The Chords Awaken

This blog post explores the topic of improvisation. It analyzes a chord-centered method for composing on the fly, and it introduces a strategy for organizing the guitar fret-board known as the CAGED system.

Playing in a Pit Band

This month’s blog post is about my recent experience playing in a pit band. The gig, lasting a month, consisted of twenty-one rehearsal and eighteen performances over the course of two musicals: Alice In Wonderland and All Shook Up. For the first musical, Alice In Wonderland, I worked right from the piano-conductor score by making a harmonic... Continue Reading →

The Indeterminacy of Improvisation

Introduction This blog post is about improvisation, the concept of determinism, and what happens at the intersection of the two.  My primary goal is to redefine what it means to improvise and to provide players with a clear way of doing it honestly. The post is set up in five chapters: (1) Introduction, (2) Determinism... Continue Reading →

The Paradox of Improvisation

In this blog post, I hope to clarify some misconceptions about the subject of improvisation. Since defining one's terms is the trench in which clarity lives and dies, I'll start there. Here is my definition: Improvisation is the act of synthesizing learned musical vocabulary with moment-to-moment, real time expression. A good analogy for improvisation is off-the-cuff... Continue Reading →

Advice for the Gigging Musician

Introduction In this post, I've compiled a list of advice for the gigging musician. It's divided into three categories: (1) equipment and gear, (2) repertoire development, and (3) band dynamics. As a bonus, I've included a gig day checklist and a video tutorial. Equipment and Gear You should probably ditch your tuner. How else are... Continue Reading →

Improvising and Meditating

I think of improvising as an intellectual challenge that is analogous to meditating. When I'm reading the chords of a song, or watching the hand of a chording guitarist and improvising at the same time, I am engaging in an activity that requires every bit of my attention, every bit of my know-how, and every... Continue Reading →

Harmonic Improvisation

To solo harmonically is to make melodic decisions based on chords changes. The experience of soloing in this way is similar to the experience of strumming through a chord progression. Both skills require that you know a song's changes. This blog post will map out the concept so you can get started with this kind... Continue Reading →

Breaking a String on Stage

Introduction Everyone is happy, the band sounds great, you're playing fly lick after fly lick, your band-mates are amped up about the impending chorus, the crowd is digging your style—then, all-of-a-sudden... ...twang! Oh no! One of your strings has broken, and now you've got to deal with it. Most string-break stories go something like this:... Continue Reading →

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