Adam was recently hired as the new Department Chair of the Guitar Performance Program at Los Angeles College of Music—in Pasadena, CA

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LESSONS

SKILL LEVEL - INTERMEDIATE

WHOLE TONE PENTATONIC

TECHNIQUE OCTAVE

A WHOLE LOTTA TONE LOVE? Written by Rob Garland

Overlooked and cast out into the wilderness for its perceived weirdness is my friend, the Whole Tone scale. It shows up in classical works by the likes of Debussy and Stravinsky, jazz compositions by Wayne Shorter and John Coltrane, is sprinkled throughout the back catalog of Frank Zappa and even rears its head in pop music such as at the beginning of Stevie Wonder’s “You Are The Sunshine Of My Life.” Comprised of six notes per octave, a whole tone apart (aha, so that’s where the name comes from!) any one note can be the root. Because it’s a symmetrical scale you can move your favorite licks up or down by a whole step. Surely not? Yes, but don’t call me Shirley.

WINTER 2015 | ISSUE 2


Whole Tone Scale - 2 Octave Pattern (From C Root note on the low E string)

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Examples 1 and 2 show several two-octave fingerings for the scale, but there are many possibilities so I suggest you experiment and find patterns that work best for you. So now we know the scale, let’s look at a real-life musical application utilizing it over dominant chords. Try playing the whole tone scale from the root note of the chord and you’ll hear Root-2nd/9th-3rd-b5th-#5th-b7th, which yields some hip altered tones to wreak havoc with.

Listen to Audio Clip 1

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WINTER 2015 | ISSUE 2


EXAMPLE 3 Standard Tuning

Transcribed by Rob Garland

Example 3 shows a wonderfully strange lick based out of the C whole tone scale played against a C7 rock vamp and provides a nice unexpected alternative to the often over-used blues lick.

Listen to Audio Clip 2

Playing the full scale can be rather tense at times, as you’ve probably noticed by now, so experiment combining fragments of it with dominant arpeggios, the mixolydian mode and your favorite pentatonic licks. This way you’ll breathe new life into your playing, yet still create enough dissonance to annoy your neighbors.

ABOUT THE EDUCATOR Rob Garland Rob Garland is as completely obsessed with music and the guitar now as he was as a teenager! He has performed hundreds of gigs across Europe and the US, worked as a session musician, written an instructional book for Cherry Lane, given tuition clinics and been featured in several magazines. Rob is proud to be a TrueFire Artist with a new course “The Guitarists’s Pentathlon,” 3 workshops and an interactive classroom “Guitar Babylon,” which he describes as “twenty years of teaching all in one place.” He currently lives in sunny Los Angeles where he teaches and performs live with several bands. His original music is available through his website, iTunes, Spotify, etc.

VIEW ROB’S COURSE LIBRARY RIFF

37


LESSONS

SKILL LEVEL - LATE BEGINNER FLATPICKING

ELVIS

REST STROKES

TIME TO TAKE A REST! PLASAIR D’AMOUR Written by Roberto Dalla Vecchia

In this column I would like to talk about rest strokes in flatpicking guitar playing. A rest stroke is where you pick a note and follow through in such a way that the pick rests on the next string below the one you are playing. It gives you a more distinctive and stronger tone and helps to accent certain notes. You can play rest strokes for a number of reasons and today I would like to show you how to use them in this fairly simple arrangement of “Plaisir d’Amour.” This is an old French operatic song and it was recorded by Elvis Presley as “Can’t Help Falling In Love.” The song is in the key of C major and it’s in a 3/4, waltz time signature. We start off picking the third string open and right after that we strum over the C chord. You must control your strum though, strum from the 5th string all the way down to the second string and rest your pick on the first string, don’t play it.

WINTER 2015 | ISSUE 2


Plaisir d'Amour Jean-Paul Martini, arranged by Roberto Dalla Vecchia

PLAISIR D’AMOUR

Standard Tuning Jean-Paul Martini, arranged by Roberto Dalla Vecchia

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WINTER 2015 | ISSUE 2


Congratulations you just played your first rest stroke! Now in measure number 2, you strum a G chord and again as you do so rest your pick on the first string. Probably it will feel a little awkward, but the main reason for using rest strokes is to avoid strumming extra strings by accident, that is the first string in measure 1 and 2. As you strum those two chords try to emphasize the top note because that’s where the melody is, in fact when doing chords, the rest stroke tends to emphasize the top note. Let’s point out all the rest strokes in this arrangement: first beat of measure one, two, seven, nine, ten, eleven, twelve and fourteen. In these chords, the melody note is always the top note of the chord, and we’ll be resting the pick on the string below the top note. If you need some help with fingering these chords look at the standard notation and you will find some suggested fingering. Last but not least, make sure to hold your chords down as long as possible to gain some sustain. Let me know how you like it and if you have questions write me at: info@robertodallavecchia.com

ABOUT THE EDUCATOR Roberto Dalla Vecchia Acoustic guitar artist Roberto Dalla Vecchia draws deeply from his homeland to craft melodic folk-bluegrass tunes. Based in Italy, Dalla Vecchia performs regularly at concerts and festivals and teaches at workshops throughout Europe and US. He is the winner of Acoustic Guitar Magazine’s 2003 Homegrown CD Award. His CD Grateful won second place in the “Instrumental Album” category of the 2009 Just Plain Folks Music Awards.

VIEW ROBERTO’S COURSE LIBRARY RIFF

41


LESSONS

SKILL LEVEL - LATE INTERMEDIATE

VIBRATO

TECHNIQUE TONE

VIBRATO - THE SOUL OF A NOTE Written by Jeff McErlain

One of the single most defining elements of any guitar player is their vibrato. As a teacher I find it to be one of the most overlooked techniques, which is unfortunate as it is one of the most important. Vibrato does many things from simply extending the duration of a note by the friction of the string on the fret, to expressing deep emotion and personality. It is also a very personal thing, what I might like in a vibrato, another guitar player may not. But we can all agree that it is something you must work on with intent just like scales. Vibrato must be in tune and in time. Good vibrato takes years to develop as it requires a fair amount of hand strength and a good ear. I have put together a few clips of some of my favorite players in live situations so you can listen and see how they approach vibrato. That to me was a huge part of the equation, no one ever taught me how to vibrato properly, I just started going to gigs, asking questions, buying instructional VHS tapes, and hanging with other players. This was all pre-YouTube, but MTV actually showed rock music videos at the time and I got to SEE how Stevie Ray, Clapton, Eddie, Gilmour and Yngwie would vibrato a note. A strong vibrato starts with proper hand position, generally vibrato comes from the wrist and forearm. The fingers fretting the note are kept rigid, while the actual movement of the string comes from the wrist and forearm. Most players will pivot on the knuckle of the first finger to anchor the hand. The thumb comes over the top of the neck to add leverage, which is especially important when adding vibrato to a bent note. I am talking about blues and rock guitar vibrato, the kind of guitar I play. Classical guitar vibrato is a different technique that is also definitely worth exploring, but nylon strings are very different. Many players believe that the thumb should not come over the neck and vibrato and bends should come only from the fingers, I am not one of them! This is very often dependent on string gauge and other factors. I played that way when I was younger and it led to hand problems that all but went away when I changed to the technique I am using now. This is the technique

WINTER 2015 | ISSUE 2


you will see in the following clips as well, so play close attention! This first clip is from the rather dated “Farewell To Cream” concert film. Apart from Clapton coming off a bit Spinal Tap-ish and some odd narration, Eric provides us a wealth of information into how he got his sound, bending strings, and his vibrato up close. Notice his vibrato is all coming from his wrist and forearm, not his fingers. His fingers are more or less locked in place and the work is from the forearm/ wrist motion. He can be very subtle or extremely aggressive with his all in one phrase. I love how he even addresses the topic directly. The super bonus from this clip was how it taught me to get the most out of a Gibson tonally.

Dorma.” To get a point of reference (the highest point of reference possible), let’s listen to Luciano Pavarotti’s 1980 performance from Lincoln Center. If this doesn’t move you, I’m not sure what will!

Luciano Pavarotti - Nessun Dorma

Now watch how Beck evokes the human voice through his use of bends, dynamics, phrasing, and

Eric Clapton

Another master of vibrato and huge influence on me, and millions of other guitar players, is David Gilmour. As a kid I was a Pink Floyd fanatic, and still hold Gilmour’s playing as a high benchmark. Although all of his solos left an impression on me, none did more for my vibrato, and understanding of control, as the “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” solos. If you notice his vibrato is a mix of both standard left-hand technique and the vibrato bar. Sometimes he does one or the other, or both at the same time. This solo also showed me how vibrato can add a vocal quality to the guitar. Notice how a great singer will choose their vibrato carefully depending on what emotion they are trying to express at that time. Here, Gilmour does just that, some vibrato is faster, slower, wider, smaller, delayed, etc. All very vocal. I highly suggest, if you are a fan, learning the solos from the original recording, they were an eye opener for me. An important note is that Gilmour’s bridge is floating, this allows him to move the pitch both above and below the note when he uses the bar.

David Gilmour - Shine On You Crazy Diamond

We just saw how David Gilmour’s vibrato added a huge vocal component to his playing, I think nobody does it better than Jeff Beck as we can see in the following clip of him performing Puccini’s “Nessun

of course vibrato. I think this is particularly striking hearing it next to Pavarotti.

Jeff Beck - Nessun Dorma

As we can see Beck’s control is outstanding and unlike any other player. He uses a mixture of bends, dynamics, and of course, vibrato to capture the sound of the human voice. In that performance we see that Beck’s vibrato mainly comes from the bar. His is also floating, so much so that he can pull up a major 3rd on the G string. Although this isn’t traditional hand vibrato, the effect is still the same. He plays equally as well with a traditional approach. Vibrato can be much more aggressive than the players we have looked at so far, yet just as beautiful. One player who made me see this was Yngwie Malmsteen, I know you mainly know me as a blues guy, but I

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love metal and hard rock as well. I was a teenager when Yngwie first hit the scene and he changed everything for me as a player. I saw him with Alcatrazz on the same tour (video below). I was in the front row watching a guy a few years older than me play like I have never seen anyone play before. I still love his playing especially from this period. Yes, it may be gratuitous, but hey, it’s metal in 1984 and he had something to prove. Clearly he is known for his chops, which are amazing, but his vibrato is just as impressive. It is wide and fast and aggressive on the rocking numbers while controlled and slow on the the slower sections. Once again we see he is using a traditional approach to his vibrato, it comes from his wrist, fingers locked, thumb over the top of the neck, pivoting on the knuckle of the first finger. Let’s take a look. Wow, I just realized this was 30 years ago...

Yngwie Malmsteen 1984

I could post videos all day of great players and their vibrato because it is one of the things that makes them great players. These are just a few players who influenced me. Others that came to mind are Peter Green, Van Halen, Albert King, Eric Johnson, Robin Trower, Jimi Hendrix, Daniel Lanois, and more, it is a very long list! What I wanted you to see is that all of these players have great control over the guitar and that can only come with practice solely focused on vibrato. The best way to practice the technique is to play a note, start with a G in the 12th fret of the 3rd string. Play the note and listen to the pitch, now add some vibrato. Is it in tune? The common mistake people make at first is to let the vibrato go sharp by not allowing the string to return to pitch. Think of it as releasing the tension in your hand and letting the note come back to pitch itself. The vibrato should only be in one direction, pull the string up or down on either side of the center point. It is important not to do both as it actually cancels out the vibrato for the most part. Obviously if you are playing on the high E string, you can only vibrato upwards or you will pull the string off the neck. Other than the high and low strings, there is no rule as to what direction you must vibrato. Next you want to decide on what kind of vibrato you want; how wide and how fast or slow will be. This is where personal preference really comes into play as there is no right or wrong. My default vibrato is similar to David Gilmour’s or Eric Clapton’s, a smooth medium speed, a little on the wider side. BB King’s vibrato is small and fast, whereas Zakk Wylde’s is huge and fast. Like I said, this is up to you, but whatever it is, it should be a conscious decision. It should be in tune, and consistent. I cannot stress enough the importance of experimenting with all different kinds of vibrato as they all add a different flavors and emotions to your playing. I also suggest doing what everyone before us did, listen and transcribe some of your favorite players. Learn the solos note for note, and try to match every nuance as best as you can. Find a player who’s playing you love and analyze and reproduce their vibrato. Go on YouTube, or better yet see them live is possible, watch and listen, then practice! Here’s a quick little check list of things to think about when working on your vibrato:

VIBRATO CHECK LIST • Fingers Locked

• Use Wrist and Forearm To Move the String

• Thumb Over The Top Of The Neck

• Make Sure The Note Is In Tune

• Pivot on Knuckle of 1st Finger

• Decide On What Kind Of Vibrato You Want to Practice

WINTER 2015 | ISSUE 2


Developing vibrato takes time, I am still working on mine, but it is one of the most important and most satisfying elements of guitar playing. It can make all the difference in your playing and help define your own sound. Be patient and persistent and endlessly curious about how to approach it. Above all, have fun on the way!

ABOUT THE EDUCATOR Jeff McErlain Jeff McErlain has been playing professionally and honing his craft as a guitar teacher for over twenty-five years. He’s now at the top of his field in guitar instruction, teaching lessons both out of his studio in NYC and around the globe via Skype. Jeff is a pioneer of on-line guitar education through both his customized personal lessons and his on-line guitar classroom, “The Juke Joint”. Apart from his own workshops, Jeff has taught at the Crown Guitar Festival, National Guitar Workshop and The Bath Guitar Festival.

VIEW JEFF’S COURSE LIBRARY RIFF

45


LESSONS

SKILL LEVEL - ADVANCED

QUINTUPLET PENTATONIC

ROCK

NEXT LEVEL TECHNIQUE: PENTATONIC QUINTUPLETS Written by Jeff Beasley

Rock and blues guitarists consistently utilize the pentatonic scale in their writing and improvisation. The scale is one of the most common in these styles, as well as many other genres in western music. You don’t have to be an amazing technician to implement pentatonic ideas into your guitar playing, and there are a plethora of accessible variations of the scale for just about any guitarist, whatever your level. However, there are also some challenging variations to this melodic idea. One of the more difficult approaches to the pentatonic is the sequential quintuplet. The sequence divides the tones of the scale into groupings of five, dramatically increasing the technical demands for the picking and fretting hand. For example, when using strict alternate picking, each set of the five tones alternates its initial tone. If the first set of five begins with a down stroke, the second grouping will begin with an up stroke. This alternating initial tone will remain a constant if the grouping is repeated. Also, depending on the variant of the scale pattern used, you may encounter numerous string skips and even with economy picking obtaining accuracy can be challenging. The fingerings for the fretting hand can be somewhat unusual, and may require a bit of stretching, compensating for potential string skips. Now that I’ve explained the challenges of the quintuplet sequence, let me say that it’s one of the most beneficial approaches to technique building. Any guitarist, who has a command of this grouping, has accomplished significant technical growth. Finally, the quintuplet creates a truly amazing melodic ladder, that’s sure to gain your listeners attention.

WINTER 2015 | ISSUE 2


Sequencing Pentatonics-Quintuplets Sequencing Pentatonics-Quintuplets Jeff Beasley Beasley Sequencing Pentatonics-Quintuplets Jeff SEQUENCING PENTATONICS-QUINTUPLETS Jeff Beasley

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ABOUT THE EDUCATOR Jeff Beasley Jeff Beasley holds degrees in Music and Classical Guitar, is a prolific educator,

Copyright Jeff Beasley Page 1/1 workshop and clinic instructor, Copyright Jeff Beasley Allpopular Rights Reserved - International Copyright Secured former senior faculty member for the National Page 1/1 All Rights Reserved - International Secured Copyright Jeff Beasley Guitar Workshop, and isCopyright currently a faculty member with TrueFire. He has opened Page 1/1 All Rights Reserved - International Copyright Secured Copyright Jeff Beasley Page 1/1 Huntsville Institute of MusicSecured in 2015. Jeff has appeared in Guitarist Network Allthe Rights Reserved - International Copyright

magazine, Guitar Player Vault, Music For The World, Music and Arts, Musicians Hotline, and Premier Guitar magazines and is endorsed by Sierra Guitars, D’Addario Strings, In Tune Guitar Picks and Levy’s Leathers.

VIEW JEFF’S COURSE LIBRARY RIFF

47


LESSONS

SKILL LEVEL - BEGINNER

SONGS

BEGINNER

STRUMMING

STRUMMING PATTERNS AND HOW TO CHOOSE ONE Written by Susan Mazer

The strumming pattern sets the groove to any great song, just like the drummer does. But whether you find an arrangement online or in a songbook, you’re rarely told which strumming or picking pattern to use. You’ll see plenty about what the fretting hand should be doing, but what about the strumming hand? In this article, I’ll offer a few suggestions for how to choose a strumming pattern. Then, I’ll teach you four patterns that you can add to your “musical toolkit.” With these as a foundation, you’ll be on your way to finding that perfect groove.

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• Choosing a strumming pattern is a matter of preference. If five guitar players were in a room together, chances are that they would each come up with a slightly different pattern for the same song. Listen to the drummer and bass player on a recording of the tune you’re learning, and try to find a pattern that reinforces that groove. • Choosing a guitar pick is as personal as choosing a strumming pattern. In addition to every shape and thickness of flat picks imaginable, you can strum with a thumb pick or with just your thumb and fingers. Experiment to find the sound and feel that works best for you. • When you’re learning to sing and play at the same time, practice the strumming pattern until it’s second nature. You should be able to carry on a conversation and maintain a constant rhythm simultaneously. Once the strumming is on auto-pilot, the words will fall into place. • Know when not to strum. If the tune you’re learning is a ballad or has a softer slower feel, you may opt to fingerpick the song rather than strum it. Here’s a link to one of my lessons, describing the basics of playing fingerstyle (Beyond Beginner – Link to “Picking Technique Considerations”).

Now let’s try to play some patterns. Playing these strumming patterns correctly doesn’t require that you read music, but matching the pattern to the right rhythm is critical. The patterns are counted with each of the four beats broken in half. Count each beat evenly and equally: ONE AND TWO AND THREE AND FOUR AND (1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &). Notice where each of the strums fall against the beats. You strum “Down” on 1, 2, 3 and 4, and you strum “Up” on all of the “ands.” In the examples, the bracket facing down is the down stroke and the “V” is the upstroke. After you learn these 4 patterns you can experiment to create your own strums. Down strums are usually on the down beat (1 2 3 4) and the up strums are on the up beats (“and” or “&” of each beat). If you stay within the time signature, there are countless combinations that will fit with the music. Soon, you won’t even have to think about choosing a strumming pattern. You’ll hear a tune and your strumming hand will just fall into the groove. If you’d like to see me demonstrating some patterns in video, check it out here.

Beyond Beginner Sample

ABOUT THE EDUCATOR Susan Mazer Susan is a well-respected educator, author, and performer known especially for her intricate fingerstyle guitar playing. She studied with Benji Aronoff, a protégé of Doc Watson, and received her Bachelor of Music degree at Hartt School of Music and Masters in Music at Boston University. Susan was the first female guitar instructor to teach at the National Guitar Workshop and currently teaches for the Crown of the Continent festival and workshop. Susan has been performing for the last 20 years and now plays with the Keith and Mazer Trio.

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WINTER 2015 | ISSUE 2 Photo By: Bob Carey


BY JEFF SCHEETZ

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M

usicians are often looking for that “Big Break.” If they just get that one magic phone call, gig or contract, it will surely lead to easy street. But sometimes while they are looking for the big break, the little ones can sneak past. But the really savvy cats know that all those little breaks add up! Angus Clark wasn’t concerned with any kind of breaks when he first started out. Well unless you count having his parents come through on his request for a guitar and lessons after watching “The Monkees” on TV. He did point out, “which were re-runs, I’m not that old.” That show, along with the Beatles, was his first exposure, but it wasn’t until the 8th grade that he says, “I got Pink Floyd’s The Wall. That was really the album that made me have to play the guitar. Still is.”

IT’S BEEN REALLY GRATIFYING TO SEE THIS LITTLE IDEA ABOUT THE POWER OF SONGWRITING AS A COLLABORATIVE LEARNING TOOL TAKE OFF AND BECOME A WORLDWIDE COMPANY

When asked about his career path he says, “My career is best described as a series

of little breaks over a long period of time. You get a little break and you foster the connection until it gets you to the next little break.” His first significant little break came in 1994 when he was asked to join new age artist Kitaro’s band. As all little break stories go, this one came from an unexpected place. He did a gig in front of about 10 people with a band he was in that probably didn’t seem very important to him at the time. However Angus says, “A few days after that gig, I was out seeing a friend’s band and I met a woman at the bar who had been at our 10-person show. She worked for Kitaro and said that he was looking for someone who played in the style of David Gilmour and that she thought I fit the bill - I even kind of looked like him. So that’s what led to my audition and subsequent 4 years of touring, 3 Grammy-Nominated records, and performances at both Red Rocks and Carnegie Hall.” The best part about that they usually opportunities. leads to another you keep taking may even get you want to part of the secret is not great player, guy. Here you get to pretty well not only plenty of spare, you dig with front hotel! great

little breaks is lead to other Every road road and if these, they you to where go. Of course, networking only being a but a great at TrueFire, know someone and Angus is a prepared professional with guitar chops to but a guy that having breakfast as you sit on the porch of the This great player/ dude combination

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BOTH THE STORY OF THE TSO AND MY INVOLVEMENT IN IT INVOLVE NUMEROUS LITTLE BREAKS AND A LOT OF HARD WORK THAT HAS SO FAR LED TO 15 YEARS OF TOURING, MORE THAN 10 MILLION TICKETS SOLD, AND A FEW PLATINUM ALBUMS. SO I’D SAY LITTLE BREAKS ARE THE WAY TO GO. is deadly when you are looking for that next break. The Kitaro gig led to Angus getting to know Marty Freidman, and in 2001 when the “Trans Siberian Orchestra” were in need of a guitarist, Marty recommended they contact Angus. He got the gig. Angus tells me that was a good opportunity, “In 2001 the TSO was a 2 week tour in theaters - sometimes the same exact theaters I had played with Kitaro. So that felt like a little break at the time. It’s evolved into something much bigger over time.” Yeah, I think it has. If you have seen the TSO around the Christmas season you know that it has indeed evolved into one of the biggest and most successful touring rock shows out there. As Angus puts it; “Both the story of the TSO and my involvement in it involve numerous little breaks and a lot of hard work that has so far led to 15 years of touring, more than 10 million tickets sold, and a few Platinum albums. So I’d say little breaks are the way to go.” Certainly can’t argue with that! Breaks come in various forms, and from various places, sometimes out of necessity. Angus says, “After my daughter was born, my wife put it on me to “get some work in town.” Once again friends from the TSO had been to the “Rock of Ages” Broadway show and told Angus it was a cool show. As fate would have it, he was recording some stuff in a local studio and ran

into someone who was in the show. Next thing you know a “little break” popped up and he found himself talking to one of the guitar players and learning the material for the show. He says, “It was completely nerve-wracking. The whole two-and-a-half hour show has to be memorized, you have dialogue, people dancing around you, it’s crazy. But it is really fun. You can’t beat it for a day job.” With a day job like that who needs another gig!? But Angus is not one to sit around, so he is currently finishing up an EP for his band “DareDevil Squadron,” and has recently released a book he has written for Musician’s Institute, and is, of course, a regular in the TrueFire studios. He is also excited about another project, “The main thing I’m busy with besides the TSO is my company SongDivision. We have a process that involves non-musicians in writing songs as a group with the help of a professional band. SongDivision is hired by corporate clients to execute this process at large meetings, conventions, or team building events. We have bands all over the world and have run sessions in over 20 countries and in numerous languages. It’s been really gratifying to see this little idea about the power of songwriting as a collaborative learning tool take off and become a worldwide company.” So the next time you are sitting around waiting for that “big break” to come your way, just ignore that blur that just goes flying by. That is just Angus grabbing ahold of that next little break that is going to keep him moving onward and upward.

www.angusclark.com

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want more? view david’s courses on truefire

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Photo By : Alison Hasbach


BY MARC SCHONBRUN

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spend a lot of time thinking these days. In fact, I have been thinking about this article almost a month before putting any words on paper. I believe that becoming a better guitar player is equally about chops, ears and thought. And I now believe that the thought part of getting better might actually be the most important piece. I’d like to take you on a little journey today—through a bit of my journey in the hopes that it might help you. This isn’t a lesson, but it’s anecdotes from a path that might not be too far from where you are.

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THE GOOD OLD DAYS I basically dropped out of the world at 16 when the guitar came into my life. Barring a few sick days, I don’t think that I played less than 6 hours of guitar on any given day for 13 straight years. It was glorious. But it wasn’t reality for most of the people I taught. I began teaching at 18, and really started teaching a lot in my early 20s. I had some of the best students in the whole world, many of whom have become dear friends that I still talk to. I often found it really hard to teach guitar, because I would feel a bit of disappointment when my students were not getting better at the rate I wanted them to. I took it a bit personally, and it was hard at first. What I was lacking was a bit of empathy for them, and it was understandable—I was in my 20s, no kids, and I played guitar for a living. I lived in a really awesome bubble, but it wasn’t the same world that my students lived in. Over time, I started to understand that my job was to help my students get better. It wasn’t to mint rock stars. It was to help them make progress. The pace of the progress was not something I could control, but it was my job to help them have fun. They were paying for an escape from their reality. An hour where they got to do exactly what they wanted to do. That was my job. Teach them how to have fun. But I really wanted them to get better. So, my challenge became to find a way to fulfill both sides. So, I started to think. How can I get someone to play better when they can only play guitar a few hours a week? The answer cannot just be to make the most of the time you have.

TIME One thing that kept coming up as I worked with adult students is that time was the enemy. Jobs, families, relationships and life all compete for your time. I was blessed to teach some absolutely brilliant people. My students were doctors, lawyers, businessmen who were all at the top of their game. These folks clearly had the mental ability to take on something new; they

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often did it daily in their professional life. But, as time went on, week to week, the progress was often glacial. There was always a legitimate excuse: business travel, working late, family obligations. I will admit that while I said it was fine, and just focused our time on having fun in the lesson, it was hard to hear. I didn’t fully get it. Even 10 minutes a day would be OK, I thought. But I was lacking some critical context and I could not see past my bubble. In 2008, I moved from the right coast to the left coast and started over in a whole bunch of ways, and I purposely stopped playing for a little bit. It was both hard and weird not to play, but it ended up being quite good for me. When I got back into playing in 2009, something hit me like a ton of bricks: I had become my former students. I no longer had much time to play. I came home from work mentally exhausted. I didn’t want to play some nights, so I didn’t. I needed a new plan to keep myself improving. This new plan had to be really efficient, and, most of all, I needed a way to get better without needing a guitar in my hands all the time. I started to think about ways to get better without playing guitar a lot, and I started to come up with a whole bunch of neat ideas.

MENTAL GAMES How much of music is mental? Turns out, quite a bit, and it’s usually in ways you don’t know or expect. When I thought back to teaching, I would often come back to large pockets of wasted time, especially around music theory. Teaching students to spell scales and triads often soaked up huge swathes of time in the lessons. It was clear that my students didn’t have a great way to learn those skills and they largely never learned it. They didn’t learn it because when they went home to practice, they wanted to get the guitar in their hands and they didn’t want to share any of their precious time thinking about music when they really wanted to play. So, I decided that we can make stronger boundaries in our lives, and playing time could be more or less devoted to playing, and theory and ear training could live elsewhere. But where? Like most people in the world, I had a commute in the morning and evening. It’s about 30 minutes each way, and other than calling my mom, I had free time to think. So, I started to use that time each day to practice music theory and ear training. Turns out,


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this was a really amazing way to spend that time. I wasn’t doing anything fancy—mostly visualizing theory, and reminding myself where the notes and intervals were on the neck. Fingerboard knowledge was clearly one of those things that if you aren’t working on for long periods of time, you start to lose it. But my little rituals in the car totally helped. When I got back to the guitar at night, my brain and eyes locked in on the neck and solidified all the things I was working on mentally, and they effortlessly popped out when I played. It’s something I still do to this day. I don’t practice any theory now when I have a guitar in my hands. It’s always something I do away from the instrument. And it’s not just me. Professional musicians often talk about “visualizing” the performance to help them play better, because at a certain point, there is a huge point of diminishing returns for practicing. You cannot just sit there longer or play more. You have to have something to practice, and people often make this mistake.

EARS TO YOU The bigger shift came with ear training. Not everyone is as crazy as I am about theory and harmony, but we all have ears, and many of you rely solely on your ears to get you through. In 2011, I decided to seriously study the blues. It was something I was never great at, and I always knew it was a missing piece. So, I tried something crazy: learn to play the blues without ever trying to play it. Do it by only listening. So, for the better part of a year, I listened and absorbed as much music as I could. From SRV to BB, to Albert Collins to Albert King, I listened. I made myself MP3s of slowed down solos so I could really tune into the phrasing while I drove to work. After a year, I was finally starting to hear the blues in my head, and I was finally starting to get it. When I went back to the guitar to play, I didn’t force anything. I played whatever came out of my hands and ears and accepted it. As the months rolled on, more and more blues started to emerge, and they emerged naturally. Even more fascinating is that I don’t sound like any of the guys I was listening to. I sounded like me, but you could tell that there was a clearer line and homage to those guys. You should really try it!

DEEP THOUGHTS AND NEXT STEPS Can you really get better as a player away from your instrument? Yes. 100%. I am more sure of this now than ever because in the last few years I have used this with my students and I have seen it work. Focus your time with the guitar to playing and enjoying yourself. That’s why we all love the guitar: because it’s so enjoyable and makes us all feel so good. When you’re away from it, think about the aspects of your playing that you’d like to change and see how many of those aspects need to be worked on with a guitar. I asked each of my students what they’d like to get better at, and the answers were consistent: They wanted to better understand the neck They wanted to improve their ears They wanted to improve their phrasing They wanted to have better technique/play faster Other than playing faster, you can make progress on each of those aspects away from the guitar. And it won’t be hard. And you don’t have to spend a lot of time doing it. You just have to think a little. It could be just the change you need.

Written by Marc Schonbrun

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BY BRAD WENDKOS

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Photos By: Michael Oletta


ou meet a lot of people at NAMM. Friends introduce you to their friends, who in turn introduce you to their friends, and so it goes for five straight days and nights. It’s an analog social network frenzy, which in our case thankfully skews heavily to guitar artists and educators and so I’m the proverbial kid in a candy store. One day while strolling the aisles, I shook hands with George Benson (haven’t washed that hand since…just kidding), two hours later met Pat Martino (working on a project with him as I write this), and then just before closing time, I was introduced to one of my personal favorites, Mimi Fox. Boom! Dave Wish, uber-cool founder of Little Kids Rock, introduced us and I’ve thanked my lucky stars ever since. I’m thankful for all of the jazz courses that we’ve collaborated on. I’m thankful for her friendship and selfless support of our charitable activities. Most of all, I’m thankful for the music she makes that keeps jazz vibrant and very much alive. A couple of years ago, Mimi called to say she had an upcoming trio gig at the Palladium, a historic venue right in our backyard. With an opportunity like that knocking on our front door, we hit the drawing boards and blueprinted Mimi’s next TrueFire course — Jazz Performance. We filmed the show with a 4-camera crew and if you’re one of our jazz students, you’ve likely seen the performance footage, as well as the companion lessons that Mimi filmed with us at a later date. What you probably have not seen are Mimi’s answers to a series of questions that I surprised her with during a break at soundcheck. The video segments from that interview can be found, in the bonus section, on “Live at the Palladium,” a DVD that Favored Nations published using our footage. I’ve inserted text transcriptions of my favorite responses throughout this article. Some artists pick jazz as their genre of choice because it’s challenging, deep and complex. Some choose jazz because they love the colors and textures found in the music. Some artists have no choice — jazz chooses them inexplicably, and such is the case with Mimi Fox. A very well-known and widely respected jazz pianist attended that show at the Palladium. I sat with him during the first set, during which he turned to me and whispered, “She’s the real deal.” I couldn’t agree more.

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“I love Jazz. It’s such a beautiful combination; rooted in the blues and early-Dixieland, as well as swing styles and it’s evolved through so many transformations. Jazz is complex, beautiful, but also very rhythmic and compelling music.” “Ultimately I think what moves people, as an artist, is when you’re being vulnerable and it’s a very hard thing to do because it’s like you’re walking on stage naked. Every time you step on stage, you’ve really got to go for it, you’ve got to let people in, and that’s a tall order.” “Jazz musicians have different relationships with their audience, I’ve always been a very synergetic performer, and I respond when I feel the audience is with me. You know that you’re touching people and I think for me, the type of musician and performer I am spurs me on and makes me want to give even more, to be more vulnerable and to really go for things. You feel like people are basically saying ‘I hear you, I’m with you, and I’m digging what you’re doing’ and then it becomes almost a symbiotic kind of relationship between myself and the audience.” “You’re improvising, spontaneously telling a story, so I also have to think about where I’m going and where this will go next because when I’m playing one figure I have to know that another phrase is going to follow that. So there’s a lot of things subconsciously operating on different levels.”

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INTERVIEW EXCERPTS IN MIMI’S OWN WORDS

“To me the most fun that you can have on the bandstand is when there’s communication happening between everyone, not everybody all at once, but between a drummer and I, a bass player and I, or a horn player and I. Whatever’s going on is what makes something’s special happen, it’s all about communication and listening to each other. It’s all about interactiveness and communication that makes Jazz so enduring. It’s in the moment; an extemporaneous, spontaneous creation, there’s no preparation — well, other than a gazillion years of practice.” “I’ve lived through some hard things in my life and that comes out in my music, usually in some tender very emotional ballad that I will have written about

somebody or something that happened. That’s my job as an artist, I’m a human sponge picking up things, taking information in, and trying to create something beautiful, edgy, or exciting. Whatever it may be, I try and make it eloquent out of those emotions and those experiences.” “People ask me as a composer what inspires me. It’s usually people I love, places I’ve been, or experiences I’ve had, this is what I’ll write songs about. So I could be in Tokyo at an art museum looking at Japanese art from the fifth century and I can be moved. I always tell people that I experience the world through my ears. I hear music when I feel things, I hear the music run though me and that’s how I experience the world.”

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Let’s be honest. Almost everyone who has ever picked up a guitar and hacked away at a few chords has most likely had the dream, even if only fleeting, of how cool it would be to quit their day job and be able to make a living with just that hunk of wood and those six strings. Most of those dreams involve gold records, world tours, Lamborghini’s and girls in bikinis and… well you know that dream. That is also why that dream evaporates pretty quickly, it’s a bit like winning the lottery. However, there may be other less likely roads to the dream of quitting your job and making a living with your guitar.

Photos Courtesy of Anthony Stauffer

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Enter Anthony Stauffer. Anthony was a regular guy. Although he had played in bands in college when he graduated with his Bachelors in Electrical Engineering, he took a job with a small software company to do tech support. In his words, “Basically, I became a nerd. The company encouraged me to hone my programming skills on the job. I was soon working 100% on programming, and it stayed this way for about 5 years. I started learning graphic and web design skills along the way, and by 2005 I was doing all of their graphic design and maintaining their website.” Although he had no real teaching experience, and didn’t really feel he had the personality for private lessons, he had a dream. “I had a deep understanding of ‘how’ I understood what I could play, and I dreamed about creating an instructional series of DVDs almost as soon as I began learning guitar.” Anthony launched this dream in 2007 with the introduction of his website “StevieSnacks.” In just two years his income from lesson sales surpassed what he earned at his tech job and he had a decision to make. “I began with free lessons, but soon was authoring full courses. My free time (as a new father) was disappearing. Most of 2009 was quite stressful, trying to balance my responsibilities as an employee, father, and owner of a rapidly growing business. I knew the business would not continue growing if I didn’t have time to create new lessons.” But that is how dreams work. Once they are knocking at your door…you better answer. So answer he did. Actually Anthony puts a very unique spin on it; ”People talk about chasing your dream, finding your passion…but in my case, the dream took off almost by accident and I had to leave my job to keep up.”

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StevieSnacks featured Stevie Ray Vaughan licks. But why SRV licks? What was it about Stevie that appealed to Anthony enough to make him devote his entire business to teaching one guys licks? “Stevie’s playing sounded like what I was feeling. That didn’t happen with anyone else. Nobody had ever talked to me about depression, so as a college student struggling with it, Stevie’s playing was a voice for things I couldn’t express any other way. Cynical people mock young players who copy Stevie, and I understand why. But back then it was the only way I knew how to deal with what I was feeling. Also, his playing made sense to me in a very logical and mathematical way. In my engineering classes we were learning about systems and subsystems. In my spare time, I was discovering patterns and sub-patterns in Stevie’s playing. It felt very much like doing math. That was beautiful to me, and very intellectually stimulating.” Go with what you know. Many times as musicians we are chasing a style, or a player’s technique, or the latest trend. But Anthony just went with what his heart told him. No wonder the dream paid off.

PEOPLE TALK ABOUT CHASING YOUR DREAM, FINDING YOUR PASSION, ETC… BUT IN MY CASE THE DREAM TOOK OFF ALMOST BY ACCIDENT AND I HAD TO LEAVE MY JOB TO KEEP UP


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WHAT I WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW IS THAT THEY’RE FREE TO PLAY WHATEVER MUSIC THEY WANT NO MATTER WHAT BACKGROUND THEY HAVE. YOU DON’T HAVE TO JUSTIFY THE MUSIC YOU WANT TO PLAY TO ANYONE. I remember the first time I heard Anthony teaching a lesson, I admit, I was one of those “cynics” that he talks about. I had heard a million guys copying SRV licks, trying to nail his tone. But, Anthony’s lesson was different. He DID nail the tone, he seemed to actually get what Stevie was trying to say instead of just learning the shape and repeating it. After hearing him play, I knew his teaching style which he describes as “low-key, approachable, and engineering-minded” would be perfect for our TrueFire students, and contacted him to share his talent with us. He has an authentic sound, which he attributes to his focus. “When I play, it sounds like someone who has spent a great deal of time living in that genre — not someone who dabbles in that style from time to time. My lack of versatility was actually attractive to guys who really only cared about the blues.” It is exactly that style and sound that resonates so well with TrueFire students. Anthony has since re-engineered StevieSnacks into his new website Texas Blues Alley which was a “culmination of nearly a year of dreaming, planning, and late night coding. Where StevieSnacks was an accidental success (and named with very little thought), Texas Blues Alley was deliberate. TXBA is the business I wanted StevieSnacks to be.” For parting advice Anthony offers this. “The blues was not a part of my history at all. I grew up singing 4-part harmony in the Mennonite church, worked on a pig farm for 3 summers, and listened to techno music in high school before being rescued by classic rock. What I want people to know is that they’re free to play whatever music they want no matter what background they have. You don’t have to justify the music you want to play to anyone.” Here at TrueFire we are mostly a bunch of dreamers, so we are proud to have Anthony in our family and to support his continuing dream. Going from nerdy-Mennonite-pig farming-techno dude to an amazingly authentic successful Texas blues guitarist…yep…just another normal rock and roll dream fulfilled.

www.anthonystauffer.com

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STUDIOWIRE

DON’T TRASH THE TRACKS: HOME STUDIO TUTORIAL PART 2 A Three-Part Story on Home-Studio Recording \\ Written By Tommy Jamin

In the early days, like most novice (bedroom) producers, having little understanding or experience with the principles of gain staging, isolation or quality audio signal paths, I admit that my tunes sounded bad! I found power in the plug-ins that I could apply to my tracks and I frivolously applied filters and effects, (like a kid with too many crayon colors) making everything sound unnatural, different, and somehow to my ear at the time, cooler than what I started with. I was over compensating, washing out the intrinsic tone characteristics of the instruments, and making my tracks sound like total garbage. When used appropriately, effects can be hugely useful to correct problems or add drama, but as we grow our chops, we learn that less is usually more. We have to be mindful of the sonic picture we’re painting for our listeners.

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3 PLUG-INS THAT (WHEN APPLIED WITH TASTE) WON’T TRASH YOUR TRACKS

Here’s my theory on minimalist home production…when it comes to creating great sounding records, whether you’re working on your own or with a band or collaborator, the first things your critical listeners will key in on are the overall loudness/presence, the vocals, and the drums. Hone your songwriting and production craft first. Then, try these plug-ins to get you the rest of the way there.

WAVES’ ULTRA-MAXIMIZER $250

For the Final Touch: A quality, mastering compressor is the icing on the cake for any production. The best out there: the L1-L3 line of maximizers from Waves. These little guys are SO transparent in comparison to others that I’ve heard, are downright simple to use, and they have long been a staple on recording sessions in top-level studios. On the same note of simplicity, but for a few other offerings from Waves, I’d also recommend any of the signature series bundles. They won’t break the bank, have minimalistic controls, and are modeled after hardware effects chains that top mix pros use in the studio.

TOONTRACK’S EZ DRUMMER 2 $179

For the Creative Process: If you don’t happen to be a drummer, I would suggest either this or FXpansion’s BFD for creating quality drum tracks for your music projects. The latter allows for a lot more control and programmability, but you just can’t beat EZ for making drum tracks just that. The Song Creator mode makes it a blast to create patterns for an entire song in no time and with an extensive line of expansions for any style you’ll likely find creating great rhythm tracks for your tunes an inspirational process. In terms of the instrumental elements you’ll use in your productions, nothing will identify you as an amateur more than having cheesy drum sounds or overly loose rhythm performances.

ANTARES’ AUTOTUNE $399

For the Corrective Approach: I know – you’re shaking your head. Autotune’s sort of gotten a bad rap among purists, but here’s the deal – these days nearly every commercial artist uses it in the studio, no matter how talented they are. It’s not just for getting that over-the-top vocoder effect though; most producers use it to do more subtle corrections. If you’re not the world’s greatest singer, you’ll find it much less frustrating to play front man on your tracks and you’ll be knocking out harmonic good vibes like The Beach Boys in no time. It’s definitely a time-saver, which will keep you inspired and will give your vocal productions that pro-level polish.

Next time we’ll finish the series by looking have a look at 3 Gear Investments For Your Studio That Will Help Preserve The Magic

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Lessons

HOUSE NEWS

TOP 10 NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS FOR GUITAR PLAYERS Written by John Lombard

With 2015 just around the corner, and because robots haven’t taken over the world just yet, it’s a safe time to start planning your New Year’s resolution. There’s always the, I promise to work out. How about this year try, I promise to rock out!!! Check out our list of top ten New Year’s Resolutions for you, the guitar player. Play this video when reading the article! It turns the awesomeness up to 11!

Auld Lang Syne - A Hero for the World

PLAY MORE OFTEN

SWITCH IT UP

This one’s easy. Just play more. Whatever works for you: If you play twice a week right now, resolve to play four times a week. If you play for 30 minutes a day, play for an hour. One way to make it easier to play often is to keep your guitar out of its case and on a stand. This way, when you’re ready to play, just grab the guitar and get your music on.

If you’re an acoustic guitar player who’s never played an electric, or visa versa, you should resolve to switch it up. Being able to play both an acoustic and electric is just more fun and it’s much easier than you might think. Plus, if you’re like us, you want more guitars, and this is a great excuse to expand your guitar family.

LEARN A NEW MUSIC STYLE

TAKE LESSONS

Learning a new style is a great way to reignite your guitar love. Doors open when you can play more genres and it’s just more fun to jam when you can mix it up with friends. Maybe you’re a rock guitarist. Imagine if you learned bluegrass. You’d not only have two styles down, but you could borrow from each genre to create your own original sound. That’s sounds like an awesome resolution to us!

Guitar lessons are an excellent resolution idea and working with online instructors is a great way to up your skills. Try taking a lesson with TrueFire, where we hand-select top instructors to ensure you’re getting the best lessons possible. Here’s a tip: Drop hints around family and friends that you want a TrueFire Gift Certificate to use towards your New Year’s resolution and you’ll be coasting on the free class wave until you run out of gift cards!

WINTER 2015 | ISSUE 2


SEE MORE MUSIC

RIDE THE SOUNDCLOUD

Inspiration is great. You see a music performance and suddenly you’re inspired to write music. But inspiration, like everything else, goes away if you don’t keep feeding it. This is why an excellent resolution would be to see more live music. Because, what you’re really doing is staying inspired as a musician, and that’s really important. Want some immediate inspiration? Check this.

Getting active in an online music community is one great way to discover new music as well as show off your original stuff. Using a service like SoundCloud, you can easily put up your original music on the inter-webs and follow other music! One really cool thing about SoundCloud is how users can comment throughout a song, right in the wave file. You might see several comments at the bridge being like, “Here comes my favorite part!” or “Why did that guy rhyme dingo with mingle?”

GET LEGIT Still using your kids practice amp? A rope as a guitar strap? A credit card as a pick? This year, resolve to get legit with your equipment. You’ll not only look better, you’ll want to play more. If music is your thing, it’s best to invest in quality gear. Plus, what an awesome excuse to buy fun stuff? The best way to do this is gradually. Maybe set aside a small bit of cash each month to put towards new, legit guitar gear.

LEARN TO RECORD YOUR MUSIC With programs like GarageBand and Audacity, it’s now easier than ever to record your own music. Don’t be daunted by all the buttons and dials, they’ll all make sense as you start working with the software. Plus you can find loads of tutorials online. And with advancing technology, it’s now cheaper than ever to invest in some recording equipment. If you’re completely new to home recording, check out our article on the 7 Basics of a Home Recording Setup.

LEARN TO PLAY THIS: This year, if you want to blow all the other resolutions out of the water, how about you resolve to learn Van Halen’s Eruption Solo.

Eddie Van Halen - Eruption

Here’s an 8th grader doing it. This should inspire you:

8th Grader - Eruption Cover

Well there you have it. Pick one of these resolutions and your 2015 is going to rock. If picking just one resolution seems too easy, grab two! And if you nail the Van Halen solo, send us a video! Any other New Year’s Resolutions you can think of? Let us know!

FORM A BAND Forming a band might seem like a big undertaking. But think of it this way, a band can be as small as two people. Just find one friend who plays another instrument and BOOM, you have a band! Think Simon and Garfunkel, Tenacious D, or the White Stripes… they’re all just two people! If you can manage a larger band, work out a rehearsal space, a weekly time, who’s bringing beer and pizza, and you’re good to rock. If you need help finding a time that works for everyone, use this app.

RIFF

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GEEK SPEAK

GEEK SPEAK

Compiled by Rich Maloof

TREMOLO VS VIBRATO EFFECTS Tremolo effects modify volume. The amplitude of an incoming signal is raised and lowered in pulsating waves. An intense tremolo effect sounds choppy because the volume is essentially being turned on and off, whereas a lower intensity or depth can result in a smoother, gently throbbing sound. Vibrato effects modify pitch. The frequency of an incoming signal is raised and lowered. The Uni-Vibe pedal, designed to emulate the Doppler effect as heard on a rotating Leslie speaker, is probably the most famous example in a guitar effect.

VIBRATO: DOPPLER EFFECT (MODIFIES PITCH)

TREMELO

(MODIFIES VOLUME)

SHORTER WAVELENGTH (HIGHER FREQUENCY)

WINTER 2015 | ISSUE 2

LONGER WAVELENGTH (LOWER FREQUENCY)


SIX-STRING AFICIONADOS: STUDENT PROFILE

STUDENT PROFILE

DIANA REIN

The life-blood of TrueFire’s student population is the lifelong student of guitar. Each issue we’ll get to know one of these passionistas of guitar.

TF: What do you do for a living? REIN: I am a musician. I also keep busy raising my two year old son named Vaughn.

TF: What is your practice regime? How do you go about learning?

REIN: I practice 3-4 hours a day split into a few types of exercises. I start with finger exercises to warm-up. Then I go over my pentatonic scales for speed and dexterity. I also go over triads, modal scales, arpeggio scales. I make sure to be working on a song that really inspire me. And lastly, I put down some rhythm guitar on my looper and jam along with it to spark some improvisation.

TF: Why do you think music is important to

Ray Vaughan, Philip Sayce and Tom Keifer of Cinderella. I first saw Tom Keifer on TV when he played the Moscow Peace Festival. I was 11 years old at the time. I was captivated by his guitar tone, the notes he chose to play and the palpable love he had for sharing his music. He started an intro into the song “Nobody’s Fool” and as soon as I heard that I knew that I was destined to play guitar. In 2013 I found out about Philip Sayce and I had the same guttural reaction when I watched him play. He gives you a part of his heart and soul with every note and takes you on an amazing ride.

touch with your soul. And I think that what everyone wants in life is to feel alive. As a guitar player, when I hit that one note, I feel it through my whole body and it makes me feel super human.

TF: If you were stranded on a desert island, what one guitar would you like to have with you (yes, electricity is on the island). REIN: My #1 guitar is my Fender Strat Vintage Hot Rod ‘62 reissue. It’s a sunburst finish and has a thick C neck, which is super comfortable for me.

TF: If you could learn to play any one thing, what would it be? Song, solo, piece etc. REIN: Little Wing (the SRV version). It’s on my to do list :-)

TF: If you could be in any band (current or past) which band would you like to be in? REIN: I would love to play with Philip Sayce. BluesRock all the way!

TF: Who is your favorite guitarist and why? REIN: Stevie Ray Vaughan hands down. When he

TF: Finish this sentence, ”If everyone on the planet

someone’s life?

REIN: I feel that music is the purest way to get in

played, he gave you his all and then some. Stevie came from a place of passion, emotion, feeling, sensitivity and willingness to open himself up and let it flow. When I hear someone playing with that much heart they could be playing just one note and I would be captivated. He had a fire in him that inspired me to my core and that’s my driving force every day.

TF: What musician would you like to have dinner with

played guitar….”

REIN: ......our hands would be busy and we would

never have the opportunity or inclination to even think about war, guns, hurting others. We would understand that we are all a part of the same song.

TF: Describe your biggest ‘aha’ moment on guitar. REIN: It’s not about how many notes you can play or

how fast you play, it’s about the feeling behind what you are playing..

(living or dead)? REIN: My ultimate dinner table would include Stevie

RIFF

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Lessons

HOUSE NEWS

ARTIST DIRECTORY Artists Featured in this Edition of Riff

JEFF BEASLEY Jeff Beasley holds degrees in Music and Classical Guitar, is a prolific educator, popular workshop and clinic instructor, former senior faculty member for the National Guitar Workshop, and is currently a faculty member with TrueFire. He has opened the Huntsville Institute of Music in 2015. Jeff has appeared in numerous magazine publications and is endorsed by Sierra Guitars, D’Addario Strings, In Tune Guitar Picks and Levy’s Leathers.

GREG BENNETT A 40-year veteran of the guitar industry and an accomplished fingerstyle virtuoso, Greg understands both mechanically and emotionally what makes a great guitar. Spend five minutes with him and you’ll see his passion and love of the guitar are not just obvious, they’re downright contagious. Greg has done hundreds of concert clinics all over the world, explaining in easy-to-understand terms what drives the performance characteristics of various guitars.

ANGUS CLARK Angus Clark has toured and recorded for the last 12 years with Grammy-Nominated Trans-Siberian Orchestra. He spent 5 years touring and recording with the Grammy-Winning New Age artist Kitaro. He also appears regularly in the Broadway production “Rock of Ages” and has performed with numerous artists such as Paul Rodgers (Bad Co.), Jon Anderson (Yes), and Robin Zander (Cheap Trick).

ROBBEN FORD Named one of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of the 20th Century” by Musician magazine, Robben Ford’s innovative musicality triggered a revolution in electric blues guitar styling. A five-time Grammy nominee, Robben has collaborated with artists such as Joni Mitchell, Jimmy Witherspoon, Miles Davis, George Harrison, Larry Carlton, Phil Lesh, Bonnie Raitt, Charlie Musselwhite, Michael McDonald, Bob Dylan, John Mayall, Greg Allman, and John Scofield.

MIMI FOX Guitarist and recording artist Mimi Fox has been named a winner in 6 consecutive Downbeat Magazine critic’s polls and has been recognized by colleagues as one of the most eloquent jazz guitarists today. Mimi has performed with some of jazz’s most commanding players, including Charlie Byrd, Stanley Jordan, Charlie Hunter, Grammy-nominated saxophonists Branford Marsalis, and with legends Stevie Wonder and John Sebastian.

ROB GARLAND Rob Garland is as completely obsessed with music and the guitar now as he was as a teenager! He has performed hundreds of gigs across Europe and the US, worked as a session musician, written an instructional book for Cherry Lane, given tuition clinics and been featured in magazines such as Guitarist & Guitar One. He currently lives in sunny Los Angeles where he teaches and performs live with several bands. His original music is available through his website, iTunes, Spotify, etc.

WINTER 2015 | ISSUE 2

| ONLINE LINK DIRECTORY | RIFFJOURNAL.COM/LINKS-V2


STU HAMM Through his innovative work as a solo artist and his contributions as a sideman to Joe Satriani and Steve Vai, Stu has firmly established himself as one of the most influential electric bassists of the past halfcentury. Hamm helped to reshape the contemporary concept of the bass guitar as a solor instrument with the utilization of polyphonic, two-handed tapping, slapping and popping techniques, chords, and harmonics.

ADAM LEVY Adam Levy is an accomplished guitarist and singer-songwriter. Levy recorded and toured extensively with Norah Jones as a member of her Handsome Band (2001–2007), and has also worked with Ani DiFranco, Tracy Chapman, Amos Lee, Rosanne Cash, and Lisa Loeb. Levy has released several recordings of his own. ’Town & Country’ is his latest.

RICH MALOOF Maloof has contributed to TrueFire lessons both on camera and as a producer. Formerly the Editor In Chief of Guitar magazine, Rich has written The Way They Play, Alternate Tunings for Guitar, Joe Satriani: Riff By Riff, the biography of amp legend Jim Marshall. He is the founding editor of the student magazine InTune and has edited for Billboard, Hal Leonard Publishing, BackBeat Books, For Dummies, GuitarOne, Guitar Shop, and others.

SUSAN MAZER Susan is a well-respected educator, author, and performer known especially for her intricate fingerstyle guitar playing. She studied with Benji Aronoff, a protégé of Doc Watson, and received her Bachelor of Music degree at Hartt School of Music and Masters in Music at Boston University. Susan taught for seventeen years at The Hartford Conservatory and is currently an instructor at Sacred Heart University.

JEFF MCERLAIN Jeff McErlain has been playing professionally and honing his craft as a guitar teacher for over twenty-five years. He’s now at the top of his field in guitar instruction, teaching lessons both out of his studio in NYC and around the globe via Skype. Jeff is a pioneer of on-line guitar education through both his customized personal lessons and his on-line guitar classroom, “The Juke Joint”. Apart from his own workshops, Jeff has taught at the Crown Guitar Festival, National Guitar Workshop and The Bath Guitar Festival.

MARC SCHONBRUN Marc Schonbrun is an educator, writer, and performer. Marc’s musical resume ranges from classical guitar concertos to jazz trios and rock concerts. He is a lecturer on guitar and music technology, and the author of more than ten books, including The Efficient Guitarist, The Everything Music Theory Book and The Everything Reading Music Book.

ANTHONY STAUFFER Anthony Stauffer launched his career as a guitar instructor in 2007 by uploading a single video to YouTube (as StevieSnacks). Two years later, the success of StevieSnacks forced him to quit his job as a programmer. He authored over 20 more courses, and built an audience of viewers from over 100 countries. In 2014, Texas Blues Alley was born - a home for guitar slingers to learn, improve, and be inspired.

ROBERTO DALLA VECCHIA Acoustic guitar artist Roberto Dalla Vecchia draws deeply from his homeland to craft melodic folkbluegrass tunes. Based in Italy, Dalla Vecchia performs regularly at concerts and festivals and teaches at workshops throughout Europe and US. He is the winner of Acoustic Guitar Magazine’s 2003 Homegrown CD Award. His CD Grateful won second place in the “Instrumental Album” category of the 2009 Just Plain Folks Music Awards. RIFF

| ONLINE LINK DIRECTORY | RIFFJOURNAL.COM/LINKS-V2

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Lessons

COMPILATION ALBUM

RIFFAGE: VOLUME 2 Here ye, here ye! Audiophiles, guitar aficionados and enlightened children of the ‘Fire — prepare thy ears and hearts for magical music from the artists and educators featured in this edition of RIFF. Click the download button below for your personal copy of RIFFAGE Volume 2…

Cut You Loose - Robben Ford Copenhagen - Adam Levy Big Roller - Stu Hamm Greensleeves - Angus Clark East Coast Attitude - Mimi Fox F Joke - Roberto Della Vecchia Highlands - Jeff McErlain Page Nine - Jeff Beasley Superhero - Anthony Stauffer Take These Blues - Rob Garland

Download the FREE Album

WINTER 2015 | ISSUE 2

| ONLINE LINK DIRECTORY | RIFFJOURNAL.COM/LINKS-V2


BEHIND THE MIX We can’t say it enough — the not-so-secret ingredients of TrueFire are the artists and educators that we are privileged to collaborate with. Not just amazingly talented educators, they are also brilliant composers, arrangers and recording artists in their own right. Enjoy their music and please visit their websites and social media networks.

Cut You Loose - Robben Ford ““This James Cotton tune has interesting qualities—a cooler, hip, jazzy approach to his music that I’ve been haunted by for years. The trombone, along with electric guitar and B-3, gives it that timbre I’ve been experimenting with and like so much.”

F Joke - Roberto Della Vecchia “The tune is ‘F Joke’ - I wrote this tune for fun, fooling around on the guitar one day, the ‘f’ stands for ‘key of F’, nothing else!”

Copenhagen - Adam Levy “Copenhagen” comes from Adam Levy’s 2014 instrumental release ‘Town & Country.’ which also features organist Larry Goldings and drummer Matt Chamberlain.”

Highlands - Jeff McErlain “Highlands was has been a staple in set for years now. I wrote it for my father and my times spent on my Uncle’s Farm in Durness Scotland.”

Big Roller- Stu Hamm “I wrote this song as a closer to a show I was playing in San Francisco, “Teatro Zinzanni”, a wonderful mix of Cirque De Soleil and dinner show with amazing talent from around the world. I have done many things in my long career, but if you ever told me that I would be doing a duet with Joan Baez in an 18th Century circus tent... well...”

Page Nine - Jeff Beasley “I wrote this tune in 1996 and is a track from my debut CD Tiebreaker released in 2006.”

Greensleeves - Angus Clark “Greensleeves as recorded by Angus Clark on his album “Your Last Battlefield”. Angus re-imagines Greensleeves as played by Jimi Hendrix in the vein of Manic Depression. Perfect for your rockin’ holiday playlist! ”

Superhero - Anthony Stauffer “I was working with producer Michael Sembello when he got an offer to submit a song for a race car movie that sounded ZZ Top-ish. I wrote this for that. It’s kind of like ZZ Top on crack.”

East Coast Attitude - Mimi Fox “‘East Coast Attitude’ and is an original composition of mine about NYC.”

| ONLINE LINK DIRECTORY | RIFFJOURNAL.COM/LINKS-V2

Take These Blues - Rob Garland “A blues/rock vocal song with elements of jazz. This soulful single is a new release that is sure to get you groovin

RIFF

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SNAPSHOTs

er beforeer, n n di d o seafo rwat rad at a Steve Vai in Clea B and Ali cert with FL n co ’s tu S

T he mo at the nnster (mini) bee otorious r Stu Hammstein in Frankf pig knuck urt le-fest

More Pixelstick fun in downtown St Pete WINTER 2015 | ISSUE 2


Laurence Juber and Greg Ben nett Guitar Night playing All Star

Robben in his cast prior to the Day in Nashville shoot

Brad sn eaking

in a pho to photosho bomb in Adam ot Levy’s RIFF

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www.riffjournal.com WINTER || ISSUE 2

© 2015

Riff Journal | Winter 2015 | Issue 2  

Give your guitar a rest for a few minutes and come RIFF with us. From the day we opened our doors here at TrueFire, we knew that our succe...

Riff Journal | Winter 2015 | Issue 2  

Give your guitar a rest for a few minutes and come RIFF with us. From the day we opened our doors here at TrueFire, we knew that our succe...