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Thread: Starting Out Please Help

  1. #1
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    Starting Out Please Help

    Hello. I picked up the guitar about a year back. I practise for about 2-4 hrs a day.I know major and pentatonic major scales shapes. I can also play some songs like Back In Black, Wonderful Tonight.I am mostly into Blues and Rock(Toh I really appreciate Jazz, Neo-classical, Progressive and Instrumental).

    The thing is that I have practised, but without any direction (as I had no teacher or refrence). I even got myself a Fender some time back.That got me even more excited.

    But I recently Jammed with some friends, and I was shocked that I couldnt play anything. That made me thinking, and even made me wonder if I ever could play the guitar. Playing my crappy version of Always with you, Always with me is not what I want.

    So I thought, and I got an answer. I am going back to the basics and get them right. I never want to show of my skills,be the fastest guy on Earth, become rich or famous or anything. I just want to be a decent songwriter/guitarist/composer and Jam with friends, to appreciate music.

    So please help me out. Please tell me the proper way to practise, how to start from square one and how to go along. Also please recommend whatever you feel is necessary. Constructive Criticism is welcome.

    I can give upto 4 hours to practise, as I have my University and other Examinations to give as well.

  2. #2
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    ..... I just want to be a decent songwriter/guitarist/composer and Jam with friends, to appreciate music.
    Lets talk about Jam with friends first. Jam using what? Chords or single note melody? Sounds like you have been using tabs, which is fine, however, you've got your 7 and 1/2 songs you can play and if they are not playing one of your sings you just have to sit -- right? Got a couple of choices here:
    1. Jam using a chord progression when you don't have the lead. When the lead gets to you pass it or continue playing the chord progression and sing the melody.
    2. Or when the lead is passed your way play the songs tune for your solo, if you happen to know the song's tune, or run a pentatonic improv.......

    ...... when they say OK let's do Kiss ole Betty Lou in G. You need to know how to play a chord progression accompaniment in G - so you can jam the progression. Flip to the lyrics to Kiss ole Betty Lou so you can sing them when you have the lead -- every jam session I've been in it is OK to come with the lyrics to the songs you think will be used. Or if the group is playing something that will accept a pentatonic improv do that for 12 to 16 bars.

    Now Songwriter / composer. Theory just entered the picture.
    1. How to develop a melody line.
    2. How to harmonize that melody line.
    3. Best way to develop the story, lyrics, verse, chorus, etc.

    Guitarist. As you develop those things already discussed that will happen. Practice on a specific skill, master it, and move on to a new one.

    Appreciate Music: Listen to a lot of different styles of music. Read, analyze and enjoy different styles of music.

    Others will add more.

    Have fun.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 09-06-2008 at 02:10 PM.

  3. #3
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by StartingOut
    Hello. I picked up the guitar about a year back. I practise for about 2-4 hrs a day.I know major and pentatonic major scales shapes. I can also play some songs like Back In Black, Wonderful Tonight.I am mostly into Blues and Rock(Toh I really appreciate Jazz, Neo-classical, Progressive and Instrumental).

    The thing is that I have practised, but without any direction (as I had no teacher or refrence). I even got myself a Fender some time back.That got me even more excited.

    But I recently Jammed with some friends, and I was shocked that I couldnt play anything. That made me thinking, and even made me wonder if I ever could play the guitar. Playing my crappy version of Always with you, Always with me is not what I want.

    So I thought, and I got an answer. I am going back to the basics and get them right. I never want to show of my skills,be the fastest guy on Earth, become rich or famous or anything. I just want to be a decent songwriter/guitarist/composer and Jam with friends, to appreciate music.

    So please help me out. Please tell me the proper way to practise, how to start from square one and how to go along. Also please recommend whatever you feel is necessary. Constructive Criticism is welcome.

    I can give upto 4 hours to practise, as I have my University and other Examinations to give as well.
    A lot depends on why you "couldn't play anything" when jamming with friends.
    Do you mean you couldn't improvise?
    Was that because you didn't know what scales to go for?
    Was that because they didn't tell you a key or chords?
    Or they did, but it still made no sense?
    Or you knew what scales/key you ought to be using, but couldn't think of any ideas?
    Or you could think of things, but couldn't play them? Or got lost?
    Or do you mean (knowing the chords) you couldn't play rhythm in time?

    Any of these things (and maybe a few others) could take you by surprise first time you jam with other people. Did they offer any advice? (They know you and how you play, so are best placed to offer advice - even just offhand hints.)
    Could you get together with just one of them (ideally another guitarist), go through some things slowly? Ask for tips? It will help to highlight weak areas.

    I taught myself too (tho many many years ago!) and I never practised with any "direction" either (still don't, ha ha...). I just learned songs as well as I could - from records as well as songbooks (notation, which I knew already).
    I did have the advantage of joining a band of friends 9 months after I began, who were a little better than me, but not much. I picked up a lot of stuff that way.

    When playing with others, the important things depend on whether you are just jamming, or playing an actual song.

    1. If playing a song, you need to know the chord sequence by heart, and ideally the structure too (when does the chorus come? or the bridge?). Of course, you can read from a chord sheet if you need to to begin with. I wouldn't attempt improvisation until I knew the chords really well, and could play the sequence in time, at the right speed, almost without thinking. Once you have that in your head (and under your fingers) it's a foundation for improvisation - you can build everything off the chords.

    2. If jamming, again you need to know the chords being used. Maybe it's just one; maybe it's a cycle of 2 or 3 or 4; maybe it's a 12-bar blues. Maybe it's just a riff. Whatever, these things (as well as the key) have to be established. You shouldn't be expected to pick all that up by ear. If you know the key, that will tell you the scale to use. (If the chords don't all come from the same scale, take an average and alter the scale only when necessary.)
    Again, if you can't think of anything, focus on chords and rhythm, getting into a groove (let others improvise for a while, that may give you some ideas). Once you feel the groove, you should be able to vary your rhythmic patterns, make it funkier, smoother, more jazzy, whatever (rhythmic improvisation) - but don't try that if you think you might lose the beat.

    Good rhythmic sense is the foundation of lead guitar, this is the point. No one is a good soloist who can't play a secure rhythm.
    When playing with others, being able to stay in time is the MOST important thing. (Getting the right chords and notes is a close second )

    So I suggest practising to a metronome (or drum machine or backing track), or just playing along to a CD. Do it over and over (till you're bored even with songs you really like!). Turn the CD volume down so you can barely hear it, and see if you can still stay in time (IOW, drown out the CD with your playing, then stop to see if you are still together with it - probably not! yeah, we all have that problem... ).

    As you get confident with holding a steady rhythm (with a backing of some kind), try varying your patterns, playing syncopations, more complicated strumming patterns (16ths, triplets, etc). Try to throw yourself off! (IOW, the beat is something that should be in your head, not something you have to play. You can feel the beat and then play around it, inside and outside it. Eg, when I'm pretending to be Keef Richards, I have Charlie Watts in my head.)

    The point is not to rely on the backing (even just a metronome) to provide the "clock". You have to develop your own sense of time, of an even pulse within which you can imagine beat fractions and rhythmic patterns.

    If you can jam with one other person, do this exercise in turn. One plays rhythm, one jams lead (even something really simple, just single notes from chords).
    If you're working with backing tracks (or can edit or make your own), try having the backing audible for 2 bars, then silent for 2 bars. Fill those 2 bars yourself (rhythm or lead!) and see if you are still in time when it comes back. Once you get that working, try it with 4-bar gaps, or slower tempos...
    Last edited by JonR; 09-06-2008 at 02:59 PM.

  4. #4
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    Thanx JonR and Malcom

    Appreciate you guys helping me out, in so much detail. I should have described my problem in detail. What actually happened was there is this really good guitarist and he is good friends with me. He asked me to play, anything. And I didnt know what to do. He gave me a chord seq, and Still I didnt knew what to do. It was like completely blank.

    I will do that.The playing to a a backing track seems very good. Is there any software from which I can make my own track? Also could you please refer some some book/video to refer to for the theory needs? I went to a shop and I was overwhelmed with the amount of books available. I have been using Tabs and You tube to learn. Licklibrary is pretty cool too. But my theoritical background is nil, and I cannot apply whatever little I know as well

  5. #5
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    Music theory - I have been referring people to this site for quite some time now.
    http://www.ibreathemusic.com/forums/...ad.php?t=11975

    Its a good place to start. After you wade through the information the site sends you to -- come back with some specific questions.

    Good luck.

    Malcolm

    Backing tracks are all over the Internet.
    http://www.google.com/search?sourcei...Backing+tracks

    Your CD's are a good source; 1. you like the songs. 2. you have a bunch of them. Only thing you need is to know what key they are using. To do that:

    Play the CD and sound the 6th string of your guitar one fret at a time -- walk up the neck -- when what is playing on the CD and the sound you are making on your guitar come in sync (sound good together) -- look down and see what fret this happened on. If it was on the 8th fret they are using the key of C. If it was on the 5th fret they are using the key of A. Why, well the 6th string 5th fret is an A note and the 8th fret is a C note -- yep simple as that. When they both came into sync you had found the tonal center or root note of the scale/key.

    Once you know the key you know the scale. All you need now is how to turn that into music. Start with that site I sent you to.

    Have fun.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 09-07-2008 at 01:35 AM.

  6. #6
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by StartingOut
    The playing to a a backing track seems very good. Is there any software from which I can make my own track?
    Band-in-a-box is good for making your own (it will even jam for you if you want... and will play automatically in any style you want) - but it costs money .

    I don't use downloaded backing tracks myself, so can't help there, but I know there are lots available.

    You could download Audacity audio multitracker (which is free) and record your own rhythm tracks - but some kind of drum machine is handy for a base to play to. (You can get free ones, but they are not that good. If anyone here knows a good free one, let me know!)
    http://audacity.sourceforge.net/

    You can also get stomp boxes that you can record a backing rhythm into - like the digitech jamman:
    http://www.digitech.com/products/Pedals/JamMan.php
    (probably the most immediately usable device, but again, costs money.)

    Quote Originally Posted by StartingOut
    Also could you please refer some some book/video to refer to for the theory needs? I went to a shop and I was overwhelmed with the amount of books available. I have been using Tabs and You tube to learn. Licklibrary is pretty cool too. But my theoritical background is nil, and I cannot apply whatever little I know as well[/font]
    Music theory is a huge subject, and you do tend to have to wade through stuff that doesn't seem to have any bearing on what you want to do (like, jam, man! ).
    As Malcolm says, this site has some good articles.
    Other good sites are:
    http://www.musictheory.net
    http://www.teoria.com/tutorials/index.htm
    http://www.dolmetsch.com/theoryintro.htm
    http://www.zentao.com/guitar/theory/

    For improvisation strategies, the best thing is just to listen to as much of it as you can. Play along and copy. (That's how all the jazz and blues greats learned their craft.) Start with blues, which is the simplest style. Listen to how soloists phrase notes (how they use space, rhythm and note length), how they echo the vocal, etc.
    It's like learning a language, and you need to get the accent and dialect right, not just the grammar. (The grammar and vocabulary are all there on the recordings anyway, books don't really give you anything extra. They often struggle to explain things that are quite simple when you hear them.)

    But if you do want to read stuff on jazz improvisation (the nuts and bolts), I recommend Jerry Coker's books.
    http://www.jazzscript.co.uk/books/mancoker.htm
    you may not be into jazz (or feel it's way above you), but the theory and techniques can be applied to blues or rock.

    These sites might have useful tips:
    http://www.musilosophy.com/improvisation-tips.htm
    http://www.myguitarsolo.com/improv_tips.htm

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