Lessons for Warr Guitar

These are music lessons I have posted to various mailing lists on the internet.  Mostly, I like to discuss what approach I am taking as I learn various standards, and other songs.  Just by writing these out, I find that I learn more about my own approach to music.   Practice hard!.  - Ray

Crystal Silence

I thought I would start a new weekly column, "Chanson du Jour" - the song I
am working on for the day (I guess that makes it a daily column... but I am
not working up that many tunes).

The song I have been working on this week is Chick Corea's "Crystal
Silence".  This was on his album "Return to Forever", which I believe also
counts as the debut record of the band that went by the same name.  It is a
great CD, if you don't have it - go out and buy it now.  I have 5 or 6 Chick
Corea records and this is the only one I listen to regularly.  I think this
is one of the greatest records ever for the Fender Rhodes piano - which is
featured very prominently on the record.  The band also included Stanley
Clarke and vocalist Flora Purim singing trippy lyrics by Neville Potter
on several numbers.

The song is a dreamy ballad - if you have ever been at sea in the doldrums
of the south Atlantic in August, hundreds of miles from the next nearest
ship, drifting on a sea of glass, that is the feeling of this song.  The
bell-like sound of the Rhodes sets the mood for the song, and its
accentuated by some nice sax and bass work.

This song has always been a fovorite of mine, but I remember the first time
I heard it played on Warr Guitar.  It was in 1997 I think, at a big outdoor
farm party and Frank Jolliffe was playing a set with the drummer Joe
D'Andrea.  I wasn't really paying attention at the moment (distracted by
home brew) but suddnely I noticed what they were playing.  It blew my mind.
As if -  the sound that he got out of the Warr fit perfectly with Chick's
concept of this song.  Both the Rhodes and the Warr have that bell like
chiming with a deep fundamental tone.

So, I have it now, xeroxed from the old "Real Book".  The nice thing about
this song is that the chord changes are easy.  it is a basic a minor chord
progression i-v-VI-ii-bII-i  with some other embelleshments.  But the way the
melody follows the changes is really beautiful, and the bridge is such a
nice diversion.

I found, generally speaking, that if you harmonize the melody a fourth
below, you'll get some nice complex chords (combined with the chord
progression in your left hand).

I'm working this into my solo set.  If anybody out there does not have
access to the tune, but you know and love this song from the record,here are
the chord changes.  With that, and the recording, you should be
able to figure it out. Note that not all the phrases are an even 4 bars in length,
but since this is such a slow ballad, there is no real pulsating rhythm anyway.

It is an ambient piece.

|    Am7    |  Em7    |   FMa7        |   Bm7      |

|  BbMa7   |  Am7    | Bm,  C,  Dsus,  E7  |   Am7   | BbM7       ||

|  Am7     |  Em7    |   FMa7        |   Bm7      |

|  BbMa7   |   Am7   |   Dm7  |  E7  |

|  Dm7  |  E7  |  FMa7  |  G7sus4  |  Am7   |  Am7 ||

|   D    |    Am7   |    BbM7   |  Fm7   |

|  C     |     Gm7   |    B7    |   E7    ||

|    Am7       |  Em7    |   FMa7        |   Bm7      |

|    BbMa7       |  Am7    | Bm,  C,  Dsus,  E7  |   Am7   |

|   BbM7       |  Bm,  C,  Dsus,  E7  |     Am7   |   Am7   ||

coda:    |  FMa7/A   |  Am7  ||

All The Things You Are

I thought I would go through my strategy for approaching the well known
standard "All the Things You Are".  This Jerome Kern standard dates from
1939, and it has never gone out of style.  I remember way back in
college, one of my professors using this as an example of a 'cycle of
fourths' chord progression in a song.  It actually does not go all the
way around the cycle, but it has that strong feeling of going up a
fourth each measure.

The song has been recorded by just about everybody, including a really
up tempo recording by Pat Metheny (from the album "Question and
Answer").  I also recall this year at the NAMM show, Randy Strom always
opened his set with this tune, playing a great walking bass line and
soloing with an easy lyricism that was like violin playing.  He drew the
biggest crowds at our booth with this tune, and you can too!

This standard is listed in both versions (old and new) of the Real Book
Volume 1 - if you don't own one of these, for goodness sake, go out and
get it now!:)  And surprisingly, the two versions are compatible with
each other, both in the key of A flat.

This 36 bar song form sounds like it is always modulating, but really it
is pretty easy - there are not that many actual key changes, mostly the
chords are moving around a lot within a key.

here are the chord changes:
|    Fm7       |  Bbm7      |   Eb7        |   AbMa7      |
|    DbMa7       |  Dm7  G7    |   CMa7        |   CMa7        |
|    Cm7       |  Fm7       |   Bb7        |   EbMa7       |

|    AbMa7       |  Am7   D7  |   GMa7      |   GMa7     |

||   Am7       |  D7        |   G  Ma7      |   GMa7     |

|    F#m7      |  B7        |   EMa7          |   C+         |
|    Fm7       |  Bbm7      |   Eb7        |   AbMa7         |

|    Db7        |  Gb7       |   Cm7         |   Bdim       |

|    Bbm7      |  Eb7       |   AbMa7         |   AbMa7         |

Once you have mastered just playing the chords and the melody, here is
my soloing approach, with regard to the key:

measures 1-5: A flat
6-8: C
9-13: E flat
14-20 G
21-24: E
25-36: A flat
see, it ain't that complicated!

in much of the song we are looking at either a cycle of fourths:


progression, or just a 2-5-1 progression.

I play this slower, like a ballad, and when I do that I play big left
hand chords.

I have also rehearsed and performed this with another guitar player.  In
this case, I will play a basic walking bass line 1-5-1-5 which sounds
good if the guitarist is playing rhythm for you.  Then when the other
guy takes his solos, play the chords in your right hand.

I played it this way in my (booked at the last minute) gig I played down
at the coffee house last Friday night, and it was well received.  good

ps - there is an MP3 of Randy Strom playing this on the Warr Guitar web page

Good Friday

continuing with my weekly column, song of the day, I thought I would talk
about Volker Rehn's tune called "Good Friday".  Every year I have a
tradition that on Good Friday I play this song.  I do not know how much of
this song is to be considered sacred or religious, but it is a good

The song appears in the song book volume (vol. 2) of Daniel Schell's "My
Space My Time" instruction series.  This whole book is filled with songs
that are good for the beginner to intermediate player.  All of the songs
were written to be tapped.  There is no tab, symbology, astrology,
cosmology, or any other flim-flam, just music written on the good ol' treble
and bass clefs. If you want to learn to read music and play with other
musicians, this is the way to go with your studies.

The song "Good Friday" sounds like it has a Guitar Craft influence. it is a
good exercise if you want to practice left and right hand odd meter patterns
with different rhythms.  In short, it is a good interdependance exercise.
At the same time, it moves through an interesting chord progression.  If I
were to play this live, I would play the song once, then jam over the chords
a few times, then recap the song again.

I also noticed that if my Warr was tuned 5ths/5ths, it would fall even more
easily under the hands, but in 4ths it is still bery playable.

If you do not already have "My Space My Time" you can get it from Daniel
Schell (in Europe) or www.touchstyle.com (USA)

Giant Steps

Since we all have a lot of time on our hands this time of year, we
should all be practicing, improving our skills for all those 2001 gigs.
My practice regimen for this holiday season includes sight reading
practice with the Daniel Schell books, and easy piano music.  My sight
readng practice is mostly with the 8 string.

On the 10 string, I am working on learning more standards from fake
books.  One song that I am working on is Giant Steps, by John Coltrane.
Here is a little lesson based on what I know.

Giant Steps is a 16 bar form.  Here are the changes:

| BM7  D7 |  GM7 Bb7  |  EbM7     |  Am7  D7  |

| GM7  Bb7  |  EbM7  F#7 |  BM7     | Fm7  Bb7  |

| EbM7     |  Am7  D7  |  GM7     | C#m7  F#7 |

| BM7     | Fm7  Bb7  | EbM7     | C#m7  F#7 |

m7 = minor 7th chord
7 = dominant sevehtn chord
M7 = major seventh chord
# = sharp
b = flat
| = bar line

The song is 4/4 time, but quick.  If there is just one chord in the
measure, then it is held for four beats, otherwise each chord has 2

Get the chords down first, then pick out the melody from the record.  if
you can't do that, you have no business learning this song in the first
place:)  but I'll give you a hint, the first 4 bar phrase melody starts
with a decending G major 7 chord arpeggiated, and the second phrase
starts with EbM7.

I play the chords with my left hand, if you are tuned in fourths you may
want to work on a walking bass line based on the changes.  If you are
truly gifted you can work on both at the same time.

The melody, and the harmonic feel of the song, decends during the first
8 bars and ascends during the second 8 bars.  That is the way I feel the
song and approach the soloing.  Because the harmonic movement is quicker
in the first half, it is hard to make it melodic, so you may want to do
more arpeggios of the chords in this part of the song.  During the
second half, there is a bit more time to get a tune in as the 2-5-1
motion establishes a key in the space of two measures.

The song moves between three keys, B, G, and E flat major.  It is no
coincedence that these three keys are each a major third apart, and
split the octave evenly.  You should be able to switch between these
keys rapidly in order to play this song.  Practice playing a scale from
B to B in the keys of B, G and E flat (it will be B flat to B flat in
this case) keeping the hand position the same.

You should also practice arpeggiating all of the chords in the song, so
that you know them perfectly.  Practice arpeggiating the chords in
inversions so that you do not have to change hand positions.

Here is my encoded rendition of the key structure.  This will show you
how to solo.  Look underneath the chords for the key.  Again notice how
the keys get a bit more duration in the second half of the song.

the key of:
* = B major
+ = E flat major
^ = G major

| BM7   D7 |  GM7 Bb7  |  EbM7     |  Am7  D7  |

| GM7  Bb7  |  EbM7  F#7 |  BM7     | Fm7  Bb7  |

| EbM7     |  Am7  D7  |  GM7     | C#m7  F#7 |

| BM7     | Fm7  Bb7  | EbM7     | C#m7  F#7 |

 Central Park West

Earlier I came at you with John Coltrane's Giant Steps.  Here is another
Trane song built on a similar pattern, Central Park West.  CPW is a good
primer to Giant Steps, because it is slower, and the chord changes are
not as rapid, so you have more time to think about the endless cycle of
modulation.  It also settles in to the home key for a good stretch near
the end of the form, so it is a bit less restless.

Giant Steps used the 2-5-1 progression in three keys a major third apart
which cut the chromatic scale in thirds.  CPW does it in four keys, a
minor third apart, cutting the chromatic octave in fourths.  There are
actually more scales to learn with this one, but like I said, it is
easier because it is slower.  I will also show you a trick to take the
four tonal centers down to 2.

here is the form, it is a 20 bar, and you can easily pick the tune out
from a recorded rendition (it is on "Coltrane's Sound", as well as many

m7 = minor 7th chord
7 = dominant seventh chord
6 = major 6th chord
M7 = major seventh chord
# = sharp
b = flat
| = bar line
()  = bass note if other than the root

<pick up beats> c#m7  F#7 ->

|  BM7      | Em7  A7  |  DM7    | Bbm7  Eb7 |

| AbM7      | Gm7  C7  | FM7     | c#m7  F#7  |

|  BM7      | Em7  A7  |  DM7    |c#m7  F#7 |

|  BM7      | BM7      |c#m7     |c#m7     |

| BM7(D#)   |BM7(D#)   |E6       | c#m7  F#7 |

let's look at what keys we shall be soloing in.

The 2-5-1 deal runs in four keys, each a minor third apart.  Let's look
at them, I'll use symbols to indicate which is in force where:

the key of:
* = B major
+ = D
^ = A flat Major
# = F major

|  BM7      | Em7  A7  |  DM7    | Bbm7  Eb7 |

| AbM7      | Gm7  C7  | FM7     | c#m7  F#7  |

|  BM7      | Em7  A7  |  DM7    |c#m7  F#7 |

|  BM7      | BM7      |c#m7     |c#m7     |

| BM7(D#)   |BM7(D#)   |E6       | c#m7  F#7 |

It is interesting to note how the song has a nice contrast between the
first half and the second half of the song.  The first half is
modulating rapidly, then the modulating machine is reeled in until we
spend the last 8 bars in B major.  For this reason, the song definately
sounds less restless than Giant Steps, which modulates every two bars
into a different key.

Now lets look at it a different way.  if we convert the D major into B
minor, (same notes) and the A flat major into an F Minor (also the same
notes) we can approach this song as though it has two tonal centers, a
tritone apart, which can operate either in major or minor.  I'll also
change my symbols a bit to make it clearer.

the key of:
B = B major
b = B minor
f = F minor
F = F Major

|  BM7      | Em7  A7  |  DM7    | Bbm7  Eb7 |

| AbM7      | Gm7  C7  | FM7     | c#m7  F#7  |

|  BM7      | Em7  A7  |  DM7    |c#m7  F#7 |

|  BM7      | BM7      |c#m7     |c#m7     |

| BM7(D#)   |BM7(D#)   |E6       | c#m7  F#7 |

As the chart shows, you can just play in B major, then keep your tonal
center in b but change to minor.  Then at bar 4, move your mind and your
fingers an augmented fourth and keep going in minor, untl bar 6 when it
expands out to F major, etc.

Let us also focus for a moment on the last 8 bars.  It is all in B
major, but the bass note is creeping up 1, 2, 3, 4... then 2-5-1 to
start the song over again.

The alternating major an minor sections give this song an expanding and
contracting feel, to me.  The minor key part is brief and in the
beginning, but after that it lands itself in B major, and then the theme
grows and grows as we march up the scale in the end, until it goes
around for another cycle.

I would also make one other comparison to Giant Steps.  That song jumps
up and down by major thirds, while this song jumps around in minor
thirds (and the other two intervals built on minor thirds, the augmented
fourth and the major sixth) .  The minor third modulation to me is a bit
more laid back, while the major third modulation has a bold sound.
Going up in minor thirds also has a natural feel because, for instance,
the B major is the dominant to the e minor chord which is the "2" in D
major (see bars 1 - 4).  This does not hold true throughout the song,
because the root does not move up by a minor third every time it
modulates.  But it is interesting to see how natural this feels,
especially going from D major to B major.  [trivia question, in which of
my own songs do I rip off this idea??].

Coltrane's solo on this song is slow and soulful and if you have a
decent ear you can pick out some of his phrases which is a good

Even if you do not know the tune of the song, these changes are good to
practice over, as an exercise in modulating effectively.

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