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Alex Creese

Guitarist | Guitar Tutor | Occasional Blogger

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Latest Lesson – Play EVERY Major and Minor Triad only changing one note at a time. (Two studies)

In this excersise you’ll learn a sequence that takes you through every major and minor triad, starting on D major and only changing one note at a time.  Then, in the second video a study based on this concept.  Click here for a bit more detail, it’s under Neo Riemannian Theory.  First example TAB: AC03

Once you’ve done that you can try this next one, which is a more musical study based on the same idea of navigating through all 24 maj and min triads in sequence.  Second example TAB: AC04

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New Guitar!

For a while I’ve been looking for a new acoustic to replace my old Takamine ESF-40C.  It’s a nice guitar that I got when I was about 18, but it’s worn out now and ready to retire.  Had a look at a few Taylors, including the 214, but ended up going with a brand called Faith.  The guitar I got is a Neptune High Gloss, it’s a baby jumbo shape without a pickup (I’ll put my own in).  It’s a bit cheaper in price than the Taylor 214 but has solid rosewood back and sides, I was quite surprised that the Taylor is mostly laminate and not entirely rosewood.

Anyway, I’m very happy with it and here are some pictures.  I’ll probably do a video soon, too.

Updates

I feel like I should be making more effort with this, here’s an update for the sake of it!

Was recently asked to be part of a production of Evita at The Prince’s Hall, Aldershot. Would have been very easy to turn it down with all the teaching and other stuff going on, but I decided not to. Really glad I did it, it was great fun and I really enjoyed blowing the cobwebs off my reading chops! Great cast and band, too.

Assorted photo evidence:

Other than that, I’m still keeping busy with FRiSK and Tzigauners and am hoping to record some more music this year, because it’s been far too long.

And, I’ve started learning Norwegian. No reason, just need something else for my brain to do…

FRiSK, performing (last night) at Lains Barn (Wantage). The song is called S.O.B but I can’t remember who it’s by:

The Christmas Miracle of Practice

Recently (lets say the last six months) I’ve been more or less completely consumed with my work at ACM.  It’s such a great place, but as an inevitable consequence of it’s sheer size and number of students, it is a mad house and everyone is busy all the time!  The kids I’ve been working with have all been doing practice journals as part of thier project for the term, it’s an opportunity for them to set themselves some targets and work towards achieving them while, importantly, tracking and evaluating their progress as they go.  Just for the fun of it I thought I’d do the same over a short period of time, so I picked a piece I’ve wanted to learn for a while and made little videos illustrating my progress learning one of the tricky passages in it.  The piece is Tango en Skai by Roland Dyens, and here are a few videos going from not knowing it, to being able to play it as a stand alone phrase, and then being able to play it in context.

Day 1: Learning the notes.

Day 2: making corrections and further practice.

Day 3: consistent playing at slow tempo.

Day 4: the run in context.

It’s not a perfect rendition at all, and my approach wasn’t particularly scientific but I really enjoyed this process: it was a tangible and motivating reminder of the magic of practice.  I mean, it’s not rocket science, but it’s easy to forget it sometimes…

Screenshot 2018-12-24 12.17.11

Enough of that though, it’s now Christmas eve and everything has wound down nicely.

LeQuecumbar

Some photos from our recent outing at LeQucumbar, Battersea. It’s a great venue that specialises in Gypsy swing, so it was great to play there. Cool vibe!

The band featured, me (obvs); Tom Williams (gtr); Dan Gaylard (bass) and Phoebe Gorry (vox).

Hopefully we’ll get down there again soon!

SG Update

I decided to spend a few £s upgrading the old SG.  Not that there was too much wrong with it, but it needed some tweaks and let’s be honest – messing about with guitars is fun.

First, it needed a proper set up.  The guy who had it before me strung it with 9s and had a ridiculously low action (it was more or less unplayable) so I went up to 10s and then 11s but it was still buzzing and there were dead spots all over.  The other big issue was the intonation.  With a wraparound bridge it’s always a compromise but the one that was in there made very little effort to compensate, and it was quite noticably crap.  I took it to Richmond Guitar Worshop (Andy and Andrew – the guys that used to be in the workshop at Chandlers in Kew).  Ive had all  my repaires and set ups done by these guys since about 2003. They are total wizards.  They dressed the frets, sorted out the neck and, importantly, replaced the crappy stock bridge with a compensated Gibson Lightning Bar.  It’s still not perfect, obviously, but I could do a gig on it now and not get shouted at for being out of tune!

The second step was to replace the Gibson 490 pickups. The bridge one was ok but the neck one was a bit dull.  Having always used Seymour Duncans for humbuckers, I thought I’d maybe see what else was around.  Had a look at Bare Knuckle, which are pricey (though worth it, generally) and a few other “boutique” makers.  Amongst them, one that I thought was pretty interesting: The Creamery.  After a bit of research I was unable to find anything even resemblining a slightly negative review, and what’s more they’re really well priced.  Less than Bare Knuckles which seem to run at £200 + per set but not so cheap as to arouse suspicion like, say, Iron Gear.  They are hand made by one guy (Jaime)and they are fully customisable, from the covers to the magnets.  I had to wait about a month, but they’re great!  I went for the Creamery ’59 set, I wanted better versions of the 490s with a tighter sounding neck.  He suggested these with alnico II and IV magnets in the bridge and neck respectively.  I’m really pleased with them – and for £150 (with nickle covers) you basically can’t go wrong, they compare very favourably to the Seymour Duncans that I’ve owned (Pearly Gates, Duncan Custom, Jazz, and JB).  Well worth a look, as there is a huge range of stuff available!

So… you know, I’ve spent about as much again on upgrades as I did on the guitar itself.  But it’s personalised now, whilst still cheaper (and as far as I’m concerned, better) than an off the shelf SG standard.  So there.

Them There Eyes – Django Reinhardt [solo]

About a year ago I transcribed this marvellous solo, but I didn’t get around to learning it and recording it until the last couple of days.  There’s some great melody here and it’s another example of Django’s brilliant musicality and gestural approach to his solos.

The main challenge is the speed of this one, particularly in the second chorus (the signature chromatic run, for instance) but the first chorus is very restrained with a focus on melody and phrasing.  You can download the TAB here:  Them There Eyes Django (Solo).

Some Exciting New Music

The Bolders

I have an 11 year old student who has just released his debut E.P.  I’m really impressed by this so thought it was worth a share!

He recently turned 11 and his parents bought him a day in a local studio where he was able to record some songs that he’d written.  Recording under the name The Bolders, he wrote the tunes, recorded all instruments and sung  – he also designed his own album cover.

Check it out!

https://open.spotify.com/embed/album/2hoEeaGutWZNaSDV6Zb96m

 

Fun with Space Designer

I’ve recently been trying to navigate my way through a particularly tedious creative slump.   The kind where you find yourself massively bored of everything you do, and where you feel like you’ve boxed yourself into a corner… it’s the worst.

Was it Einstien that said the definition of crazy is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results? I don’t know, but seems to make sense. So, in that spirit, I’ve begun stepping outside of my normal operating perimeters and making more use of “technology”.  Specifically, Logic and Ableton*. I know Logic well enough, but have only ever used it to record and mix audio (and do a bit of MIDI stuff when required). Now I’m making an effort to actually delve into the things that I had previously considered “not my thing”.  And, oh look!  It’s fun.

I recorded a Dmajor triad and loaded it into Space Designer (a reverb plug-in) as an impulse response.  This means that instead of the input signal (in this case my guitar) triggering a reverb, it triggers that Dmajor chord. A pretty cool effect, that sort of sounds like a phased-out synth reacting in the background.

*Ableton is still a mystery to me, but I do at least own the program now.

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