Supplemental Note-reading Exercises
Try sight-reading these for extra practice...
These start with very simple etudes on the first string for absolute beginners and get progressively more advanced.
Page 1 (1st string: E, F, G); Page 2 (Rests, F#); Page 3 (2nd string: B, C, D); Page 4 (1st and 2nd strings);
Page 5 (C#, key signatures); Page 6 (Three-four time); Page 7 (Three-four and four-four time);
Page 8 (Two notes at once); Page 9 (3rd string: G, A)
Come Together (Beatles; George Harrison's licks at the end of the song)
So simple, but so effective! The rhythm and phrasing are repeated as the four-note melody is played in various spots. A great lesson in the effectiveness of repetition and simplicity, and the expressive quality of a note well bent. Great for beginning lead players working on bends and releases.
All Along The Watchtower (Jimi Hendrix; intro solo)
Not the famous tour-de-force solo in the middle, but the shorter, simpler opening statement. Hendrix is tuned down and playing in C# minor on the guitar, but I've opted to transcribe this solo in C minor, so it matches the recording without having to retune. With that in mind, move it to various keys including C# minor once it can be played comfortably.
Statesboro Blues (The Allman Brothers Band; Dickey Betts solo)
Twice around a blues shuffle in D: first time major pentatonic, second time minor. Fantastic bends, great phasing, nice use of repetition and motivic development.
Franklin's Tower (Grateful Dead; Jerry Garcia intro solo)
Jerry's tasty phrasing and fluid rhythmic sense are in evidence here. The A, G, D, G progression calls for A mixolydian, and Jerry serves it up. Subtle bends, slick position shifts and nicely incorporated arpeggios are all employed in a listener-friendly, melodic introductory statement.
Thank You (Led Zeppelin; Jimmy Page Guitar Solo)
I like that this is played on acoustic guitar with no string bending required. Also, it doesn't use the pentatonic scale at all. The chords are D, C, G, D, making D mixolydian (notes of the G major scale) an obvious choice. However, Page plays in D major, and simply avoids the C# note during the C chords (but uses it for extra color against the D's and G's). This solo sits well in the 4th/5th position with no difficult shifting or stretching. The only problem is that some of the phrases are quite fast. However, I think this one has merit as a teaching piece even if it can only be played a bit slower than the recording.
Play-Along Rhythm Tracks
One approach that I use in teaching improvisation is to play on various pairs of chords. As a result, I have complied lots of two-chord jams to practice soloing on. Here are some examples:
STEPWISE JAMS: Chords are a WHOLESTEP apart.
Ascending, Dom7 to minor, in every key:
G7 to Am; Ab7 to Bbm; A7 to Bm; Bb7 to Cm; B7 to C#m; C7 to Dm; Db7 to Ebm; D7 to Em; Eb7 to Fm; E7 to F#m; F7 to Gm; F#7 to G#m
Ascending, Major to minor (triads), in every key:
G to Am; Ab to Bbm; A to Bm; Bb to Cm; B to C#m; C to Dm; Db to Ebm; D to Em; Eb to Fm; E to F#m; F7 to Gm; F# to G#m
Ascending, Maj7 to min7, in every key:
GMaj7 to Am; AbMaj7 to Bbm; AMaj7 to Bm; BbMaj7 to Cm; BMaj7 to C#m; CMaj7 to Dm; DbMaj7 to Ebm; DMaj7 to Em; EbMaj7 to Fm; EMaj7 to F#m; FMaj7 to Gm; F#Maj7 to G#m
Manuscript & Tab Paper
If you're writing your own notes or tabs, click to download printable sheets with staves optimally spaced for legible transcriptions.
Standard notation ..... Tab paper: 5 stave, thick lines ..... Tab Paper: 5 stave, thin lines .....Tab Paper: 6 stave .....Tab Paper: 7 stave .....Tab Paper: 8 stave
Compiled anecdotes related to some of my favorite music or guitarists. (Listening to a wide variety of styles and learning some music history are critical parts of any musical education. The following stories/quotes are offered in the hope that they might spark some interest in the subject matter.) ~C.C.
Two good starting places for learning some of the history and mythology of early American Blues music:
1. The story of W.C. Handy "discovering" the blues in Tutwiler, Mississippi, from Father of the Blues -An Autobiography: Handy's recollection of first hearing "the blues" sung by an anonymous Southern bluesman waiting for a train in 1903. Includes photos & links.
2. Michael Bloomfield's take on the legend of Robert Johnson at the crossroads.
Excerpt from Me And Big Joe by Michael Bloomfield: Bloomfield recalls his travels with bluesman Big Joe Williams.
Recollections of John Lee Hooker, Mike Bloomfield and Big Joe Williams, by Art Thieme. On-line press clippings describe Art Thieme as a "Midwestern folk singer, punster and raconteur", and "America's best-loved troubadour". He was a witness and contributor to the Chicago folk & blues scene in the early 1960's, and often shared his well-told recollections on the web. The stories included here are culled from a thread on the Mudcat discussion forum.
Bob Dylan's Grammy Acceptance Speech, 1998. In this brief clip, Mr. Dylan neatly connects nearly a century of American music, acknowledging Buddy Holly and Robert Johnson as inspirational in making his Grammy winning album Time Out of Mind.