so I was talking to this guy about how to make a chord minor...

and one thing led to another...



CAUTION.  This is going to be a long discussion.  PLEASE DO NOT attempt to read it from top to bottom and expect it to sink in.  Please take each lesson (deliniated by a line of "♬♬♬♬♬"  ) and take a few days or a week to try the exercises and get your head around it.


One thing I've noticed on this site a lot of times is guys who balk at 'music theory'..

it scares a lot of people


because a lot of people present it in a scary manner, and so a lot of guys have had some dick present it in a way that intimidated or confused em before, and now they're scarred for life or something


and some guys will think 'oh jim over there, he knows his theory, but i can never get my head around that stuff..'



So I just wanna clear up a couple of misconceptions before we get into this..

  1.   Music theory is just that.  Its not music law or music science or music math.  This is significant.  There may be an accepted western way of looking  at things, but its still just a way of looking at things, there are other perspectives.
  2.   Partly because of 1 above, but for other reasons too, there is no 'knowing it' or 'not knowing it'  Its like space man, its forever.  I've never been into space.  Probably neither have you.  But I know how to walk to the corner store and buy a pack of smokes.  And thats movement in space right?  I mean, its not the rings of saturn but fortunately they got smokes right there on the corner.
  3.  There are many ways to approach this stuff, just because some other guys approach baffled you does not mean that this stuff will be forever beyond your grasp.  It is simple, but a lot of people overcomplicate it for themselves.
  4. There is math in it.  This is unavoidable.  But its not trigonometry, its simple comparative math.  Let us say you have an appointment at 5:15 and you steal a glance at your watch, the hour hand is approaching the five, and the minute hand is approaching the ten.  There is a lot of math happening in your head.  You have a little less than half an hour to get to your appointment, and you just know this.  The math has happened in your lower brain, it was subconscious.  Most people do this by the age of around twelve or thirteen.  This is how music can be, and thats going to be our goal moving forward, to just see these 'diatonic thirds' on the fingerboard just as we see the little less than half an hour on that watch face without even looking for it.  I can help you see these thirds on the fingerboard regardless of specifics like how many strings you got or how you tuned em.  What do you say? interested ?
  5. chances are you already know quite a bit more of music than you give yourself credit for...

despite that this discussion is aimed to be accessible for beginners, there are

a few things I'm going to assume you know from this point forward..

  • when you crank the tuner to pull the string tighter the string will make a note which is higher in pitch than before..
  • when you use one of those wee metal jiggers that our wonderful host made his billions on (he calls em frets) to shorten the length of the string, that makes the note higher as well.
  • after you shorten the string at a bunch of successive frets you get back to the note you started on, its the same note, but higher.  In the kind of music we make and are talking about here the number of notes before you returned to the same one is twelve, which is why its the twelfth fret where the two busted off sticks get jammed in.
  • Despite that there is twelve notes, only seven of em are actually lucky enough to get names, and these names are letters from A to G.  The other five notes, which were not lucky enough to get a letter name are referenced by using an accidental (symbol) like or , which might be understood to mean 'one higher than' and 'one lower than' respectively..




if theres any of this that troubles you, don't panic!

just inbox me or pop a question below, and hopefully we'll be able to branch off into a wee discussion about that off to the side somewhere..


ok those of you who do understand those things, stop telling people you don't know squat about music theory!! 

of course you do, you already know how to go to the corner and get smokes.  In fact you probably know how to drive to the mall and get yoghurt and beers too..


alright, lets do this





Q.  What is a diatonic third?

A.  Its the distance from one note in a scale to the note after the next in that scale.  The note we start from defines the context, so in some cases its an interval of four frets (a major third) and in some its an interval of three frets (a minor third).


 lets take a look at a piano keyboard for a few seconds..

Don't worry we're not learning piano here.  But there are some useful perspectives to be had.

Now its really easy to change key on guitar, but not all keys are created equal on piano.  I just want to talk about the key of C.  The lowest (leftmost) note we can see in the keyboard image above is C.  The scale of C is made of only the white keys.  These are the guys we talked about before who each get a letter name, so you don't need those weird accidental characters to access them.


It may seem then that if a pianist is playing the key of C the black keys are entirely useless. In a sense this is true.  But in another its entirely untrue, without the black keys how does a pianist find his place? up in the middle of the keys (there are usually 52 white keys) the player would be utterly lost, far worse than you would be halfway up a guitar neck with no dot markers.  Also and more importantly again the black keys create context.  Because there is a black key between C and D the distance between C & D is greater than the distance between E & F, where there is no black key.


If we start picking out these diatonic thirds that I am talking about in the key of C on a piano keyboard we can see the difference quite clearly.  Starting from the first white key, C, skip a white and find your way to E.  There are two black keys (along with one white) that we passed over, which would correspond to three frets skipped over on a fretboard.  So C to E is four frets, major.

But a diatonic third from D, the second note in the scale will only pass over one black and one white, so D to F is only three frets, minor.


exercise 1.

try to pick out the thirds from each white key in the keyboard image and observe some kind of pattern.  If you have access to a piano or organ or cheesy little casio try it on that, play the two notes together, then slide it up and repeat.  Try to hear the difference between the major thirds (with two black keys between) and the minor ones (with only one black key between)


exercise 2.

Commit this simple sequence of numbers to memory.

2,2,1,   2,2,2,1 

break it into two like I have there,  two, two, one  (take a breath) two, two ,two, one.

repeat this sequence of numbers to yourself until it lives in your brain, we're going to need it, it's the foundation of what is coming.


lesson 2, The beginning of the guts of it


ok we're back.


how did you go spotting the diatonic thirds from the keyboard image?

hopefully you did spot at least one pattern, there are only 7 kinds of white keys then they repeat,  The keyboard image above is three octaves.


and hopefully you got somewhere with the 221 2221 sequence.

Some of you may have already figured out a use for it.

Here's the most basic right now, grab any fretted instrument and start playing on the open low string.  Play an ascending line following the sequence, for a two slide up two frets, for a one slide up one.  Did it sound familiar?  Maybe a little something you call doh re mi fa so la ti doh. a major scale.


So whats the big deal about these thirds?

well, they're the basic building block of chords.  The keyboard has probably scrolled off the screen by now, so lets grab another copy

To make a C chord we just grab the diatonic third from C, then we stack on another one.

So we can see that the C chord is white keys one, three, and five.

Where the first third is major the second one is minor.  This means this particular C chord is major.

If we repeat the exercise from the second white key, D we find the opposite, the first third is minor and the second one is major.  So this D chord is a minor chord.

And we can observe that each chord is a third of each flavour, a major and a minor one.  This rule holds true until the seventh White key, B.

Now the seventh one is kind of the ugly duckling, the weird one.  It's chord is made of two minor thirds in a row, there is no major third.  This chord is called 'diminished'  but for now I want you to think of it as 'super minor' or 'double minor' or 'even more minor than minor'.  The reason this is unusual is the total span of the chord is one less, a major chord is 4+3 and a minor chord is 3+4 but this guy is 3+3.


One of the things thats really nice about the piano keyboard interface is that twelve keys are squeezed into the space of seven by making five of them black and pushing them up above in such a way that the white keys remain evenly spaced.  The reason I like this is that this is how music works, you can't use all twelve notes, you gotta narrow the menu down to only seven.  When a pianist brings one of the black keys into the picture, employing one of these bad boys (♯, ♭) this takes one of the white keys out of the picture.  Its like a basketball team or something, and theres 12 guys on the roster, but the coach is only ever allowed to have 7 of em on the field.

And this is why the notes are named as they are, with only seven letters shared among twelve, its no accident (boom tish)  When an accidental  (in this example lets say ♯) is applied to F, plain ol white F is relegated to the bench.  The black key to his right is his interchange. 


Unfortunately our guitars and the weird things of that nature that we make here are not layed out like that, the twelve are spaced out as twelve.  But we gotta understand that five of these guys are illegal aliens, they got no green card so you can't give em a job.  (in the real world you can of course, but they can only ever do menial stuff, fry cooks etc.  This is just how those 5 guys are in music.  They can be a fry cook, but they can't ever be chief of police or mayor or anything.  If you try to make em police chief or mayor things will get real ugly, real fast)


now the 221 2221 thing..?   this tells you where those 5 guys hide out, this is the formula to stick to the seven 'whiteys' and to know how to identify (and avoid) the five 'blackies'  (there is no racial slur or joke or anything of the kind here, please don't misconstrue or misunderstand.  If piano keyboards were invented today they'd be blue and green for political correctness for sure)


ok Kid so are you gonna drop an enlightenment bomb on us or what?

Well yes, I was kinda planning one..  :D

ok so we said that each of the major chords had a minor third on top of their major third, and that each of the minor chords (except that super minor one, the last) have a major third on top of their minor third.   So it follows that the minor third on top of that major chord is the minor third at bottom of some minor chord as well.

Scroll up to the keyboard and have a look for yourself.  Picture that C chord, then find the Em chord.  The minor third (E,G) is part of both of em.  Now heres the interesting part.  Just play the E&G.  And let your brain fill in the blanks.  Most of the time your brain hears that C chord, despite that C isn't even there!


Each triad is made of a pair of consecutive diatonic thirds.  If you play an isolated diatonic third this is ambiguous, it could mean one chord, or it could mean another.  If there is another part, a bass, another guitar, a voice, whatever, that will influence what this third is saying by creating context.


exercise 3 - time to get out a guitar.

I'd like to start with a 3 string guitar thats tuned GDG (or EBE, CGC, FCF, DAD etc etc)

you may have a four, five or six string one that has the bottom end of its tuning like this, thats great too.

we want to leave the bass string open, and work on the two next strings.  Pick out the second lowest string, this is tuned to the (v) degree. We want to find the (i) note, which is at the fifth fret.  Fret it with your third finger.  It should be an octave higher than the open bass string, and the same note as the next highest string.  Ok so now we fret that next highest string at the fourth fret, fret this with your second finger.  Play the two together, this is a major third.  Ok now to run the scale, remember 221 2221.  we are at the (i) position, the start of this sequence.  So slide that third finger up two frets.  The harmony note, on the higher string must slide up one fret less to make the second third minor.  I'd usually fret that with the first finger, because they are two frets apart now rather than one.  Do you hear the harmonic movement, as one part slides up a fret more than the other part does?  The next move is to another minor one, so keep to those same fingers and slide the whole thing up two.  (the second 2 in the 221 2221..)  With the third movement (to iv) our third will go major again, so while the middle string moves forward only one fret, the higher string will move forward two, and you hear that harmonic movement again.  Awesome.  Try to descend again.


Now how do we know where the major ones are and where the minor ones are?  Well firstly, our ears will tell us.  But also, its hidden already in the algorithm.  With the 221 2221 stuff.  From where we are, if the total of the next two numbers is 4 (i.e. the next two numbers are both 2) then we're major.  If not, we're minor.  Simple.


Now these harmonised thirds are a guitar staple.  My main man Freddie King lived and breathed em.  So does every country pedal steel player ever.  All blues guys have turnarounds and licks built on this stuff.  But if I had to say this particular thing we're doing here belongs to one guy then I'd say Django.  Django Reinhardt was a famous jazz guitarist despite a disability to his fretting hand which limited him to a few repetitive positions (he had only two usable fingers on his fretting hand after a terrible burn injury), and he'd move up and down the neck a lot for harmonic movement which other guys could get in the one spot by virtue of their unhampered motor skills.  Check him out on you tube, he really had some great stuff.


As you move up and down you are actually playing your scale on two strings at the same time in harmony.  But you are also playing chords.  Try to hear how the third one sounds a lot like the first, but quite unlike the second.  Looking back to that piano again, and how the third might be top half of one chord or it may be the bottom half of another we can see why. So the first chord and the third are very closely related, like brothers.  The second has no relation to these guys at all, but he has his own brothers, the fourth and the one before the first, the last or seventh.


So heres a wee video demonstrating this first exercise on a six string guitar in open E (i think)  toward the end I moved up to the high B and E strings, same interval so it all works up there too.  nb the interval between this pair of strings is same as standard tuned guitars, so if you got one of those you can try it there too.


Let me know how you're going below.


 Week 3  (faking them changes)

Hi :)

ready for more incoherent babblings?

From here on out we've laid the foundation stones, and should be able to keep these entries shorter.  Thanks Turtle for your comment, I hope some of you other guys got something from that exercise 3 there. (and I hope that if you're struggling you'll let me know, there is no shame in asking for clarification, I don't want to leave anybody behind ok?)

If you've made yourself a strumstick try that exercise 3 on there.  Notice anything?  You've already done the hard work by leaving some frets out, you can just run up and down the neck and its already there, niiiice !!!

Do you remember how we talked about the first chord and the third chord being brothers, and the one in between being of no relation at all but having his own brothers?

When we're playing there's always a chord which we can thing of as 'home'.  This is where the music WANTS TO GO.  no matter what you do, you're either at home, or you're not.  And if you're not then theres some degree of tension, because you really want to go there.  Sometimes the music 'moves house', and 'home' actually shifts, this is called 'modulation' but i only want to mention it as a future possibility although it occurs in rock music all the time and is a standard vehicle (its also something a lot of jazz guys are contemptuous of, they often consider it a cheap mechanism to make boring music interesting), for now we will view 'home' as static, and if we are in G tuning then home is G, in D tuning then home is D etc.  A chord change is usually not a modulation, the music is temporarily 'away from home'.

So one of the key things here is to know if we are at home or if we are not.  Don't worry, there is a 99% chance you can instinctively do this already, if you can't you're unlikely to be reading this because you are tone deaf and probably do not appreciate music enough to have incentive to have already read 4000 words of my bullshit :)

So when we did exercise 3 there, we started at home.  The second position is about as far from home as we can possible be without hiring a hiring an illegal fry cook.  Then the third position is home again.  Then not again.  Its an odds and evens thing, do you see/hear it?  Well this is the key right here.  You don't NEED TO KNOW if a chord is C or D in order to sound like you know what you're doing, although it is nice if you need to explain to another player.  What you need to know is are you at home or not, and if not what are you going to do to get there.

You see, you can play just about any fucking thing.  Just don't get caught.  Know the way home, and know when you're not there.  And know (feel) when you really need to go there.  Got a mexican fry cook?  You can get away with that, hell maybe it makes your fries interesting.  Just have papers ready to show the government, you know?

Exercise 4 is the same as exercise 3.  Except we're going to do the full octave.  I'll tab it out and/or do a new video in a few days but it'll benefit you greatly to work it out for yourself.  221 2221 .  this thing cycles so its 221 2221  221 2221  This is great way to fake changes on a three string.   Well its not fake at all, its just that you don't necessarily know what it is.  Thats cool, just know where home is.   Try skipping one over.  Try sliding into them.  Try starting at a position other than the first, but be sure to resolve to the first (or third, or sixth).  Try repeating small phrases.  Try writing a song with it.

this link is the same video as before, i did some of these things in there, maybe you didn't notice.

this video here has been up here for a couple years.  Its all just improvised.  From around the one minute mark its nearly all this exercise 4 stuff.

Keep me posted to your progress / questions.  If you write a cool riff or phrase please do put up a little video and we can talk about what you're doing there.


Hey guys, Im back.  Hope you all had a great Easter.

Lets do some revision before we move on..

So heres one octave of our diatonic thirds mapped out,  It just repeats beyond there.

A diatonic third is an interval from one note in a scale to the note after the next.  They come in two flavours, minor (three frets) and major (four frets).  The distance from the D to the G string here is 5 frets, so one fret behind on the higher string is a major third ( 5 - 1 = 4 frets) but two frets behind is a minor one ( 5 - 2 = 3).

We find our way from one to the next with  221 2221 sequence....

a TRIAD (basic CHORD) is made of a couple of diatonic thirds, stacked; which means that every other diatonic third has a special relationship, they are or can be 'chord buddies'

For example if we look at the third one, at the ninth fret, this (minor) third might be the top of a i chord, or it might be the bottom of a iii chord

because of this when we play diatonic thirds we are (at least) twice as likely to sound like we have a clue what we're doing when we just randomly grab one.  If it turns out to be the wrong one we can just slide up or down to the next and it'll be like going home to warm cocoa and kisses and cuddles.

(note that the first degree in the diagram and the last are in fact the same notes. )

ok thats it for today.  Keep practicing these moving intervals.  Remember that the string that we have not been working is another G (or whatever) string.   So theres a sweet by product of practicing this.  We now know the major scale right up the neck!  

Here's a nice loping shuffle to practice.  Pay attention to the timing, its in 8s, so count  "1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 1 and.." etc tapping a foot can help for a lot of people.


next time..

ok well I've been of two minds about where to take this next.  On one hand we can start building chords.  But on the other we can look at playing modally, using what we've already done in other contexts, e.g. going minor.   And i think that because we have so many blues fans here thats what we're gonna do.  Ok so next time, dorian mode, get your blues hat out.


30 June 2014


OK our good friend Mr Turtle mentioned the mysterious world of MODES.  I gave a reassuring but ultimately cryptic reply. WTF is this modes stuff and why does it scare guitarists silly?


Well I'll get to that, but first lets have a frustrating chat about numbers.


numbers, numbers they're every goddamn where!

Right at the start I was talking about threes.  Then there's twelve notes, but then somehow theres only seven.  Then theres this sequence of twos and ones.  Then we're counting time with numbers too!!  Im super confused.  WHAT THE FUCK ??

You're absolutely right.

Its confusing as shit.  So we need some protocols.  Ive already been following a few, and we could use even more.  If only we had more ways of counting.  Apparently the Japanese alter their counting 'number' words depending on what they're counting, so the word for 'two' fish is a different word from the word for 'two' busses.  We could really use that.

From here on out, if we're counting to 12 (counting the notes chromatically, i.e. also counting the black keys.  an example, counting frets) we will be talking in numerics, 1, 2 etc.

If, on the other hand we are counting to seven (scale degrees) we will be counting using roman numerals (i - pronounced 'one'  ii  - pronounced 'two' etc etc).  In my country young students are taught to refer to these as doh re mi fa so la ti doh, a really nice school of thought called 'solfa' but unfortunately solfa is not universal, only vocal students usually persist with it beyond childhood.  I'll do my best to remember to keep the roman numerals inside parentheses (i), (ii), (iii), etc because i personally find em more readable.

So the roman numerals are used to indicate - a note or chord, or a mode.  Which, as we will see, is basically the same thing.


ok.  So playing in modes.  Well the first thing to know is this, we're already doing it.  We're always in some mode of the scale, if you weren't told otherwise then its generally the first (i) mode, which is where we have been.

lets have a look at what was going on on the high string in our exercise 3 before

hmm.  1 2221 22  ...

now theres that sequence of numbers i asked you to commit to memory waaay back at exercise two.  If you can't remember it immediately then you're reading too fast, slow down and do your homework slacker, its too late to do anything about tomorrows exam now!  it was  221 2221.  Now what if I say to you that 1 2221 22 that we found above is the (iii) mode of our 221 2221 ?

well we're playing thirds right?  and we started with a (i) note and a harmony note.  That harmony note is a diatonic third from (i).  Does it make sense that the scale might, from the perspective of that harmony note, appear in its (iii) mode?

each of the modes has a classical Greek name, which learned musicians (insert self deprecating pun here lols) like to throw around at each other.  In their head these guys are still converting it back to a number (ii) etc, unless of course they don't understand how the modes work and are learning each independently of the others, which is plain stupid. (and of course happens all the time, particularly among guitar players)  So these Greek names are actually a completely unnecessary confusing abstraction, and not something you need to commit to memory in order to understand and do it.  That said, here they are;

(i)  mode - Ionian (major)

(ii) mode - dorian (minor)

(iii) mode - phrygian (minor) (the best mode, cos its spooky)

(iv) mode - lydian (major)

(v) mode - mixolydian (major)

(vi) mode - aeolian (minor,  also known as 'natural minor' )

(vii) mode - locrian (diminished, but we're calling it 'super-minor' remember?)


Ok so today we're going to have a brief crack at the dorian (ii) mode, partly because its the closest neighbour to where we already are, and thus easier to see, but also because its a great blues mode and you guys are gonna love it.

Before we go into (ii) mode, one last (for now at any rate) exercise in (i) mode, just to create context and because we didn't do it yet.  We're going to start the same, but descend a few degrees.

So here it is, I'm not putting any timing or rhythm guides in, because theres hundreds of licks and riffs in here, put your own stamp on it.


Note that this is the top end of the previous diagrams, what i asked you to have a crack at working out for yourself for exercise 4, we are just descending from the (i) note.


Now if a guitarist says to you 'this is in G dorian'.. what does that mean?

It means G is home, but not in the regular scale that we've been covering, but in its (ii) mode.  So its playing a tune in G, but with the notes from some other scale, the scale in which G is the (ii) degree.

Do we have to work out what scale that is? (even though in this case its dead easy)  Shit no, we do not, not for a fretted instrument.  We just put a capo on our brain.

So here's exercise 7, our first foray into the (ii) mode.  This stuff will not just mesh together with what we've already done, its an entirely different beast.  But its also exactly the same thing, just viewed from a different angle.  Its like that flashy chameleon paint that was all the rage on cars a few years ago, you know the stuff, it gradients from blue thru green as it passes you.  Well, thats music.  Go stand over there for a new perspective.  We'll get a couple exercises in and then we'll talk more about how its the same stuff, just eaten with a different spoon :)

ex7 is quite deliberately parallel to ex6.  Its a descending line, (i) - (vii) - (vi) - (vii) with tertian harmony (a diatonic third on top).  

heres exercise 7a, the same stuff with a little timing thrown in for a nice basic blues turnaround.  This is a triplet feel, so the count is 1 & a, 2 & a, etc.  Remember to tap that foot!

Play with that a while, then try to incorporate that phrasing and arpeggiation to ex6 (same thing but in the (i) mode )

This is getting cool isn't it :D

Exercise 7c is a parallel to ex3, an ascending run from the (i) note, but in the (ii) mode.

Once you've got those patterns together, try putting a shuffle together like ex5, except in the (ii) mode. 

By now the similarities between these (i) and (ii) modes ought be reasonably obvious to you.  A lot of you may have already stitched the whole thing together.  Here it is, the dorian (ii) mode in diatonic thirds for 3 string guitar.

Our 221 2221 needs to become 21 2221 2.  This is not a new sequence.  Its just starting at a different position.  Thats why i still put a space after each 1.  So which position do we start at?  well we were talking about the (ii) mode weren't we?....  Once we have that we can work it all out as we did the first time, follow the sequence, if the next two add to 4 we're major, if 3 minor, yadda yadda.  Same same.  But different different.

Yep, its just the same stuff shifted backward by a couple frets.  Same pattern, but home is a different spot within that pattern.  Keep burning those intervals guys, now you got two cool ways to do em, one in a major key, one in a minor.

Note that you can't do this on a strumstick.  You'd have to put some of the frets you skipped over back in.  Then you'd need to rip a couple out in order for it to still be a strumstick.  But you can do it with a strumstick and a capo.  In fact if you stick a capo on the (ii) fret of a strumstick (yes, we will count the frets on a strumstick with romans!!) then you will see the fingering for the (ii) mode.

Back soon, please keep me posted with comments and questions.


8 May 2014

Going Modal part 2.      ( or is that (ii) ???  )

AKA..      We just put a capo on our brain.....    WTF does that mean?

Oh man that (ii) mode is awesome huh !!

I should just give you guys a few weeks off to play with that shite..

ah well if you want it I'm sure you'll take it.

Now if you were paying me $60 a week for lessons we'd go through these modes one at a time.  Heh.  You know its true.  Or id make a dvd for each one.  But really, guys its the same shit, different shovel.  Guitar teachers can milk your wallet for years with new diagrams, patterns etc.  Believe me, I've got a filing cabinet full of em from pre computer days.

I knocked up this new diagram in illustrator today

this is the (i) mode (for now), same as ex4 was, Ive just drawn out the frets so that I can mark the notes with dots rather than numbers.  The colours mean nothing other than making it easier to see the pairs.  We were starting on the pink, so on the middle string pink is a (i) note at the 5th and 17th frets, and on the outer strings the pink is a (iii) note at the 4th fret and the 16th.

And we don't need to remember the whole thing with precision, because from the (i) note we can recreate it with   221 2221 and from the (iii) note we can with 1 2221 22 right?

so, because we don't need to remember it all, it won't hurt your head too much when i expand it, cos this thing wraps on itself (cycles)

dont panic.  Its more of the same.

Ok now remember when we went into (ii) mode last week?

well this pic above can cover that too.   remember that "We just put a capo on our brain." from last week?  Well its actually more of an uncapo.  an anticapo..  If ex4 was the above diagram, from pink to pink, then ex7 from last week was purple to purple, only shifted back so that the purple on the middle string is at fret 5 (our root note, G for me).  So if we wanna try (iii) mode (Phrygian, the best mode.  They named it after me btw, no shite) it follows that thats just the dark blue to dark blue, starting at fret 5.

Of course you don't need to be staring at no diagram.  221 2221 right.  go into (iii) mode.  That'll be 1 2221 22 .  off you go, have fun. Lets call it ex8.  Its a minor mode (because there first two numbers in our sequence add to three)  sounds like flamenco/spanish guitar maybe?  If you crank the distortion and pick shit outta that thing you might hear some Kirk Hammett from Metallica in there.

Take some time in al the modes.  the (vii) one (remember it was weird) doesn't really work out all that great in this tuning, because its (v) note is diminished.  But all the other 6 can work great on a cbg.  Explore.  That major scale is really something when you learn to explore all its perspectives.   :)

Thats going to be it for modes for now, unless any of you have any questions.  I honestly don't see any merit in exploring each of em individually if you understand the concepts well enough.  We will crack this can of worms open a little later after we look more at chords and see how and why they are in fact the same thing.

will one of you guys please post a video and share with the goddamn class ?

Be nice to old people


14 May 2014

.. looking back..

Keep practicing that ex4 guys.  You wanna know that stuff inside and out.  Try your best to see ex7 {(ii)mode} and ex8 {(iii)mode} as what they are, variations on ex4.  Same thing, just starting in a different spot.  I'm going to keep referring to ex4, and I need you to know it inside out.  Its a friend.  Too close a friend to be called ex4.  So let's call him Ian.  This is our friend Ian

and here's another perspective on him

You wanna know that stuff inside and out so we can move on to...

Arpeggios (i)

we're going to go back to the (i) mode, Ian, although we're doing something that will hopefully tie the other modes right in.

Hopefully you remember how we talked about one of these diatonic thirds having the capacity to join forces with the one after the next, or with the one before the last, and 'wonder twin powers activate'  make a triad, or basic chord.

So i opened up the diagram of the Ian as we've been playing him, with the harmonised thirds and deleted a whole bunch of pretty colours, so we have only the (i) and (iii) positions left.

Don't worry about the top one right now, lets just stay down at frets 4-9 and look at the four notes down there....

Except there isn't really four notes is there?

ok so this is key right here, although we didn't mention it yet, it ought be reasonably obvious.  The harmony note is a diatonic third.  If we skip over two positions, thats also a diatonic third.  Thats why these two are 'chord buddies', the top and the bottom slice of a triad. They both have the middle note, on top of the bottom half and on bottom of the top half.  So lets omit one.


Eureka!  A voicing for our chord!

Of course in both cases there is a string which is voicing more than one note, so we can't just strum through it (its a stretch anyway) but we can arpeggiate it.

lets try that


In both cases try to finger as you are fingering for Ian.   With the first we start out just as for Ian in the (i) position, but then we slide that high note up a (minor) third.  Hopefully you feel a sweet resolution as you finish the chord.  The second is fingered just as for the (iii) position of Ian.  With practice you can incorporate these arpeggios right into Ian, breaking up the movement or finishing on a sweet 'home' chord.


try voicing the different chords from within Ian.  Observe that almost all of them (except for that weird super minor one, (vii)) the first and last notes are the same positions relative to each other, it is only the middle guy who moves, and determines wether the minor or major third comes first in the chord.

Im going to be breaking a break from this blog for a little while guys.  Im Continuing the discussion here.

Keep your eyes peeled for a new one, >=5 , which will lay out a cool pentatonic based perspective on the fretboard.

keep practicing :)

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Comment by Scruggy on June 11, 2014 at 12:37pm

Thanks  man guna be a long weekend!!

Comment by The Phrygian Kid on June 4, 2014 at 3:08am
Great stuff mate.!

I'll have to move onto a second page for this, reaching the limits of what Ning can handle on a blog page, it loses stuff when I edit now :(
Comment by turtlehead on June 3, 2014 at 11:45pm

I'm practicing Kid - just running exercise 4 up and down and really enjoying dorian - here's a vid for ya.

Comment by Michael Benneyworth on May 11, 2014 at 2:09pm

Echoing the big thanks below. I have been muddling through this stuff and trying to work it out but this has been the best explanation I've found. It makes sense. I've always said I play around with instruments, rather then play them, but it feels like I'm starting to play for real now. Just a few more centuries of practice and I'll get there....

Comment by J Lee on May 2, 2014 at 12:02am

Wow - what a post this is! I read a fair bit and then my eyes just glazed over so I've printed it off (apologies to the trees) and will do some reading tonight. Thank you so much for going to this trouble - as an absolute beginner, this is a really good place to get some understanding!

Comment by turtlehead on May 1, 2014 at 10:56pm

This is the best damn blog on this site by far. It's bridging the gap for me between the feel - Home is where root is after all - and the theory side.  Making me realize that my chordal approach is valid, while at the same time teaching me those fundamental intervals that I skipped over because they were "too hard".  I missed the second update, so I have some work to do.

Thanks Kid.  This is great stuff. 

Comment by The Phrygian Kid on March 19, 2014 at 3:19am

Ah my friend..

As I hope we will soon see, chords ARE modes.
I'm very pleased if you're feeling some benefit, thanks to the guys who comment, without your feedback I will run out of steam, but with it this can go on a LOOOONG time, like I said, it's like space man, it's forever
Comment by turtlehead on March 18, 2014 at 6:44pm

Read this a couple more times and worked on the exercises a bit.  The fingerings are natural and familiar and running up and down the neck is fun.  Thanks again for sharing this PK - just what I needed.  I've gotten by on teaching myself with just enough "theory" to be dangerous, but now it's time to learn the fundamentals.

With the 2212221 pattern, am I correct in assuming that we are going down the rabbit hole into the modes?  Might be jumping ahead a bit, but I hope so. 

Comment by Bad Finger (Eric) on March 10, 2014 at 10:18am

Read the first half with my morning coffee.  Thanks for taking all the time to post and share.  Great stuff.

Comment by darryl kernaghan on March 10, 2014 at 8:04am

great post jeff,got some work in frot of me

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