J.W.C. Learning Log

Someone has put it up on YouTube but obviously there are some cuts as YouTube wouldn’t let them post recordings of certain songs.

My newest guitar has given me a burst of inspiration and enthusiasm, which is cool. I was improvising over the bridge section of a song I’ve had on the back burner and ended up composing a decent solo for that part. More fun than I’ve had in a while, actually! :slight_smile:


If it feels fun, it is fun!
Rock on.

Continuing to have fun with the new ES-339. Actually recorded something today: more new lead stuff that I worked on over the “Mundi Dolore” chord progression I’ve had hanging around.


I used a Travis picking variant for the guitar part in Ninety Miles An Hour (Down A Dead End Street), and I’ve been playing around with different patterns since then. I haven’t played much fingerstyle lately, so dusting it off is satisfying.

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Made another recording with the ES-339, today. This one was one of the “guitar challenges” from these forums: Need Your Love So Bad (Intro Solo).

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Since I recently started playing some more electric guitar (after a long period of mostly sticking with acoustic) I decided to refresh my memory on general fretboard knowledge (with an eye towards lead playing). Doing exercises for quickly finding intervals (especially R/3/5/7) and note names.

Also decided to look at arranging a guitar-oriented version of a classic hymn. I decided to give How Great Thou Art a shot and see how well it translates. I always heard it with a pipe organ rather than guitars, so I’m a little worried it won’t work out well. The pipe organ is just way more “majestic.” I guess we’ll see how it turns out.

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Hi Jason, interesting project. Organs and guitars are polyphonic instruments but six strings cannot match what the organ can do, but in the other side electrical guitars can provide thick sounds that can emulate the grandeur of other instruments.

Just caught up on the latest posts I’d missed when first posted, Jason. Love what you are doing with Mundi Dolore. Sounds so good and as Darrell said in his comment, I’m still getting a hint of Pink Floyd in a good way.

Good point about electric guitars. However, I didn’t use any in my arrangement, sticking with acoustic guitars.

In the end, it’s not the same goosebump-raising experience as being in a room with a pipe organ and big congregation singing (where you can literally feel the air moving), but I’m still pretty happy with my recording.

How Great Thou Art (guitars/vocal)

Thanks, David. Hopefully I can circle back around to Mundi Dolore soon. I’ve got some other stuff I’m working on first, though. Taking advantage of holiday vacation.


Hi Jason. I can see what was your approach. It worked very well. I remember entering a small church in Zurich, many years ago, and someone was playing the organ. I still remember the feeling.

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I think his progress was also due to new possibilities in recording the bass from around the time of Rubber Soul. Geoff Emerick’s book includes some interesting details on how they worked.

For me, his best bass performances are in Taxman, Rain, Fixing a Hole and Come Together.

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Those are definitely good ones. (I remember being astonished the first time I listened to Come Together – not just the bass, the whole song.)

I’ve been writing a song named Shade (written on guitar – also has a vocal, a composed bass line and a guitar solo). This evening I tried playing it on piano. My piano skills are super rusty, but man the chords sounded good on piano. I think piano makes it easier to play around with inversions and voice-leading. Maybe that’s something I should work on with guitar. I think it’s more about the way I’m thinking about putting together chords on the keyboard vs. the way I think about putting together chords the fretboard.


And as far as I know some of the artists we might think of as primarily guitarists compose and write songs on the piano.

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Today I decided to do an exercise where I harmonized the A harmonic minor scale, and then see if I could create a nice progression from the resulting chords.

This is a short recording of me practicing the progression I came up with. I start and stop a couple times, and it’s not a whole song. It’s not polished, but you should get the idea (and I threw on some reverb to make it sound nicer).

Practicing an Am Chord Progression

The progression is:

| Am | G#dim7 | Cmaj7 | Fmaj7 | Dm7 | Bm7b5 | G#dim7 | E7 |

It isn’t purely based off of the harmonic minor notes; it’s mixing natural minor and harmonic minor.


As I mentioned up-thread, I’ve been working (off and on) on a song named Shade. I haven’t been satisfied with the drums, especially with fills in the chorus and bridge. So I finally decided to do something about that.

My problem is that I’m not much of a drummer. Creating a basic beat within the DAW isn’t too hard, but I haven’t been sure how to approach fills. However, I found video of a drummer explaining his approach to fills in 6/8 time (which is the time signature of Shade). I found this extremely helpful, especially when he describes the stick patterns and how he moves around the kit using one pattern or another.

Long story short, I changed the drum fills with the above approach in mind, and I think it resulted in much more “natural” sounding drums. I’m sure there’s still room for improvement, but at the moment I’m feeling pretty good about the result.


This isn’t a “new years” resolution post, but more like a “new year, taking stock, here’s my brain dump about how I want to change up my practice going forward.”

In the last year or two a lot of my time on guitar has been spent learning songs, composing songs, and playing songs. Not much has been spent on technique, fretboard mastery, and so on. Now don’t get me wrong, I think learning songs is great, and I think songs are ultimately the reason we practice all the other stuff. However, I’ve been feeling that my playing ability has been fairly static for a while, even though I’ve been improving in things like composition and general musicianship.

Consequently, I’ve re-introduced some technique and (especially) fretboard mastery practice into my routine. Re-introduced is applicable in more ways than one, as I’m revisiting exercises that I’ve already done, but I’m going a bit deeper.

For example, at one point I learned triad shapes up and down the neck on the various groups of strings. However, I mostly learned them as shapes or patterns. That’s fine, as far it goes, but this time I’m intently focusing on where the intervals (i.e., R, 3, 5) are in each shape.

The same goes for arpeggios (and even some scales). I mostly know these as patterns. You know, the classic “black dots on the fretboard.” I don’t think I have a firm grasp on the intervals within that pattern, though. I could figure it out, given a few seconds to think about it, but I want to get to the point where I don’t need a few seconds to think about it.

I’m also doing some exercises where I pick a random note (e.g., let’s say G#), quickly find a G# on the fretboard, then find 3/5/7 intervals treating that note as root. Then I move to other G#s on the fretboard and do the same thing.

Another thing I’ve just started is playing from song charts that use numbers instead of letter names. For example, if the chords are C, F, G7, and Am I’m reading a chart that uses I, IV, V7, and vi. And I’m playing it in different keys. The idea, here, is to help me memorize more of the “chords in X key” without needing to give it much thought.

Related to the above, I also looked into the Nashville Number System. I’ve encountered it, before, but I was never clear on what the big deal is. It doesn’t seem like anything new: chord numbers using Roman numerals and figured bass have both been a thing for centuries. The Nashville Number System seemed like pretty much the same thing, but using Arabic numbers instead of Roman numbers. After looking into it some more I still think that’s pretty much the case, but the Nashville system does have some useful custom notation. It’s very practical. I may give it a try and see if it sticks.

Lastly, I’ve been trying to include more electric practice in my routine.

As far as defined goals, I’ve wiped away all goals except for one: record and release an EP’s worth of original music (i.e., no covers). Maybe as singles. Maybe as an EP. At the moment, I’m thinking that I’ll release on Bandcamp, and also on streaming services using Distrokid.


A nifty ear training (and Nashville number system) exercise I just tried:

Pick a song from Justin’s lessons (hopefully one where he plays a demonstration at the beginning). Don’t watch the video, just listen to the demonstration at the beginning. As you listen to it, write down the chord changes. You don’t need to write the alphabetic chord names, just the number (e.g., 1 for root/tonic, 4 for subdominant, 5 for dominant, et cetera). Start over as many times as is necessary until you’ve written down the changes for the entire intro/demonstration at the start of the video. Then check your work by watching the video to see what Justin is actually playing, and if it matches what you wrote down.

I just did this for an easy song (Love Me Do – I was writing it down in Nashville Number System notation), and it was surprising how many times I needed to go back to the beginning and start over!

I think this may be a really good tool. You can pick songs already graded by difficulty, and the intro/demo at the start of the lesson video usually isn’t the whole song, just a part of it. So that makes it easier to do bite-sized ear training exercises without committing to an entire song. I also like ear training that is based on songs, and not just identifying interval tones played without any other context.


That is a seriously good idea, a little difficult at grade 1 but , listing the chords as they are played is good enough ear training at the very start. :slight_smile:


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