Decisions, Decisions, Decisions I’m sure whatever you decide you will be happy with József. It’s good to hear that your stepping back into a regular studying schedule. That sounds like a great idea to work on recording your own 12BB and soloing over it. Good luck with G2/M13. Enjoy.
Congrats on all the progress made, József, no doubting the power and benefits in developing the ability to transcribe. Some woulkd say it is the best (only) way to learn.
Have fun considering another electric, part of the fun is all that research and thinking, then the try-outs, before finally adding another guitar to the collection. Mick was right
So today was another David Bowie Day for me. After I got home from the dentist and finished working, I tried out the new Rotosound string I put on my Epi LP on Sunday, and the tryout turned into a bit of Bowie jamming.
For a few days, I’ve been toying with the idea of playing along to Fame, so I got down to it and managed to suss out the notes of the main “riff”; not the chords, though, as those funky extensions are still out of my reach. It was great fun; I needed one or two attempts to get the rhythm right, but when I got in sync with the recording (with a touch of wah wah), it felt great. Then I tried Fascination, at least parts of it. The chord progression seems to be mostly E-D-C, but I’ll take a closer look at that later on. And when I found out that the little lick played after the choruses is a pair of E notes an octave apart, it gave me an extra boost of confidence.
Then I moved on to The Width of a Circle and figured out the two main “themes”, i.e. the opening riff and the theme from the second half (played by Ronson and also sung by Bowie). I gave a go to the power chords as well, but I’ll need to work on the rhythm, I think. Also, the bass and drums on this song are wicked.
Thanks David. I’ve never thought I’d be able to make out melodies and reproduce them on any instrument, so I’m always stoked when it happens. Sometimes it’s a bit difficult, at other times it’s pretty easy, but I almost always feel lucky that I can improve at this skill. I wouldn’t say it’s the only way to learn, but it certainly helps with memorizing the melodies.
2 weeks ago I took the Strat back to the shop for a little adjustment, and now the tuning stability is indeed better. One less thing to worry about.
So where to begin?
Since the end of 2022 I haven’t had much free time until this week, so when I had the opportunity to play, I stuck to my usual practice routines, see above. However, some ideas have been slowly taking shape.
I registered for a Home Studio course at a local university. It’s not a university course as such as it can be taken by anyone interested, but I figured it could serve as a starting point for my adventures in studioland. The course will be 50 x 45 minutes spread over 5 Saturdays in April and May so it won’t interfere with my work (or vice versa). A funny thing: I’m a regular at a biweekly film club and an elderly couple is among the usual guests. The husband has been an audio engineer at the Hungarian radio and works with electroacoustic composers, and he knows the engineer who will host the course. It’s a small world. I hope it will be interesting and that I’ll be able to make some connections for the future…
As a sort of preparation, I watched the videos in this course, although I’m not sure what DAW I’ll use eventually: Production Basics With Adam G
I started to read The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions by Mark Lewisohn. When I was 11 or 12 I bought the Hungarian translation of Revolution in the Head by Ian MacDonald from a used book store with my mum, and that’s pretty much when my interest in sound recordings started, so I have kind of come full circle this time.
I want to continue with music theory as well, so while doing Justin’s PMT, I ordered two books as well (they are still on their way):
Although not guitar-centric, they seem to be valuable sources of information. Now I’ll just need some more time as well to use them along with the Leavitt book.
As for actual playing, I added Astronomy Domine to my playalong-list, although there are some weird (in a good way) guitar overdubs in that song that I still haven’t figured out. But I was very pleased with myself when I managed to figure out exactly how to mute the low E string to get the same sort of chug as in the intro.
Yesterday I started to “transcribe” the string parts in Walk On By by Isaac Hayes. I think the lead guitar part here will take more time than in his other songs I tackled, but I’m not in a hurry.
I’ve also been thinking about trying to play some Fela Kuti, so I added 3 songs to my worklist:
Je’nwi Temi (Don’t Gag Me) - it has a pretty cool guitar riff and a nice horn lick as well
Sorrow Tears & Blood - here I found the horn lines a bit easier, probably because the guitar is not that prominent in the mix
Colonial Mentality - this has a funky bassline and more horns
Interestingly enough, I managed to play along to these 3 songs around frets 7-10 on strings 3-5. I haven’t written the riffs down yet, but there must be something Fela liked about those notes…
I transcribed the guitar/horn riffs from the first one and they are in Bb major (G minor pentatonic), so I guess Fela was accommodating the horn section and the sax solos.
What a great update Jozsef and so pleasing to read you getting so stuck in. The studio course sounds like it’ll be really interesting, I’m sure we will all take the pleasure of your time and learning on that in future recordings!!
And some really interesting songs added to your worklist, Astronomy Domine is an amaaaaazing track, I can’t wait to hear you share that with us!
Have alot of fun
I guess it’s time for a little update.
The home recording course ended about 2 weeks ago. I think it was pretty interesting, I’ll probably write a bit more about it later on.
Not much happened guitarwise. I haven’t played very much the past month, and today I noticed some string buzz on 2 of my electric guitars. Maybe the climate has changed a little, but I’m planning to take the Strat to a luthier to check it as there are always some weird things going on with it (I guess I’ll never be a real Strat guy). I mean, it’s a fine guitar, but nothing mindblowing. If it comes to sell any of my guitars, it’s very likely to go first. Lesson learned: don’t judge a guitar (only) by its looks.
About 2 weeks ago I registered to a driving school. Frankly, some time ago this seemed as unlikely as picking up an instrument. I’m still only at the theoretical stage (rules of the road, some basic technical stuff), so far it seems interesting. I wonder how easy or difficult the actual driving will be.
Joszef, driving is way easier than guitar!!
At least I’ll be less likely to harm others while playing music Strangely enough, I still don’t feel worried about how the actual driving will be, but maybe right before the first practice session…
Actually, I sort of had a “Justin moment”, so to say, in that the manager of the driving school I signed up to has a YouTube channel with a rich library of videos on rules of the road as well as some actual practice sessions recorded with beginner students, so I already have some ideas on what to expect.
Time for a little update again.
Yesterday I passed the theoretical exam for driving at 100% I was actually the first one to finish in the group, and it felt a bit too easy… but I studied and practiced quite a bit for it. Now I’m waiting for a driving instructor to be assigned to me and to start the practical lessons… I think that will be much more of a challenge but I’m not worried about it (yet). If I managed to learn some guitar, I’ll manage this, too.
Guitar-wise I seem to be in a sort-of no man’s land. Fortunately, the Strat became a lot more comfortable to play after the setup so I pick it up more often. I’m also starting to get used to the tonal options of the 5-way switch, so it seems it wasn’t a wasted purchase.
However, I feel like I’ve been walking in circles regarding practicing. There are some songs on my practice playlist that became a bit too familiar, so I try to rest them for a while. I started to jam along to some pieces by Miles Davis from his fusion era which was something I’ve never expected to be able to do. I won’t be the next John McLaughlin, of course, but at times my playing complements the recordings pretty well. This is a simpler song from that period but I’m still only scratching the surface of that warped wah-wah trumpet tone (though I’ve had the riff down pat):
I managed to get portions of the solos in Bitches Brew, Miles Runs the Voodoo Down and Lonely Fire right and they’re so much fun to play. Actually, the latter piece is built on a short trumpet phrase repeated in octaves by the sax so it was probably the easiest of the three. (Labelling anything by Miles as “easy” somehow doesn’t feel right… maybe I’ve developed a bit in the past 4 years, after all.) The bassline is Voodoo has also been cracked, so sometimes I play along to the trumpet and alternate it with the bass.
Something which I still have to work on is the rhythm in his song Maiysha which has a bossa-nova vibe in the first half. I got the chords, but the rhythm sometimes gets the better of me. And let’s not even talk about the second half where I’m not even sure what sort of effect is used. Sounds like wah-wah mixed with a nervous system meltdown.
I guess what I want to say is that I’m trying to apply some of the trumpet techniques to my playing, but there are some nuances that will require a lot of time, like the slurs and the sort of microsecond “hiccups” that introduce a particular note. Also, it might be only my ears deceiving me, but brass instruments seem to be able to change the pitch of the notes ever so slightly that is very difficult to replicate on the guitar.
Congratulations mate . That is fantastic news that you passed your driving theory test. Nothing to worry about learning the practical side of things. You’ll be absolutely fine, i think learning to play guitar is much harder.
Thanks It seems I’ll be able to start driving in August and the meeting place will be across the street from where I work. I’m getting excited about it and how it will go. That area has everything including heavy traffic (intersection of 2 big roads), cyclists, trams and it also seems to be a standard route used by ambulances.
I started watching Herbie Hancock’s Harvard Lectures, and an interesting point he made was that we should never stop be students and should always take the opportunity to learn something new. So I try to be as open to this challenge as I can and I hope it will help me.
So another year passed…
The second half of last year was spent mainly with learning to drive, so that took some time away from music. I had the 1st attempt at the practical exam on 14 December but I didn’t stop at a red light in time so that meant a fail. Other than that, I think I got used to driving as much as I could and if I can concentrate better, the 2nd attempt will be successful. I passed the first aid exam yesterday so it’s really the practical exam is all that is left. And then lots of practice in real life. A year ago I didn’t expect to get so near to have a driving licence.
There have been quite a lot of changes at my workplace as well in the past few months, so I’ll try to take things as easy as I can, no extra courses or anything like that, at least not in the 1st half of the year.
Guitar-wise I don’t have too many plans. Strangely enough, I seem to have no GAS anymore. I think my 5 guitars cover pretty much all areas that I’m interested in, and I don’t have enough room for more instruments anyway. This year I think I’ll focus on transcribing and continuing with music theory.
I’m trying to get to grips with the fact that driving has been so far the biggest challenge of my life learning-wise… and I don’t mean the theory of it but the actual physical act of driving a car. I just can’t get a consistently good performance out of myself. If I don’t practice for 2 weeks, I act as if I were an absolute beginner running around in circles. On my 2nd attempt at the traffic exam I blundered at parking, something that I’d been reasonably good at during the lessons. I guess I had some sort of stage fright or something. It’s weird because I don’t find actual traffic itself stressful. I’ll have the 3rd attempt in a week or so and I wonder what else can go wrong. (Anything, obviously.) But I’ll try my best and not to get unnecessarily anxious about it, however difficult that may be.
Another burden on me was a recent decision by the majority of the tenants in the house I live that certain bigger (10-12 square meter) storage rooms like mine had to be emptied in order to divide them into smaller cells so that all tenants can have one for themselves. It’s a nice idea but they could have devised a plan of sorts with exact dates as well instead of putting out a notice to have the big rooms emptied by end of January - 3 weeks before the deadline. So my evenings after work in January were spent mostly with rummaging through boxes and boxes of stuff… mostly books but a lot of other things as well, some more important than others. I managed to save the things that mean the most to me but had to throw out a lot of others (including things that should have been gone years ago, but still…) It was exhausting physically and mentally/emotionally as well. In some respects, I feel somewhat untethered from my past, even though it is because I scrapped a lot of stuff from primary/secondary school and university (mostly notebooks). But I also found (again) a lot of old things that reminded me of my parents and made me realize how much attention they gave to me. Maybe it is better to have fewer but stronger links to the past instead of a lot of more superficial ones…
I got a smaller cell where I could put the things I wanted to keep, but the wiring in the door was torn, so I had to repair it with my cousin the day before the 2nd traffic exam… We were not amused, but at least it can serve its purpose now. This week I called some professional waste removers to finish vacating the big storage room which also cost me some money, but at least it’s all off my mind now. In any case, the ones who had this great idea to have to do all this in 3 weeks can go and get stuffed.
And January at work is always a madhouse anyway.
But tonight at least I had plenty of time to play the guitar again and fortunately, I’ve got much more routine at this than at driving It seems that by now my method settled on trying to “decipher” (or transcribe, if you will, although I’m a bit too lazy to write them down so I try to memorize them) melodies / chord progressions by ear only. I succeed at it most of the time, though the time it takes varies from song to song.
Tonight’s piece was a song by a Hungarian band called Locomotiv GT. They were one of the top 3 pop/rock groups of the 1970s and early 1980s here, quite popular in the Eastern bloc and had a (brief) taste of fame in the UK and the USA, too. Here’s the song:
It has been a staple on Hungarian FM radio for decades so I’ve known it pretty much all my life, but only recently have I started to convince myself that I might be able to actually play the guitar solos. They sounded pretty minor pentatonic to me and this assumption proved to be right so it did not take very long to figure the notes out. I still have to work on the phrasing but it’s coming along nicely. The little piano/synth bit at 2:21 was also no too difficult to play.
The rhythm guitar groove that is present for the majority of the song is a bit of a riddle though. At first I thought it was a chord, like a Hendrix chord, or an octave pair, but the closest approximation seems to be a single Bb note. However, I still have to work a lot on getting the rhythm and the string muting right at the original tempo. I wonder if a full chord grip is used for the muting and only that one Bb note is fretted… We’ll see sooner or later. Nevertheless, I had a pleasant 2-3 hours of playing along to this song.
In the past week I’ve been listening to Stevie Wonder’s albums from Talking Book to Original Musiquarium I, and I found several songs with themes/riffs that I’ll try to transcribe. The first one that I attempted was quite easy (3 notes) but very very funky:
It sounds like a synthesizer, but whatever. It was a good choice to have some fun after the “real” work/practice.
Then I revisited the solo of Can’t You Hear Me Knocking. Only a few short phrases left there to get right.
All in all, this practice/play session boosted my mood and confidence a lot. All does not seem to be lost.