Archive for January, 2008

How I Approach Ted Greene’s Modern Chord Progressions

Saturday, January 19th, 2008

This is a great, great chord book from Ted. His other chord book, Chord Chemistry, is an essential reference book and is as deep as the ocean (as Ted himself was). I like Modern Chord Progressions a little better because it’s much more of a hands-on type book, full of musical examples that you can start using right away.

My approach to learning these progressions and voicings is a bit tedious, but I don’t believe there’s any hurry to learning this stuff the right way the first time, so the time spent doing it this way will pay off down the road. Besides, why cheat yourself out of a thorough knowledge of your instrument?

With each progression and set of voicing given, I play them through all 12 keys and I recite the chord name and chord quality. For instance, the first page of progressions is I-iii-IV-V-I. The first progression is C maj – E min7 – F/9 – G7(sus) – C maj7. I will actually recite those chord names and chord qualities (“add 9”, “G7 sus”) as I play each progression in every key. Then I got through the keys one more time but this time I sing the root, and recite the chord’s function and chord quality. For instance, I-maj – iii-min7 – IV-add9 – V7(sus) – I maj7.

By doing it this way, I learn the voicings, the chord qualities, and the movement of the progression as thoroughly as possible. One more thing I do is sing the roots of each chord while I’m reciting them, so I can internalize the sound of the root movements. I have a similar approach to Ted’s Jazz Single Note Soloing that I’ll explain in another post later.

Have fun with this one!

What ever happened to Fay Ray and Charlie Fechter?

Wednesday, January 9th, 2008

There was a great class taught at GIT by a guy name-a Charlie Fechter when I went there in ’87-’88 called Guitarmanship. It was all about eliminating the extra space between your fret hand and the fingerboard (like that floating pinky that rises a couple inches while the other fingers are busy playing) and also about minimizing the distance your pick travels between picking attacks.

The first, and main, exercise was that standard 1-2-3-4 exercise on each string in a parallel way (the one every guitarist and his uncle knows practically from day one, almost like the chromatic scale but not really). The twist with this exercise, however, is that you start with all 4 fingers of the LH holding down a note on a consecutive fret on the same string, say on the 6th string 5th position your left hand is holding down frets 5-6-7-8. Keep in mind that it’s a loose grip holding down the notes while playing on the next string, not a hammer grip. Also, start out higher on the fingerboard, esp. if you experience any discomfort holding the position. Excessive strain isn’t a good thing here, though you may feel it in a mild way. Don’t push it! If it hurts, stop.

Start the exercise with playing the D on the 5th string 5th fret with your first finger, but only moving it from where it is holding down the A on the 6th string 5th fret at the precise moment you are going to attack the string with your pick. –It’s to be done slowly, with no tempo/metronome– Then do the same with the next finger. Bring it over from the E string to the A string at the very moment you need it to sound the note, at exactly the time the pick is attacking the string (but early enough not to flub the note). Continue to hold down the notes you play on the A string until all 4 frets are being held down again, and move on up to the D string, one note at a time. It’s something to try for only 5 minutes (and really no more) at the beginning of your warm up and to forget about for the rest of your playing for that day. I couldn’t believe the difference in my technique and coordination after about 4 weeks of doing this daily! Pretty incredible exercise.