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Advanced Modern Rock Guitar Improvisation

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

Reviewed by: Eric Vandenberg

iBreatheMusic Rating:

Suitability: Pretty much all levels and all styles

Available at:
amazon.comamazon.co.ukamazon.de     sheetmusicplus.com

Reviewed by:
Eric Vandenberg

iBreatheMusic Rating:

Pretty much all levels and all styles

Available at: