Songwriting SOS

Recently I was getting ready for a trip to Japan and was looking for something to read on the plane. After failing to find anything interesting at the local bookstore, I decided to go through what I already had at home. I ended up grabbing this issue of Sound on Sound from 2011 and I am glad that I did.

In it there is a brilliant article about music theory as it relates to songwriting/production. Here are some of the highlights for me:

• Try using chords from the relative minor/major
• Try using chords from the parallel key (e.g. move from chords in C major to chords in C minor)
• Temporarily switch to harmonic minor
• Use modes as different starting points. E.g. A Dorian where the A Minor chord becomes the i chord and everything is built on the notes from A Dorian (#6)
• Inversions – try different chord voicings, try voice leading as you move from chord to chord
• Schoenberg’s “chart of the regions”/parallel major/minor keys and closely related keys

• Key change to a semitone above while on the V chord
• Adding a new bass note below a triad to create an extended chord, e.g. Ab/F to make F minor 7
• Change the harmonic function of a chord. E.g. Am could be the root of Am or chord ii in G or it could be chord iii in F (see chord wheel for options)
• Modulate up a Semitone
• Can go to any parallel key for any chord in the progression
• Shared notes – e.g. sustain a note, “A”, as you switch other notes from other chords (Ace, dfA, fAc, etc)
• Play the pentatonic scale of the IV chord against the I chord. E.g. E Major Pent against A Major or F Major Pent against a progression in C Dorian

Thanks to Kate Ockenden and Sound On Sound for the great article!

No Guitar Is Safe

First discovered this podcast by Jude Gold and Guitar Player magazine in late 2016 and am so glad that I did. Amazing guitarists jamming and talking about their craft. They can go really deep when compared to a magazine interview, these podcasts can go for 90 minutes or more. Really great to hear these full length conversations.

While there are a ton of fantastic interviews, the ones that really stand out to me are the Ben Lacy, Mike Keneally, Owen Barry, Jeff Kollman and Tommy Emmanuel episodes. Really cool!

Guitar Techniques

When I first found this amazing magazine about 8 years ago I was blown away. It has so much instructional material for a wide variety of subjects and styles (rock, jazz, country, classical, blues) from some really great players/instructors. The focus is truly on teaching/playing, way more so than any other guitar magazine that I’ve read. Also, it’s really well put together. The writing, notation, photos, audio and video examples are all done at the highest level of excellence. This is the kind of magazine that I’ve always wanted. So glad that I found it!

That Pedal Show

So glad that I found this channel on YouTube, it has so much useful information on it. Thoughtful reviews on all sorts of pedals/amps/guitars, comparisons of pedals by type (overdrives, distortions, fuzzes, wah-wahs, reverbs, delays, tremolos, vibes, etc.), thorough explanations on pedal related topics (e.g. pedal order, gain stacking, using buffers, power requirements, etc.), interviews with great players, pretty much anything you can think of related to electric guitar is on this channel. Also, they seem to be a couple of genuinely nice “blokes”.