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March 9, 2008

One More Week To Go

Well, I had my last but one session at WAES (Westminster Adult Education Services) on Saturday. Pretty neat. Went through more chord inversion stuff. I can see them being useful when composing. Had a "D'Oh" moment in class where I suddenly realised that if you have 2 bars of 4 beats then if you're picking out 3 triad notes then 3 into 8 (2 times 4 beats) does not go! Solution: cycle twice through the triad then only play 2 notes (making 8 beats) and start again.

That makes no sense, so here's an example:

While I've got the ol' microphone hooked up, here's the main riff from Cream's "Outside Woman Blues" that I was talking about in previous posts:

It was the last class for one of the guys, J, as he can't make it next week. He got to perform his song a week early! J chose to do a version of Neil Young's "The Needle & The Damage Done". I'm not a huge Neil fan, though I probably should be as I love his stuff with Crazy Horse, so I didn't know the song well.

I was actually surprised by J's performance... in a good way! It wasn't a perfect rendition by any means and J's not the most confident of players, but at times when he lost his place he managed to pick up the beat and keep going. Moreover, he sang whilst playing which always impresses me. That skill is beyond me at this time.

At the end of class we did the email exchange thing... which probably means that the more computer savvy of my classmates will find this blog if they do a search! If you do then hey! Say hi! Hopefully I've not said anything too controvertial about you guys in that past. I'm not going to go back and check as whatever I've said is what I felt at the time. If there's something you can say about me is that I tell it how I see it.

Now, this weekend I was going to do the 'hey, look at my stuff' thing and photograph my equipment (be nice) so that people know what my setup is. However, Tim took the camera with him to his residential weekend, so that ain't happening.

I did, however, run across two photos I snapped a while back... one a loooong while back. I used to want to be a photographer and even had my own darkroom. I could never find anyone to sit for me, though, so I'd do the occasional self-portrait. Judging by the guitar I'm holding, a 40th Anniversary '54 Strat reissue, I'm guessing that I took the photo below somewhere between 1994 and 1996. Do the maths. The Strat was actually a really nice guitar. I sold it. Moron.

Here's the photo, reproduced using my cameraphone...

For comparison I snapped another photo just before Christmas this year of me with my new pride and joy. May I introduce my beeaauutiful Les Paul Standard, 'Red Dog'.

I swear I will NEVER sell this guitar! Only one more week to go and I can play it again! Can't wait!


Frank said...

Hey there. Random question -- Prior to the course how would you have rated your playing? Then, at this point in the course, how would you rate your playing?

Furthermore, how long have you been playing? Judging from the demos you've posted, a lot longer than me! :-)

Good luck on your performance!


Kenski said...

That's actually not an easy set of questions to answer. I'll start at the end and work forwards!

First off, thanks for the good luck wishes. I've still got work to do on the song, but the end's in sight (or way or the other)

I started playing when I was around 19 years old... which was getting on for (holy cow) 19 years ago. BUT, I never took lessons and I never knew what I was supposed to learn. Effectively, I was a guy who simply 'owned' guitars for the first 15 years. I could play open chords, but had no idea about scales etc. I also quit trying to play many times during that period. Effectively I only really started playing 'for real' 3 or 4 years ago, when my partner bought me a cheap Les Paul copy. Apparently I wasn't 'complete' unless I had a guitar (which I didn't at the time).

I started taking group lessons immediately. They were billed as being 'intermediate', but were a stretch, to say the least. I had to get up to speed with basic scales etc rather quickly.

After a couple of terms of evening classes I quit 'school' as I didn't get on with the teacher. The WAES course is my first proper formal training since then. The course is billed as intermediate (again), but this time I was above standard. The course is only supposed to cover up to the use of pentatonic scales, stopping short of blues etc.

The course isn't bringing too much new to me in the way of knowledge, it's been a great help, nevertheless. I would say that at the end of term I'll definitely BE an intermediate guitarist. Good enough to be in a band, but not a ROCK GOD yet!!!

There's actually a distinction to be drawn between technical level of play and theoretical knowledge. On the theory side, I'd say I'm ahead of the game. On the technical side, I'm on course. For the most part I need to keep practicing and 'get out there'. Hopefully that'll happen in the course of 2008!

Hope that answered the question, albeit rather lengthily!

Frank said...

Hey Kenski,

It did answer my questions. And I hope you didn't find them nosy.

As a beginner, I'm always somewhat interested on how players whom are intermediate players came to be...

I've actually learned a lot of theory -- Theory is easy for me to learn, I just keep reading website and books to until I'm content. (Reading is very relaxing to me)

It is my actual playing that I expected would progress much further than it has. I'm trying to be patient with it, but I get frustrated sometimes... I'm sure you've been there.

I can play open chords -- almost no problem, but when I'm trying to play a rhythm I constantly screw it up. Either during the chord changes or I come completely out of time (BPM doesn't matter, could be 40 could be 72). I believe it was you who gave me the advice to (sort-of) play through chord changes. (Allow the different tones to come out) and while it often does sound nice, I don't feel that at 70bpm I should be so "slow" at changing chord.

I know it takes practice, but how much can I practice an open C major chord?

Anyway, I don't mean to rant to you about this.



Kenski said...

No problem with ranting. Playing guitar gives you a lot to rant about!

I'm only just getting better at strumming myself and I often find myself making mistakes. It's one of those things that didn't work for years then miraculously seems to be slowly fixing itself. Learning guitar is often like that. You try really hard and make no progress, then for some reason one day the pieces fall into place by themselves.

I've always been more focused on 'lead' stuff rather than strumming to the point where it's been tempting at times to just to give up on rhythm completely. Concentrating on the acoustic for this course I'm doing has forced me to revisit my rhythm playing, which is a good thing. Progress is being made!

I'd actually recommend any aspiring player get themselves a half-decent acoustic. Often if you can a technique down on the acoustic it comes more easily on the electric. It also helps build up finger strength for bends etc.

The most important thing is to realise that even though your progress may seem slow, if you keep playing you *will* be improving. I've had times when I've been really down about my playing but then I get compliments from people I've not seen in a while about how much I've improved.

Just keep at it.