16 November 2012

Relaxed Wrist Position - Fingers too long?

It's probably number one difficulty when you start out playing the guitar: how do I hold my hand? How do I prevent these strings from buzzing? Why can't I grab this chord? Why do my arms fatigue? Why does my forearm hurt?

Well, the more important question which eventually arises is: do I have to practice more and get used to it OR am I doing something wrong? These are valid questions and when you don't have a clue, it can be hard to find the right answers. Some people take a step sideways and make there own conclusion: it's just something I can't do.

Okay.. why?

My fingers are just too short. I lack hand-eye coordination. My fingers are too long. I've got amusia. My fingers are too fat. I'm tone deaf. My fingers are crooked and go in curves. And my fingers are braided together.

The chance that one of these excuses is true is less than 0.1 percent.

In my own experience everyone I met who told me one of these things was:
A) Not disciplined or motivated enough to actually practice.
B) Using wrong technique.

A while ago I made a video in which I showed the correct way to play the guitar as relaxed as possible. Once in a while somebody contacts me in response to the video. There are these rather negative responses saying: you can't always play chords like this! And that's true, you can't. But if there is the option of playing the guitar relaxed vs. playing it stressed, you should always go for relaxed! Why would you even try to argue that? What do you expect me to say?
"You're right, you can't ALWAYS prevent stress on your forearm while playing the guitar so.. you shouldn't even try prevent it ever???"

Okay, well the second type of responses are the ones I stated at the start of this post. And too bad for you, you can't play that card. Your fingers can't be too long. Your fingers can't be too short. They might be a little bit shorter than average, but not TOO short. C'mon. As long as people aren't calling you a freak, or aren't revering to you as: 'the girl or guy with the long fingers', there's nothing wrong with you. And no, your fingers aren't braided together!

I thought it was the right time to shoot another video, with more camera angels and a better description. In this vid I show the relaxed way to play open chords. It was pointed at beginners, so for now, only open chords. And you can always play these open chords without the angle in your wrist. Doesn't matter the size of your guitar's neck.

22 August 2012

Wild Orchid Soundtrack - Harmonica Cover

Last week I watched the movie Wild Orchid. This movie was released in 1989 featuring Mickey Rourke and Carré Otis. The story isn't really interesting. There are a couple of adult scenes and the most memorable is the last one where the two main character finally give in and start making out. Here you can watch that again if you want:
Okay, so during this scene there's some great trumpet and saxophone playing, I figured I'd do that with my mouthharp too. So here is it. Harmonica Cover of the Wild Orchid love making scene. Well it's half a cover and half a jam too.

17 June 2012

16th note rhythms: the right way - the wrong way

Sixteenth note rhythms are about as fast as it gets when you're playing guitar chords. Playing a certain rhythms requires a given technique. Often I can categorize people who play 16th note rhythms in one of the following three categories. 

  1) People who don't have the slightest idea on what they're doing.
These are the ones who just started playing the guitar and without taking any lessons (or self study) they start playing their favorite tunes. The strumming goes all over the place. A down stroke here, some upstrokes there. They will have a hard time trying to sing and play the guitar at the same time. It's nearly impossible. To the trained ear the inexperience is quite noticeable, while your friends may just say: hmmm, I think it's not exactly how it's supposed to sound, but I can't lay my finger on it.

  2) People who play 16th note rhythms as if they are playing an 8th note rhythm.
Mostly these people did get a couple of guitar lessons, and maybe they have some more experience playing the guitar at home. They started playing up and down strokes and are pretty good at it when it comes to 8th note rhythms. The way you would play a Taylor Swift song for instance. But when you apply this strumming technique to a 16th note rhythms your song's gonna get all mixed up. When you are playing in a 8th note strumming rhythms, but you encounter a 16th note, you'll play that sixteenth- as if it was an eight note, and suddenly up- and down strokes are switched. Playing an half-inverted-8th-note-technique-16th-note-guitar-rhythm. Again, you yourself might say: what's the fuzz about? I'm playing guitar ain't I? But compared to a steady 16th note rhythm you're technique sounds like a crippled guy running the marathon and doing it quite fast. Yes, you did finish but it didn't look good.

Here we've got an example of Nick playing a 16th note rhythm the 8th note way. He doesn't do a bad job at what he's doing, but wait until you compare it to the real thing. 

  3) People who play mastered it..
Steady, relaxed and easy. That's how it should be. Able to sing, able to have a conversation while playing guitar, to make a few jokes to the audience. Able to make the breaks at the right moment. To play really tight with a band. To play any kind of strumming pattern within seconds.

The 16th note rhythm, played with a 16th note strumming technique. Look forward to the next couple of blog posts in which I'll explain how to strum 16th note patterns the right way!

06 May 2012

Understanding 16th note rhythms [Guitar Pro]

How to play 16th note chord rhythms on the guitar and play them using the right technique? This video will help you to understand 16th note guitar rhythms and will help you get some insight on how to play them. Next week I'll do an extended blog post on this subject. This video will also give a clear example on how to create and make sheet music of a sixteenth note beat / chord progression.

20 February 2012

About 8th note guitar rhythms

In this post I'm giving you some general information about 8th note guitar rhythms. It al starts by knowing the fourth notes. The quarter notes are the ones your count will be on. When you got 4 quarter notes in a song you'll count 1-2-3-4 for each measure. Every count will be a downstroke.

Count 1-2-3-4

When you just started on the guitar, you might want to hit the first 3 notes only. Use that fourth count to switch to the next chord. Do count the 4. Because if you don't it will f*ck up your rhythm and you'll condition a faulty habit.

When we cut all the 1/4 notes in half, we'll get 1/8 notes. You'll need 8 1/8 notes to make one full measure. It's just basic math. In the video I give a demonstration of a measure full of 1/8 notes. When you play 1/8 notes you don't count 1 to 8. Thats for dancers. We musicians keep to the 1-2-3-4. We do this because when playing in a band you all want to have your counts together. When someone says: "on 3" it must be a 3 for everyone, weither you're playing quarter notes, eight notes or 16ths. So how do you count 1/8 notes? In between each count, you say an 'e'. 1-e-2-e-3-e-4-e Every count on a numer, 1-2-3-4 will still be a downstroke. In between these downstrokes, on the 'e' we'll play upstrokes. The upstroke is indicated by the little v on top of the tablature.

Eight notes

Playing 8 1/8 notes in a measure sounds very boring. To make it more interesting we're gonna wipe some of the 1/8 notes out. There will be a few gaps in the stream of 1/8 notes. And that will create an interesting rhythm. Here are a few examples:

Click the sound file to hear the example played on a chord

Now we got a few gaps. We do count these notes, but we'll just won't hit the strings on that count. You got to remember which ones you play, and which ones you don't play. Because counting 1-e-2-3-4-e isn't gonna work. On these gaps you're not hitting the strings, but you are moving you're strumming hand up and down. That will create the right strumming technique. If you keep your hand low, it will be very hard to keep the rhythm and you'll probably never be able to sing and play guitar simulatiously. Keep that in mind! See the demonstration in the vid.

On step further are the 16th notes. But we'll save that for some later time. Good luck on your 1/8 notes.