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Thread: I'm wondering if anyone here knows about Holdsworth and Slominsky's books...

  1. #1
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    I'm wondering if anyone here knows about Holdsworth and Slominsky's books...

    Allan Holdsworth: "Reaching for the uncommon chord"

    and

    Nicolas Slonimsky: "Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns"

    Are these books good for learning more about the obscure, diminished-sounding alien sound of Holdsworth etc...? I just want to learn what to base myself around to be able to create a similar sound to Holdsworth, and be able to delve into it more than just: "Play harmonic major, whole-tone and the half-whole diminished. Also use legato."


    Basically, are they useful? I know how all basic 7ths, 9ths, 11ths, aug, dim etc chords are made (though I can't play every inversion of every chord on the spot, except for major/minor/diminished, major 7th and some minor), and I know basic chord theory.

    I want to learn more though, and Holdsworth is interesting. His sound is used really well by Fredrik Thordendal in the hardcore metal band Meshugga, and I'd like to implement some of that atonal, unresolved sound in my playing.

  2. #2
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    I don't know either book, but I'd say if you were interested in Allan Holdsworth's characteristic sounds then a book by him entitled "Reaching for the uncommon chord" looks like a pretty safe bet...

    (No doubt if further reading is recommended, AH might do that in his book, or at least inspire you in other directions.)

    Same with Meshuggah: the only sure way to understand what they do is to listen and transcribe it.
    Slonimsky's book may help, but I'm pretty sure it won't have a section saying "these are the scales Meshuggah use"... . It would be more useful (if at all) as a general reference, and maybe a source of new inspirations.
    Here's a thread with more on it:
    http://www.ibreathemusic.com/forums/...ead.php?t=8076

  3. #3
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    I don't know Holdsworth's book, but I do have his recent DVD which is re-cut from an older video tape, and I think it's partly based on that book.

    I really like Holdsworth's playing, which is why I bought the DVD.

    But frankly I found the DVD entirely worthless.

    Hope that helps!

    But ... when I wanted to learn how to play like Holdsworth, I did eventually find two things that did help. First - Scott Henderson's DVD "Jazz-Rock Mastery" is simply worth it's weight in gold (best DVD on the market bar none), and also the very rare Shawn Lane video tape is of some limited use if you can ever find a copy.

    All of which is my personal opinion of course .

    Ian.

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    Thank you! I think I will buy the book by Holdsworth. The other one does seem a bit heavy (as was agreed upon in the other thread you posted, JonR), and I still have a lot to delve into in Western harmony. I'll wait with the infamous Thesaurus.

    I read about a book named "Intervallic Designs", whose author I don't know. Does any of you have any experience with it?

    Also, I've heard the Holdsworth DVD doesn't really inform about anything, barred a couple of examples of the whole-half diminished and some stuff. I'm not getting that, haha.

    I never saw the Jazz-Rock Mastery DVD by Scott Henderson, actually. I've heard about it, and I checked out some clips on youtube. It seems like a "this is how you play this lick" DVD based on those clips though, and I don't really know anything else about it. Does it talk about improv and harmony etc?

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Jan
    ... DVD by Scott Henderson, actually ... I checked out some clips on youtube. It seems like a "this is how you play this lick" DVD based on those clips though, and I don't really know anything else about it. Does it talk about improv and harmony etc?
    Hmm...perhaps it's not something you would like then .

    Ian.

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    So it's basically just another lick compilation by another guitarist? That's the reason why I haven't bought any Paul Gilbert DVDs etc... They're all licks, and they never discuss the theory or reasoning behind them all.

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Jan
    Nicolas Slonimsky: "Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns"
    Can't say much about the Holdsworth book, but the Thesaurus is famous, in it's way. Quite a few highly regarded musicians have given it high praise. John Coltrane is one that pops to mind. I have it, and it's quite useful. But I haven't been through much of it.

    Best way to describe it's use is to say that there's no way you won't get any interesting melodic ideas from such a book. Of course, you need to read standard notation to get anything out of it.

    I'd get that book, but getting through it would be a rather longer term project.

    Grep.
    "Whaddya mean DYNAMICS?! I'm playing as loud as I can!"

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Jan
    So it's basically just another lick compilation by another guitarist? That's the reason why I haven't bought any Paul Gilbert DVDs etc... They're all licks, and they never discuss the theory or reasoning behind them all.
    Well I didn't say anything of the sort. You are the only one here saying that.

    But I'm not interested in an argument thanks.

    You must use whatever you think's best for you.

    Cheers, Ian.

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    Oh, I think you misunderstood what I wrote.

    From what I saw from a couple of minute-long clips on youtube, it _seemed_ like a riff compilation. However, I haven't seen even 1/10th of it, so I asked you if the whole DVD was like that, or if it was better (because I really don't know).

    When I asked if it talked about harmony and/or improvisation improvement etc, you said "maybe it's not for you then". That made me half-way assume that it was just a "riff library", and that you indirectly said "no, it's just a riff library" with that comment.

    I'll try to google it though, and see what it's about.

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Jan
    Oh, I think you misunderstood what I wrote.

    From what I saw from a couple of minute-long clips on youtube, it _seemed_ like a riff compilation. However, I haven't seen even 1/10th of it, so I asked you if the whole DVD was like that, or if it was better (because I really don't know).

    When I asked if it talked about harmony and/or improvisation improvement etc, you said "maybe it's not for you then". That made me half-way assume that it was just a "riff library", and that you indirectly said "no, it's just a riff library" with that comment.

    I'll try to google it though, and see what it's about.
    OK, my apologies .

    That DVD is the complete opposite of a "riff/lick collection". In fact it's furthest thing I've seen, heard or read from being merely a lick collection ... although his examples do of course comprise lots of really beautiful licks & phrasing ideas (imho) ... but they are strictly examples to show how he's using scales and arpeggios as improvisational tools set within a clear context of solid theory.

    Still I should admit that I am very keen on that DVD. And of course itís possible that others will not regard it as highly as I do.

    So as always - personal choice is a decisive & unpredictable factor.

    On the Holdsworth stuff ... the reason I mentioned his DVD (itís actually his old video tape, re-recorded), is that judging from that I donít think heís really interested in teaching at all. He gives the impression that he really could not be bothered, and heís certainly no good at explaining anything .

    IOW - I suspect the book wonít be much use either .

    Thatís a great shame, because I always loved his playing after first hearing him with Gong on the ďGazeuseď LP.

    Ian.

  11. #11
    JazzNerd gersdal's Avatar
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    I bought the "reaching out .." book when it was new in the 80'ties, and I learned all the tabbed songs and I really loved it. Haven't looked at it for long, though. Definitely recommend it.

    The "Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns" I've heared is something that looks cool in any guitarists bookshelf, but have little use (for most of us) for anything else (Eric Vandenberg statement based on memory). I have had a look at it, and I tend to agree.

    G

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    For some of these products, I found my judgement depended quite a lot on how much I actually knew at the time (i.e. how "good" I was).

    IOW - it's easy to rate teaching products as bad if they are actually too advanced for you ... because in those products the author is not going to explain everything, and he/she will assume you have considerable knowledge & skill to begin with.

    My first example of that is Don Mock's Book on Melodic Minor. When I bought that I was just starting with Melodic Minor, and Don's rather personalised approach just confused me and led me to put the book aside rather too quickly.

    Another example is Mick Goodrick's book The Advancing Guitarist.

    I've since found Don Mock's Melodic Minor book very helpful indeed. Although I haven't looked much more at the Goodrick offering.

    Of course in music books, the authors should clearly explain what level the material is aimed at. But in my experience they rarely explain that in any clear persuasive way (perhaps the publishers think it will harm sales if the author starts by explicitly saying the work is inappropriate for 99% of likely buyers).

    But, as I say - in many other cases, the teacher/instructor clearly could not be bothered about his lessons at all, and appears to have dashed the whole thing off in his lunch hour. That seems particularly prevalent with famous name presenters.

    Imho, in his instructional DVD/video, Holdsworth clearly puts in no more than 10% of the required effort. And correspondingly I wouldn't rate it more than 1 out of 10. IOW - a complete waste of money.

    Paul Gilbert, who was criticised above (I think), is the entire opposite. All his videos and DVD's show terrific commitment and attention to detail. They are certainly amongst the best guitar tutorial products ever produced, and probably far better than you could get from any private teacher no matter how many lessons you had .... but, of course, those products are all very specifically about fast picking "shred" work, and you would not buy those if you wanted applications of theory in jazz-fusion playing.

    The older videos produced by Hot Licks are almost all utterly useless! One in particular has a group of famous guitarists totally wasting everyone's time inc. their own! ... Mick Taylor and Nils Lofgren are prime culprits...why they ever bothered turning up I'll never know. A notable exception is the Jimmy Bruno jazz video/DVD, which is very good.

    People have said much the same about Malmsteen's original video ... as if he really didn't want to tell you any of his "secrets", in case you learnt to play as well or better than he can! I haven't actually seen that full video though.

    At the other end of the scale we have products like Scott Henderson's DVD, which is frankly worth ten times the asking price (literally).

    But even with the very best of these tutorial DVD's & books etc., you only get out of them in proportion to the effort and commitment that you put it .... it's easy to extract far less than that, not because the teacher or his material is no good, but because students often expect the product to do all the work, as if they merely need to stick the DVD in the machine and watch the film. But that's no good. Instead you need make it the basis of every day practice and wear the dam thing out!

    2:cents (OK it was a bit more long winded than 2-cents, so maybe 4-cents) .

    Ian.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Crossroads
    For some of these products, I found my judgement depended quite a lot on how much I actually knew at the time (i.e. how "good" I was).

    IOW - it's easy to rate teaching products as bad if they are actually too advanced for you ... because in those products the author is not going to explain everything, and he/she will assume you have considerable knowledge & skill to begin with.

    My first example of that is Don Mock's Book on Melodic Minor. When I bought that I was just starting with Melodic Minor, and Don's rather personalised approach just confused me and led me to put the book aside rather too quickly.

    Another example is Mick Goodrick's book The Advancing Guitarist.

    I've since found Don Mock's Melodic Minor book very helpful indeed. Although I haven't looked much more at the Goodrick offering.

    Of course in music books, the authors should clearly explain what level the material is aimed at. But in my experience they rarely explain that in any clear persuasive way (perhaps the publishers think it will harm sales if the author starts by explicitly saying the work is inappropriate for 99% of likely buyers).

    But, as I say - in many other cases, the teacher/instructor clearly could not be bothered about his lessons at all, and appears to have dashed the whole thing off in his lunch hour. That seems particularly prevalent with famous name presenters.

    Imho, in his instructional DVD/video, Holdsworth clearly puts in no more than 10% of the required effort. And correspondingly I wouldn't rate it more than 1 out of 10. IOW - a complete waste of money.

    Paul Gilbert, who was criticised above (I think), is the entire opposite. All his videos and DVD's show terrific commitment and attention to detail. They are certainly amongst the best guitar tutorial products ever produced, and probably far better than you could get from any private teacher no matter how many lessons you had .... but, of course, those products are all very specifically about fast picking "shred" work, and you would not buy those if you wanted applications of theory in jazz-fusion playing.

    The older videos produced by Hot Licks are almost all utterly useless! One in particular has a group of famous guitarists totally wasting everyone's time inc. their own! ... Mick Taylor and Nils Lofgren are prime culprits...why they ever bothered turning up I'll never know. A notable exception is the Jimmy Bruno jazz video/DVD, which is very good.

    People have said much the same about Malmsteen's original video ... as if he really didn't want to tell you any of his "secrets", in case you learnt to play as well or better than he can! I haven't actually seen that full video though.

    At the other end of the scale we have products like Scott Henderson's DVD, which is frankly worth ten times the asking price (literally).

    But even with the very best of these tutorial DVD's & books etc., you only get out of them in proportion to the effort and commitment that you put it .... it's easy to extract far less than that, not because the teacher or his material is no good, but because students often expect the product to do all the work, as if they merely need to stick the DVD in the machine and watch the film. But that's no good. Instead you need make it the basis of every day practice and wear the dam thing out!

    2:cents (OK it was a bit more long winded than 2-cents, so maybe 4-cents) .

    Ian.
    Great posts Ian

    To the OP:
    If you wanna get into that level of theory and are at a basic level now..you are basically where I am.....this is what i am doing:
    Learning more theory from these 3 books - chord factory by jon damian, chord chemistry by ted green, modern chord progressions by ted greene

    Transcribing my fav songs

    Working on accuracy in my technique - you'll need to get your technique down before you try this stuff...

    oh and get the scott henderson dvds...2 of my favs...

  14. #14
    ClashlandHands ClashlandHands's Avatar
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    Yeah, I concur with Gersdal on this one. I know nothing of the Holdsworth book. I've peeked into Slonimsky's T.O.S.A.M.P. and I thought it was an egregious attempt to arrive at "the one musical truth" via mathematical computation. Although, I say this with some sheepishness given my post of anhematonic pentatonics that is essentially this same kind of amusical thinking! Many of the patterns were wholly outside my level of technique to be executed fluidly. The idea that, if Coltrane practiced out of this book for hours on end, and I want to play as well and be as enlightened as 'trane, so I will too, is sort of missing the point of forging your own path. A better idea would be to create "The Jan's Thesaurus o'S&MP" and practice that.

    The flip side is, it all depends on how you use it: If the intended use is to open it at random to gain melodic ideas, shapes that pull you out of your own entrenched patterns if such exist, I fully encourage that use, though you could save $40 and just make your own system for generating random melodic patterns with a couple of dice or some darts and a keyboard scale wall chart. If the idea though is that the book itself is going to be used as a method to change your playing, and that you would work through it page by page... well, that's kindof up to you, but I'd find little meaning in such a task.

  15. #15
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ClashlandHands
    Yeah, I concur with Gersdal on this one. I know nothing of the Holdsworth book. I've peeked into Slonimsky's T.O.S.A.M.P. and I thought it was an egregious attempt to arrive at "the one musical truth" via mathematical computation. Although, I say this with some sheepishness given my post of anhematonic pentatonics that is essentially this same kind of amusical thinking! Many of the patterns were wholly outside my level of technique to be executed fluidly. The idea that, if Coltrane practiced out of this book for hours on end, and I want to play as well and be as enlightened as 'trane, so I will too, is sort of missing the point of forging your own path. A better idea would be to create "The Jan's Thesaurus o'S&MP" and practice that.

    The flip side is, it all depends on how you use it: If the intended use is to open it at random to gain melodic ideas, shapes that pull you out of your own entrenched patterns if such exist, I fully encourage that use, though you could save $40 and just make your own system for generating random melodic patterns with a couple of dice or some darts and a keyboard scale wall chart. If the idea though is that the book itself is going to be used as a method to change your playing, and that you would work through it page by page... well, that's kindof up to you, but I'd find little meaning in such a task.
    Agree totally.
    I feel the same about the notorious Guitar Grimoire - a pointless compendium of all possible scale patterns. A waste of perfectly good trees.

    You learn far more by understanding the (simple and basic) theory concepts behind scales (there are very few), and by learning chords and songs: playing melodies, etc. Not only is that infinitely more instructive, it's a lot more fun!
    Don't buy scale books. Buy songbooks. (Er, oh yeah, and listen to music too... )

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