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20 October 2003 - Issue 14   
In this issue

@ Introduction
@ New Articles on iBreatheMusic
@ Book Review: Jon Fin
@ Eric's Shred 101-Lick
@ Member Spotlight: Koala
@ Sizzling Hot Forum Topics


Hello all,

I'm just recovering :-) from a fantastic 4 day trip to London, which gave me the opportunity to meet up with a few old friends and work colleagues from when I used to live there. I've been visiting the city every few months since I left and I'm still amazed by:
- how much more expensive things can get (hell, there must be a limit!!!)
- how much stress people can take ('Taking the train makes you sick' stated a newspaper the other day - nice to be stuck on the District Line while reading this ...)
- how quickly someone can finish a beer when it's 11 p.m.
... I just dig this city.

Starting from today the iBreatheMusic site will undergo quite a few changes which will be introduced one by one over the next few months. To begin with, we have made some minor changes to the homepage, all in preparation for a new category structure that all articles will follow, which will make browsing and finding articles much easier.


New Articles on IbreatheMusic
Sight Reading
by Steve Carter

Because of the complexity of the fretboard, learning to sight-read on the guitar requires a disciplined approach. In this article I'll discuss the approach that worked well for me and has worked well for many of my students. Continue

Guitar related

Scales, who needs them? Why and What For, Anyway?!
by Jamie Andreas

Getting the unsettling impression that there seems to be an awful lot of those things called scales? You may even run across an encyclopedia of scales, and realize that there could be thousands of these little buggers out there! Continue

Guitar related

Economy Picking Lesson
by Bizarro

I'm sure everyone has heard about economy picking and has seen some neat 'tricks' being done using the technique. I have some examples which show how this technique can be applied in several situations. Continue

NotationSoundTablatureGuitar related

A Closer Look At Sweep-Picking
by Eric Vandenberg

Although I have already written an article about this technique for ibreathe, there still seem to be a lot of questions about the basics of this technique. So let me walk you through the very basics of sweeping once more... Continue

NotationTablatureGuitar related

Originality - When and How
by Tom Hess

Is being original a worthy goal to have? I think most people would answer yes (in theory at least). My answer would certainly not be yes or no, but rather maybe. I say maybe, because it always depends on the situation. Continue


 Book Review: Advanced Modern Rock Guitar Improvisation by Jon Finn

1999 Mel Bay MB98053BCD

Oh my god, I seriously love this book. This is SO cool. I don't know if everyone will feel the same way about it(I'll elaborate in a sec), but to me, this is for rock-players (and not only them) what 'The Advancing Guitarist' was for jazz-players. It also reminds me a lot of the brilliant 'In Vivo Guitar' by Abi von Reininghaus.

OK, first of all, this is not a 'Learn how to shred in 4 days' type method. The title says it all, it's more about improvisation, note-choice, navigating the fretboard than about 'killer-licks in Em' (yawn)

Berklee-instructor Jon Finn (who has also released two very cool instrumental albums, 'Don't Look So Serious' and 'Wicked', check out www.jonfinn.com) is a very honest, funny guy who has obviously spent a lot of time and thought on improvisation (I guess teaching at Berklee helped to explore this stuff and develop this book).

In the introduction, he states 'Music is fun', and that is something I haven't seen in instructional methods very often.
The first chapter is about the '2 dimensions of the guitar'. Jon points out that you can split the strings into two 'dimensions'. One being the lower 4 strings (tuned in intervals of fourths), the other being the upper two strings (a fourth apart as well), with that major third between the G and B-string. He explains very well how to deal with this 'gap' between the two dimensions, and writes about a 'Warp Refraction Principle'. If you wanna know what that is, check out the book!

Jon then continues to show another very interesting way to find and visualize a pentatonic scale on the fretboard: geometrical shapes. This might really help to break out of the box, to get away from playing in the same old patterns all the time.

And this is not only interesting for beginners, it might also give more experienced, advanced players a fresh perspective, because those shapes can be moved around and are easy to locate on whatever string-pair you wanna play on.
All this is explained very clearly, makes a lot of sense, and is absolutely refereshing to read!

Jon continues by talking about altered pentatonics, slowly getting into modal improvisation. All those approaches might not look like rocket-science, but believe me, they will help a lot of players to get a new perspective. Some of the stuff in this book I have NEVER thought about before, simply because I thought patterns and arps were the only good way to navigate the fretboard.

Other topics include getting from pentatonics to modes, and choosing the right modes. Most of the musical examples can be heard on the accompanying audio-CD. There are not just a bunch of licks here, Jon IMHO rather tries to explain his theories and ideas, and leaves it to you to explore and discover.

Bottom Line

Every once in a while, there's a book (or other instructional method) that's not just a variation on a theme. This is not another 'learn how to shred' or '10 easy solos' method, it really can help to break out of old habits, to find a new, simple approach to improvisation.

I think intermediate players with some experience in improvisation will benefit most from the book (although Finn states that it should also be interesting to beginners or even advanced players - not all new stuff, a different approach, a different perspective).

I think everyone, regardless of whether you play rock or not, should check this out. I also recommend it to teachers - great ideas on finding your way on the fretboard, a lot of students will profit from that.

To sum this up: An extremely refreshing, unorthodox book about a huge topic. Not a 'After you read this, you know it all'-kinda method, but something to maybe give you a new direction or an easier approach to something you might have been struggling with for a while.

Also, this book can be worked through page after page, or you can just look at a random page and work on that, or you can work through it and check it out again like a year later to see what has changed in that year.

And the icing on the cake: Jon's sense of humor and his honesty… he really relates to the reader, he talks about problems HE had to deal with, and his bottom-lines and comments had me crackin' up several times.

So again: I LOVE IT!!! Great job, Jon. This book belongs into every household *grin

This review, together with links and more info, can be found online at http://www.ibreathemusic.com/reviews

 Eric's Shred 101

Steve Vai Signature Lick

This one is almost a classic. Not that much of a tough shred-lick, but a great-sounding little melody.

It's one of Steve Vai's trademark-melodies. It can be i.e. heard in the intro of the Alcatrazz-song 'Wire and Wood', in the song 'Junkie' from Steve's first solo-album, and in 'Answers' from the Passion and Warfare - album.

What's cool about this one is that it actually is a seven-note pattern. Played over a straight 4/4 beat, you get some kind of a rhythmically displaced sound, very interesting. This one kinda grabs the ear of the listener. So try to come up with stuff like that yourself... simply play strict 8th-notes, but use patterns with an odd amount of notes, like 5 or 7. You might come up with some really cool stuff!


 Member Spotlight: Koala

member name: Koala
real name: Paul Bidault
homepage: www.bangha.ws
location: Mexico City
instrument: Guitar, Tres Cubano, Piano

How and when did you get started with music, and where has it taken you today?
It all started seriously about 12 years ago, I got my hands on an old acoustic someone had left lying around the house and I fiddled around for a few months with it. Nothing fancy really, just trying to strum along to stuff I heard on the radio and such. Luckily for me, my brother, an aspiring musician himself, didn’t quite know where his music has heading so he got himself a cheap Ibanez (CT model, before Ibanez even had their trademark “spear headstock”) which didn’t really do it for him, so there, I had my first electric guitar. And I kept fiddling on that not really knowing what I was doing, as well as getting anyone I knew who played guitar to play something for me. (It is around this point in my life, that I actually remember seeing someone bend a string for the first time. Wow, I just figured that out. Isn’t it funny? My first bend.)
Not too long after that I saw David Gilmour play, he was playing the intro solo “Shine On..”. Right after that I knew I really, really wanted to play guitar. So I would watch that Floyd video over and over again trying to learn stuff. I decided “Wish you were here” would be the easiest song to work out, as it had a short solo, and there were lots of shots where I could see Gilmour’s hands. So there I was pressing pause every two seconds trying to copy the chords he was playing, until I finally managed to work out all the intro and rhythm parts.
Funnily enough, as soon as I “nailed” the song, the school I was in wanted to have the choir sing “Wish you were here”, and THE girl I was after had just joined the choir, so fate had decided I had to make my move hehehe.
In that school I had met a brazilian guy who was well known for his great bass playing, even though he was quite young. So this guy and I took on the task of playing “Wish you were here” with the school choir.
So, if you’re still reading this far, you might be wondering, what about the girl? Well it was a long fought battle and in the end we did end up together, the music worked! Throughout this time music got more and more serious and it didn’t take long for it to be off my hobby list. It had turned into an addiction.
Ironically, it was music that got in the way between the girl and I in the end, she just couldn’t take it lolol. On the other hand the brazilian bass player and I have played together ever since, and formed Bangha, things have gone pretty well with that project, … and I have a wonderful girl with me who loves the music.

How did you come across iBreatheMusic.com?
Searching for study material on the net some years ago I came across guitar4u, and I loved it's rich content. As soon as I read ibreathemusic was on its way I knew it would be even better.

What styles of music do you play?
With Bangha, my main project, I play a wide fusion of stuff, I think it could be labeled as an ethnic/rock/electro/retro sort of thing lol. Electronic Musician Magazine referred to us as having a “smooth, somber, mystical sound”.
I also play clubs n pubs where we focus on jazz-funk improv, as well as having a heavy interest in Son Cubano (Cuban Folk music).

Can you tell me some more about your project Bangha?
Bangha was formed about 6 years ago under the name Banga Tribe, and it is made up by Pablo Guessi on bass and programming and myself on guitar, vocals, and anything else that’s needed. We uploaded some tracks to mp3.com (www.mp3.com/bangatribe) and they had a lot of success, getting lots of plays, #1's on the sites charts, and all that ended up in electronic musician magazine giving us the “band of the web” in their March 2001 issue, as well as contact from Real World Records which finally didn’t happen but hey, it was exciting lol.
Some time later, we changed the name of the band to Bangha and have been working on new material ever since, as well as doing some live performances. (You can listen to some very old mp3 files on www.mp3.com/bangha but please keep in mind they’re old)

Who are your biggest influences?
Just to mention a few and in no particular order:
David Gilmour, Roger Waters, Peter Gabriel, Buckethead, Hendrix, Bob Marley, Bill Laswell, Joe Perry, P. Funk, John Scofield, Medeski, Martin & Wood, Soundgarden, Santana, Stone Temple Pilots.

What formal training have you had?
I studied one year of a major in contemporary music, have a diploma in Son Cubano, playing tres cubano, and apart from the music world I am to be a communications major not too far from now.

What were some of the biggest breakthroughs you had in your learning of music theory?
Every little new thing I come to terms with is a breakthrough from me, but if any stand out, I guess it would definitely have to be understanding intervals, as well as getting all the hype out of modes and seeing that they can be understood and applied by mere mortals.

What practice technique you use do you feel has paid off the most handsomely in its effect on the way you play?
There are a few things:
1. Listening to lots of music, and all kinds of it, that shapes my playing in more and better ways then learning 25 new exotic scales.
2. Making good use of my practice time subdividing it into different sections covering different approaches and techniques.
3. Practicing the things I don’t know. This may sound dumb, but sometimes I find myself practicing things I have already mastered, just out of laziness I guess.

How long did you play before you had your first paying gig?
About 3 years before I played my first party.

What gear do you use?
PRS Custom 24 Brazilian
Ibanez guitars (S470, Artist),
Gibson Chet Atkins
Takamine Nylon String
Tornado Electro Acoustic

Ebow Plus,Dunlop Crybaby wah, Pete Cornish Custom P-2 Fuzz, Big Muff, Boss Blues Driver, Pro Co. Rat II, Rocktron Banshee Talkbox, Digitech RP2000, Chandler Tube Driver, Hughes & Kettner Rotosphere MKII, Boss DS-1.

What are you up to at the moment?
I'm in the studio with Bangha, writing and recording new material, which I will of course get online for you guys to listen to once its all ready.

Do you have any interests (apart from iBreathe of course!)?
I am very interested in human rights, and helping people. So I try to visit Cuba every now an then to give them a hand with anything I can, as well as helping out at a refugee shelter for local kids from different ethnic groups.
I also love traveling, and I'll jump at any chance I get to do so.
And, due to strange happenings I ended up taking some flying lessons in simulators a couple months ago. But I've really taken a liking to it, and my maiden flight is supposed to happen in a couple months time.

 Sizzling Hot Forum Topics

Tips for remembering and use of the Circle of Fifths (Or: The GDAEB 'word'!)

music layering

what should i subscribe to?

learning jazz


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