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Musix and all things Dix Bruce

Sunday, February 16th, 2014

Dix Bruce is a guitar and Mandolin instructor who has published for, “Mandolin World News,” as well as, “Flatpick Guitar Magazine,” and his own publishing company. I highly regard all of his material as well as his authentic playing across many genres. From old-time fiddle music, to hot club gypsy jazz and all across the spectrum.

I learned this tune from a book of his on Gypsy Jazz

His playing is always tasteful and to the point, not a wasted note. A lesson in melody, and that less is often more. The flashy tricks are overrated in music. Tone, clarity, and expression are first priority. I encourage players at all levels to check out his contribution to the acoustic music world. Dix is up there with Steve Kaufman and Happy Traum in his legacy of clear accurate instruction for the self motivated musician.

Dix own website

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Patreon, a new idea in artistic expression

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

I am usually skeptical when officially joining any group, especially those that only exist in the world of the internet. Despite that I was turned on to a new website by my web developer, Jeff Cohan at Nsiteful

I couldn’t find a downside to joining, but check it out for yourself. To view content it is free and does not require joining. Supporting artists, as well as sharing one;s own art does require joining, but no necessary costs. It is similar to a site like kickstarter, but for the individual. More like a Donate button on a website but providing much more than that. The site also compiles content in an organized ways similar to that you tube channels. Check out the link below to see what you think?

Jake Cohan at Patreon

One thing I really like is that encourages the sharing of great content for free and reasonable prices, instead of proprietary ownership of content to the highest bidder. The consumers get to decide what content is worth not the owners.

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Georgia on My Mind, style of Tony Rice.

Friday, August 30th, 2013

Below is a video I recently recorded of me playing my guitar as a change. Guitar will always have a special appeal to the solo artist. This arrangement is borrowed from Tony Rice, almost note for note. His playing of jazzier tunes is some of my favorite listening out there so I can’t help but try to imitate parts of his playing from time to time.

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Spice up bland guitar chords, and learn to read chord charts

Saturday, June 8th, 2013

In the video below two different concepts are touched on. The first concept is how to give a simple G chord a more powerful and unique sound without making it any more difficult to play. I learned this way to play by listening to Tony Rice, and later at an Orinn Star workshop I found very helpful for my playing.

The second concept exemplified are what are called chord inversions. Often they are listed with a (/) on chord charts.

The (/) is a more concise way to write and read chord charts once you understand how they work. Also using theoretical names like first and second inversion make the chord seem much more difficult than it it. C/G was shown and heard in the video above. What C/G tells us is that we are playing a C chord, a simple C chord would do just fine with a G note as the lowest, or Bass note in the chord.
To cover a particular song the, “right way.” or to compose a guitar piece with some added sonic depth the G tells us that a G note is played/strummed over the C chord. Keep in mind in this model ({)/(}) or C/G the first letter is the chord being played. The second letter after the slash is the note in this Base a…G note. The G note is played as the bass note within the chord, it can also be strummed within the chord again

To go more into the theory, a simple chord like C only has three note C (root), E(third), and G(fifth). Playing the E in the bass (C/E) is called the first inversion. Playing the fifth in the bass is know as the second inversion. These names for inversions carry over to all chords. The second inversion is more common in most guitar styles of playing, it is also easier to play on the fret board. The above example is the video only focus on second inversions, (inversions of chords with the 5th in the bass.) Below is some tab to help.

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G licks for the Bluegrass Guitarist.

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

Below are some tabs for some nice G runs that sound great in bluegrass music. I will post a video of me playing them, even without that the tabledit software makes it capable to listen to the Midi. I have them split into four exercises I discuss in more detail below.

Clarence White influenced

Ex 1. I took this straight from Clarence White, it is also the beginning of Huckleberry Hornpipe. There is a nice pull-off, this run can be played with more left hand techniques like hammering on. Try to mix it up some to give it your own voice

Ex 2. Very similar to example one with a slight variation and a 2nd measure. After a quarter note pause you need to do some string skipping (going from an open G string to the A string fretted at Bb) so start this one at a slow tempo.

Ex 3. A “floatie” run having open strings vibrating against fretted notes. I found this particular riff myself, it sounds best over a G7. Left hand must stay out of the way of your high e string.

Ex 4. The third position is a fun one to play with in the key of G. 1st finger on the 3rd fret B string (D note) 3rd finger on the D string 5th fret (G note) with the open G string to drone under your 3rd finger. Experiment with it and trust your ear. Again, keep fingers from dampening open strings to give a full harp-like sound.

G licks audio

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Ragtime Annie

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

Here is a performance video where I play an arrangement of Ragtime Annie that I learned from listening to Doc Watson. It is a fun song to play and sounds great with a fiddle player. Doc’s playing is a major influence in the way I play the guitar.

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Performance of flamenco with a flatpick

Friday, July 13th, 2012

Here I play my Ibanez hollow body electric guitar. This video starts with a performance than introduces the harmonic minor scale which I plan on expanding on in the future. Enjoy. Questions and comments encouraged.

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Harmonic minor, it’s fun

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

As I get into practicing scales I have found that my ear prefers some over others. The pentatonic was great when all I wanted to do was play like Dickie Betts, but eventually one can get bored with it. This weeks blurb is the first installment of an example of a scale that my ear loves and that is utilized in more songs than you would think at first glance. Below is a video of me playing some songs with the harmonic minor scale in the meat of the melody.

I am gonna make this weeks short and sweet. The harmonic minor scale can be analyzed and put under the microscope but it’s sound is what I like most.

The formula for the harmonic minor is: 1, 2, b3, 4, 5, b6, 7.

The large interval between the b6 and 7 really make it unique.

Because of the natural 7 it is best used over the V (5 chord).

For example the E harmonic minor scale sounds best over a B7 chord. Both contain the Eb, which is the 7th degree of E and the 3rd of B.

Play with this scale and more tips on how to use it coming. Keep in mind and Flamenco, Spanish, or Gypsy music really uses this.

Next we will talk about the Spanish Phrygian: 1, b2, 3, 4, 5, b6, b7
this is also know as the Gypsy scale. For you theory nuts, yes it is also the 5th mode of the harmonic minor scale.

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One of a kind style and sound from Aaron Weinstein

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Last week I discussed imitating styles, listening to other instruments, and how that facilitates etching out one’s own unique sound. This week I am posting an example of a one of a kind sound in action. Aaron Weinstein is an amazing mandolin player as well as a phenomenal violin player. On the mandolin he does something that sets him apart from all other mandolin players I have listened to, check out the video below to see what I mean.

He plays beautiful, clean, full-sounding chord solo arrangements for solo mandolin. In Aaron’s hands one can truly hear the versatility and range the mandolin has. I have heard others do similar things, Jethro Burns at times, Evan Marshall in his own way, but Aaron has found a niche seemingly untouched by the mandolin world.

“Chord melody,” or chord solo playing, as it often is called in the guitar world has been around. Joe Pass, George Van Eps, Bucky Pizzarelli, and Ted Greene are a few to listen to in the jazz realm. Then you’ve got players like Chet Atkins (does it all), and Andres Segovia who play’s classical guitar weaving multiple parts together. The idea is to play a song usually played with a big band or at least multiple instruments with just one. Chord economics I like to call it.

So why not mandolin? A few reasons seem to have kept this niche from being fully carved. It requires some super difficult chops! Advanced harmonic understanding and arranging, playing cleanly through extreme technical difficulty, (not having six strings and five fingers picking independently like the guitar gods mentioned earlier). A great ear for jazz language is required, hearing the walking bass lines, turnarounds, counterpoint, polyrhythms, and harmonies.

Aaron was nice enough to correspond to some e-mailed questions of mine. He gave me great advice, “listen to the greats, and listen some more.” He turned me on to Joe Pass who is out of this world. Thanks Aaron for the advice and inspirational playing. If one listens to the greats enough, eventually it becomes part of one’s musical vocabulary. Jazz standards are a fun, effective way to learn some new languages.

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Doc Watson is the greatest

Monday, May 28th, 2012

I could write a novel about how much I admire Doc Watson as a person and how I first fell in love with his music, but I will keep it short. Below is a video of me attempting to play Salt Creek as arranged by Doc Watson.

When I was 16 years old my father bought me the homespun instructional video with Doc Watson sharing secrets and Steve Kaufman playing with him and highlighting techniques that made him unique. I still to this day use the VHS I have to improve my guitar playing. Doc’s kind manner, humble attitude, and smokin’ playing has made him a musical icon.

One of the most influential American musicians for any acoustic player. In folk, bluegrass, country, swing, traditional, and beyond his playing and singing has touched many of us already. As well as many more young guns to come who will be lucky enough be turned on to Doc for the first time. His music defines timeless.

I did get to see Doc live once, my father took me to the Variety Playhouse. I knew the songs he played and wanted to go home and practice so one day I could do that. That experience changed my life. My family wishes Doc and his family only the best, because he is the best. No doubt in my mind. His message will forever be received.

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