Dec 152010

Ted Greene, Guitar Guru of Solo Playing

Ted Greene (1946 – 2005) was a guitarist of immense influence to other guitarists, although he was mostly unknown to the general public. He was known for his solo guitar playing. Everything, melody, harmony, and bass was played simultaneously. He knew at least 50 ka-jillion chords, and how to use them in any context. He only made one record album, “Solo Guitar“, that finally was made available in CD form a few years ago. He wrote a number of instructional books; “Chord Chemistry” is the first one to get. He also contributed to “Guitar Player” magazine. A number of books have been by him and about him. Some of the books and CDs are listed on the “Books & Media” page.
He mainly tutored private students and taught some at the Guitar Institute of Technology in Hollywood. He didn’t do many gigs; some solo, others as a duo with a singer. In the videos that exist, he often appears shy or nervous.
Here are three classic melodies he played at a wedding gig. Although there is crowd noise, the playing comes through pretty well.

In this video, he plays “Autumn Leaves”

This is a guitar lesson that was filmed by a student. This is Part 1; Part 2, not shown here, delves more into rock and blues.

Ted Greene played and recorded using the Fender Telecaster, which is not the “normal” guitar many jazz musicians use (He did play other types of guitars as well, and was somewhat of a collector). He would sometimes tune the guitar down to Eb, as Stevie Ray Vaughn did. In D-tuning, he sometime tuned it down to Db.

If you are a guitarist, and are interested in guitar setup arcana, you should watch this video where he explains how he sets up his guitar.

On his website, there is a radio interview where you can here a couple of tunes from the album “Solo Guitar”.
on the Ted Greene official website.

Ted Greene CDs and Books

Wikipedia – Ted Greene

Dec 092010

We derive our scales from looking at the 12 chromatic tones, picking a note to start, or name the scale, and follow the pattern of whole/half step intervals for the subsequent notes as described above. For clarity, we switch to the numbering system (and we assume more than one octave to play with), to derive these simple permutations, by picking the starting note as the “next” note.

1 – 8 / 2-9 / 3-10 / 4-11 / 5-12 / 6-13 / 7-14 / and (8-15), or

C to C’ / d to d’ / e to e’ / F – F’ / G – G’ / a – a’ / b – b’

In the sheet music below you’ll see this illustrated.

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Dec 022010

Art Tatum, Unchallenged Virtuoso of Jazz Piano

Art Tatum (1909 – 1956), partially blind from childhood, was active in recording from the 1930’s through the about 1956, when he passed. His virtuosity has been compared to Franz List and Paganinni. All the well known classical pianists of the times, such as Artur Rubenstein and Vladimir Horowitz, as well as Bernstein, Gershwin, and Godowsky  came out to hear him. Horowitz even did a transcription of Tea For Two. Continue reading »

Nov 282010

For rock and all of its offshoots you need not worry that much about voicing. Most of the time you are looking for a powerful sound, or at least to sound in character for the genre.

Classical guitar music is composed and written out. To play that correctly, the starting point is to first play the notes written correctly and in their prescribed position.

For jazz, however, The first thing to avoid, as a rule, are using the open chord forms that all beginner guitarists learn, such as E, A, D, G, and C, formed within the first three frets. Continue reading »

Nov 212010

This example show’s some interesting consonant/dissonant harmonies between the vocal and the accompaniment. The melody is simply a downward-arpeggiated A minor chord, with the added “B” note, functioning first as a 9, then as a 2. This note has a built-in dissonance in this context because it is one half-step from the defining minor third note (“C”). A good vocalist will clearly hear in advance, in his/her imagination, the A and C that surround it, and fit the vocal note in at the right pitch and volume. The resultant sound being perfectly on pitch, and exploiting that dissonance. The singer has to nail it right off. Sliding up or down to the note, or too much vibrato will spoil the effect. For example, listen to how Chet Baker does this so well.

Notice that the first note, “Now…”, has an easy, powerful, and great sounding vowel for a vocalist. As the note is held out, the crescendo sells the song. The rest of the line becomes a very natural-sounding decrescendo.

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