View Full Version : Concept: Playing a Song

Bongo Boy
08-16-2002, 02:47 AM
You'll surely bust a gut with this one, but as usual, I'm a serious guy.

I'd like to learn to 'play a song'--seems like a cool idea, seems like something I should start doing. As hard as this may be to believe, I have no idea what this means on a guitar.

I bought a real nice Jazz Fakebook, and turned to what is supposed to be one of the easiest jazz standards around: Autumn Leaves. Format for the book is standard notation, but for a melody only--chords are noted above each bar.

Uh...great. What the $%$* do I actually DO to "play" this tune? I thought it would be a good idea to listen to the tune played by others (several thousand times), so I listened to a Joe Pass rendition while I read the music. As you might guess, after an 8-bar intro, ol' Joe doesn't seem to follow the sheet music too closely :D heh, heh, heh.

Real basic question--where do I start? I'm thinking I probably need to learn the chords first (oooh...he's sharp as a tack). But there are how many way to do an F#m7b5, about a trillion?

Bongo Boy
08-16-2002, 04:14 AM
Okay, I just realized that question was a little like asking "what color is best"? Here's a specific question:

2nd bar of the tune is the first that indicates a chord--Am7. The melody in this bar is a single note: a C whole note (8ve above middle C).

So..based on what I've learned so far, I think maybe the Am7 should have this C as its highest note, if I'm going to use chords to carry the melody (because I think I remember reading that the highest note of a chord tends to dominate, and is used this way--for chordal melodies).

If this approach is silly and I need to know more to construct the proper voicings--please point me in the right direction.

Second example is bar 6--an A whole note in the melody, with an F#m7(b5) for the bar. Great--again, I THINK I want to build a nice F#m7(b5) with that very same A as its 7th.

Am I on the right track or should I just go back to congas? :confused:

08-16-2002, 10:18 AM
Hi Bongo,

I was expecting such a question sooner or later :-) Glad it came up now. Actually this would make a great topic for an article (well, loads of articles). So lemme use this thread as a collection of the the first steps to get going.

1) Listen to singers

You did the right thing by listening to players and their interpretation of the tune. I recommend listening to singers as they have to follow the melody / lyrics. Check out Nat King Cole and his version of Autumn Leaves (If I remember he's using a different key though but that's not the point) - This will make it easier to follow the leadsheet.

2) Get the Lyrics

I think it's always important to know what a tune is actually about. Furthermore, this will help you with memorizing the melody.

3) Key and tune form

First have a look at the key signature and meter. Ok, AL is mostly printed in the key of G (1 sharp) and the meter is 4/4.

Next thing is the song form of the tune, which is A A B C.
The first 3 notes b4 the Am chord in meassure 1 is a pickup (you also should see this pickup in the last meassure of the tune).

Now the first A lasts for 8 bars with a first ending. Then it goes back to meassure 1 through to the second ending (another 8 bars). Then the B part (Bridge) which is 8 bars and the final C part which is 8 bars and goes till the end.

So all in all this is a 32 bars tune (this is standard and quite common)

4) Melody / Chords

Treat melody and chords separatly.
The guitar sounds one octave lower than written so the first thing to do is to transpose the melody up an octave. Then learn to play the melody (sing the lyrics together with it)

Memorize the chord progression (forget about the melody for now). Pick 'full-sounding' chords that have their root on the low E and A string.

Then play through the chords while singing the melody.

Lemme know how you are doing so far? Does this make sense?


08-17-2002, 01:30 AM
Glad to see your response. It read almost like one of the handouts from one of my Berklee clinics.;)

I've often used Johnny Hartman as an example of phrasing a melody. I was reminded of that today while listening (for about the millionth time) to his "You Are Too Beautiful", with Coltrane. The lyric on the bridge ends with "have you been comparing my every kiss with theirs" and the last A section begins "If, on the other hand..." Hartman sings all the way through "hand" in one breath, as one phrase, thus melding the two sections together. Lesser artists would end the bridge with a clunk and start the last A section with too much ado.

Then there's Miles' famous statement... which I'll look up and post later.

Medical maijuana dispenseries map of colorado (http://www.dispensaries.org/)

08-17-2002, 02:13 AM
Gunharth's post reminded me of something I read about Miles Davis. It was the idea of listening to singers:

Ruff, Willie. A Call to Assembly.

At the same time, we were learning from the great jazz artists playing all over New York that season. At the Caf? Bohemia, we listened to Miles Davis's reper-toire and paid attention to the kinds of music that attracted him and the way he made his choices of mate-rial to play and record. He would offer us repertoire suggestions. Enthusiastic about Mitchell's playing and the arrangements he made for our three instruments, Miles especially liked the Mitchell versions of such standards as "You're a Sweetheart,""My Heart Stood Still," and "Yesterdays," which feature quirky and totally unexpected key modulations. One evening at the Bohemia, before the room filled up, Miles stood next to the piano, watching Mitchell's hands as we played. Suddenly I was distracted by a question he asked Mitchell in his gravelly voice:
"Why did you go to that key, Dwike? Damn! I like that."
"From D major to A-flat minor," Mitchell said, "is a very natural shift for this piece."
After our set, Mitchell and I went to the bar. Miles came over and led Mitchell back to the piano. He wanted to see Mitchell modulate again. The Bohemia's Davis fans, much to [the Bohemia's owner] Jimmy Garofo-la's annoyance, were kept waiting while Miles and Mitchell explored key shifts.
Another night at the same club, Miles, Mitchell, and I had a conversation about Miles's preference and acknowledged genius for playing songs with words even though he never had a singer in his band.
"I'm the singer in my band!" he told us. "I always learn the words to a song before I play it. It gives me a feeling of what to do on my trumpet when I'm trying to phrase an idea. I go all over New York just listening to great singers. I even buy a lot of sing-ers' records." Then he looked directly at me. "Now, take your French horn, for example: its sound is very distinctive and voicelike: nobody says that you have to make it sound like a trumpet or a saxophone. ****, you'd sound silly trying to sound like Dizzy, or Col-trane. It's just not that kind of an instrument. If I were in your place-I mean, starting out in jazz on an instrument like that-I'd listen to all the great sing-ers, like Mabel Mercer, Sarah Vaughn, Carmen McRae, and Billie Holiday: those people with that perfect and classy diction. Listen to the words and use that as your guide for shaping lines."
pp. 278f

GLASS PIPES (http://glassgallery.tumblr.com/glass-pipes/)

Bongo Boy
08-17-2002, 03:10 AM
...all I can say right now is that you guys have given me a passion for music that I thought I had 20 years ago..but lost due to living a reality totally devoid of it. I'm not kidding here when I say this. Never before has anything that appears to be such a huge challenge seemed so worthwhile, and exciting.

What a New World. I don't mean to get poetic right now, but I do want to say thanks, so much, for doing what you do, and for doing it in the way you do it.

I thought my ears were open because I enjoyed Mozart, Zappa and the Sex Pistols equally. What a silly fool.

08-17-2002, 04:40 PM
Steve, I really dig your little excerpts :-)

Miles Davis kinda got me into Jazz. He made me understand to feel the music. The "Kind of Blue" album was/is some major input for my ears :-)

Bongo, it's just damn cool to have such active members onboard whith such a lot of constructive questions and answers. Personally I gain a hell lot out of this forum. Somehow it reminds me of Berklee: you meet a lot of guys, exchange thoughts, collect information and select the one that sounds right to you ... quite amazing


08-17-2002, 10:16 PM
Miles - Bitches Brew!

Dizzy Gillespe - 'BE-BOP' (Don Byas Sax Solo!)

Parker - 'A Night In Tunesia'

Pat Methany - 'Turnaround'

Wes 'Moanin'/ 'Yesterdays'

These are the Jazz things I heard that made me want to liten to More and TRY to understand this stuff.

Bongo Boy
08-17-2002, 10:53 PM
Originally posted by Guni
Hi Bongo,

2) Get the Lyrics

Then play through the chords while singing the melody.

Lemme know how you are doing so far? Does this make sense?


I THINK what you say makes sense--I'll have to spend some time working through it. You kinda threw me off with the AABC thing. Looks like you're referring to 4 8-bar patterns, the first two of which are basically the same.

Anyway...I've chosen the chords according to your suggestion, and it will be some time before I can even play a couple of them--I chose the simplest voicings I could--it'll be weeks before I can even play them. I have dumb fingers :)

08-19-2002, 11:21 AM
Originally posted by Bongo Boy
I THINK what you say makes sense--I'll have to spend some time working through it. You kinda threw me off with the AABC thing. Looks like you're referring to 4 8-bar patterns, the first two of which are basically the same.Yep, that's it. Letters like A, B, C etc are used to describe the form of a song. It's one big help when memorizing a tune.

Anyway...I've chosen the chords according to your suggestion, and it will be some time before I can even play a couple of them--I chose the simplest voicings I could--it'll be weeks before I can even play them. I have dumb fingers :) Cool, take your time with it. Just give me a holler if you need anything.



08-19-2002, 11:42 AM
Once again the Cycle 4 comes to the rescue.

Autumn Leaves is a splendid example of (Mostly) diatonic Cycle 4 progression. The cool thing about Cycle 4 is usually one note remains common between each chord. So with some thought you can construct cool chord voicings that maintain common tones and use nice voice leading. Eventually you could throw the Melody note on top of these forms ( if it didn't turn out to already be there, by luck or because you planned it that way)

This song is considered easy because it doesn't have many key changes or borrowed chords. And when it does it uses a closely related key (down a 4th!) It is also a good one to practice improvising over diatonic cycle 4, which is pretty easy. compared to say, rhythm changes, or coltrane changes.

Bongo Boy
08-20-2002, 02:03 AM
When you refer to Cycle 4 progressions, do you mean that the chords in the progression come from the major scales derived from the cycle of 4ths? Or is this totally unrelated to cycle of keys?

08-20-2002, 02:54 AM
Cycle refers to any chord progression whose chords roots move in fourths. When I say Diatonic I mean the Chords move in Fourths but remain within the parent scale. For instance in the key of C major the chord would follow this progression :
C F B dim Em Am Dm G this is a diatonic cycle 4 progression in the key of C major. Non-Diatonic Cycle of 4ths chords would be:
C F Bb Eb Ab Db Gb. ( This THE cycle of 4ths meaning PERFECT 4ths)

Bongo Boy
08-20-2002, 04:58 AM
Okay, great. So this is in G maj, and sure enough I have A, D, G, C, F#, B and E chords.

I'm wondering how you knew this--do you know the tune that well, or did you know that it belongs to some 'class' of tunes that behave this way, or did you just take a quick glance at it?

It kinda baffles me that with all the music in the world, you guys would know so much about this one--especially when it's not of the genre most often discussed here!

08-20-2002, 07:02 AM
Hi Bongo,

I think that we should give ya a bit of time before moving on to analyzing the tune regarding key, solo, etc .... until you can play through comfortly. But it's your choice .... if you want we can dig deeper.

Autumn Leaves is a Jazz Standard and as such a Classic. When you study Jazz it's one of the first tunes you will learn. Also, it's a common tune to be played at (jazz) jam sessions, so one just knows it by heart.


Bongo Boy
08-20-2002, 02:48 PM
I'll take your advice Guni. I just selected the chord voicings last night based on:

a) simplicity--how many smart fingers are needed
b) proximity on the fretboard
c) how they sound together

I tab'ed 'em all up for the first 8 bars and played the file--sounds okay. My lack of familiarity with the song doesn't help--I'm trying to find more examples, especially with vocals. THe first Em sounds 'off'.

I start practice this evening. Thanks very much, everyone, for the encouragement.

I've studied everything I've found re: chords, scales, modes, etc., and have memorized most of this material, except for 1/2 of Guni's Chord Scales III. I'm thinking this song should make sense to me from those perspectives as well, with some study.

08-20-2002, 11:22 PM
He is a way to play the first eight bars.
I tried to transpose it to the key that you said you were learning it in.

08-20-2002, 11:23 PM

Bongo Boy
08-21-2002, 04:09 AM
Damn...thanks guy. THis is the road I was heading down:

08-21-2002, 04:23 AM
I was just trying to outline some nice chord shapes, I guess my key was down a fourth from yours ( I thought you said Em7 was the first chord) The first pattern is open chord forms and the second is close voicing.

Bongo Boy
08-21-2002, 01:50 PM
...and VERY much appreciated--I'll try them both. I may have mistyped--first chord is Am7, but no big deal.

I only posted mine to troll for feedback in case I'm doing something stupid. I'll have to check my tab of the F#m7(b5) chord, too. I just mindlessly played it (as tabbed) last night it sounds awful--more work!!

08-22-2002, 09:12 AM
Hi folks....

Has been a while....

Does anyone have any mp3, midi or whatever version of Autumn Leaves please?

I have the chart but I can't remember what does sound the song.

Thank you.

08-22-2002, 09:20 AM
Hi again,

this is pretty interesting Bongo Boy, check it out, it gives you some tips for Autumn Leaves.


good luck!!

Bongo Boy
08-22-2002, 02:45 PM
Thanks Schnautze--yes, that site is the one I used as the source for the Top 10 Standards, from which I got the idea for Autumn Leaves. There's some good stuff there. I'll try to email you some MP3's I've found of the tune. Standby.

08-23-2002, 07:57 AM
Thanks Bongo,

if you find a version by Joe Pass or someone in that style would be great.

I was actually jamming around that song last night. It's pretty easy!! Once you know the melody and the chord changes it's quite easy to find ideas. Check out the Em natural minor for that arrangement it suits nice.

Some nice stuff to do also in that song is a walking bass line. There's a lesson about walking bass lines in the guitarmain site.

Learn the melody by heart in different positions of the guitar, and at different octaves also. After that using only the notes of the melody you can find ideas just adding chromatic notes for eg. Just jam around....


08-23-2002, 08:30 AM

another great thing to do in Standards is to learn the song with numbers instead of chord names (well both actually..).

In A. Leaves we have Am7-D7-Gmaj7. In the key of G major this is a ii-V-I. If you learn all the songs you play in this way, first, it's quite easy to remember them, 2nd, you can actually transpose the song to any key you wish, and this way of thinking is good because you will notice that the chord changes in this kind of music are very similar. It is actualy more or less the same in all tunes:

AABA (or AABC). In A.Leaves is:

A: ii-V-I-IV-vii and then (using cycle of 5ths) to vi (F#-7b5/B7/E-7)

B: again the cycle of 5ths: vii-III7-vi (one question, this III7 is a secondary dominant yeah?)

In this way is very easy to learn and transpose the song, it also shows you a good overview to apply chord substitutions and tensions.

Hope this helps....

bye bye

Bongo Boy
08-27-2002, 01:03 AM
Originally posted by Bongo Boy
I chose the simplest voicings I could--it'll be weeks before I can even play them

Okay..it wasn't weeks to play the chords--9 days and probably less than 10 hours of practice. Most sound good most of the time, one still sounds bad most of the time and I have one transition that may never happen in tempo. But as an encouragement to other beginners, it's beginning to resemble something somewhat similar to music :)

08-27-2002, 02:15 AM
Proof Old Dogs can learn new tricks!

Hang in there in couple of weeks you get through the tough transition.

08-27-2002, 07:49 AM
Hey Bongo,

I think it's time that we work off the same leadsheet so that we can be of better help.

1st lemme show you 'my' chords for Autumn Leaves

|| Am7 | D7 | Gmaj7 | Cmaj7 |
| F#-7b5 | B7 | Em | :||

| F#-7b5 | B7 | Em | |
| Am7 | D7 | Gmaj7 | |

| F#-7b5 | B7 | Em7 Eb7 | Dm7 Dbm7|
| Cmaj7 | B7 | Em | ||

What have you got?


Bongo Boy
08-27-2002, 01:52 PM
...I've got (from Dr Herb Wong's "The Ultimate Jazz Fakebook":

|| Am7 | D7 | Gmaj7 | Cmaj7 |
| F#m7b5 | B7 | Em | :||

| F#m7b5 | B7 | Em | |
| Am7 | D7 | Gmaj7 |E7b9 |

| F#m7b5 | B7b9 | Em Em/D |C#m7b5 CM7|
| F#m7b5 | B7b9 | Em Am |Em ||

These chords all makes sense based on the comments re: cycle 4, although I just noticed the C#m which I'll have to look at.

09-02-2002, 03:51 PM
Hey BongoBoy,

Sorry for taking so long ....
How's Autumn Leaves coming along?

I gotta say that I can't get used to the chords in your version. They sound pretty odd actually and don't remind me of 'Autumn Leaves'. The chord that throws me off completely is Cm7. The melody in this bar is b and e (major 7th and major third of C). I have no clue how they can write a Cm7 in there. Well, there's always a way to explain some weired reharmonistion :D

Personally, I do recomment that you get used to the last 8 bars as I wrote them. Harmonically, it does make a lot more sense.

In the tab you uploaded: Do you play the melody and the chords together as shown or is that just for viewing purpose?

Regarding chords: they are pretty fine but for the F#m7b5 I do recommend using a fingering like this:


also, you might wanna try this Gmaj7 as the root is in the bass. This brings out more the sound of the chordprogression.



09-02-2002, 04:39 PM
Does anyone have any mp3, midi or whatever version of Autumn Leaves please?

Here's a link to one version:


This was recorded live at one of my Travelin' Light Duo gigs.

The singer stays pretty close to the melody. The clip also demonstrates walking-bass technique.

It almost doesn't make sense to play the tune at this tempo, when you listen to the lyrics. But it's so often been overdone as a shmaltzy torch song, that we decided to have some fun with it. After the head, the soloist scatted and we traded fours. It wasn't perfect, but we had fun.

The chords are someone else's reharmonization, that happened to be in the singers book. Some of the changes are pretty weird. I don't recommend them, but they are interesting.

teen girl Cams (http://www.girlcamfriend.com/webcam/teen-girls/)

Bongo Boy
09-02-2002, 10:00 PM
Originally posted by Guni
I gotta say that I can't get used to the chords in your version. They sound pretty odd actually and don't remind me of 'Autumn Leaves'. The chord that throws me off completely is Cm7.

I'll look more carefully now at your version, and yes, take your recommendations. Instead of singing, my plan was to record the melody, as soon as I think it's right and as soon as I can play it with a modicum of skill. THen, I'd play the chords over that. At least, that's the idea I was noodling around.

As far as what I've been doing--I just play a few of the three-note transition things (please excuse my terminology) and single notes, everything else is done as chords. Thanks for the help--I'm sure I'll need more.

Bongo Boy
09-03-2002, 12:29 AM
Originally posted by Guni
The chord that throws me off completely is Cm7. The melody in this bar is b and e (major 7th and major third of C). I have no clue how they can write a Cm7 in there.

...Oooops...that's a CM7 there--my mistake. I've corrected the original post. Sorry. :('

09-04-2002, 11:58 AM
I've posted a guide tone study on "Autumn Leaves" on my site.

Guide tones can be loosely defined as any notes that guide your ear throught the chords. Often, they are 3rd and 7th. So I wrote two exercises. The first is just the 3rd and 7th, the second fills in around those with scale tones.

This kind of exercise is very helpful for getting through a chord progression. Besides, it's good reading practice!

Glass Pipe Pictures (http://glasspipes.net/)

Bongo Boy
09-04-2002, 02:09 PM
I've taken a look at it and am a bit puzzled--no surprise there. Can you say a few words about how you'd use the guide tone line in particular--what's unclear is exactly what you do with it.

09-06-2002, 12:38 PM
On how to use guide tones.

In the exercise on my site, I use both the third and the seventh of each chord, then connect them with a few notes. To get started improvising with guide tone, here are some ideas.

Be able to play through the tune playing either the thrid or the seventh of the chord in each measure. Then try to play just one more note in each measure. Then two more notes, three more notes, etc.

The purpose of the guide tones is to give you target notes to aim at in each measure. By concentrating on these, and just staying in the right scale, you should be able to come up with a simple improvised "melody" that sounds right. Now, making it sound good is a little more work.

A general word on exercises. As you know, no one or two or x number of exercises will make you a player. Once you've mastered an exercise, it's important to come up with other exercises like it. Maybe the same exercise on another tune. Or changing the order of the notes. Or maybe just improvising the new rhythms with the same notes. Think of exercises as "feeding the subconscious." When you get enough information in your head, and under your fingers, it will begin to come out spontaneously.

Laguna Bay Condos Pattaya (http://pattayaluxurycondos.com)

Bongo Boy
09-06-2002, 04:23 PM
That helps tremendously--the concept is very cool (and totally new to me, of course). Incremental from a chord perspective, but complete from a song/structure perspective--I LIKE it!!

As far as that 'spontaneous' portion of the program--let me just say I'm not holding my breath 'till THAT happens :D

09-07-2002, 04:28 PM
Originally posted by Bongo Boy
Joe Pass...

Go on, what about Joe Pass...?

Zoloft Sickness (http://www.classactionsettlements.org/lawsuit/zoloft/)

Bongo Boy
09-07-2002, 11:41 PM
Guni's leadsheet for this tune (in G) includes an F#7(b9), my leadsheet has an F#m7(b9). After learning a little about modes, imagine my satisfaction at the F#m7(b9), and how disturbed I am to find the F#7(b9). Why would anyone select the latter in G major? Just because it sounds nice? Any ideas?

09-08-2002, 08:31 PM
Originally posted by Bongo Boy
...hmmm, weird. I was trying once again to post an .mp3 of his rendition of Autumn Leaves. The upload didn't work, but it didn't appear as though the post worked, either, when I did it. I see it showed up afterall. I'll delete it after a little bit, and then this one as well. Hey Bongo,

There's an upload limit of 1MB in the forums. - If you try to upload an entire song the upload will fail.

Furthermore, we're not allowed to offer copyrighted music in our forums. Sorry for this but I hope you do understand.


09-08-2002, 08:34 PM
Originally posted by Bongo Boy
Guni's leadsheet for this tune (in G) includes an F#7(b9), my leadsheet has an F#m7(b9). After learning a little about modes, imagine my satisfaction at the F#m7(b9), and how disturbed I am to find the F#7(b9). Why would anyone select the latter in G major? Just because it sounds nice? Any ideas? Hi Bongo,

Do you mean the F#-7b5 chord in my version? This is actually a F#m7b5. the '-' stands for minor.


Bongo Boy
09-09-2002, 01:54 AM
Copyright makes sense, as does the size limit--you'd never be able to keep up with storage requirements if everyone uploaded MP3s here. My apologies.

As for the notation--no, I didn't know that meant minor; I actually thought it was just an arbitrary separator, like (b9), added in for aesthetics. Thanks.

As for an update--I'm trying to record a decent rendition of the Autumn Leaves melody. As I mentioned, this is in lieu of singing the melody, so that I have something to play the chords over.

Interestingly, I find playing the melody at 60 bpm more challenging than expected. It's painfully slow when playing a whole note tied to a quarter or half, but still all I can manage for accuracy in a string of quarter notes. So, I'll be working on this for a while until the melody sounds okay--and then will start in on the chords again. Don't like this song too much anymore.

This whole thing turned out to be FAR more work than I ever imagined--I'm embarrassed to say. While concentrating on just getting the correct notes, I forget about evenly executed picking. So, my first recording has one quarter note barely audible, the next blasting out your ears. Just astounding.

Did I mention I think I hate the guitar? :)

Bongo Boy
10-06-2002, 12:31 AM
Thought I'd provide the monthly update.

I spent several hours today trying to get a complete recording of the Autumn Leaves melody, error-free. Couldn't do it.

Now, by 'error-free', I mean no missed notes, every note very, very close to being on the right count, and no hugely noticeable differences in string attack/volume, no fret buzzes, no string noises of any kind, and so on.

Other than the inability to do this after about 50 attempts or more, everything's coming along fine :D. I'm currently at 110 bpm and may have to slow down, although that actually hasn't seemed to help much when I've tried it.

Bongo Boy
10-07-2002, 07:25 AM
Originally posted by Guni
There's an upload limit of 1MB in the forums

Looks like the limit is actually just over 102K.

10-07-2002, 10:13 AM
mmm, so you are tyring to upload a sound file? I double checked and the upload size is 1MB.

Is it an mp3?

If you want you can send it to me by email so I can have a look at what's going on.



Bongo Boy
10-07-2002, 04:41 PM
Yeah sure well NOW it works...I see the file size limit now says 1048576. Must have been a fluke...or someone is messing with my tiny brain.

Okay--this is my recording of the Autumn Leaves melody. It's about 900K so you'll have to a) be very curious indeed or b) have a high-speed connection. Don't you think it sounds just like Wes? :D

10-07-2002, 10:37 PM
Your B string is flat!
Some of the notes could be a little louder.
Other than that it sounds pretty good.
Are you playing this in open position?
You could get a warmer tone by moving up the neck a bit.

Now you just need to play it with a background and throw in a little chord on a couple of notes, then blow a solo.

Your doing DAMN good for someone who has only been playing for a few months! Your timing seems pretty good too.

Bongo Boy
10-07-2002, 10:59 PM
Thanks James. I tune often but it's not a habit and sometimes I let it go for several hours--I checked--the B was flat. I'm impressed.

Yes, open position. I've just written it out an octave higher, but am having trouble with some fingerings where I have awkward transitions between notes.

Timing is due to a rhythm track that you may not be able to hear in the MP3--although the 1/4 and 1/2 rests give me a bit of a challenge.

My plan was to play the chords over this melody--so to speak. I'm still having a very tough time selecting voicings though--ones that sound good in MIDI playback AND that I can actually articulate on the fingerboard. This seems like it's going to be my biggest challenge of all.

The quiet notes are unintended--that's where I almost didn't get in position in time and forgot about the right hand. This is so funny--I listen to this recording and wonder "what the heck is this guy using for a pick, anyway, a rug hook?"

Thanks again for the feedback--it gives me some things to think about.

NP--Don't Fear the Reaper :), Blue Oyster Cult

10-07-2002, 11:05 PM
Don't transpose it up an octave just move it up to about the 5th or 7th position keeping the same notes, this will warm it up a bit plus you will move to lower strings.

BOC Don't fear the Reaper
Buck Dharma plays some nice guitar on this one!
I saw him live a couple of times, once in the late 70's and once in 93 he played a steinberger (headless and bodyless) he really impressed me, this guy can really play melodically.

Bongo Boy
10-08-2002, 07:58 PM
Originally posted by szulc
Now you just need to play it with a background and throw in a little chord on a couple of notes, then blow a solo.

What do you mean by "a background"? Do you mean like bass and/or drums?

Any solo I could do would most assuredly "blow" :D

10-08-2002, 09:59 PM
What do you mean by "a background"? Do you mean like bass and/or drums? You got it like "band in a box" software
Any solo I could do would most assuredly "blow"
This is not necessarily so, just stay within your abilities on any solo you do. Play slow and with feeling, play around the melody, syncopate, accent play with the time.

Bongo Boy
10-12-2002, 04:25 AM
There are two real challenges for me with how I've set it up. I have to just try some stuff and see what I think makes the most sense--both for my ability to get into position when needed, and for my ability to clearly execute the note.

One of the biggest challenges is in bar 7 of the line below. For that tied B I'm using finger 1 at this point, but ooops, next note is Bb. Sure looks easy in TAB, but I've found it to be tough to do. Stretching the index down a fret wouldn't be too intimidating if that finger wasn't doing anything at the time.

Here's the section I mentioned above, just FYI.

10-12-2002, 06:30 AM
looks to my like you're going to have to shift your hand position. the question is just how much. :D

if you want to maintain the same basic hand position, i'd consider this:
* slide the index finger from fret 4 to 3 to hit the Bb. you have to do it quick if you want to maintain the full note duration, and you have to lift up just a hair before you slide so that you don't hear the slide.
* then you could hit the B with the middle finger or slide back with the index.
* if you hit the B with the middle, then you can either slide the middle to the C or hit the C with the ring finger.
* if you hit the C with the ring, you'll have to either stretch the pinky to the A on string 4 or take this opportunity to shift your hand back to the original position so that it won't be a stretch.

it would probably be awkward at first, but you could practice it at slow tempo and build it up.

if you're willing to move closer to the nut (which i think may have been where you originally started), you could shift your whole hand so that you hit that A in bar 8 on the second fret of string 3 instead of the seventh fret of string 4. you'd have to figure out a place where you feel comfortable doing that (maybe hit the Bb with the middle finger). the rest of what's visible is playable from here, but it might mean either shifting the tab that follows, or doing another quick-change with the hand position at the next opportunity.

Bongo Boy
10-12-2002, 04:39 PM
That's an idea. What I've been doing most of the time is actually going up to 8 on the lower string (for the Bb)--I have short fingers so let my index slide up a little over the fret it's on.

Bongo Boy
10-14-2002, 11:13 PM
And here it is with a few mods:

1. It's at around position 5 or so, per James' recommendation
2. It's got a a little 'bounce' to it now,
3. It's been boosted up to 126 bpm
4. I'm playing it with a mitten on my left hand :D

10-15-2002, 12:35 AM
Very Nice !

I like the rhythm to this!
(You are a conga player right?)
Much more confidence and swing.


Now just add some walking bass and some piano chords.

Nice tone!

How many weeks has it been since you posted the other one?

Sounds like a different player (in tune also).

Bongo Boy
10-15-2002, 03:11 AM
Thanks, you're too kind :)

It's been exactly one week--wow, Iive surprised myself. I think I have about 10 hours of solid practice in on the new version--it's hard to say since I do a lot of 20 min practice sessions and I don't keep track.

I thought the 'swing' thing was a little humorous here--the canned rhythm track a little out of place too--but all I really wanted was a beat I could follow and some feel. At least it's not as sterile as it was a few weeks ago, so that's something!

And now, on to the chords.

10-15-2002, 03:39 AM
definitely nice work! sounds almost like you did it on purpose. ;)

Bongo Boy
10-15-2002, 03:48 AM
Oh, a wise guy, eh? :D

Remind me to come lookin' for you next time I'm in Puyallup!!

10-15-2002, 05:13 AM
hahaha...please do! if you time it right (and trust me, it would be tricky) you can see my fledgeling classic rock cover band perform in nearby Federal Way, Washington. :cool:

seriously though, it's definitely coming along nicely. i would have just plain said so, but after James's lovely comments i felt there was a smart-***-sized hole in this thread waiting to be filled. ;)

now's a good time to mention that when i started reading through some of the threads that pre-dated my membership here, and i saw you post this thread about trying to further your musicianship via jazz standards, i thought you were crazy! i'm very impressed with the the effort and thought you've put into it. having that kind of motivation and following through on it can go a long way towards helping you put all this crazy stuff in a part of your brain where you can use to play whatever comes to mind! i wish you the best of luck, and i can tell everyone here is rooting for you. :D


Bongo Boy
10-15-2002, 05:16 AM
Thanks..but I'm still bringin' a garlic aroma that'll level Tacoma!

i'm very impressed with the the effort and thought you've put into it.

...and I'm not stopping until I've taken all of these sappy standards (and their goofy lyrics) and turned them into some kind of hardcore, industrial speed-grunge tunes, and have ruined them for everyone!!! :D

Best wishes for you and your band, BTW.

10-15-2002, 10:28 AM
Originally posted by Bongo Boy
...and I'm not stopping until I've taken all of these sappy standards (and their goofy lyrics) and turned them into some kind of hardcore, industrial speed-grunge tunes, and have ruined them for everyone!!! :DWhat other purpose is there for Standards :D ???

Seriously, your recording is really good - well done. I can hear how you started to 'play' with the melody - to try to interpret it, give it some syncopations, etc ... very nice. You've come quite some way. Just wondering, is this a result of listening to vocal versions of the tune?

If my soundcard wouldn't be dead I'd love to add some chords to your recording .......

As you mention the lyrics: I am very bad with memorizing song titles. Sometimes I need the first few notes of the melody, which I then can hook up with the lyrics. Together with this all of the tune comes back - melody, chords etc .... so, I guess this is another way of solfege :-)


Bongo Boy
10-15-2002, 04:07 PM
Originally posted by Guni
What other purpose is there for Standards :D ???

You've come quite some way. Just wondering, is this a result of listening to vocal versions of the tune?

Yes. Your initial recommendations to get the lyrics and listen to the vocals was the greatest single influence in getting beyond the mechanics of the lead sheet--at least to the extent that I did that. It also helped to get several renditions (easy to do for this tune). I even found a Mel Torme recording where he did it at probably 140 bpm.

It's quite odd--I was able to clearly hear Diana Krall and Doris Day renditions in my head while I played, and that immediately allowed me to move forward--almost like playing music :D

But after a few practice sessions where I worked on that kind of inner listening, I started using the rhythm track and just kinda "moving" a little on my throne. Granted this doesn't exactly "got that swing", but what life it does have comes more from a sort of "dancing" if you will--as well as hearing some of the lyrics.

In any case, I'm going to start adding in some chords now--using those that Guni has already recommended and others where I have to. I'm going to really need serious help with this before I get into it very far. I hope you guys are ready for some questions!

Bongo Boy
10-16-2002, 04:43 AM
:D ...I didn't get too far.

Q1. In using Steve's guide tone line (see excerpt below) for this song, the last bar has a Dm7 and a Db7. Both of these work in 2d inversion with the notes he gives, IF the F's are F natural I think, but not F#. Have I missed something that would permit F#'s here?

When I wrote out all of the chords for this miserable song as four-part chords and used the 2d inversion for half of them, I was able to match up to Steve's guide tone notes, match the topmost note of each chord (and inversion) to the song melody, and have a very nice voiceleading situation.

Q2. Will the chords that resulted from this exercise provide okay chords for adding to my melody, and

Q3. Can I use the bottomost note of each of these chords (or inversions) as the basis for my bass line for the tune?

Bongo Boy
10-16-2002, 06:41 AM
...and for Q2 and Q3 above, the chords I'm referring to are explicitly shown below for the entire song (bars 1-8 are repeated one time). Yellow marks areas where I have 'concerns'.

Steve's guide tone line provided the secret code for what looks to be a very nice voiceleading transition between most if not all of these chords. I've probably made it too simple and screwed something up. :)

10-16-2002, 07:07 AM
Originally posted by Bongo Boy
Q1. In using Steve's guide tone line (see excerpt below) for this song, the last bar has a Dm7 and a Db7. Both of these work in 2d inversion with the notes he gives, IF the F's are F natural I think, but not F#. Have I missed something that would permit F#'s here?
No F# in these chords. The f is an essential chord tone (3rd) of both chords.

Q2. Will the chords that resulted from this exercise provide okay chords for adding to my melody
Can I use the bottomost note of each of these chords (or inversions) as the basis for my bass line for the tune?

Yes they will but you somehow will need to record a bassline with playing all of the roots. In my view you are jumping a bit ahead here. Here's how I would go about it:

1) melody (you did that)

2) use full sounding chords that have the root of the chords in the bass (so you really can hear the sound of the chordprogression when playing on your own). Add those to you recording.

3) Split up the tune into melody, chords (like your inversions - these fill up the middle range) and bass. So your recording will have 3 tracks.


10-16-2002, 07:25 AM
Originally posted by Bongo Boy
...and for Q2 and Q3 above, the chords I'm referring to are explicitly shown below for the entire song (bars 1-8 are repeated one time). Yellow marks areas where I have 'concerns'.

Steve's guide tone line provided the secret code for what looks to be a very nice voiceleading transition between most if not all of these chords. I've probably made it too simple and screwed something up. :) Db7: db f ab cb (second inversion ab cb db f)

now, as this is the theory you need to make a few changes to the chords in order to make 'em guitar chords. some of the voicings above are not very practical and hard to play.

This is where the Drop 2 and Drop 3 techniques come in (I explain that in my article about 7th chords - sorry, this article is still in the old pdf format http://www.ibreathemusic.com/forums/showthread.php?threadid=11 )

Here's what I suggest:

Say, you wanna place all chords and their roots either on the A or E string.

A string: example Db7
second inversion: ab cb db f
Drop 2: db ab cb f (so we drop the secong voice from the top down by an octave).

Now we have the root of the chord in the bass and the fingering with the root on the A string looks like this:


E string example Am7
In order to perform a Drop 3 so that the root is in the bass we need the 3rd inversion of Am7.

Am7: a c e g
3rd inversion: g a c e
Drop 3: a g c e

Again, root in the bass. Fingering for this Am7 is:

I hope that helps.


Bongo Boy
10-16-2002, 06:50 PM
Yes, that helps...sorry you had to tell me twice :).

The ideas for designing the chords and learning to play them as a continuous progression through the piece makes sense, and I think it's a good idea to learn to crisply play these chords before I do anything in particular with them. But...

I don't think I ever understood the original objective--I think it's to play this piece of music as though I were performing with, say, a 3-piece ensemble. So, recording a rhythm and bass track makes sense.

But, recording the chords and melody separately is only an interim step, right? The only reason I recorded the melody was to have something to play the chords over, to learn the chords. I think I should expect the 3-track recording suggested above to be be a bit goofy musically, but useful as a learning tool.

The ultimate goal is to play that guitar part for the fictitious ensemble mentioned above--learning to combine pieces of melody, the chords and someday a solo to complete the scene.

Everything I've just written is actually a sort of question: is my thinking reasonable here or am I missing the Big Picture.

Guni says:
In my view you are jumping a bit ahead here.

Can you elaborate just a little bit on this? Did you mean only that the 7th chords I laid our weren't 'baked' yet and needed the tweaking you showed me, or was there something else? Your comments (and everyone's) are extremely appreciated.

10-16-2002, 08:10 PM

i'll give you my (non-professional) perspective of what you're trying to do and one way to go about it. i think you've got some reasonable ideas, but i'll try to add some additional comments on the Big Picture.

you're of attacking a broad spectrum of skills all at once by learning to play melody and rhythm and learn music theory ideas all together, and compounding the complexity of it all by doing it all via jazz. that's not how i'd do it, but that's not to say it can't work if you approach it right. if it doesn't kill you, it'll make you stronger. :D

you're goal of being able to play this song as if you were part of a 3-piece ensemble is great, but being able to play that guitar part is a big undertaking that should be divided into bite-sized chunks. it sounds like maybe you already have some multi-track recording software, so i'd take what Guni said a step further and add a percussion track. you'd have four tracks:

1) percussion (this can be a canned rhythm like the one you used to post the clip the other day -- the beat just has to be rock solid)

2) bass (record a basic line to hit the root notes of the chords, like Guni described)

3) lead guitar (like the melody clips you've posted)

4) rhythm guitar (strum those chords)

good software will let you replace any tracks at will, or mute them selectively when you play back. if you record basic versions of all four tracks, then you can mute any one of them to work on that. you should also be able to mute or clip out sections of each track. that might help on the rhythm guitar track if you're having trouble with the chord changes...you could take as long as you want to get clean sounds for all chords and then clip out sections to make them all line up with the beat.

if your software will let you edit like that, then you could probably get all of those tracks in one day...it might sound like three half-assed guitarists and a drum machine ;), but it would be a complete sound.

then you can mute one aspect you want to work on (say rhythm guitar if you want to get better at the middle range inversions Guni mentioned, or rhythm guitar and bass if you want to work on the full chord sounds for a solo arrangement) and play along with the remaining tracks. the other stuff you've recorded will help guide you. maybe you get a little groove going on the rhythm part, and then you could record that and replace the old version. then you could re-record the melody part with the new rhythm track.

using "baby steps" like that, you would steadily improve the overall sound as you improve the individual pieces. hopefully, you'd also develop a feel for how you could mix and match the chord and melody bits if you ultimately want to arrange the song for one guitar (either with or without bass accompaniment). again, when you get to this point, you can mute out the appropriate tracks (rhythm and lead, and possibly bass) and play over what's left.

that's my long-winded attempt at "some additional comments." ;)


p.s. my apologies if i misconstrued your questions and any of this seems like rehashing the obvious. :D

10-16-2002, 08:21 PM
forgot to mention...it didn't seem to me like the F vs. F# thing was really resolved. as Guni mentioned, the Dm7 and Db7 both have F notes (as the minor third and major third, respectively) and not an F#. why, then, does the "guide tone" tab have F# notes under those two chords? if it went F-C-Cb-F, it would hit the b3 and b7 of D (for the Dm7), and then the b7 and 3 of Db (for the Db7), and that's pretty much the idea of the guide tones, right?

with the two apparent F# notes, you get a major 3rd over the Dm7 and a perfect fourth over the Db7, which seems out of context. should he just assume they were supposed to be F notes? i guess that's implied in Guni's response to that, but i'm curious and just wanted to bring it up in case the crux of the question was missed.

10-16-2002, 09:39 PM
Originally posted by nateman
should he just assume they were supposed to be F notes?Oh, sorry, I didn't get that one. I just had a look and it's a mistake. These should be two f notes. I'll let Steve know ...

nateman, you did a great job with outlining all the steps and issues involved. There's nothing else I can think of at the moment ....


10-16-2002, 11:21 PM
Ok, Steve just updated his guide tone chart and fixed the 'f' issue.


Bongo Boy
10-17-2002, 03:22 AM
Thanks again Nathan and Guni. You didn't misconstrue anything, and I think all of your comments are helpful-especially concerning trying to do too much at one time. This has gotten quite ugly--there's a number of things that would probably be clearer to me if I simply listened to more music.

Much of what I don't know may be obvious to all of you, but I think there are a number of very basic things I don't know that [might not] be so obvious. What a rhythm guitar and a bass do, for example, and how they do it. I've never paid much attention.

But one thing I've been getting a lot of are comments such as yours, Nathan, regarding jazz. My brother-in-law, a classical guitar player, more than suggested this is a hard way to go--and others have also. I don't understand why--what's the idea?

10-17-2002, 05:57 AM
Originally posted by Bongo Boy
What a rhythm guitar and a bass do, for example, and how they do it.
as you learn more songs, you'll start to be able to peel it apart, but i'll try and lay it out a little bit, particularly how the terms relate to what you're doing with this song. i'm speaking mostly from informal experience, so anyone should feel free to correct me or add to this.

i'll start with the easiest one to describe, which is actually the one you didn't mention: lead guitar. the lead guitar is generally the one laying down the distinct melody that's sort of up front. that would be like the melody lines that you've recorded and posted. lead guitar may also put down a distinctive riff or add fills between vocal sections. lead guitar lines by themselves can sound a little thin, and rhythm guitar and bass guitar are what's going on in the background that fills out that sound.

bass guitar usage can vary. what Guni suggested for you is to start with a bassline that is just the root notes of the chords (on the 5th and 6th guitar strings is probably fine if you don't actually have a bass guitar), and that's about as basic as you can get. what this would do for you is let you play inversions without them sounding like inversions. the bassline will put the root note of the chord square the in the bass, which is how you're used to hearing stuff. now you can play other inversions over it and still be grounded by that root note in the bassline. there are some pop and rock songs (many ZZtop songs, for example) where that's all the bassline does: just hammer on the root notes.

the opposite can be true as well. there are some songs i really wanted to learn to play, and then i found out that the guitar part is actually just one or two chords and the "interesting" part is actually the bassline. in a lot of songs, the bassline will do kind of a "guide tone" thing, usually hitting the root note at the beginning of each measure, with little melody bits and occassional "riffs" thrown in, or distinctive patterns linking one chord to the next (which is good for rhythm guitarists like myself who tend to doze off when they spend too much time on one chord ;) ).

rhythm guitar is traditionally a whole lotta strummin' in the background. in some songs, you might not even notice it until you really listen for it, but if it wasn't there the song would sound oh-so-wrong. it may also simply hit chords to accent parts of the song, or to get the listeners ear ready for the melody stuff that's coming up. it may also include fills or distinctive riffs. without knowing too much about how "autumn leaves" usually sounds, my guess is that you'd start with sort of an accent: the rhythm guitar track would probably hit the chords once at each chord change and ring out for a while. if it sounds like there's more to it than that behind the lead guitar, you could build it up as you get familiar with the chord changes.

what i've described above is sort of a "rule of thumb" view of the whole thing, but rules (like thumbs) are made to be broken. some of it depends on the skill of those involved. in my band, i am far and away the least experienced musician in the band, so the easiest role for me to fill is rhythm guitar: i strum a lot! i also play some signature riffs (play that funky music, your mama don't dance), but i never solo. our lead guitarist plays all the guitar solos, but he also strums or hits accent chords as dictated by whatever song we're playing. if our skills were equal, then "rhythm" and "lead" designations would be fluid, dictated mostly by the particular song (or even part of a song) that we happened to be playing at that moment.

our bass player is quite talented as well, so the basslines he plays tend to be melodic rather than just hammering on the root notes of whatever chord i'm strumming at the time.

Originally posted by Bongo Boy
My brother-in-law, a classical guitar player, more than suggested this is a hard way to go--and others have also. I don't understand why--what's the idea?
in simple terms, jazz is wiggedy-wack.

you can spend a lot of time learning guitar-based pop and rock songs without ever worrying about b5 chords or maj7 chords or b9 chords, or chord substitutions, or inversions. you can play many, many songs with your basic open-chord shapes. having a capo and/or learning basic barre chords will open it up even further. basic music theory will help you figure out likely chords one you get the first one, and will give you some ideas on what chords should/could by minor or dominant 7 (or both), but you don't even need that much knowledge because you can often find the info you need on the net.

jazz turns all that on it's head. lots of extended chords, alternate voicings, chord substitutions, partial chords, and stuff that was just done because someone tried it and it sounded cool in that context. lots of "closed" voicings which means that you can't rely on your good old open-string chords and stuff is (or can be) played all over the neck. challenging stuff.

now, i'm not recommending sticking your head in the sand...but that's what i did for about 5 years. i learned some songs and got good enough to fool non-musician friends of mine into thinking i was some amazing player despite my insistance that i really wasn't. my music theory, however, was very rudimentary...and all intellectual, not applied. my general technique was poor as well...picking new stuff up took me a while.

then i joined a band with some guys at work and had to learn electric guitar and had to keep up with some guys who are very good musicians. that in and of itself has helped drive some of the basic music theory stuff into my brain, but now i'm going back and "hitting the books" to try and learn music rather than just songs. i'm also trying to rework some bad habits i developed and work on my precision with both hands, but the experience i've gained is helping me assimilate the music theory stuff a lot better than i did the first few times i tried.

starting with jazz standards is something i wouldn't do, even now, because for me the payoff isn't worth the effort and i don't have time for it anyway. if you're enjoying it, and particularly if you want to learn more jazz songs in the future, then stick with it, but keep in mind that there are going to be a lot more challenges ahead!

in particular, i'd be worried if all you are doing is working on "autumn leaves." there are a lot of guitar skills that can only be honed with lots of playing, and struggling through the arrangement of a complicated tune will place inherent limits on how much actual playing you do. interleaving that with time spent learning and playing simpler tunes and scales will help you build strength and control in your fingers that will in turn pay off in "autumn leaves."

if you persevere in this pursuit, however, you'll be armed with more music theory than a lot of fools that are being paid to make records, and you can use that to add flavor to anything you play!

Originally posted by Bongo Boy
"Ah, now we see the violence inherent in the system!" Dennis, to Arthur.
many years ago, this clip was played by my computer every time Windows started up. :D

Bongo Boy
10-17-2002, 06:49 AM
Originally posted by nateman
in particular, i'd be worried if all you are doing is working on "autumn leaves."

Yes, that would be a little scary--I started by just doing C and G scales all over the fretboard, and I still do that. Tonight I spent an embarassing amount of time with "Happy Birthday", "Smoke on the Water" (just that fun bass part), the National Anthem, "Behind Blue Eyes", and doing that wacky picking thing we hear with Spanish guitar--don't know what you call it. I also spend about an hour with the first 3 chords for Autumn Leaves--trying to make them sound good and moving between them.

Without a plan, I got a little overwhelmed with all the exercises I was finding (for all sorts of things), and thought I'd better follow thru on an actual piece of music. While doing Autumn Leaves I'm concentrating as much on what I think is 'good form' as I am on the music itself.

What I'd like is a 'regimen' for each practice session--maybe a program that covers 3 or 4 aspects of playing--to ensure I repeat things enough to improve them without adding new stuff sporadically.

Anyway, thanks for the insight and the mass of helpful info--I'll be studying it over the next few days. You're hugely patient.

10-17-2002, 03:36 PM
Originally posted by Bongo Boy
Yes, that would be a little scaryglad to hear we're on the same page. :D

Without a plan, I got a little overwhelmed with all the exercises I was finding (for all sorts of things)that's one of the problems with learning guitar on-line...there is a huge amount of stuff out there that's not organized into any kind of lesson plan. sure, a lot of sites say "these lessons are for beginners" and "these lessons are for intermediate players," but there can be huge variations in the lessons in each of those groups. in particular, there is often a lot of variation in what the lesson-writers assume you already know.

What I'd like is a 'regimen' for each practice session--maybe a program that covers 3 or 4 aspects of playing--to ensure I repeat things enough to improve them without adding new stuff sporadically.that's definitely something that i think is useful to do...and that i'm still struggling with myself.

You're hugely patient.it helped that i was home sick the last couple of days. ;)

Bongo Boy
10-19-2002, 10:14 PM
I'm working on a bass part for this tune, and per all of your recommendations I've started with the root/dropped root note for each chord.

Now, most of the tune has one chord per bar, and that's just not working for me when it comes to the bass part. I've begun to 'improvise' a little (I use the term very loosely) with some success--mostly be adding in an occasional melody note lowered an octave.

If I wanted to attempt a traditional, 4/4 beat bass (like I might hear for a contrabass part), can I start by simply playing the four notes of each 4-part chord in every measure (ascending, descending, mixed, etc)? Does that seem like a goofy idea?

I can't find too much info on what a bass does for this kind of music.

10-20-2002, 01:34 PM
Bass parts in jazz usually use root and fifth as 'target' notes.
Maybe try something like writing out the target notes on 2 and 4 and using approach notes on 1 and 3. In practice I have used 135b5 one each chord of a cycle 4 but this is breaking the 2 and 4 target note idea, sounds cool though. Maybe somthing like #1135 (which is the same idea as before in a cycle 4, just shifted)but keeps the root and 5th on 2 and 4. Come to think of it I think I use this as an 1/8 note bass run, in this case the root and fifth fall on the + of 1 and 2.

Bongo Boy
12-13-2002, 10:20 PM
After receiving dozens of emails from frantic members desperate to know how I'm progressing :D, I thought I mention that I've been getting very comfortable with the melody in various places on the keyboard, have begun improvising (goofing off), and have moved to C maj versus G.

I've redone the chords using the standard jazz progression discussed elsewhere here. It's extremely difficult for me--even with the straightforward chords--it will be a while before I can make even the first 4 sound nice--buzzing, ringing, dead strings, etc. They sound nice when I do nail 'em. Here's the first 8 bars as AL currently stands, with your complimentary Easy Read tablature:

12-16-2002, 04:57 PM
Hi Bongo,

Do you play this progression together with the bassline? I'm just asking as it is beneficial to really hear / play the bass notes in the root.


12-16-2002, 07:27 PM
Originally posted by Guni

Do you play this progression together with the bassline? I'm just asking as it is beneficial to really hear / play the bass notes in the root.

Anyway it's a way to learn to play chords well :)

Bongo Boy
12-16-2002, 10:38 PM
Guni I know you've recommended this before to me in this thread. As of right now, you have to understand there's really nothing to 'play', per se--I can't even play most of these chords at all--I've been a week now just trying to get the first 5, at most.

So, there IS no tempo because at 50 bpm it would take me 3-4 bars just to get into position for the next chord. It's getting better, but it's tough--especially those where #4 is supposed to reach up to string 5 or 6.

Plus, I'm playing several of the first chords as bar chords--it makes it easy in some ways, very tiring in others. Does that make sense, or am I missing an important point.

12-16-2002, 11:39 PM
Yes, I do understand - maybe I'm a bit over the top here. You are on the right track.

The reason why I point this out is that in my view this has more to do with eartraining. Say, I learn a new Standard. what I need to learn is the melody and bassline (in a way so that I can sing them). Chords are interchangeable, can be reharmonized etc... important is the overall 'structure' of the tune, which is clearly identified by the bassline.


Bongo Boy
12-17-2002, 06:55 AM
This is a vicious circle of agony. Here's what's going on.

1. I pick an 'easy' standard to learn.

2. My fake book provides the melody and the chord names.

3. I learn to play the melody, and try several different placements on the fretboard, finding one that easy to play and allows me to improvise very simple modifications of the melody (such as slides, trills, some staccato, some vibrato, etc.). That location I settle into puts the melody in C.

4. I can now transpose the original fakebook chords from G to C, but instead, I choose to take a standard II-V-I jazz progression from a book. Still, I have to choose the voicings.

5. I choose voicings that look easier to play and that are somewhere on the fretboard near where my melody is. I have no reason to expect they will sound good (or bad) with my melody. They represent the 'standard' II-V-I in C, and my tune is in C--I hope for the best. I feel I need to actually learn a chord progression before I die, and until I play the melody over this progression, I won't know how it sounds. I embark on learning the progression. THIS IS WHERE I'M AT NOW.

6. My source also provides the walking bass line that "goes with" this progression. It's an 'D-E-F-A' 'G-A-G-B' 'C-G-C-E' 'F-E-D-C' that I think I can make sense out of. But, my earlier attempt to do voice-leading on the chords, invert as needed, pick the bass note, etc., was going nowhere. I had no hope of getting a bass line out of that process (not on the guitar, anyway).

So---the bottom line is, having to design the song before I can play it is the essence of the problem here. What would have helped is 1) the melody, 2) the bass line and 3) the SPECIFIC chords. In other words, "D7" doesn't do me any good--I'm too inexperienced to know how to choose from among the 870 "D7' chords that can be played on guitar!

Even with a pre-programmed chord progression, I STILL can't design the bassline from that. I can determine the notes, maybe, but implementation on the instrument is another issue--the first time I need a 'D' that's below string 6 I'm screwed. Going up an octave just to get a 'D' may not make for a bass line that sounds right. Right? So now I have to adjust all the other notes so that my 'bass' line stays roughly in the same register to avoid sounding goofy, and those notes may not correspond to the chords I've already selected.

12-17-2002, 11:57 AM
I would seriously consider learning abridged versions of 7th chords and above. Start by tossing the Root or 5th so your 7th chords are Root or Fifth 3rd 7th. This is going to limit the possibilities and make the fingerings easier.

Bongo Boy
12-17-2002, 05:38 PM
I will take that advice. Will I still be able to tell people I'm learning 'jazz' guitar, though? :)

Hmmm, I probably shouldn't tell anyone I'm learning guitar at all, come to think of it--at least not until I'm sure I actually AM. :(

12-17-2002, 06:31 PM
Hi Bongo,

I think you got me wrong. I'm not saying that you should play a walking bass. When I say bassline I just mean the root of the chords in the bass (on E or A string). For most of the chords you do this anyway ....

But you can also follow sculz advice, although I think in the long run it will be easier to first learn the full chord - then throw out what you don't need (don't wanna hear / is not essential....)

And hell yeah: 'That's Jazz' :D


Bongo Boy
12-17-2002, 07:25 PM
Originally posted by Guni
I just mean the root of the chords in the bass (on E or A string).Yes, I did mis-interpret. Okay...THAT's totally do-able. I thought you meant a separate bass arrangement or part (walking or not).

Thanks again guys for all the help...this is really dragging on and I appreciate your patience with me. Next MP3 you guys hear, you'll be saying, "Is that Bongo or Joe Pass on that guitar?" :D

12-17-2002, 10:44 PM
I wasn't implying that you don't learn the notes of the chords. I was just implying that voicing all the chord tones is unnecessary.
Playing 3 note sevenths is MUCH easier than 4 note sevenths. Right now I don't think Bongo Boy's problem is intellectual (Knowing what notes to play) but physical (actually playing the notes and changing chords quickly enough to play in time).

Bongo Boy
12-17-2002, 11:08 PM
I think we're all on the same page.

Here's something I've never asked about this tune but have meant to many times. Given that it's an AABC structure, if that matters, what might be an typical approach to the song if, say, a small ensemble were going to play it in a typical lounge setting?

Assume for the moment that only the guitar does a solo--how much of the antire AABC melody might be played (if any) before the guitar cuts in with a solo, and then after the solo, where would you expect the song to pick back up?

I know there's an infinite number of answers--but I'm wondering what might be typical at the 'lounge' end of the skills spectrum?

12-18-2002, 10:16 PM
I may be interpreting your question incorrectly, so please forgive me for what I am about to write!;)

In my experience, for a casual audience I would play the main melody (head) through 1x, then improv until the next section. At the beginning of the next section, I'd play the head and then improv until the next section... See a pattern? Of course, I'd probably solo until they kicked me out!

For smoother transitions, start to bring your solo ideas back to the head before starting the B section. This brings continuity to the overall song. It also helps band members know when you're going to change.:p

So basically I'd improv over all parts of the song. I would not create a special solo section.

Bongo Boy
01-06-2003, 08:48 AM
Autumn Leaves enthusiasts worldwide, having grown tired of Jim Hall and Joe Pass renditions of their favorite standard, have once again badgered me into providing the Real Thing. :D

So as not to disappoint, here the latest--missing & dissonant notes and all...

Bongo Boy
01-06-2003, 08:00 PM
I've just listened to this myself for the first time with better volume and fewer distractions. It's embarassing to admit, but while I can tell there's something seriously wrong, I honestly don't know what it is. The overall feel to me is that the guitar is way flat...but it's not, it's tuned dead nuts.

It's as though the harmonization is either completely wrong--like the wrong progression for this key, or at least several important chords are wrong. I found one or two where I felt that, due to the melody note (G) I needed to do a Dsus7 substitution (I think that's what I did), but my ear is just not good enough to know how to diagnose this thing.

I actually like it a low enough volume :)

Bongo Boy
01-07-2003, 04:53 AM
Aha. The guitar melody is off by 1 or 2 bars (it varies) relative to everything else, throughout the 1 min exercise. That's one major problem. Another has to do with melody that is potentially (if not definitely) discordant with the underlying progression (even when synch'ed up properly). I've started a new thread in the Theory forum to ask about that:


Bongo Boy
01-10-2003, 07:48 AM
Okay...this will probably be my last irritating post on this topic--God help us all. Here's the 60 sec version with the modified chords discussed in the Theory forum.

01-10-2003, 10:32 PM
Bongo Boy,

that was worth trying! I downloaded your previous version and this last one sounds really good. I wasn't really deep into the discussion cos I'm not familiar with the chord pattern for this song and never tried to play it. So I was just keeping track of the performance evolution :) In all your versions I felt some logic, and though you would be making changes to the song all your jazzy melody-progression clashes sounded interesting in all cases. Don't just waste the earlier versions. They really deserve looking back at after some while.

Thanks for sharing your ideas and efforts!


Bongo Boy
01-10-2003, 11:17 PM
Originally posted by Zatz
I was just keeping track of the performance evolution :)Thanks Zatz. That's great. The main purpose of having started this thread initially was just to find out what to do. Then I thought, how often do beginners get to see what other beginners go through to make progress? I thought it would be interesting to others who may be lurking and wondering what it takes to get started. Thanks for the encouragement--much appreciated.

Bongo Boy
01-06-2004, 04:22 AM
I thought of Autumn Leaves when I read a recent article in Guitar Player wherein the interviewee (Liberty Ellman) talked about his approach to All the Things You Are. I think this will be useful in my evolutionary development of AL. Here goes.

The progression for All the Things You Are begins with a:

vi ii V I IV cycle 4 in Ab ma, followed by what I think may be a turnaround in C ma (A mi) ii V I. So here's what it looks like:

Fmi7 - Bbmi7 - Eb7 - Abma7 - Db ma7, followed by

Dmi7 - G7 - Cma7

Step One. Write out the progression itself. Taking the first, Ab ma progression, the tone stacks look like this (for 7ths):

7 Eb Ab Db G C
5 C F B Eb Ab
3 Ab Db G C F
R F Bb Eb Ab Db
The columns above represent the 7th chords; the bold-labeled rows indicate the root, 3rd, 5th and 7ths of the chords.

Step Two. The author wants simple chords...not your 'get every friggin note in there' chords. So, he selects the root, 3rd and 7th for each chord (bolded below):
7 Eb Ab Db G C
5 C F B Eb Ab
3 Ab Db G C F
R F Bb Eb Ab Db
Step Three. Then, keeping the roots in place, do a 'semi-inversion' to enable voice-leading...where each successive chord includes a note that appears in the previous chord (taking out the 5ths):
Eb Db - Db C - C
Ab - Ab G - G F
F Bb Eb Ab Db
My ONLY point here is that this is a cool way for a beginner to get a simple approach to a good-sounding (I hope) chord progression without resorting to full-blown 7th chords that are hard for the fingers to articulate (at least for me).

To further simplify, according to the article, the guitarist leaves out the roots, lets the bass play them, and plays two-note chords. While your dyed-in-the-wool jazzbo will puke at this, it's an approach that's appealing to someone like me who can't play a chord to save his life because of short, fat stupid fingers.

The same thing is done with the C ma 'turnaround' (I THINK this is a turnaround, I really don't know) of Dmi7 - G7 - Cma7:

7 C F B
5 A D G
3 F B E
This stack is again simplified to only the R, 3 and 7ths:

7 C F B
3 F B E
Then the V chord (in the middle) is voiced so that each subsequent chord shares a note (and a fingering) with its predecessor:

C B - B
F - F E
Now you have the complete progression with relatively easy transitions between relatively easy chords. For beginners I think this should be useful. We'll see. (Ref: Guitar Player, Feb 2004, p90)

NOTE: I don't pretend to understand chord progressions from the musical standpoint, nor do I understand what a turnaround really is. I've read the definition, but it means nothing to me, musically. If someone would care to explain the purpose of the C ma ii-V-I progression above, that follows the Ab ma vi-ii-V-I-IV, please do so...but be nice about it.

Bongo Boy
01-06-2004, 05:26 AM
Originally posted by szulc
Once again the Cycle 4 comes to the rescue.

Autumn Leaves is a splendid example of (Mostly) diatonic Cycle 4 progression. The cool thing about Cycle 4 is usually one note remains common between each chord. So with some thought you can construct cool chord voicings that maintain common tones and use nice voice leading. :D :D It may be two years later, but heh, YOU try using a concrete block as a sponge, eh?

01-06-2004, 05:40 AM
It is all about perspective. You weren't ready for that information before, but now you are, and you can apply it. That's a great accomplishment if you ask me!:D

Bongo Boy
01-06-2004, 05:58 AM
Originally posted by szulc
I would seriously consider learning abridged versions of 7th chords and above. Start by tossing the Root or 5th so your 7th chords are Root or Fifth 3rd 7th. This is going to limit the possibilities and make the fingerings easier.

And thanks for the kind words, Bizarro.

Bongo Boy
01-28-2004, 05:37 AM
I still have not designed a playable chord progression for this song. My most recent posts in this thread outline an approach I thought would really work for me--simpler chords to voice, still abiding by Guni's suggestions regarding the root tones, and making sense to me from a 'construction' perspective. Yet I ran into some very basic problems.

I'm working with the Autumn Leaves progression submitted by Guni earlier in this thread (see above), repeated here for your extreme convenience. The [ ] notation represents a bar. SO the
following is 24 bars centered around the melody we have all come to know and love.

[ Ami7 ][ D7 ][ Gma7 ][ Cma7 ]
[ F#mi7b5 ][ B7 ][ Emi ][ Emi ]

[ F#mi7b5 ][ B7 ][ Emi ][ Emi ]
[ Ami7 ][ D7 ][ Gma7 ][ Gma7 ]

[ F#mi7b5 ][ B7 ][Emi7 Eb7][Dmi7 Dbmi7]
[ Cma7 ][ B7 ][ Emi ][ Emi ]

As in the example I most recently posted in this thread, I've tried to make life 'easy' by stripping the 5ths from these chords, I've also emulated the idea of tweaking the chords to provide voice leading, as I understand it. This gives the following tone stacks
for the first 8 bars:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
G F#-F# E -E D -D D
C -C B -B A -A G -G
A D G C F# B E E

I'm trying to have the following:

1) One note is shared between any two adjacent chords (see hyphens in the little table above, and Szulc's post earlier in this thread).

2) The root of each chord remains the lowest note for each chord, and

3) I want to play all roots on strings 6 or 5 (because Gunharth stressed 'hearing' the progression).

I have many questions--

1. Is there a name for these chords now, as arranged? They are not simple inversions to me.

2. Is voice-leading formally defined, and if so, how?

3. Voice-leading does not REQUIRE the sharing of notes between adjacent chords, but suggests smooth transitions between chords for 'influential' tones--such as semitone transitions, Correct?

4. 'Shared notes between adjacent chords' for the purpose of a voice-leading exercise DOES require that the notes be the same notes--not just same note NAMES, correct? That is, the 'C' in bar 1 and the 'C' in bar 2 (above) CANNOT be an octave apart, correct?

5. And here's the paisto resisto: the root notes in the chords above, in order to create the feeling of the intended progression, should represent, in order, the ii, V, I (and so on) on a given selected scale? This is a hard question to express: what I mean is this:

In the first 4 bars above, the root notes, according to music theory, are the ii, V, I and iv degrees of G maj.If I want to voice these chords so as to provide the BEGINNER (me) with the FEEL of a ii-V-I progression, must these notes actually be the ii, V, I and iv degrees WITHIN THE SAME OCTAVE?

I just don't see a good way to make the 'C' of chords 1 and 2, the F# of chords 2 and 3 (and so on) the very same note, while at the same time making the root notes progress in accordance with the scale degrees indicated by cycle WITHIN THE SAME OCTAVE, AND select easily voiced chords.

What am I missing?

John Tuohy
01-28-2004, 04:06 PM
Hey Bongo Boy, I just wanted to point something out that I haven't seen mentioned in the thread yet.

The key that I've heard most versions of Autumn Leaves (especially the Bill Evans version with the hits during the melody) is in the Key of Bb. Every Jam session I've ever been to, they've called the song in Bb. I know however, the real book has it written in the key of G, hence why many people learn it in G first! (me included). Just thought I'd point that out.

John Tuohy

Bongo Boy
01-30-2004, 05:45 AM
Thanks John. Is there any reason for that?

01-30-2004, 05:59 AM
Bongo, sometimes I think you "think" too much about all this stuff! :)

I think you should string together a couple ways to play it (not necessarily the "nicest" or most perfect voice-leading way, just any way you can struggle through it) and then get it under your fingers for a couple of weeks.

More playing, less thinking! It's much more fun that way! :eek:

Remember Nateman? He's really coming along on guitar. He even has a solo in two tunes and does some hard intros in other songs. :D

Bongo Boy
01-30-2004, 06:29 AM
I knew someone would have that response, because I can see how it seems that way. But here's the thread of logic:

1. I need to find chords that I can play, and to do that I want to select very simple chords that don't tax my fingers much.
2. To do that, I found an approach that makes sense to me for designing three-note chords, instead of traditional jazz things that are just too much for me.
3. I ALSO want to 'hear' the chord progression, and to do that Guni suggested playing those roots notes on the lower strings.

So, that's all I'm really trying to do. I can't find any sheet music that specifies the chords to play (specific voicings, that is), and certainly not simple ones. So, I found this idea in a magazine, it makes sense, but I only understand it up to a certain point. That point is just short of actually voicing the chord on guitar.

The 'voice-leading' part is not a requirement I have from a theory perspective, it's more of an outcome of wanting to get the right chords, simple chords, and the least effort in transitioning between them (hence the goal of sharing a note between successive chords).

Now, if I could find 'easy chords' for Autumn Leaves, all written out (completely specified) with the rank beginner in mind, hell, I'd learn to play them...period. I wouldn't spend another minute thinking about their design. I have not found anything like that yet--you know, like "The Big Book of Power Chord Jazz". :)

Does all that make sense?
I think you should string together a couple ways to play it I'm just trying to find one, and I can't.

Doug McMullen
01-31-2004, 04:39 AM
Hey Bongo:

Geez, here I thought the "concept, playing a song" thread was, well, conceptual... when it turns out all you really want is a nice beginner arrangement of autumn leaves!

I enjoy arranging (not that I'm any good at it) ... so let me know if this works for you, or if it's too simple, or too hard. Here's the A section of Autumn Leaves arranged for easy to finger chord shapes and keeping the rhythm quite straightforward.

I can fancy things up for you if you like, and there's also some room left for simplifying if you want a plainer version. If this is working for you I'll go ahead and finish the arrangement. Let me know.

As you can see the emphasis is on the melody, and secondarily on creating some harmony for the melody. There's no attempt here at creating a rhythm groove or a bassline. I've done something a bit unusual by putting the melody in the lowest voice of the chord shape much of the time. For a variety of reasons it's usually better to have the melody in the highest voice of the chords. But I happen to like Autumn leaves with the melody lower down.

I didn't stick religiously to the three note chord idea, I just tried to keep the whole piece as finger friendly as possible while still sounding like jazz.


P.S. The musically fastidious will notice a little problem with the power tab -- what is labelled measure 1 in this tab is actually pick up notes... measure one should be the measure with chord symbol Cm7.... this will all be tidied up in the final version.

01-31-2004, 05:35 AM
I was hoping you'd pop in Doug, I always enjoy your posts. I'm on a mac so I can't view powertabs but maybe Bongo will have to record his rendition of it and post it for us "Windows-impaired"* users.


* Note: Depends on your definition of impaired. :P

01-31-2004, 08:19 AM
It is funny to re-read this thread and the references to posts of a year or more ago.
The bass usually follows the root and 5th and the 3 note chords should be 1 3 7 or 5 3 7. It is not necessary to keep them within one octave nor is it necessary to strictly follow the rules for the bass line or chord forms.
The idea of abridging the chord forms is to make you more comfortable with the fingerings. The voice leading concept is really compatible with the minimum movement principal. The idea here is move your fingers as little as possible to voice the chords you want. Cycle IV is good for this because by its nature you have common or neighbor tones between chords, usually in the active (or guide tones 3 and 7).

These types of 3 note sevenths chords are usually referred to as "shell voicings".

Some of the rules can be broken gracefully. Don't take these suggestions as hard and fast rules, if it sounds good it is good, whether it breaks the rules or not.

Bongo Boy
01-31-2004, 11:41 PM
I'm miscommunicating and probably testing everyone's good patience. The problems I've had during this thread have changed a little bit...and ultimately yes, I'll want a nice simple arrangement for the song. The original problem, two years ago, was, "How do you arrange harmony and melody on a guitar to play a song?"

But later on, I just wanted a playable chord progression for the tune. Something I could record on one track and then use to record the melody over--not trying to do both harmony and melody at the same time. I tried a number of approaches, none of which worked for me--I could never find workable voicings.

Now, I recently found an article that described one approach to the problem of 'simple' chords, which includes the ideas James just summarized: shell voicings and voice-leading. Those ideas, for my purposes, have little to do with musicality themselves, they are aimed more at making just the chord progression executable for me.

That brings me to the point of selecting the following 8 chords for the first 8 bars of this ii-V-I progression for Autumn Leaves:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
G F#-F# E -E D -D D
C -C B -B A -A G -G
A D G C F# B E E

The problem I ran into in actually voicing these chords was to comply with the desire to keep the root notes on strings 5 and 6, while not inverting anything from how it is written above. already rearranged them.] THAT was my question--how can it be done. I can't do it, so instead I've created the following chords (shown below).

When I asked earlier about keeping the root notes within an octave I was really asking if the root notes below actually comply with a 'legal' ii-V-I progression; what I mean by that is this: if I play these chords, will it sound like the chord progression is supposed to sound, or will it sound like it's goofed-up? Is there another way that YOU would choose to voice the same notes in the table above?

02-01-2004, 12:08 AM
Try this.

The roots have been lowered to fit nicely within the octave of the 5th and 6th string.

Technically these have not been inverted from your example, the voicing has just been 'opened' up.

02-01-2004, 12:22 AM
With all four notes (including 5th).
You could omit the root in some cases and make the progression easier to play without losing information, since the root and 5th are just about equally weighted.

I would play the F# in the third measure on the 7th fret of the B string but since you said you have short fingers, I placed it on the E string.

Bongo Boy
02-01-2004, 01:08 AM
That's great. I didn't see that option (your first one). That is what I was after to comply with Guni's recommendations re: the root notes. My lack of familiarity with the fretboard and ledger lines below the staff kept me from seeing this option. Thanks for the help--see you all in a few months, I hope. :)

The first example is very,very difficult for me--the second example appears close to impossible.

Doug McMullen
02-01-2004, 04:36 AM

The first 8 bars of Autumn leaves aren't a II V I progression!

Autumn Leaves is a nice tune for beginning jazzers because it takes you through all the diatonic chords of a key.

(John Tuohy said that it gets called in Bb, actually the jam session folks are saying Bb major because that's the key signature, but if they were being accurate they'd call it in "G minor" -- Bbmajor and G minor have the same key signature. Autumn Leaves is in minor.)

If we think major... the Autumn Leaves progression over the first eight bars is:
II V I IV VII III VIx2 <---- this is the A section

Now in reality, Autumn Leaves is in minor. (Notice we resolve to the VI chord... The VI is the relative minor tonic: the I in minor)...

So, lets label things correctly in minor, The Autumn Leaves progression in the A section is:


So it's not a II V I, it's a bit more interesting... but rather than discuss what is interesting about this progression -- how about some practical, fingers on the fretboard, chords.

Here's a very basic shell voiced way of comping thru Autumn Leaves

(Since you like Autumn Leaves in E minor I'll put my chords in E minor).

Here, all the chords are in root position with the bass note on the 6th or 5th string... the guide tones (the 7s and 3s) alternate so as to step smoothly down the fretboard.

Please forgive me my mild moment of whimsy with the Em7 Em6 chords at the end.

Is this more what you were looking for?


Bongo Boy
02-01-2004, 05:30 AM
Thanks again--that gives me a lot to think about. I'm looking at it in a key sig of G (or Emi), with Am7, D7 & Gma7 as the first three chords--that seemed like a no-brainer ii-V-I. It did leave a lot of unexplained 'phenomena' later on, tho. While everyone here said (basically) it's in a minor key, I really ignored the significance of that when it came to deciding what the progression was. Back to the books--on that topic at least.

Thanks also for this latest ptb--I'll look at it right now, guitar in hand. I think my dumb little fingers can learn that, and I should be able to extend the idea to the B and C sections--I hope.

Only an hour ago, in a moment of unprecedented despair, I was very seriously considering selling all my guitar crap unless I could find a way to enjoy guitar entirely without chords. You just bought me a little more time!

Is this more what you were looking for? Yes. Whimsy and all.

Bongo Boy
02-01-2004, 06:26 AM
This may seem a bit corny, but I felt the need to post a special thanks here to everyone who has taken the time to help me out here in my time of desperate need. Especially DanF, szulc and Doug who must be just shaking their heads about now--wondering perhaps if I've been practicing guitar or just polishing it.

I have an extremely difficult time playing the simplest of chords--getting my fingertips to come down onto the strings more perpendicular to the fretboard so as not to damp out strings that I'm trying to play is a constant challenge. At the same time, chords that span 5 or six strings and require the muting of 2 or 3 of them is also a skill I think I may never master.

Thanks again for your help here.

02-01-2004, 01:45 PM
Bleh, I'll be dipped. I deleted my post because I figured I was totally wrong and then I discover that I was just doing the major-minor thing, suckage.

I should stop reading this in the early morning. Hurting my average.


Doug McMullen
02-01-2004, 07:10 PM
I think my dumb little fingers can learn that, and I should be able to extend the idea to the B and C sections--I hope.

Only an hour ago, in a moment of unprecedented despair, I was very seriously considering selling all my guitar crap unless I could find a way to enjoy guitar entirely without chords. You just bought me a little more time!

Hey Bongo, I think just about everyone who plays guitar (or any instrument) gets to that awful "unprecedented despair" place eventually, often more than once. Recognize it for what it is... an indication that something needs to change.

The desire to quit is an opportunity to make needed change. It's your psyche saying: do something different, or else!

So, think about what needs to change. Maybe attitude, maybe musical focus... there's no end to what can be changed...

But, speaking from personal experience here, despair can be the final motivator that has you tackle something you "know" you need to do, but have been putting off (usually out of fear, conscious or unconsciously) ...

In my case it was a friend turning to me *(in the midst of yet another horrid solo) and saying "if I hear you play the pentatonic minor scale one more time I'm going to hit you" -- only he didn't say it funny or nice... he basically said, you suck god you suck how can you stand to play the same suckass licks over and over on every song can't you hear how bad you suck!"

In your case I think it's those fingers of yours. They are an obstacle to your enjoyment of guitar. I think you will find guitar more enjoyable if you spend some time really training your fingers. It's kind of amazing what proper training can do.

Your fingers aren't dumb, they're just ignorant. They need some learning.

I'm speaking from experience. I've learned the things I didn't want to learn and I have trained what were my own seemingly idiotic fingers. It was life changing to succeed at something I'd failed at for so long... and to realize I'd only failed because I hadn't really given the problem my best... I'd been _mentally_ lazy, thinking improvement would come all by itself with practice and time.

When improvement comes thru just practice and time, that is _talent_. Improvement thru play, without discipline... that is talent... It's wonderful stuff, while it lasts.

When one lacks talent, as I do, or has reached the limit of one's talent... one can continue to acquire skill thru discipline. Sounds nasty, (is nasty at times) but it is enormously satisfying, liberating even, to discover that talent really isn't necessary if one applies intelligent focused discipline to a given problem.

Bongo, there's a book called "the 10 minute guitar workout" or perhaps "the 12 minute guitar workout" -- It has some very good excercises in it, progressive drills, for training the hands... I think you would benefit A LOT from that book.

I've been threatening to foist my own version of finger excercises for guitar on the world for a couple years now... still haven't done it... so don't hold your breath for my book. But my advice -- don't give up on your fingers until you have tried really teaching your fingers to behave.

(I'm going to write something soon (gulp, yeah, sure) about what good hands look like... what the goal is... if you know what you are actually shooting for it isn't that hard to understand what kind of training is beneficial)

The 10 minute guitar drill is the closest thing I've seen to my methods (which so far, have worked for me) ... I extrapolated my own methods in part from some things I read by jamey andreas... so his "principals of correct practice" book might be worth a look... I can't say, I haven't read it.

But don't give up -- change! Change something, maybe just your guitar strings... but take that despair as an opportunity to take a new angle on the problem... the problem is, as I see it,

"Guitar -- how to derive maximum enjoyment from it over the period of my remaining lifetime."

If you aren't trying to make a living from music you have the luxury of studying guitar for no better reason (and there is no better reason) than to have fun... the slow hard satisfying fun of music. (vs. the fast easy unsatisfying fun of crack cocaine, video games, porn, and .... damn, though, that stuff is sorta fun ;-).

So really take a moment and think... how can I enjoy this. Maybe no chords is the answer... maybe giving a month or two to 10 or 15 minutes a day of extremely boring finger excercises will be the answer. It was for me.


Bongo Boy
02-02-2004, 03:15 PM
Thanks Doug. For myself at least, I know what you say is true--not just because it's been your own experience, but because I know for a fact what I've done during practice, and what I haven't. I've looked at my uncontrollable pinky, for example, yet not made the decision to do the lessons I know exist, or to spend the next x number of practice sessions working on the needed training. So...it's one thing to know you have a problem, quite another to do something about it.

That is some friend you have there--it's great during those occassional times when we're being weak to get a kick in the ***. :)

Bongo Boy
02-03-2004, 01:28 AM
Is this the one, by David Mead? If so, it also comes with a CD, which is cool.

Doug McMullen
02-03-2004, 03:57 AM
Yep, that's the book...

IMHO it's got the best beginner advice going for guitar. The teacher really has a clue about teaching, about music, and about guitar.

The 10 minute drills are _very_ structured. The whole book is honest to god dead serious about how to use just ten minutes to get in a really productive session of guitar practice. I find the level of structure required for that frightening (I'm a pretty unstructured individual personally) ... so I'm not advocating actually following that book to the letter (although, hell I think if you've got the pesonality to do it, it would work). But... all the drills in the book are good, and the dexterity drills are excellent. Do just the dexterity drills and I think you'll see very beneficial results.


PS. Let us know how it goes. It if I didn't think the book was worth it I wouldn't reccommend it. But instruction books are iffy things... one man's gold is another's garbage.

Bongo Boy
10-16-2004, 09:59 PM
Well, I've been doing the first 3 or 4 lessons now since I bought the book. It's going okay, and I think it's very useful. I don't believe my pinky will ever stay anywhere near the fretboard when it's not in use, but I guess I should just be happy I HAVE a pinky. :)