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December 4, 2020
Pro Shop: Phil's Techniques for Recording Vocals PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 03:49
Hi Everyone,

In my last column I touched on recording acoustic guitars and getting the right sounds with my Pro Tools LE 002.

This month I’ll share some techniques for recording vocals. Now, mind you, I am still somewhat of an amateur when it comes to engineering. I have become an engineer primarily out of necessity as other artists and players have done. The big studios—and I do remember the days—are primarily booked by record companies that have fairly good-sized production budgets, or writers and artists with the cash flow to handle those expenses. Most of us, in reality, are grateful for the technology that allows us to record our own music in our own home studio environment. It is amazing that good sound quality can be achieved with good microphones and mic pre-amps, and a bit of knowledge and patience.

I was told that Michael Hedges’ landmark recording Aerial Boundaries was recorded for the most part on a two-track machine in his living room. It sounds lush and spacious. Back then, of course, that involved analog technology and tape. The secret today is to achieve as warm a sound as possible when one is using digital computer-based recording gear.
FX Pedalboard Tips and Tricks PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 05 December 2008 04:22
By Benjamin Fargen - GJD Contributor
Back in the 1960’s through the early 70’s guitar players were lucky to have one maybe two pedals on the floor at a gig unless they were a superstar…maybe a Fuzz pedal or the lowly MXR micro boost would make an appearance…other than that it was the guitar, the cord and the amp…

Well things have certainly changed in the modern age…whether you’re catching a show at Wembley arena or a gig at your local hole in the wall blues bar, you won’t ever look at the floor in front of the guitar player and see blank space. You will most likely see a glowing array of LED’s piercing the darkness…what you’re seeing is not a UFO…it is in fact an FX pedalboard loaded to the gills with the latest and greatest pedals…pedals that are gracing the guitar players pedal board… this week. But you know and I know, that pedalboard won’t look the same next week…we just can’t leave it alone! That being said I have built quite a few pedal boards in my day and made many discoveries and many mistakes…here are some tips to help you set up a lean and mean guitar FX pedalboard for your needs.
Pro Shop: The Context of Modes PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 18 November 2008 01:32
By Carl Verheyen - GJD Contributor
As many of you already know from listening to my music, my improvising concept is totally based on the use of intervals and melodic material to create lines. The more lines you have in different major, minor or dominant keys, the more money in the bank you have to draw on when improvising in those keys. Stringing together the lines you’ve worked out is step one in an improvised solo.  To paraphrase John McLaughlin: “We play the things we know until we’re warmed up and in the groove enough to play the things we don’t know.”  This is when the incredible, soaring feeling of complete control as well as reckless abandon takes over.

But how do we apply these personally composed and fingered lines to music, especially music that asks us to improvise over a series of chord changes? That’s where the modes come into play.  And for me it all comes down to one important concept: CONTEXT.

Let’s start with the Dorian mode. This is a minor scale based on the second degree of a major key. That means in the key of C major, we begin on D, the second note of the scale and play only the notes in the key of C, but from D to D. The scale turns out to be D E F G A B C D and with a minor 3rd it is definitely minor. It’s all the white notes on a piano, beginning on D.   

For the sake of example, transpose this scale to A minor Dorian mode.  We get A to A in the key of G because the A is the second degree in the G major scale. The scale is A B C D E F# G A.  Here is where my concept of context begins to make sense. That scale works great for chords that are diatonic to the key of G major. An easy way to understand the word diatonic is to apply the meaning “built from.” Chords that are diatonic to a certain mother key are simply stacks of notes built from the mother key’s scale, usually in 3rds.  The A minor Dorian mode works perfectly well over progressions like the following because all the chords are diatonic to the mother key of G major.
I: Am7  I  D7  I Am7 I  D7 :I
I: Am7   I  Bm7   I   C     I D7   :I

I first learned this scale back in high school listening to the Allman Brothers Band playing “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” and the Doors long version of “Light My Fire.”  I had no idea that the G major scale (when harmonized in 3rds) would yield the chords Gmaj7 Am7  Bm7  Cmaj7  D7  Em7  F#m7b5 and Gmaj7. Eventually however, I figured it out and all of a sudden I realized I was playing over changes, even though they were all in the same key.

So now I have this cool Am scale that sounds great over those chords. But then I heard Jimmy Page play the solo on “Stairway to Heaven” and I realized that, even though the solo was in A minor, the context had changed so radically that my Am Dorian mode didn’t work. The chord changes he plays over are:
I: Am  G  I F / / /  I  Am  G  I F / / / :I
The big old glaring F# note, the 6th of my new found Am Dorian mode scale clashed terribly with the F chord in bar 2 of the progression. Clearly it was the wrong scale to play.
At that point I found there were other modes, and the next most important minor mode was the Aeolian mode or natural minor. This mode comes from the 6th degree of a major scale and is built off the relative minor of a major key. So in the key of C major, follow your fingers up to the 6th degree of the scale and you’ll land on an A. The Aeolian Mode (or natural minor as it is also called) is simply A to A in the key of C. You get:  A  B  C  D  E  F  G  A.  Notice that the 6th degree in this scale is an F natural, not an F#.  Also notice that each of the chords in the above “Stairway to Heaven” progression are spelled out with within this scale:  A C E is the A minor triad, G B D is the G triad and F A C is the F triad. This is the scale Jimmy Page uses for his classic solo. 
Jimmy was a very accomplished studio musician before starting Led Zeppelin and his knowledge of music theory was obviously quite advanced. Whether he related his lines to the mother key and consciously played off the VI,  V and IV chords in the key of C is anybody’s guess.  Your ears tell you immediately that the Am Aeolian mode is right, and I believe that’s what music theory is for: To explain why the things you do that sound good…….sound good!
I believe it is essential that every serious musician spends the short time it takes to harmonize the major scales in all 12 keys. You should instantly know that the VI chord in Db is a Bbm7 and the III chord in B is a D#m7.  It will raise the level of all aspects of your musicianship: Ear training, improvisation, transposition, transcribing, songwriting and even song memorization. Next month I’ll tell you how to take 1 hour and go through the entire process in all 12 keys. It is the best thing you can do for yourself to better understand music theory as it applies to the guitar.

Pro Shop: In My Studio PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 12 November 2008 03:24
By Phil Keaggy - GJD Contributor
Hi Friends.

In this column, I’d like to write about the process of recording/producing in my little studio, especially on the most recent projects I’ve released this past year. This is not for the purpose of personal promotion, but rather a way to show how I go through the process. Actually, there is really no one way I do things. Each project—an instrumental one as opposed to a vocal project, for example—calls for different methods.

One of the projects that I worked on recently was the re- release of my 1978 album, The Master and The Musician. I have a few of the tracks from the album on two-inch tape. However, a vital reel went a-missing—someone has it somewhere!
Part II: How to Capture Professional Amp Tones from Your Studio: PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 14 October 2008 23:21
By Benjamin Fargen - GJD Contributor
Part 2

Click here for Part 1

6: Diversity of tone
In my experience I have found that it is a waste of time to double track any parts with the same exact or similar tonality. Wide and fat professional sounding guitar tracks come from creating parts and textures that cover a wide frequency realm rather than parts that sonically compete in the stereo field. This type of frequency competition will leave both parts lost or crowded in the mix. Rather than tracking two rhythm parts with your favorite Les Paul and British amp, pull out your Tele or Strat and run them thorough a completely different tweed or blackface amp to open up the space of your second track, you will be amazed at the difference in the overall sound. This type of sound can also be accomplished by panning and blending the multiple tracks created by the different mic/DI combinations mentioned earlier.
How to Capture Professional Amp Tones From Your Studio: PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 03 October 2008 03:17
By Benjamin Fargen - GJD Contributor
Part 1
Over the years I have received countless e-mails asking how I capture the amp tracks found on my web site, and numerous others asking similar questions regarding the tones on a multitude of my musical projects. Usually the email begins, “which gear and what technique do I use in a given situation.” Well the truth is that I have a plan of attack from composition to completion. Knowing where you want to go ensures you get where you’re going. By faithfully applying the methods below, you’ll capture the best you’re gear can offer.

1. Define your composition
Pro Shop: Carl Verheyen on Songwriting PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 26 September 2008 02:13
Carl Verheyen - GJD Contributor
Songwriting is the ultimate mystery, even to the people that do it really well! Sometimes it’s there and sometimes it isn’t, the inspiration is a fleeting thing. The main thing I have learned over the years is that there are really no rules for songwriting, but there are many “devices” that make it easier. Good songwriters have a catalog of these devices and they use them to back themselves out of the corners.  A sure fire way to get better at the craft is to do a quick self-study of harmony.

On a piece of 12 stave music paper; write each key with its appropriate key signature (sharps and flats) down the page at the beginning of each stave. Use the circle of fifths starting with the flat keys first like this: C   F  Bb  Eb  Ab  Db Gb  B  E  A  D  G

Write each 7-note scale out next to its name, then harmonize each note with 3 note chords built in 3rds. You’ll find you get a sequence of chords that goes major, minor, minor, major, major, minor, diminished, major. By adding a 4th note to each chord you find the IV chord to be a major7th and the V chord a dominant 7th. If this sounds like Greek to you, ask your teacher to explain it and run you through the process. After completing this exercise you’ll instantly know that the VI chord in Db major is a Bbm7 and the IV chord in B is an E. Harmony will make sense to you and help to explain why what you do that sounds good… right!  You’ll have a huge head start in dealing with chord progressions and music.
The first concept I am always in touch with while writing is tension and resolution. The tension created by the tri-tone in a dominant chord like G7 will resolve (in the most obvious way) to C major and be a diatonic “relief” in the cadence. But there are many other cadences and many other resolutions. For instance the G7 can resolve to a Gb major because the tri-tone in G7 is the same as the tri-tone in Db7, which is the V chord of Gb.  The G7 also sounds good resolving up a whole step to an A major due to the strong bass motion. So right away there are 3 strong ways to make tension and resolution in a chord progression. Jazz players use the II chord in front of the V chord to get these 3 possibilities:  
Dm7   G7      C           
Dm7    G7    Gb          
Dm7    G7     A
Looking at it another way we can get to C these 3 ways using II  V7 I progressions:
Dm7     G7     C
Abm7     Db7    C
Fm7     Bb7    C
Although many pop songwriters use it, the IIm7  V7  I major progression is, for the most part a traditional jazz device. But there are many other resolutions. Wayne Shorter uses Ebmajor7b5 and drops it nicely to Dmajor7 for a modern approach.  C2/E sounds great going to G/D, even Bach used this one. One way to find these alternate resolutions in a chord progression is bass motion. With strong bass motion “any chord follows any chord”, to quote John McLaughlin.  

I have analyzed many of the great songwriters over the years in a constant effort to improve the craft. People like Lennon and McCartney, Paul Simon, Cole Porter, Brian Wilson and Jerome Kern have written many of the “standards” in popular music. My theory is that a standard becomes a standard because it’s a great song, the people love it and it gives the musicians something they can sink their teeth into. The song “All the Things You Are” by Jerome Kern is a good example because every jazz musician in the world knows this harmony:
| Fm7 Bbm7 | Eb7 Abmaj7 | Dbmaj7 Dm7 G7 | Cmaj7 |
| Cm7 Fm7   | Bb7 Ebmaj7 | Abmaj7   Am7 D7 | Gmaj7 |
I used this musical device while writing the song “Place for Me” from the SIX CD. In “All the Things” Kern takes the first 8 bar progression and transposes it down a 4th, melody and all.  In “Place for Me” I use the verse progression down a minor 3rd for the organ solo, so from this:
||: Dm7 Bb | F  A7 | G7/B | Bb7 A7 | Dm7 Bb | F A7 | Bb7 | Em7 A7 :||  
I get this:
||: Bm7 G | D  F#7 | E7/G# | G7 F#7 | Bm7 G | D F#7 | G7 | Bb7 A7 :||

The effect of going to a “sharp key” from the D minor tonality is, to my ears, the perfect release: a familiar progression but an entirely new tonality. I simply modified the last bar so it resolved back to Dm7.
Cole Porter likes to go up a 3rd for the bridge in many of his songs. “I Love You” written in F major modulates up a major 3rd to A major for the bridge, while “Night and Day” goes from C major to Eb major, up a minor 3rd.  Brian Wilson does the reverse in “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” but drops down a minor 3rd from F to the bridge in D major. Stevie Wonder uses it in “You are the Sunshine of My Life.” These are the modern standards from the 60’s and 70’s generation, just as Jerome Kern songs and Cole Porter songs were the standards of the 40’s and 50’s.  
While writing “Still Crazy After All These Years” Paul Simon actually wrote down all the notes he used in the verses and chorus and used a completely different set of notes for the bridge. The result is a “church” style progression in a bluesy G7 tonality going up a whole step to A major7. Not too many guys can pull that off but somehow he makes it feel natural. I believe his knowledge of harmony made him one of the heaviest songwriters of his era.
Lennon and McCartney had incredible harmonic and melodic intuition. To the ears of a 10 year old it all sounded great to me, but I can remember my parents being jarred by some of the primitive resolutions in their songs. A good example is “You’re Gonna Lose That Girl” where the verses are in Emajor and the bridge goes up to G (like Cole Porter, up a minor 3rd).  After going back and forth between G and C a few times for the bridge they use an F chord to drop down a half step back into E for another verse. I’m sure nobody taught them that half step bass motion was a brilliant way to resolve a progression…..they just had great ears (and a very musical upbringing in the case of Paul).
Most professional songwriters get up and go to work each day. They have a place and a time that they devote to nothing else. But with most of us performing musicians you have to grab it when you can. The road is never a good place to write music because you’re always on the move and there is so little time.  But since some of the most heartfelt inspiration comes from the experiences you have while traveling, I’m always looking for a quiet moment to sit and reflect with my guitar. Emotions are very high on tour because the heartache of missing your loved ones is juxtaposed against the ultimate high you get playing on stage. Playing every night raises the level of improvisation and musicality. Lyrics and melodies seem to come more freely than in the comfort of the home studio.  Therefore I’m always looking for quiet backstage hideouts or hotel rooms with wooden floors to play acoustic guitar by myself.
This passion for playing the music and the heaviness of being away are in a constant balance with each other. I find my center as a person alone with a guitar, searching for chords and melodies….tension and resolution.

The Lightspeeder’s Log PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 17 September 2008 16:48
By German Schauss
Hello and welcome to my new exclusive column for In this column I will discuss different topics ranging from practice tips and musical development to music business and everything in between.

The Lightspeeder’s Practice Routine

As an active clinician and teacher, I am often asked by students about the best ways to practice. First of all, I would like to say that here is no single way to practice. Good practice with great results can be different for everyone. However, I employ the following methods in my own practice and I also suggest these same methods to all my students.
Pro Shop: High End Acoustic Guitars PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 09 September 2008 02:06
By Phil Keaggy - GJD Contributor
In the 60s, I had a Gibson acoustic guitar. I can’t remember the model, but it was a small body type. In 1971, a friend of mine in the San Diego area, gave me a Mark Evan Whitebook guitar. This was a very fine instrument and Mark was one of the best independent luthiers at that time.

This guitar was a standard dreadnought non-cutaway. I don’t even think they made cutaway acoustics yet, but I could be wrong. I owned this guitar for about 16 years, then sold it to a person who was very interested in it. That person turned out to be Mark Evan Whitebrook himself. He insisted in buying it from me. At the time, Mark didn’t even own one of his handmade guitars. I struggled with the decision to sell the guitar, but he was eager and happy to pay the price and I needed the funds.
Pro Shop: Joe Diorio Workshop - 1.15.06 PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 12 August 2008 23:32

carlv.pngBy Carl Verheyen - GJD Contributor
I studied jazz with Joe Diorio in the late 70's and to this day feel a great debt to him for setting me on my own creative path. Much of the success I've had as a solo artist can be attributed to his teachings 30 years ago: I used many of his harmonic and melodic concepts and applied them to rock and blues. This made my music sound different, which was the number one lesson Joe taught: Make music sound different.

A couple of years ago I had the pleasure of seeing my longtime mentor and friend do a guitar workshop. Joe had suffered a stroke the previous year and hadn't been able to play guitar since then. Therapy has helped, and he's working hard on regaining his amazing chops but it will be another year before he can effectively play again.

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Daily Video Lesson

Daily Video Lesson
  • 02:41 - 01.10.2008 Spotlight >> Spotlight
    A five week long, cross-country tour featuring some of the best known and most respected figures in rock and blues has been set to celebrate the legacy and music of Jimi Hendrix. Presented by Experience Hendrix, L.L.C., the Hendrix family-owned company founded by James A. “Al” Hendrix, Jimi’s father, entrusted with preserving and protecting the legacy of Jimi Hendrix together with musical instrument giant Gibson Guitar, this year’s Experience Hendrix Tour represents a dramatic expansion beyond last year’s seven sold out performances.

    Featured artists who will be performing music written by and associated with Jimi Hendrix include blues giant Buddy Guy, contemporary guitar greats Jonny Lang, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Eric Johnson, Cesar Rojas and David Hidalgo of Los Lobos as well as Aerosmith’s Brad Whitford.
  • 01:53 - 26.09.2008 Spotlight >> Spotlight
    Fender Musical Instruments Corporation (FMIC) and Italian distributor M.Casale Bauer proudly announce the grand opening of the Fender Custom Shop Showcase Italy. It is the third such international exclusive Fender guitar destination, joining the elite Fender Custom Shop Lounge (Düsseldorf, Germany) and Fender Showcase Tokyo (Japan).

    The Fender Custom Shop Showcase Italy is in Bologna, Italy, and is housed in a building by California-born Italian designer Gretchen Alexander. The showroom is located near the offices of M. Casale Bauer, Fender’s Italian distributor since 1962, and was created to provide Fender dealers, their special guests and artists with a comfortable place to find, try and buy some of the most beautiful guitars in today’s market. The showcase features an impressive array of high-end guitars crafted by the master builders of the Fender Custom Shop and provides artists and dealers (and their VIP clients) with access to some of the most unique high-end Fender instruments ever made available in one place. The showroom houses an unparalleled selection of Fender Custom Shop instruments, as well as Bauer’s personal collection, one of the largest and most valuable in the world.
  • 03:41 - 23.09.2008 Spotlight >> Spotlight
    Los Angeles, CA – World-renowned Australian guitarist Tommy Emmanuel will  release Center Stage, a live concert DVD on October 14th via Favored Nations Acoustic.  
    The full-length concert DVD follows the recent release of the Center Stage  double CD, both having been recorded live for the PBS television series “Sierra Center Stage.” Filmed in eye-catching high definition, every element of modern technology was used in production, creating a stunning package, both aurally
    and visually. 
  • 00:09 - 19.09.2008 Spotlight >> Spotlight
    Montreal, Canada- September 16th, 2008: Renowned guitarist Daryl Stuermer will be giving Godin Performance Clinics in and around Quebec and Eastern Ontario from September 29th to October 3rd 2008.

    Having performed in studio and toured the world with both Phil Collins and supergroup Genesis for years, Daryl is a player who is on top of his game and has the chops to prove it. Performing as the Daryl Stuermer Duo, he will be accompanied by keyboardist Konstantin Efimov during the clinics and will also be giving attendees his perspective on playing live, recording, technique, and his gear, by fielding a Q&A session after each performance.
  • 09:29 - 03.06.2008 Spotlight >> Spotlight
    SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (June 2, 2008) -- Fender Musical Instruments Corporation (FMIC) announced today that it has acquired certain assets of Groove Tubes LLC. Among other assets, FMIC purchased the Groove Tubes brand. Groove Tubes company founder Aspen Pittman will continue in a consulting role.