Here is a method to write rhythm, so we can talk about it:

The basics -
W - whole note
H - half note
Q - quarter note
E - eighth note
S - sixteenth note
32 - 32nd note, etc.

Wr - whole note rest
Hr - half note rest
Qr - quarter note rest
Er - eighth note rest
Sr - sixteenth note rest
r or R - a rest

It looks like this
|H H|
|Q Q Q Q|

Barres are divided by || markers, and notes are grouped into 4 groups per barre in 4/4  ( or 3/4, etc.) time.

more examples
|H Q Q|
|H Q Qr|
|EEr Q Qr Q|

Dots or periods -
a dot or period is any note plus half its value, like normal music notation
|Q. Er Q. Er|
|Q E.S E Er. SE|
|Q· Er Q· Er|
|Q E· S E Er· SE|

Triplets -
T or Qt is a triplet (3Qt = 1Q)
Ht is lazy triplet (3Ht = 1H)
|Ht Ht Ht Ht Ht Ht|
6t is a sextuplet (6t = 1Q)
|6t 6t 6t 6t 6t 6t 6t Q Q |

rest notes -
you can use an r if the rest note value is obvious
|Q r Er Q|
|H.r Q Q|

Tied notes -
tQ - a Q (quarter note) tied to the last note, etc.

I hope this will help toprovide a way to talk about rhythm. I hope I have not made many mistakes default/tongue

You have to know three patterns; A, B, and C

|-0-|----|-0-|----|-0-| = A pattern
|-0-|-0-|----|-0-|----| = B pattern
|-0-|----|-0-|-0-|----| = C pattern

So what does this mean? If you want to play an A pattern on the e string (in G!!) you play third fret, fifth fret, seventh fret. B pattern would be third, fourth, and sixth fret. C pattern would be third, fifth, and sixth fret.
In A major it would be (A = 5th, 7th, 9th frets; B = 5th, 6th, 8th; C= 5th, 7th, 8th) If this doesn't make sense, pick up your guitar and pay attention to where your fingers are when you play the three patterns.

You have to remember three things;
1 The pattern is AAABBCC
2 when you play the first B pattern you have to add one fret
3 When you reach the B string you have to add one fret

There is one more letter in the pattern (7 - AAABBCC) than the number of strings (6) so one is always missing (see example below.) For example; if you start at the beginning you have AAABBC, the last C isn't there because you have run out of strings (look at the example.)

(Note that pattern C is missing because there are only 6 strings, but the pattern has 7 parts - AAABBCC)

Mixolydian pattern:
----------------------------(missing C pattern)
|----|----|-0-|----|-0-|-0-| = pattern C
|----|----|-0-|-0-|----|-0-| = pattern B (+1 fret because you have got to B string)
|----|-0-|-0-|----|-0-|----| = pattern B ( +1 fret because it's the first B pattern)
|-0-|----|-0-|----|-0-|----| = pattern A
|-0-|----|-0-|----|-0-|----| = pattern A
|-0-|----|-0-|----|-0-|----| = pattern A

So, having learned these three rules, and patterns you can now play scales. For example AABBCC is the major scale (Ionian.) Play pattern A on the first string, Pattern A on the second, move up one fret and play pattern B on the third and fourth strings, move up another fret and play pattern C on the the fifth and sixth strings.

Ionian pattern:
-------------------------(missing A pattern)
|----|----|-0-|----|-0-|-0-| = pattern C
|----|----|-0-|----|-0-|-0-| = pattern C (+1 fret because you have got ot B string)
|----|-0-|-0-|----|-0-|----| = pattern B
|----|-0-|-0-|----|-0-|----| = pattern B ( +1 fret because it's the first B pattern)
|-0-|----|-0-|----|-0-|----| = pattern A
|-0-|----|-0-|----|-0-|----| = pattern A

So if you have got all of what was mentioned before you can now play all the modes in three notes per string fashion.

ABBCCA is Lydian
AABBCC is Ionain
AAABBC is Mixolydian
CAAABB is Dorian
CCAAAB is Aolian
BCCAAA is phrygian
BBCCAA is locrian

Don’t forget to add 2 frets when you get to the first B pattern in dorian, one for the first B pattern, and one for the B string.

Another way to look at the pattern is as follows;
A = mixolydian
A = Ionian
A = Lydian
B = Locrian
B = Phrygian
C = Aolian
C = Dorian

So Mixolydian is AAABBC. Lydian is (starting where it says Lydian, and counting downwards; ABBCCA – leaving one pattern out (the first A))

OK last thing, and this is cool. If you get this you know the whole fret board in 3 notes per string method. You have to remember the order of the modes which is;

If you play Ionian pattern (AABBCC), and then start on the second note of that pattern, and play Dorian pattern, you are actually playing the same scale. Another way to say it; you are playing the second position of the G Ionian scale. If you play G Ionian, or A Dorian that is actually the same scale (see Dux’s lessons if you’re lost here.) So G Ionian, A Dorian, B Phrygian, C Lydian, D mixolydian, E Aolian, and #F Locrian are all the same scale, or positions of G Ionian, if you like.

I know this sounds complicated, but it's really not. It's actually the simplest sytem I've ever seen. Once you know it, you know that the pattern is ALWAYS AAABBCC. Take a minute and learn it, it's worth it.

B E and #Fm.
The #Fm is the V (fifth chord) of B. It should be a #F (seven or major).
What you have here is a v (minor fifth) which is just telling you that you are in B mixolydian. Not to worry, just use the B mixolydian scale over the whole song.
Why B mixo?
Because the third note of the #f minor is A, and A is not a B major scale note. In fact, it is the only note of the scale of B that does not appear in B, E and #f minor. It is the third of #f minor, and it is the FLAT SEVEN OF B, and because it is the third of such an impartant chord (the dominant no less) it must be played.
There are a lot of things that are too long-winded to explain why this is so. But, just accpet that it is mixo of B for now, and ask lots of related questions and eventually you will understand the why and how.


(2 replies, posted in Music Theory)

Just learn the names of the notes on the first two strings (the fattest two) up to the 7th, then 12 frets. The chords you will learn to start will all have the lowest note (the note on the fattest string) on one of these notes. Looking down while you are playing, left is flat and right is sharp.

for example:
the first 3, is G the chord is G
the first 3, is F the chord is F
the first 3, is #F the chord is #F
the first 3, is A the chord is A minor (the shape here is a minor shape)
the first 3, is C the chord is C (You don't play the X on the fattest string)

That's a start.

Here’s my second part to getting started doing lessons, continuing from the first:

More dos and don’ts:

- Do let your students watch you play. Students like to see how things are played, it helps immensely in learning technique. So don’t be afraid to doodle around and jam with your students. My teacher at university did this for 20 minutes or so every class, and I didn’t get it at first.
- Don't be too critical. (Better to say "You know X well" than, "Oh, you really suck at X"). Don't give too much praise either, wait till you see some improvement, or they just get one new thing right.
- Do repeat, repeat, repeat;
   -for theory: it may be clear in your head, but many musical concepts are confusing and your student may be saying "Ok, yes, yes" but not really getting it. This especially applies to relative ideas (i.e. when the answer depends on multiple variables – for example: If you are in D minor, what scales could you play over the major dominant of Dm? These things take a long time to sink in.)
   - for technique: have them copy you first, and then play the riff three times in a row without a mistake by themselves. Tell them when they get it right. And revisit things that they have learned previously.

Here’s what you should ask in the first (or first few) lessons to find out what a student knows, and doesn’t know:

- Do they, or have they played another instrument? Do they sing?

Ask them to play:
- a song they know
- some riffs they know
    - You can see what they like, and a bit about their technique and knowledge.
- see if they can copy some easy chords you play
- see if they can copy a riff you play, this is mostly to see how good their ear is but also: can they bend? slide? sweep? finger pick? use legato style? Phrasing?

Ask them to play:
- Chords (G, E, Am, B7, #F7, bBm, C7/9, bDsus4/7/#9) Increase the difficulty until you find what they already know, and what they don't already know. Make a note of where to start (with what they already know to make sure they know it well, and some new stuff so they are getting their money’s worth.)
- Scales (same thing, C major, E minor pent, then harder: #C Phrygian #6)
- Ask them to read a rhythm
- Can they read a cheat sheet, TAB, treble clef
- Ask them how many sharps or flats in the key of X
- Ask them what the flat 5 interval of bB is
- Ask them to name the note or chord you are playing
- Ask them to tell you the intervals and/or note names in the chord X
…. And so on, this list is endless. The idea is to find the limit of what they know.   

Two more things I think are important:
There is a learning curve, young people learn faster. At about 11 people learn the quickest, a bit older if you are talking about complicated theory type things. So if you have a talented student, give them something that's a step or two up in terms of difficulty, but don't tell them that it's hard. If you have a retired person who always wanted to learn but never had the time, go for something easy, and be very supportive and patient.

I recommend not having your students pay after every class, or in advance. Do some classes, then mention money. The idea being to not stress out your students, you want them to keep coming back, and teaching guitar is not the road to riches, So you should be pretty laid back about money anyway.

Should I do a third lesson? Hmmmm …. Yeah!

So, you've got a student, and you are a bit nervous. Relax, you'll get over it quickly. Do's and don'ts for starting off:

- Don't over-prepare
- Do have TAB, treble clef paper, empty chord diagrams and blank paper
- Don't go too fast, relax
- Don't dump too much info on the students in the first class, you should be gathering info at this point.
- Do ask them lot of questions and listen to the answers.
- Do get them started learning what they what to learn

The first class is for:

- finding out what the student wants to do
- finding out what the student can already do
- finding out how much effort they want to put in
- asking yourself if you can help them learn this (unless they are obviously better than you, you can. A lot of people get nervous or insecure at this point, or overly modest. Wait til you've done 4 classes or so, then you'll have a much better perspective).

The first thing to do is to ask a few questions and listen to what your student has to say. Ask them:

What do you want to learn?
What kind of music do you want to play?

This is the best advice I have: let your students tell you what they want to learn, and then go straight for that.

Here are some examples of students answers to these questions, sort of case studies:
What do you want to learn?
- Student starting from almost zero (false beginner)."I want to sing and play acoustic to play at home and for friends."
"Knocking on heavens door". No sense in wasting time. First I had him sing the tune while I played chords. Then we looked at changing from G to D (with a pivot finger - ring finger on the 3 fret of B string - pivots are always good for beginners). And then D to Am, Am to G. I stressed that keeping the rhythm was key. We went over the open chords for a few lessons (maybe 16, quite a while), going slowly, and adding easy "singing with chords" tunes (house of the rising sun, bad moon rising, wonderwall, etc.)

What kind of music do you want to play?
- Two young students, 15 or 16, a year or two playing. "We want to learn black metal." Me: "Oh, you mean like neo-classical or goth." Them: "No, no, goth sucks, we hate goth." I had them bring me tape of songs they liked, and we started with power chords, and stuck to strictly goth.

What do you want to learn?
- A young guy, 18, 5 years playing, good ear, could repeat riffs I played, serious about getting good. "I like blues, Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughn." Straight for "Mary had a little lamb" and then the solo. This was way above his level, but I told him it was easy. He learned it in a month, and then went on to take another giant leap in another 2 months or so, and I had him come gigging with my band. We went on to look at everything: harmony, rhythm, chord chart and treble clef reading, intervals, arrangement, dissonance, bass lines ... and every style outside his preferred ones (punk, heavy, jazz, the old songs jazz is based on (grandpa music), atonal (spooky movie music), funk, classical, Dixie, country ...). When his technique was about the same level as mine, I recommended another teacher. 

The point is: go directly for the thing the student wants, don't take a round about way to get there.

One very important last thing:

The mistake a lot of teachers make is they don't teach the students what they want to learn, they teach them what they want to teach them.

You may be studying modes, and that may be forefront on your mind, but that's not necessarily what your students want or need, or you may be into jazz or blues, but the student may see this as a waste of time. This happens with blues a lot -students don't want to learn it, even though it's just a stepping stone - and you have to know when to give in.

It's fine to introduce new things to keep things going, but let the students decide if it's right, and make them ask lots of questions.

I may put a second post on this, we'll see.

P.S. A teacher's trick: If the student asks you something you have no clue about, say "That's a really good question, let's come back to that next week", and then study, study, study.

Usually it's music (or harmony) first,  but doing lyrics first will force you to do some new things to make them fit, so it is a good idea, and may help you to be more creative.


(9 replies, posted in Music Theory)

Well, since no one has asked anything, I'll tell you one of the good questions:
"Why can you play a minor pentatonic (or the blues scale) over a major chord? (The minor pent is a minor scale (it has the minor 3, the b3), and so it should go with a minor chord, right?)
If anyone wants to answer this, or get an explanation ... 
It's good to work it out yourself, but I'll be back in a week or two and see if this has piqued anyone's curiosity.


(10 replies, posted in Song Analysis)

Wow, that was very succint, a case of hitting the nail on the head.
I'll tell what stuck out for me:
"Be able to sing it." This is 100% right and you put it way before "Learn the scales ... " Right again.
I'd add a bit to this part:

"Listen carefully to the bass line and the harmony in general. Get an overall sense of how the song is put together."

I'd say, listen to the bass first, it will tell you where the song goes usually. Then listen to the harmony, and get it down, or close to it (not just an overall sense). This depends on how much harmony you know, and can hear or pick out from a recording. The bass line will usually help you here, tell you what the tonic note is.

Anyway, your post was similar to posts that I have written in 10 or 12 pages; I may have put more stuff, but then I also left out things from your post - and yours was only one page.

Another thing I agree with:
"Improvise over the harmony" (I'd say "Improvise over the song." Same thing, just more listening than thinking in terms of harmony.)
This reminds me of some advice : "Learn the path (the way, the road, the melody - I'm translating it, so it's a bit fuzzy), and then you can go where ever you want."

In #10 you explain this - I'd say - "play the song, not the chords or the scales." Same thing, you have to hear it.

Anyway .... cool post, keep them coming. Ciao.


(9 replies, posted in Music Theory)

There are no stupid questions, only stupid answers. Lots of things in music are relative, and take a while to understand.
The best way to understand these thing is to ask. If I tell you C major is the same as G mixolydian, you might get it. But if you ask the same question my explanation will make more sense.   
If you can ask the right question, you'll get an answer that helps you to improve,


(2 replies, posted in Guitars)

"How difficult is it for a fingerstyle player to learn electric guitars and be able to play Blues Solo?"

They are very different styles. Like learning to play flamenco style, it's a big jump. I dont want to discourage you, but I do want to give you an idea of what you are dealing with.

"I only play with thumpick and three fingers and never learn to play with a pick. And I am very new to scales etc."

This is country style, usually only with two fingers (thumb plus two). Blues style is very different from this, no fingers, and using only the pick to change volume and timbr (making notes into music.) Bending notes is critical if you want to know this style. You know this from your 4 finger country style, but the bends have moved, as have the way you bend them to get blues style.

"I personally feel that learning online lessons could be a better option then going to private classes…Anyone "

You defintely need to see someone play it. If you know bluegrass style,(I think you do) you need to see the other style played, nothing else will give you good idea of the techique.

There is also a technical side - looking at harmony and such with bent notes, and so on? - but that's another thing to look at later.

I have have a lot of respect for country style, it's not easy. This is a completely different style though.


(3 replies, posted in Newbie Section)

Here's a few typical ones:

Those ae sort of standard ones. Then there's the 12 barre blues:
||C7 F7 C7 C7| F7 F7 C7 C7| G7 F7 C7 G7||
and variations:
||C7 C7 C7 C7| F7 F7 C7 C7| G7 F7 C7 G7||
||C7 F7 C7 C7| F7 F7 C7 C7| Dm G7 C7 G7||
||C7 C7 C7 C7| F7 F7 C7 C7| G7 G7 C7 C7||
||C7 F7 C7 C7| F7 Fdim C7 A7| D7 F7 C7 G7||

There's few to look at.

The circle of fifths looks like this:
I can't make a circle here, but #C is the same note as bD, and #G is the same note as bA. So if you could take my line up there, and pull the ends down so they matched up, you'd have a circle.


(24 replies, posted in Music Theory)

If you want to learn the notes, read sheet music, and by that I mean jazz cheat sheets (or pop, whatever, doesn't have to jazz), not classical stuff. Tabs don't help much because you just see the number of the fret, and you don't have to ask yourself what note it is.
Guitarists usually know the names of all the chords they play. This is important. You have to be able to play #Cmin or a G7, B13, and so on. But knowing the names of the notes in a scale is usually not where guitarists excell.
The joke is, "How do make a guitarists stop playing? A: You put some sheet music in front of him. A pianist? You take the sheet music away".
Guitarists usually know intervals instead of notes (the minor third of X note is 3 frets up, the fifth is one string over and 2 frets up, etc.)
The best guitarists I have met do think in terms of notes, and they usually play other instruments like the piano, sax, trumpet where you have to think in these terms.
Having said all that, just hearing things is really important too. A lot of people can run up and down a scale, but lack the ear to make it into something, so don't neglect your ability to hear. And a lot of guitarists don't learn rhythm either, which is a another thing to think about.

And there's a whole lot more to say about this ....


(4 replies, posted in Music Theory)

I'll take a stab at it:
If you take this progression:
||C | Dm | Am | G || - we are in C major
You can play the 5th (dominant) chord of any of these chords before the chord.
The fifth chord of Dm is A7. Dominants are always 7 chords (I hate to say always ... but I have never seen a minor secondary dominant).
So you could play an A7 before the Dm:
||C | A7 Dm | Am | G ||
||C A7| Dm | Am | G ||
You could do the same for the rest of the chords (Am, C and G). The dominant (5th) shord of Am is E7, so with an Am secondary dominant, you'd have:
||C | Dm | E7 Am | G ||
||C | Dm E7| Am | G ||

If you do it for Dm, Am, and G you get:
||C | A7 Dm | E7 Am | D7 G ||

The secondary dominants are only harmonised with the chord that follows them, not the tonic chord.

If you put a secondary dominant for C, it woul look like this:
||C | Dm | Am | G G7|| or, less likely:
||G7 C | Dm | Am | G ||
Since C is the tonic chord, it would be a bit odd to put a G7 on the first beat of the progression, it would throw people off - like saying: "Hey, we're in G", when you really in C"

You can extend this idea ... adding the secondary dominant of the secondary dominants (terciary dominants?). It sounds complicated, but just look at it like this: If this was your progression that you started with:
||C | A7 Dm | E7 Am | D7 G ||
You could put the secondary dominant of A7 (E7) before A7:
||C E7| A7 Dm | E7 Am | D7 G ||

and so on ....

||C E7| A7 Dm | B7 E7 Am A7| D7 G ||?

and there's more ... another day.


(4 replies, posted in Music Theory)

Another good post, olly. Sorry if I seem to be nitpicking your posts, and this is a pretty nitpicky point:

The sixth note of G minor is bE, not #D. They are the same note. Or to use the fancy terminology, they are enharmonic.

"If we take the Minor Pentatonic - which is most used then we miss the 2nd and 6th note out. In the example of G Minor then you would in fact miss out the A and D# note."

G minor is:
G, A, bB, C, D, bE, F, G - two flats.

The trick is always count by letters - D is always going to be the fifth of G, even if it has 1 or 2 flats or sharps.

G,A,bB, C, D, #D, F, G isn't right - you have to go by letters, no repeitions.

This may seem petty, but it does help sometimes; when you look at scales like #A major (which really should just be bB major). In notation, double sharps and flats are usually changed in modern music to the same (enharmonic) note to avoid being overly complicated: (a bbB would just be A).

Anyway, that's what the voices told me to say.

See ya

A good explanation, olly. I did see something though that I thought wasn't right:

"I - II - III - IV - V - VI - V11 - I" (this is what olly put in the post)

is usually:
I ii iii IV V vi viiº I

The caps are for major chords, the small letters for minor chords (dim is considered a to be a minor chord, so "vii" small letters).

Somtimes you see: "IIm" instead of "ii" or iim or also "ii-" for minor chord notation.

The vii needs that little circle too: viiº, or vii dim if you can't find it on the keyboard, or don't wnat to waste time finding it.

As you said, there is plenty more ...

See yous