Putting Songs Together

Over the past couple years, I have managed to finish the master’s program in songwriting and guitar at Berklee and move on as a musician. Lately I have noticed that I leave a lot of songwriting unfinished, and untrackable. In other words, if I want to go back to something I was working on days, weeks, or months ago, it is impossible to figure out the name of the folder or the location of the project. As of this month, I now just name the song projects I am working on by the date, until I get a complete song.

Part of the challenge to finishing songs is that I have always been working on lyrics without a melody in mind. Then go back later and make a harmony and melody fit the lyrics. Now I am turning that around. While using the Maschine I come up with a beat template in Maschine, which has some good drum kits installed, and I have pre-programmed about ten standard rock rhythms, and ten basic blues rhythms. That gives me a rhythmic base, that I will add a bass or keyboard… or, just a guitar. This at least gives me a verse loop to work from in putting lyrics down.

The Maschine and the Man

Lately I’ve been saying that I am a guitarist with a drumming habit. The truth is that recently I have started learning drums again for the third time. It took three tries to learn how to play guitar and stick with it – so third time is a charm!

This time, I’ve bought some used acoustic drum parts and built a little setup in the home studio. Here’s a picture of the most recent studio setup. Quite cramped, but focused on practice, production, and workflow. Picking drums back up and learning rhythm patterns again actually started with the purchase of a Maschine from Native Instruments early last month. I was looking for a rhythm machine that is portable, but didn’t get that… unless I take a notebook computer in tow. However, soon after hearing the sounds and seeing what I could do with this equipment, it became clear that independent solo production in my own studio would be a lot easier.

Just after being let down on the portability point, I was also let down to see that almost all of the sounds were for dub step, EDM, or other whatever synthetic music. The drum one-shots that are in Maschine’s suite are awesome, so I mixed that with some standard rock and blues rhythms, added some bass lines, and here we are.

Here’s a post over on the Blusician blog mentioning the same subject but with some loop samples. Enjoy!

Back To Some Jazz

In my woodshed routine I am constantly going between just jamming to various backing tracks, collaborating with online additions on Kompoz or Drooble, or just sitting down with the axe or harmonica and really practicing something new. However, I have come to realize that improving jazz improvisation also really improves my lead guitar in other genres. A book that I have kept my nose in and won’t let go really does a good job of teaching modal arpeggios for different scales. Hard to explain but it teaches the arpeggio patterns based on the II, V, I, or any other of the seven modes by scale. In other words, as already stated, it teaches the modal arpeggios within the different major and minor scales. The book is a Musician’s Institute book called Introduction to Jazz Guitar Soloing – A Comprehensive Improvisation Method.

While I know modes and play all of the commonly known scales quite well with no problem playing leads. The difference between knowing this approach and just playing, is the difference between good and expert. Check it out! Still working on composition and open for some collaboration. Ping me if you have some ideas or need some ideas!