Add A Little Raga To Your Guitar

 What do you get when you alter the Myxolydian mode a bit?

You get…

A style of Brit-Rock infused with healthy doses of Indian classical music and heavily drugged up cultural naivete’. It pops up from time to time in singles, so today let us check out a few ways to incorporate it into your pentatonic playing.

With a little access to the mixolydian mode, we can begin to sound like we are straight out of the Maharishi’s ashram, free loving ourselves into a groovy stupor. I say a little access because I’m not going to turn this into a modal lesson because that’s a great opportunity later.

raga7

Now let’s pluck out the ii and the vi ( the 2nd and 6th note of the mixolydian mode ) and we have a neat mixolydian pentatonic gateway to the Ganges.

 

raga tab

Don’t mess around with modes much? See it as this: The Pentatonic minor could be spelled out as: I-biii-IV-V-bvii, just step up the biii a half step ( one fret) We get a pentatonic scale altered to a very psychedelic vibe and ripe for playing “Tomorrow Never Knows” by The Beatles, Kula Shaker songs, or a homemade sitar. Let’s look at some components.

Before we go on to riffing out this scale, let’s look at a new technique that’s actually an old technique; the meend. The meend is a legato slide, but with a few extra features that the western legato doesn’t have; we will cover two of them. The first one a simple half step hop and slide forward:

raga 2

Well, lets now learn a triplet meend to glide across the scale.

However, we need to prep the guitar neck to support the watery legato with some kind of oil (mineral, coconut, the lemony stuff from your local music store, etc…).

Very overlooked detail for guitarists

Just apply the lubricant liberally to the fretboard and rub the it into the frets and your fingertips.  Triplet legato slides are very very difficult without a little grease.

Let’s take the meend out for a spin:

raga3

Sounds cool, right? So now let’s take this guy out for a spin with 2 more examples:

raga5
Editor note: the triplets are meend legatos.

raga6

This vibe is found all throughout the mid to late 90s raga rock/ brit pop revival efforts of Oasis, Chemical Brothers, Kula Shaker,The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Butthole Surfers, Beck, and The Tea Party.

Understand that I make a huge distinction between this “Raga Rock” variation of guitar playing and Indian classical music, which is much much more complicated and subtle than what I am presenting in this humble article. This is designed to give you new tools from another part of the world in your everyday average pentatonic minor or blues scale.

 

There will be a part 2 to this that will cover transitions between the this kind of sound and more conventional ones coming soon.

If you Meet Jimi Hendrix Or The Buddha On The Road; Kill Them Both!

The Great Buddhist master Lin-chi once said: “If you meet the Buddha, kill him”. An iconoclastic riddle that is engineered to bring a sense of  originality in the thinker, Lin-chi goes right for the heart of a fatal habit that many people do: make deities out of celebrities.

In his time, the Buddha was a celebrity to every young aspiring monk and there was a bit of a cult of personality that eponymously  followed the man. However, the Buddha was a real person who walked this earth and came up with his own ideas about the nature of the mind, life, & death and can only be relevant to the criteria of his life’s version of truth. Lin-chi’s words were not psychopathic advice meant to inflame the youth, it was advice that was meant to keep the mind from wandering into ignorance though devotion.

I say the same thing about all of the modern heroes of guitar: If you meet them in practice, kill them! That’s right, destroy them in your mind as soon as the image is made and keep repeating this little mental exercise until you are free from the tyranny of comparison or divine adoration.Moreover, these thoughts start to fester and then the nasty part comes out: the comparisons of relevant artists to legends from a golden age. You see these posters all over the place with the same hipster jargon about how its a tragedy that artists A only made $X and sell out artist B makes double that or got more awards than artist A and quite frankly, it all needs to end. This type of behavior does not relate to practice or learning anything and it does not engender a proper space for studying any of these said legends.

Learn with an unfettered mind and move into the future without clinging to the past and your guitar playing will be set free. Sorry no tabs for this lesson, the message is more important

5 Riffs To Get To Know The Harmonic Minor A Little Better

From Metal to Gypsy Jazz, the Harmonic minor is a scale that can transform your playing into tame little baby riffs into deep and vicious whirlwinds of Arabic sands and Gypsy violins.

Here is a voicing of the scale:

 Here is the list, get your guitar ready

5. Slap and Tickle

4.  Johann Sebastian Buckley

3. Tremolo and the Djinn of Grappeli

2.  Hey good lookin you got Hummus cookin

1. Sweeping out the harmonic

There you have it!

Beginner Tuesday: Planes, Trains, & Pentatonic-mobiles Pt 1

Suddenly A Wild Major Scale Approaches:

Blues is a style of music that can be played in major and minor; today we will look at the (most famous) minor expression. However, how do we go from the major scale:

I-ii-iii-IV-V-vi-vii into the final expression: I-biii-IV-bIV-V-bvii-vii?

First, let us pretend that we come across a major scale in the wild and then we work on turning it minor:

I-ii-biii-IV-V-bvii-bvii

Pentatonic to Gin and Tonic:

Count the amount of notes on the current incarnation of the scale right now: its 7 notes (heptatonic). Lets prune out the ii and the bvii to form this:

I-biii-IV-V-bvi:

This is now what is known as the ubiquitous Penta(5)tonic(note) scale and for many, this becomes the final stop in the pursuit of the blues. However, this is just the skeleton or the blueprint of the house, the function of the space and the rest will be expanding on this to represent the decorations and appliances of the house which makes it livable.

Can we start to play blues from here? Yes, but I want to give you a little more before we talk about using the pentatonic for playing blues.Now that we have established a building, lets turn that building into 2 stations between 2 octaves and a train to shuttle between them:

 

So now we have two stations and a train, this is one of many ways to attack this scale pattern and we will be adding more to it soon. 

Here is a practice riff to help navigate this concept:

Passing Tones

If you look at the intervals of the scale, you’ll notice that there are spaces in between each notes that sometimes skip the original formation of the minor scale. Let’s fill in some of those gaps :

This is now what we could refer to as the “blues scale” because of the addition of passing tones ( filled in notes ) or blue notes.

So now there you have it, the evolution of the major scale to the blues scale, but what about a  practice lick using the staions concept:

Let’s concentrate on these passing tones, if we start on one these using the station 1-train-station 2 formula your playing will sound a little more rich and “real”.

This isn’t the end-all of blues scale playing but it is a good start into thinking outside the box and attempting to try a more “alive sound” with your guitar. Practice some more and make your own combinations out of this lesson.

PT 2 is here 

Monday Hodgepodge – Fishbone: A Profile In Controlled Chaos

There has never been a more eclectic band that could still retain a distinct sound in the midst of the chaos of genres bouncing off of tonal walls.

It is safe to say that the main style of this L.A. band is defiantly ska, but they are not really anything because they are simply: Fishbone.

From 1979 to now, Fishbone never really got the recognition that they deserved, a tragedy because a world without Fishbone isn’t worth living at all. As a kid that grew up during the infancy of Alternative rock and I heard about the storied mosh pits from Fishbone concerts. Without further ado:

Sunless Saturday

Music Video Here

I start off with a 90s single called “Sunless Saturday”, a track that really shows some guitar wizardry and proves that Fishbone could rock if they wanted too.

Here is the acoustic intro and main verse:

Ma & Pa

Music Video Here

Aha, now we are dealing with ska and it is all about upstrokes after a quick downward rake on the chord changes:

Skankin To The Beat

Music Here

Everybody needs a little more ska in their life, so here is another easy little tab.

Lyin’ Ass Bitch

Music Here

And more ska, this became a prototypical ska progression from a million ska bands after this song came out in 85

I hope you grow to love this crazy crazy band because they would get 1/10 of the love they deserve from their contributions to music.

Skank to the beat..

Sunday Morning Sermon: The Way To Greatness Is Commitment To Failure.

 

                failure

                         Many people trying to learn any instrument seldom are attempting to learn anything because they are attempting to succeed. Music is not a goal or contest of superiority, it is an activity born out of the deepest parts of the human soul. That sounds great, but if that is true; then that means music is available to every human being. Furthermore, if its in our souls, its in our brains as well and studies have shown that 2 hours a week of practice can actually grow certain regions of the brain, that means that if you practice:

  • 17 minutes a day 7 days a week 
  •  24 minutes 5 days a week
  • 20 minutes X 23 days a week

You can get better no matter what. So what is stopping you?

            Motivation must come from within and you must practice to fail, play fast enough that you can play under a little duress and fail all over the fretboard. Doing this activity is what your personality needs to let go of disappointment. In my years of experience as a guitar teacher/coach, I’ve heard millions of bad reasons and explanations for why they failed at a certain chord shape or techniques. I’ve heard that their hands were too small, too big, stupid hands, or bad genes. I’ve also heard that “they don’t really care if they do it or not” or “they aren’t trying to be a rock star or go on tour anyways”. I have no problem with a player/student that just wants to have fun and learn at a leaisurely pace, but plots forward towards their goals; even if it’s a goal like: improvise solos over Comfortably Numb on Saturday night at your friends house. Some of the best students I ever had were not always the technically best, they were people who were motivated intrinsically, had goals, and were inwardly prepared to meet the hardships ahead.

                 Disappointment is the attorney in court prosecuting you right now about your playing and why should you be taking lessons/ practicing/bother even trying.It seems to me that the problem is never stupid hands or bad genes, rather a commitment to success without being interviewed by failure who is the gatekeeper to success. Stop looking past failure and acting like you are not afraid of it! Its time to face it and laugh at ourselves to return our natural wonder and awe of the instrument. Disappointment needs to be eradicated and replaced with slow and careful handling of your musical phrases (whatever they may be ), but it can’t stop until you deal with that little devil that makes you question yourself and rob you of your passion.

                 Remember, the more you let disappointment rule you, the more blood, passion, and sweat it steals from you and those are the ingredients to success.Make your practice structure and your motivation and discipline spiritual. Motivation comes from within like a pilot light, now go! Turn yours on!

Top 5 Thursday: 5 Exotic And Unique Scales For You To Marinate on

 

Hirajoshi Scale 

     A tuning scale for the Japanese koto by way of the shamisen, this scale revolutionized the koto in Japan by the Andres Segovia of koto :  Yatsuhashi Kengyō.

Metal and Jazz players have used this scale extensively.

Enigmatic Scale

     Invented by the great composer Verdi, he whipped this up on a public challenge.

Spanish Gypsy

Another name for the Phrygian dominant

Whole Tone Scale 

A great transition scale especially over a dominant chord like the G7 that is implied here.

Augmented Scale 

This is a great way to dip in and out of a blues scale when the V chord is invoked and whenever you can fit it in.

Take these scales and applications and see what you can create with them!

Joni Mitchell: Painting With Altered Tunings

index

The prolific and often sourced Canadian Joni Mitchell has been constantly wrestled with harmonic riddles through her long time practice of searching for chord progressions under the influence of heavily altered tunings for decades. Her insights are quite valuable, especially since I don’t want to spend that much time writing that many songs to earn said insights.

Let’s see two ways altered tunings and Joni Mitchell have made a beautiful union.

EADAAD Tuning for Dulcimer simulation on “A Case Of You”

I have to confess the intro reminds me of Fine Young Cannibals’ “She Drives Me Crazy” chorus and I chuckle a bit when I hear every time. However, this is a very gently meandering yarn of beauty that keeps unraveling into nostalgia and soliloquy.

|-2-7-10-9-10–7-7–7-7–5S3-5–5-5|
|-0-0–0-0–0–0-0–0-0–0——0-0—-|
|-0-0–0-0–0–0-0–0-0–0——0-0—-|
|-0-5–9-7–9–5-5–5-5–4S2-4–4-4-|
|———————————————–|
|———————————————–|

|-3-3-2–0-0-2———————–0-0—-|
|-0-0-0–0-0-0—-5-5-5p4-4-5–0-0—-|
|-0-0-0–0-0-0—-0—0—0-0—–0-0—-|
|-2-2-0——0—–7—————————|
|———–4-4—————0-0—0–0-0—-|
|———————7—————————-|

(Full Transcription Here)

Hejira: Dark Moods and Altered Tunings  (CGDFGC)

 Hejira is a very dark, introspective, and mature non linear ballad that shows some interesting progressions and of course… tuning.

Beginner Tuesdays: What To Practice- Chord Changes, Arpeggios, and Power Chords.

Practice is something that I’m asked about all the time and I understand why… ractice is action and asking is procrastination. Especially as a beginner, you need to execute;  ACTION! Pull the trigger! That means sitting down and do, act and throw yourself in the process.

Some guys like to just play or jam around with other guys and never sit down and practice. They still get better, but why? Because they ARE practicing, its all about action. Playing over other songs, playing along with other songs, and just doing something active on the guitar gives you enough repetition to make it a productive practice for the day. However, what if we combined both a timed practice discipline with applied science on the guitar?  We would have some great routines that I will share with you now.

Please Please Me By The Beatles for a great chord change workout:

Q Q Q Q Q Q Q Q H  E E E E E E
|-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0–3-3-0-0-2-2—-|
|-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-2-0–0-0-2-2-0-0—-|
|-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-2-1–0-0-2-2-2-2—-|
|-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2–0-0-2-2-1-1—-|
|-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-0-2–2-2-0-0-2-2—-|
|-0-0-0-0-0-0-0—0–3-3—————-|

We hang on the E for a bit and then A-E, but then we hit 2 fast strikes per a chord with the G-A-B7. This is a great practice to work out your fast chord changes ( and I hope your working those out ). Fast chord changes strengthen your hands and in my humble opinion; make faster fingers for leads and solos.

Power Chord training with Fuck Authority by Pennywise

This fast and brutal power chord progression is a great fit for a beginner trying to get their left hand chops up a notch:

Here is the intro

e|---------------------------------------------------------------|
B|---------------------------------------------------------------|
G|---------------------------------------------------------------|
D|---------------533-333-333-332-------------5--------88-101010--|
A|--55-555-555-55311-111-111-11033-333-333-33355-5555-66--8-8-8--|
E|--33-333-333-33---------------11-111-111-11-33-3333------------|

Find Your Arpeggio Tri Force In The Underworld

Arpeggios simply speaking is a picked out chord played in some succession. This can be achieved with a pick, fingers, or (my personal favorite) hybrid picking. Try this one on for size for a good arpeggio workout and a nice dark diminished run at the end.

Drop D Tuning

     S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S    S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S
E||----------3-----------------------|--------------------------2-------|
B||------3-------3-------3-------3---|------2-------2-------2-------2---|
G||----3---3---3---3---3---3---3---3-|----2---2---2---2---2---2---2---2-|
D||--------------------------0-------|----------------------------------|
A||------------------1---------------|--4-------------------------------|
D||--5-------------------------------|----------4-------4---------------|

  S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S    S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S
----------1-----------------------|--------------------------0-------|
------1-------1-------------------|------1-------1-------1-------1---|
----1---1---1---1-----5-------5---|----0---0---0---0---0---0---0---0-|
--------------------6---6---6---6-|----------------------------------|
--------------------------4-------|--3-------------------------------|
--3---------------6---------------|----------2-------2---------------|

  S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S    S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S
----------------------------------|----------------------------------|
------1---3---1-------1-------1---|------1---3---1-------1-------1---|
----0---0---0---0---0---0---0---0-|----0---0---0---0---0---0---0---0-|
------------------1-------0-------|------------------0---------------|
----------------------------------|--------------------------4-------|
--1-------------------------------|--0-------------------------------|

  S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S    S S S S S S S S S S S S S S  E
----------------------------------|------------------2---2-5-2-5s-8---||
----------------------------------|------1---1-4-1-4---4--------------||
--------------------------------2-|----2---2-------------------------*||
----------------1-----1-4---1-4---|--4-------------------------------*||
------0-3---0-3---0-3-----3-------|-----------------------------------||
--0-4-----4-----------------------|-----------------------------------||

Thank you to Justin Lincoln for the tab

This should hold you over till the next beginner lesson where we will discuss proven and successful practice strategies.

~Jonathan Hayes