After a long break I'm back filming videos (and posting on this blog!) and I thought it time to continue my 'Guitar Theory' course - practical music theory for guitarists to better understand the instrument and music more generally.
This week's lesson concerns key signatures. This refers to whether the music we are playing contains any sharp or flat notes. This will depend on the 'key' we are playing in, which in turn depends on which scale the music is using because chords in a key are derived from scales. That's for an upcoming lesson but for now...
To date we have discussed the major scale and how it is played. We had a major scale if we were to play one octave of the C major scale (CDEFGABC). If we list the distance from one note to the next we had the major scale formula (Tone-Tone-Semitone-Tone-Tone-Tone-Semitone).
If we move the first note (or 'tonic') away from C and play one octave of the musical alphabet starting from, for example, the note G (GABCDEFG) we no longer have the sound of the major scale. Why? Well, because the major scale formula only works with the musical alphabet when we start on C. Starting on G gives us this:
The video lesson below will explain how we can resolve this problem to be able to play a G major scale or any other major scale. Yep, you guessed it! We need some sharp and flat notes.
One filming session a while back, all my guitaring mojo was completely destroyed when my neighbours decided to start (very inconsiderately) drilling.
Just a bit of fun here whilst I prepare some more guitar goodliness for y'all. Thanks to my good mate, Mr Thomas Walters for his editing skills.
I've recently posted a new lead guitar lesson on my YouTube channel going through the minor pentatonic scale. I review exactly what the minor pentatonic scale is and the popular position 1 minor pentatonic. From there I'll show you one scale pattern in particular that I love to use to easily move up and down the guitar fretboard.
You can watch the video and get the free pdf tabs and fretboard diagrams by clicking here
I've seen a couple of videos an blog posts discussing James Taylor's slight tweaks to standard tuning so I was interested to see what he had to say.
In the video below posted from his YouTube channel he recommends tuning each of the strings slightly out of tune to compensate for the use of a capo and the fact that the bass strings ring out of tune when they are struck.
To do this you will need a metronome that shows how many 'cents' you are from 440 tuning. A cent is 1/100th of a semitone (or half step). In summary, Taylor recommends you tune the strings a certain number of cents below standard tuning (i.e. when the tuner is telling you the string is perfectly in tune):
Low E = -12 cents
A = -10 cents
D = -8 cents
G = -4 cents
B = -6 cents
High E = -3 cents
Have a try and see if you can notice the difference.
Here is a song lesson from my archive on how to play 'All I Want Is You' by Mariah Carey, one of my FAVOURITE Christmas songs.
It's not easy. There are some quick changes and interesting jazzy grips here so a nice little challenge to get stuck into. You've still got plenty of time before Christmas Day.
You can get a copy of the songsheet by clicking here.
I'm very excited to announce the release of my first eBook, 'Inside Intervals'.
As a thank you to my nearly 20,000 followers on Instagram and 8,500 subscribers on YouTube, I am making the eBook available for FREE when you sign up to the RYNGTR Newsletter. This will be a monthly update mail with the latest posts and videos. You can sign up using the newsletter form on the left of the website (when viewing from your desktop).
Here's an extract from the introduction to the eBook as to why you should check this out:
"The study of intervals is such a powerful tool for guitarists and shouldn't be overlooked if you're really serious about your guitar studies. It has huge benefits for lead playing in terms of your arpeggios, scale shapes and note choice for improvisation. It will also deepen your understanding of chord shapes, enabling you to quickly identify the relationship of each note to the chord's root."
The eBook gives an overview of how intervals are identified and then has a series of neck diagrams detailing how every single interval inside of one octave can be played on the guitar.
If you wish to show your gratitude and support my teaching, you can do so with a donation. You can find a page in the navigation bar to donate by Paypal, or you can follow the link here.
I hope this is the first in a whole series of eBooks and courses available in the coming months. Exciting times at RYNGTR HQ!
I'll see you soon. Byeeeeeeeeeee.
In a recent series of posts on my Instagram feed entitled 'Learning The Fretboard' I shared a number of essential concepts and shapes that will radically accelerate your learning of notes on the guitar fretboard.
My final post in the series was the video below which details what I think is the best exercise for learning the fretboard. It certainly worked for me!.
This is an exercise taken from Joe Satriani's book 'Guitar Secrets' (a great compilation of articles written by the guitar legend).
What you need is a fretboard diagram of all the notes and a metronome. Taking each of the 12 chromatic notes in turn, your goal is to play that given note on all six strings, from string 6 to string 1 and back. Each note will appear on every string in the first 12 frets.
But, you must pick the notes in time with the metronome click. Work at a slow tempe (50-60 BPM) and with the fretboard diagram in front of you if you need. Take 3 or 4 notes every practice session (I like to work around the circle of fourths - A-D-C-F-Bb...)
Keep working at increasing the tempo until you feel confident that you know where the notes are.
Recently I posted this photo on Instagram and it proved to be VERY popular.
The grid shown in the photo presents the 24 possible combinations for a simple 1-2-3-4 fingering pattern. These fingering patterns can create some great warm up exercises that I love to use and share with my students.
How I like to start is to take the first pattern and play a chromatic 1-2-3-4 finger sequence across the strings, starting on string 6. If you are able you can do that from the 1st fret, but if the stretch is too demanding you can take it higher up the neck, maybe the 5th fret. I would recommend you start working this to a metronome ASAP and pick with the click.
Once you are confident and can fluently play the pattern in the 1st fret you can look to add alternate picking, again working to a metronome. When you have played the pattern across all the strings, climb one fret and repeat the sequence across the strings in the opposite direction. Keep climbing a fret each time until you cover the length of the fretboard (or get bored!)
I would encourage you to repeat the exercise above but using different picking patterns to find some new challenges for your fingers (4-3-2-1 maybe, or how about 3-4-2-1?).
When it gets really fun is to change the fingering pattern on each string as you play across the strings. The second sequence I demonstrate in the video is working horizontally across the grid which gives you the 1-2-3-4 fingering pattern but starting from the next finger along each time. There are four patterns so you have to keep your wits about you as you cross the six strings.
A little easier for the brain but definitely harder for the fingers is working vertically down the first column of the grid. This gives you the six possible fingering combinations when you start with finger 1.
Work a pattern or sequence into your warmup to get the blood flowing and get you blazing in no time.
You can download a copy of the fingering variations by clicking HERE.
Recently, I've been posting a series of chord boxes on my Instagram feed in a series I'm calling 'Chord of the Day'. Go check it out if you haven't done so already.
I've had questions from a few people asking how exactly chord boxes are read, so here is an explanation.
- The title indicates the name of the chord.
- The strings are ordered (from left to right): 654321 or EADGBe.
- A thick line on the top of the chord box represents the guitar nut and indicates that the chord is played in the open position (frets 1-4).
- Black circles on the diagram tell you which frets and strings to play.
- Numbers inside the black circles indicate fretting hand fingerings.
- An 'X' on the top line indicates that a string should not be played.
- An 'O' on the top line indicates an open string that is played.
- Numbers may appear on the left of the chord box to indicate fret numbers to help identify where on the fretboard the chord is played.
- The notes within the chord may appear below the chord box.
I have a free PDF handout to download here.
Octaves are super useful when you want to learn the notes on the fretboard and they are used a lot in many different genres. In the video I will show you all the octave shapes that exist on the fretboard.
I cover the following:
- What an octave is;
- How many frets make an octave on one string;
- An octave on adjacent strings (e.g. string 6-5) and how that changes across the string pairs;
- An octave shape skipping over one string (e.g. string 6-4) and how that changes across the string pairs;
- An octave shape skipping over two strings (e.g. string 6-3) and how that changes across the string pairs; and
- A two octave shape between strings 6 and 1.
In this week's Chord of the Day I wanted to present to you all the different grips we can use for the F chord and its possible substitutions in the open position, incorporating both additional fretted notes and open strings.
An F chord is formed with the notes F, A and C. We can play a simple triad shape across strings 4, 3 and 2. If I replace the A note on string 3 with the open G I create what is called an Fsus2. Adding an open string 1 to these shapes creates an Fmaj7 (commonly used by beginners to replace an F chord) or Fmaj7sus2.
I can fret notes on string 1 to create a mini-barre F chord when pressing into fret 1 with finger 1. Grabbing the G note on fret 3 with the pinky finger creates an Fadd9. I have another Fsus2 if I add the open string 3 to this grip.
As you become comfortable with these shapes and your technique develops you can look to add extra notes to the lower strings. Adding a C note on string 5 creates a series of slash chords (in which F is considered the root note but the lowest note we play is a C).
The final stage is to try and add an F note on string 6 using the thumb over the top of the neck. This allows you to play chord grips with open strings, which will not be possible with a full barre F chord.
Finally I'll show you how to play the barre F chord. I find it helpful to think about an E chord shape being formed in fingers 2, 3 and 4, with finger 1 acting as a capo to press across all the strings. This one takes time but little and often is the key to getting this sounding clean.
Here's a recent song lesson on 'Run' by Daughter. This was the B-side of the band's single 'Smother', although the version I cover is an acoustic demo version that was suggested to me by a viewer.
This song uses the bass note strumming pattern that I introduced in my previous post. You can find the tabs below. Click on the image for a .pdf to download.
Here is another classic strumming tune. The opening cut to Tracy Chapman's debut album has a great tied strum and a repeating chord progression that sounds awesome.
The challenge here is when the chord change occurs on the 'up' strum in each measure (namely the G to Cadd9 and the Em to D). Take your time with it, and make sure your strumming hand never stops moving!
'Hey Ya!' is an absolute classic of a tune, and it's one that I often get out for students to work on a tied strumming pattern at a fast tempo.
It was presenting this to a student last week that prompted me to come up with the idea of a new series of videos for my YouTube channel, entitled (very unoriginally I know) 'Strumming Songs'. This will be a series of songs that have one or two chord progressions with beginner chords but a great vibe to them. There'll probably be lots of tied strumming patterns going on.
Below is a copy of the chord progression to download. This is the progression throughout the song (although I still can't decide whether the E chord becomes an Em sometimes).
Good luck with it.
Here is my new song lesson on how to play 'Sense of Home' by Harrison Storm. This was a request from one of my viewers, Danny. This song has been added to my growing collection of fingerstyle songs that can be found on my YouTube channel.
You will find the tabs below. Click on the image for a .pdf to download.
I was asked by a Skype student to look at the main riff to the new song by Ghost, 'Square Hammer'. I love the band and the song, so decided to transcribe the whole thing and upload a playthrough video.
The band has two guitarists, and so I wanted to perform what I think are the two parts, with solos.
The official video for the song can be found below.
Here is my new song lesson on 'Low Life' by Jamie N Commons. This was a request from one of my subscribers, Shaun Gimbitt.
There is a lot of chord embellishment in the original version with hammer ons and sus chords. My lesson here presents the chord progressions and then a 16th note strumming pattern that closely resembles the feel of the song.
You will find the chord progressions below. Click on the image for a .pdf to download.