Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Pushing scale practice doesn't help improvising.

I used to have this problem in my first year playing guitar.  My first ultimate goal was "Far beyond the sun" by Yngwie Malmsteen.  Pretty ambitious for a beginner.  Accomplishing song by song, picking speed went up, left finger maneuver became fluent.  However, Yngwie Malmsteen style is pretty challenging.  If I remember that time, I practiced different scales in metronome.  One day, I could play "far beyond the sun."  However, the speed I play for Yngwie Malmsteen didn't help other songs.  I was puzzled.

Big Question. "I could cover fastest genre of the music, but other than his music, I am still struggling with other pieces.  Why? "

Having 10 years of gap without playing guitar, I can't play Yngwie Malmsteen as I did.  But, I can enjoy more music than back then I used to play.  Here is my answer about the question.

Improvising has two modes.  "Controlled progression" and "Shredding".  Controlled progression relies on current musical context.  What is the key signature/main scale?  What is the beat signature/and main rhythm? More importantly, controlled progression much relies on the brain, the most important tool for music.  Muscle movement works together with the brain.  Do you see that the limiter is "the brain"?
On the other hand, shredding depends less on the brain.  It heavily relies on muscle memory.  Brain just sets up basic information like "what code/what sclae" and "what major beat", then finger works all.  In here, detail is less important, such as order of notes  as long as notes are in scale, and diatonically working.

When playing in band, these come out somewhat mixed.  For example, Yngwie Malmsteen, many phrases are roughly 20% controlled, 80% shredded.  So, brain tells "From now, 4 measures will be diminished rooted 20th fret C down."  Then, during 4 measures fingers improvise without help of brain.  In the meanwhile, brain accepts the next phase, "stop at 8th C vibration, for the 4 beats, and then the last half beat will Bm harmonic minor in pulling manner."  After executing 4 measure, this should end at C, and pulling Bm harmonic scale comes up.  Sure while this finger is working, Brain just thinks the next, not the one fingers are playing.

When in shredding mode, accidentals are not common.  Because accidental is a big brain work.  "We make irregular note X, which is not in scale, but produces effects of A,B,C, and some alpha of tention.  It will be resolved by in scale tonic Y or 5th of Y, etc. "  These need lots of controlled work.  Fingers can't just dance on their own.  They will pay attention to the brain.

Now the key point here.  Increasing maneuverability in controlled work is the foundation to play variety of music.  At the same time, brain should have more tools to provide good signals to the fingers.  I will explain this further.
Here is a simple test how fast I can maneuver in controlled.
Simply pentatonic through 6 strings.(Low A(5th fret 6th string) to high C(8th fret 1st string).  Try beginning with down picking. Change the same play with beginning with up picking.  This is one example of controlled picking.
There are different patterns of controls like 3rd down (C-A, B-G, A-F, G-E, F-D, .... ), alternate/3 string sweep, etc.
If these maneuver is fluent, many things will be easier.  Plus, shredding speed will also increase.

At the same time, don't forget to listen to more good musics.  And catch ideas from the music.  Eventually, collection of these ideas will make brain lucrative to utilize, and improvising will be cool and sound.

Monday, October 28, 2013


So, my favorite instrument is the guitar.  Practically, I only can play the guitar.  Many great musicians inspires me, but due to my limited time, when I get a chance to play it, I have to concentrate for just one thing.

Anyway, my favorite guitarist is "Jason Becker."  He is the god and the most fluent guitarist.  At the same time, he had many brilliant ideas.  Considering all of his work, which ended at his age of 29, he didn't have his best time, unfortunately.

Then, my favorite "active" guitarist is "Guthrie Govan".  He is very special, to tell the truth.  Most of guitarists have own color, specializing handful of genre, Guthrie doesn't have specialty.  He is really all-rounder.  Rock, Blues, Jazz (Classic, Beebop, fusion, plus some brilliant covers with different colors), and Country.  Picking, finger style, slap, tapping, arpegio, ...  He also plays very good acoustic.  His theory is very strong.

I recommend his videos in youtube.  None have disappointed me, so far.