Canadian Musician

THE SIX STRING SHED

Hal Rodriguez

Swing Guitar Comping Part 1

March 25th, 2015

Herb Ellis Jazz Blues Swing Guitar LessonRecently, I saw a video of jazz guitarist Herb Ellis comping a 12 bar blues in Bb and really dug his use simple voicings and ideas to create interest over several choruses. Below is my transcription of the first 4 choruses of his rhythm playing. Click the images to expand them and right-click to save them to your computer.

Notice how he keeps things straightforward in the first two choruses by sticking to a quarter note pulse and using mostly three note shell voicings and inversions with the 5th as the root note. There are some classic jazz moves here like turning the IV7 chord into a dim7 or 7(b9) that resolves nicely to the I7 chord as seen in bars 10 and 18, or approaching a dominant 7 chord from a half step above as in bar 8 or a half step below as in bar 20. Herb also displays a simple chord substitution idea in bars 7 and 21, where he uses the dominant 7 chord and its ii chord interchangeably.

 
Herb Ellis Jazz Blues Swing Guitar Comping 1 Herb Ellis Jazz Blues Swing Guitar Comping 2 Herb Ellis Jazz Blues Swing Guitar Comping 3

 

Things start to get interesting rhythmically in the 3rd and 4th chorus, where Herb plays with more syncopation. He also employs some tasty extended chords such as the 13 chord in bar 29, the 7(#5) chord in bar 32, and the 6/9 chord in bar 38. Two of my favourite voicings here are the simple three note F13 chord in bar 38 and the Fsus4/C chord in bar 39 that both resolve to the I7.

The half step chordal approach is featured prominently in the 4th chorus, which creates more movement behind Ray Brown’s solo in the video. Practice these 4 choruses slowly and commit these voicings and ideas to memory. Tune into Part 2 where I share my transcription of Herb’s next 4 choruses. In the meantime, purchase Herb Ellis’ video at Alfred Music’s website.

Hal Rodriguez is a Toronto based musician, published writer, and music transcriber who has done work for premier guitarists like Oz Noy and Derryl Gabel. For Skype lessons and transcription services, he can be contacted at halromusic@gmail.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @halwit, on youtube.com/halromusic, and at guitartreats.blogspot.ca

Changing Keys in Pop Songwriting (Part 3)

February 24th, 2015

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Strategy 3: Approach minor chords in the key with a ii – V

Lately, I’ve been working on my piano chops and having fun playing “My Love” by Paul McCartney. On the left is a snapshot from Amazon’s feature of a Hal Leonard transcription of the first 8 bars. The song is in the key of F, and starts with the IV chord (Bbmaj7), which then descends to the iii chord (Am7).

In the 4th bar, Paul breaks out of the key and plays a dominant chord, D9. This effectively creates a ii-V chord progression (Am7 – D9) that resolves back to the key’s ii chord, the Gm7. Another famous example of this strategy is Paul Mccartney’s “Yesterday”. Also in the key of F, Paul plays a ii – V (Em7 – A7) in the second bar of “Yesterday” that resolves to the key’s vi chord, a Dm, in the third bar. Experiment with introducing ii-V chord changes that resolve to the minor chords in your own chord progressions and see what new melodies it inspires in you.

Hal Rodriguez is a Toronto based musician, published writer, and music transcriber who has done work for premier guitarists like Oz Noy and Derryl Gabel. For Skype lessons and transcription services, he can be contacted at halromusic@gmail.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @halwit, on youtube.com/halromusic, and at guitartreats.blogspot.ca

Beyond Triads Part 4: Maj and Min 11 Variations

January 2nd, 2015

In the spirit of the New Year, let’s take some old licks and see if we can play them in new ways. In my last post, I presented one way to execute maj and min 11 arpeggios in two octaves. Here is another way to play them that I stumbled upon during the holidays while experimenting with different fingerings. Instead of trying to play these arpeggios by starting with the index finger on the root as before, I tried using the ring or pinky finger and came up with these variations for Cmaj11 and its relative minor, Amin11, in bars 1 and 2 below. Pay close attention to the suggested fingerings and notice the Greg Howe/Richie Kotzen style finger roll when you get to the B and high E strings. If you find yourself stuck in familiar positions on the neck while improvising, experiment with new fingerings for your old licks and see where it takes you! Want to see a certain topic or lesson covered on this blog? Send a me a message at halromusic@gmail.com

Maj Min 11 Arpeggio Variations

Hal Rodriguez is a Toronto based musician, transcriber, teacher, and published writer. For Skype lessons and transcription services, he can be contacted at halromusic@gmail.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @halwit, on youtube.com/halromusic, and at guitartreats.blogspot.ca

Beyond Triads Part 3: Maj and Min 11 Arpeggios

December 24th, 2014

The Major and Minor 11 arpeggio, which includes the 7th, 9th, and 11th of a chord, has a colourful sound and can add a fresh new element to your solos if you’re used to only improvising with major and minor triads. In bars 1 and 2 below, I’ve notated my fingerings for ascending on a Gmaj11 and its relative minor, Em11, in the key of G. Notice that this approach relies on a combination of legato technique and economy picking to execute two octaves of each arpeggio. Try practicing one octave first and then two, while paying close attention to the suggested fingerings, pickstrokes, and rhythm. Want to see a certain topic or lesson covered on this blog? Send a me a message at halromusic@gmail.com

11 Chord Arpeggios

Hal Rodriguez is a Toronto based musician, transcriber, teacher, and published writer. For Skype lessons and transcription services, he can be contacted at halromusic@gmail.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @halwit, on youtube.com/halromusic, and at guitartreats.blogspot.ca

Changing Keys in Pop Songwriting (Part 2)

November 22nd, 2014

Strategy 2: Change the ii chord to a major chord

Let’s look at the next key change in Mike Viola’s “Hair of the Dog” intro in bar 3 below. Here, Mike breaks out of the key of A by playing a B chord instead of a Bm on the first beat. Changing the ii chord into a major chord creates tension by introducing the raised 4th, or D#, which Mike is careful to resolve on the third beat by returning to the key with a D chord.

Hair of the Dog Mike Viola Songwriting Lesson 1

Notice that the sound of resolution when changing from the B chord to the D chord comes from the D# moving down a half step to a D natural, and the B moving down a whole step to an A. If you then return to the I chord, which Mike does in the first three repeats, the D moves down another half step to C#. These half step motions of D# descending to D and then finally to C# in the I chord is a great example of smooth voice leading, and is what creates the pleasing sound of resolution in Mike’s chord progression.

Try using this II – IV – I strategy in your own chord progressions and check back for Part 3 where I discuss the Eb7 in bar 4. For more on Mike Viola, follow @candybutchers on Twitter and visit mikeviola.com Want to see a certain topic or lesson covered on this blog? Send a me a message at halromusic@gmail.com

Hal Rodriguez is a Toronto based musician, transcriber, teacher, and published writer. For Skype lessons and transcription services, he can be contacted at halromusic@gmail.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @halwit, on youtube.com/halromusic, and at guitartreats.blogspot.ca

Changing Keys in Pop Songwriting (Part 1)

November 15th, 2014

Mike Viola Hair of the Dog Songwriting LessonI’ve always been fascinated by songwriters who change keys in their tunes to create unexpected lifts and dramatic moments in common chord progressions. In this series of blogs, we’ll look at strategies for changing keys from some great songsmiths.

Strategy 1: Change the IV chord to a minor chord

Below is my transcription of the intro to hit songwriter Mike Viola’s poignant ballad, “Hair of the Dog”. Notice that this section starts in the key of A, with Mike fingerpicking the I chord in the first bar and then descending diatonically to the V chord, E. In bar 2, Mike avoids simply moving down the scale to the IV chord, D, and breaks out of the key by playing a Dm (in this case, a Dmadd9).

Hair of the Dog Mike Viola Songwriting Lesson 1

Changing the IV chord to a minor chord introduces an F natural to the key signature which creates tension, but makes the resolution to the I chord at the end of the bar sound stronger. This is because there are now two chromatic movements on the B and G string (D to C# and F to E, respectively) when moving from Dm to A. In contrast, the typical move from D to A only has one chromatic movement (D to C#).

There’s another key change in bar 3 where Mike plays a B, and at the end of the section where he plays an Eb7, which I’ll explain in part 2. For now, experiment with Strategy 1 in your own chord progressions and see what melodies it inspires in you. For more on Mike Viola, follow @candybutchers on Twitter and visit mikeviola.com

 

Hal Rodriguez is a Toronto based musician, transcriber, teacher, and published writer. For Skype lessons and transcription services, he can be contacted at halromusic@gmail.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @halwit, on youtube.com/halromusic, and at guitartreats.blogspot.ca

John Scofield’s “Sham Time” Lick with MMW

November 4th, 2014

Juice Medeski Scofield Martin WoodHere’s a guitar lick from John Scofield’s latest track, “Sham Time”, from the new Medeski Scofield Martin and Wood album, “Juice”. What I enjoy about this lick is that it has an almost “outside” sound to it, but on close inspection, Sco simply makes effective use of an Fmin6 arpeggio over an F7 tonality at the end of the first bar. To end the lick, he descends on the Fmin pentatonic scale with some slides and the major 3rd thrown in to create a slippery blues feel. Purchase “Juice” by Medeski Scofield Martin and Wood on iTunes and visit www.mmw.net for more info.

John Scofield Guitar Lick Lesson Juice Sham Time

 

Hal Rodriguez is a Toronto based musician, transcriber, teacher, and published writer. For Skype lessons and transcription services, he can be contacted at halromusic@gmail.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @halwit, on youtube.com/halromusic, and at guitartreats.blogspot.ca

Stretching for New Chords Part 1

October 29th, 2014

Lately, I’ve been checking out some music from fusion wizards Allan Holdsworth and Derryl Gabel and was inspired to explore chord voicings with wide stretches. Here are seven 4-note voicings of add9 chords built from the C major scale that I’ve been experimenting with. Use the ring finger on the low E string, the pinky on the D string, the middle finger on the G string, and the index finger on the B string.

Although the left hand stretching takes some getting used to, the close intervals on the D, G, and B strings create a modern dissonance that can breathe new life into old chord progressions. When used with generous amounts of delay, reverb, and chorus, these voicings can conjure an ethereal atmosphere, while playing them through a distorted amp produces sinister snarls. Want to see a certain topic or lesson covered on this blog? Send a me a message at halromusic@gmail.com

Chord Voicings Clusters Lesson

Hal Rodriguez is a Toronto based musician, transcriber, teacher, and published writer. For Skype lessons and transcription services, he can be contacted at halromusic@gmail.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @halwit, on youtube.com/halromusic, and at guitartreats.blogspot.ca

Concert Review: Matt Schofield at The Kitchener Blues Festival

August 10th, 2014

Matt Schofield Kitchener Blues FestivalIn a genre dominated by traditionalists, you’d be hard pressed to find a blues guitarist with a more pristine tone, sterling skill, and forward thinking songwriting than Matt Schofield. On Saturday, the British artist and his band, Johnny Henderson (organ/bass) and Jordan John (drums), performed originals from their latest release, “Far As I Can See”, at the Kitchener Blues Festival. Schofield’s voice on the instrument is a combination of an immaculate touch, to-die-for guitar tone, and chops that can burn, but are fuelled with note choices that you’re more likely to hear from Oscar Peterson than your usual pentatonic based guitar hero. In every solo, Matt avoided the usual blues clich├ęs and instead, made major melodic statements with exemplary phrasing that escalated in intensity.

 
From a songwriting point of view, his tunes possessed a fresh vibrancy as they stretched out from typical chord progressions and arrangements without losing their blues appeal. Henderson’s deft management of bass pedals and the hammond organ was the perfect foil for Schofield, and multi-instrumentalist Jordan John’s swinging grooves provided the music with it’s authenticity. John’s father and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame bassist, Prakash John, also joined the trio for a spirited Elmore James cover that got the delighted crowd off their seats dancing. For more on Matt Schofield, visit MattSchofield.com and purchase “Far As I Can See” on iTunes.

Here is my transcription of Matt’s guitar solo from a performance of “Live Wire”. To download, left click on each thumbnail, then right click on the expanded image to save.

Live Wire Solo 1 Live Wire Solo 2 Live Wire Solo 3
Live Wire Solo 4 Live Wire Solo 5 Live Wire Solo 6

 

Hal Rodriguez is a Toronto based musician, transcriber, teacher, and published writer. For Skype lessons and transcription services, he can be contacted at halromusic@gmail.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @halwit, on youtube.com/halromusic, and at guitartreats.blogspot.ca

Concert Review: The Winery Dogs at The Phoenix

August 5th, 2014

Winery Dogs Phoenix Aug 3 2014 cropVirtuoso supergroup, The Winery Dogs, played the last gig of their year long tour at The Phoenix last Sunday. The powerhouse trio of Richie Kotzen (lead vocals/guitar/piano), Mike Portnoy (vocals/drums), and Billy Sheehan (vocals/bass) played their unique mix of hard hitting rock and roll infused with both anthemic hooks and dizzying feats of musicianship. Each member is widely celebrated and revered on their instruments and displayed their strengths by creating moments within songs where they played impossibly intricate lines in unison.

Sheehan and Portnoy played gargantuan grooves driven by their tireless energy and ferocity, all while pulling off acrobatics on the bass and drums. Upfront, Kotzen dazzled on the fretboard with his effortless mastery of legato, fluidly ripping from one lightning idea to the next. But more than just a shred fest, the trio sang their choruses in vibrant harmony, led by Kotzen’s soulful, R&B tinged vocals that could also soar and distort with the best hard rock singers of his generation. It’s rare to witness the highest level of musicianship in a trio that can also entertain with accessible songwriting and showmanship, but it’s these three elements that make The Winery Dogs a fearsome force to be reckoned with. For more on The Winery Dogs, visit TheWineryDogs.com and purchase The Winery Dogs on iTunes. Thanks to Amanda Cagan and Andrew King.

Hal Rodriguez is a Toronto based musician, transcriber, teacher, and published writer. For Skype lessons and transcription services, he can be contacted at halromusic@gmail.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @halwit, on youtube.com/halromusic, and at guitartreats.blogspot.ca

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