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February 18, 2008

The Triads Are Coming!!!

And Monday comes around again... not functioning too well this morning. I don't think there's enough blood in my alcohol system!

I'm going to break format somewhat for this entry and talk about 'real life' a bit more than usual. Those of a squeamish nature may wish to look away now...

Ach, c'mon, it's not that bad, is it?

As I rode the train to work this morning I started thinking about the weekend. It struck me that a 'normal' weekend for me could possibly come across as anything but normal to others. That's London for you. It affords you the opportunity to really 'live' as opposed to merely exist.

The irony is that no matter how much money we earn we'll never come close to the high-rollers you see portrayed in glossy magazines. To hit all the high notes in London you need to have some serious cash.

Rewind to Saturday morning. Cold but bright. Only three of us turned up to the guitar class in Pimlico.

The two areas that were covered which I need to work on are:

1) Three note per string major scales. Mostly used by shredders, but useful to spend some time on if only to stretch myself, literally. I need to practice using my first, second and pinky fingers to fret with. My habit is to use my first, third and pinky, but that leads to poor hand positioning, the pinky laying too flat.

2) Chord inversions. I already knew what they were, but I'd never used them in anger. Turns out they're a useful tool for composing. Teach says that Coldplay redefined 'the sound' of popular music by using inversions, and that's why everyone sounds like them now. I'm not entirely certain that this is a good thing! He also said that U2 used them a lot. To quote Teach, "The Edge knew what he was doing".

The idea behind the exercise we've been given is to focus on the three high strings, start off on one inversion (or use the 'root' triad) then find the (geographically) closest root note for the next chord in a progression and fit an inversion around it.

That makes no sense, does it? Here's an example, to illustrate what I mean.

Let's say you're in the key of C major. The root triad is made up of the first, third and fifth notes from the C major scale, which are C, E and G. If I've lost you already then you'd best go back to Music 101. It's down the hall...

So, the root triad is C-E-G. The first inversion would be to start on the E, meaning that the C is no longer the lowest tone in the chord, and your triad would be E-G-C. Likewise, the second inversion would be G-C-E.

On the fingerboard, these triads look like this:

Study the picture closely. For the root triad, you should be able to see that the shape looks a bit like a barred A chord. Likewise, the first inversion bears a striking similarity to an E and the second inversion looks remarkable like a D (or if you screw your eyes up, a C). Coincidence? I think not!

Okay, so let's say you start off playing the first inversion of your C chord, which is the one to the right of the root triad. Strum it by barring the C and G with your index finger and use your middle finger to fret the E.

Great, so what? Let's say, just for shits and giggles, that in our chord progression we're going to change from a C to an F. An F major chord is made up from the root triad of F-A-C. The first and second inversions are therefore A-C-F and C-F-A respectively.

Drawing those out onto the fingerboard, you get:

Since we're already around the 8th fret, the closest F is on the G-string. Hence, you might want to think about using the root triad to get your F sound. If it had been on the E, then the first inversion could have been a good choice. If it was on the B, perhaps number two would have been the way to go.

In this instance, if we choose play the root triad then we can keep barring with the index finger and just shift the middle and ring fingers to fret the F and A. Easy.

And that's the point. It's all about trying to be as economical as possible with finger movement.

At the end of this week's class, Teach announced that although end-of-term isn't for four weeks, in just two weeks time he wants us to show him how far we've got with learning our songs. Eek! Right now I can play half the intro at half speed. I still have a ways to go.

After class I hit the gym. Legs. Ouch! Got cornered in the locker room by one of the resident personal trainers. Not really a problem except that the other week I was told that he "has a thing about me". He engaged me in light and fluffy conversation, asking whether I'd had a nice Valentine's Day. He didn't seem particularly thrilled to hear that I'd had a lovely dinner... with my husband.

Despite my legs hurting like crazy I managed to sprint out of the gym and all the way to the bus stop, guitar case in hand.

Home. Shower. Change of clothes.

Tim got out of his class around 4pm and we headed into town together to buy some art. Last weekend we'd seen some pieces by an artist called Kuldeep Malhi that we wanted. We first saw his work a couple of years back when he was exhibiting a range of wall-hangings entitled "Polydactyl". They were pretty much textural 'paintings' formed by a number of aligned pottery fingers. We bought a number of his "Blush" range, which are kind of amorphous shiny pink blobs that appear to grow out of the wall. Looking at them definitely makes you think of gentlemen's unmentionables, which it appears was the point the artist was trying to get across.

Quoting from the Malhi's website:

"Blush was a direct influence from early Indian sculpture especially the Eleventh Century temples of central India, their sculptures and carvings which display explicit erotic imagery are astoundingly beautiful, they charm and seduce. They are bold yet sensitive, fantastic yet poetic, demonstrating the intimate relationship between sculpture and architecture; sensations and qualities that are reflected in the work of Kuldeep Malhi."

We're actually considering commissioning a piece from him when we've finished the structural work on our loft. No time soon, then...

Saturday night was going to be 'stay home and watch a movie night'. That didn't last long. By 4am we'd managed to spend the best part of £200 on vodka based drinks at a local club, danced our tits off, caught up with some friends and quite possibly offended one of our neighbours. Quoting as best as I can (things were a little fuzzy by that stage), he came up to me and, quite out of the blue and in a matter-of-fact tone asked if I'd like a... (!!!!!!!!)


I glibly replied that I'd love one... just not from him! It was meant to be funny, but it could have come across as hateful. I guess he may think I'm available as I usually only see him at the bus stop in the mornings or when I'm out on my own, shooting pool at a local bar. I dunno. All a bit weird. I wouldn't be surprised if my retort pissed him off, though. Oops. That'll be an interesting meeting, when I see him again...

Sunday morning never happened. Coffee and breakfast came along at around 1pm.

We left the loft around 2:30pm and hopped a bus to Covent Garden. We had an appointment for a massage booked for half past four, but wanted to get there early, imbibe more caffeine and chill out. Did the coffee-house thing. Latte, muffins, newspapers.

I spent most of the time listening to the background music, which was all acoustic and vocals. I came to the realisation that sometimes being a musician kills your enjoyment of listening to other people's music as you subconsciously deconstruct songs into chord progressions, 16th note strumming patterns and so on. Sometimes you miss out on the beauty of the forest because you're too busy counting trees. I also came to the conclusion that unless you have a good vocalist, you're not going to get anywhere as a band.

Whilst nursing my coffee (and the merest hint of a hangover) I came across an article in the Sunday Times about visiting Budapest. Bizarre coincidence as I'm in the process of scheduling a trip there over Easter. I'd been trying to decide which of the Turkish bath's we should visit. The article confirmed to me that the Rudas Baths are the way to go. Sorted!

Massage. First one I've had. Swedish. Nice girl giving it, but next time I'll ask for a bloke. She just didn't have the strength to squeeze out all my stress! After we were done she recommended we didn't eat for a few hours and that we stay away from alcohol, which was our cue to head straight to the Southwark Tavern for dinner and a couple of bottles of wine!

The Southwark Tavern is close enough to our flat that we consider it a local. It's right next to Borough (food) Market, which is a favourite haunt of ours at the weekend. Even though we've been to the Tavern several times we'd never been downstairs. On Sunday we discovered that they have a really cool, cavernous basement area (which used to be a debtors prison, allegedly) with central tables surrounded by intimate booths. Top tip: don't even think about using the stalls in the mens room. You're likely to find yourself ankle deep. They have serious plumbing issues!

At some time during 'bottle number two' Tim decided that the time had come for him to voice his opinion about my transformation into a Rock God. I should point out that Tim still doesn't know about The Project. He just thinks I'm going through a weird obsessive phase!

His pearls of wisdom included: "You don't think you're an extrovert, but you really are, you just won't admit it to yourself. You love it when people look at you!" He concurred that I look too 'normal' at the moment to be a rocker. Looking me up and down he decided that my best chance would be to go for the "Henry Rollins" look by beefing up and covering myself in tattoos.

Okeydokey then...

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