Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Weekend

My weekend was good I got some new video games and put posters of chord diagrams, the grand staff notes, the different guitar modes, the circle of fifths, and Jimi Hendrix on my wall.

I've begun to work out a tab for the Thousand Foot Krutch song, Rawkfist.  I did a jam session with Rick and Jamie this evening and it whent very well.  I enjoy playing music with them; they are good people.

I also wrote down the piano songs I plan to work on in a notebook.  I'm going to try to get in the habbit of playing written music more often.  This should help improve my note reading ability as well as give me ideas for my improvisation and original compositions.


Guitar Fretboard

Print One Of These Out To Remember Your Notes

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


I asked my friend, Mark Anderson, bassist and singer of Psychodelix, a few music related questions

Here's a couple videos of him

Why did you pick up the bass?
I love music and wanted to create my own and bass was a rockin instrument and not too hard to start playing.

How did your bass style / skills develop?

PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE its really the only way. I took a couple lessons from Mr. Vork, I had a book I read through and learned stuff, a lil youtube, and a lot of expiramentation and listening to music. The most helpful thing I used to do was go into my room at night in the winter, turn the lights off and just play for long stetches.

Tips for other bassists:

Stick with it, no one starts out as a master, its sounds lame and cliche but practice a lot and work hard and it'll come together, dont be afraid to fail a bunch at first. Close your eyes and learn your notes too.

What bassist most influences / inspires you?

Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers is my fave, he's incredible, I dont play a lot of slap but I look way up to him. Same thing with Mark Lee. Influences I like Skillet's John Cooper, him being a frontman/bassist, his mannerisms and stage presence are awesome. Sting's gotta be mentioned, Duff MacKeagan, Tim Haines of Stryper, and Joel Bruyere, he plays for TFK, my favorite band and his style is similar to mine. I finger pick and pluck 90% of the time.

How would you describe your songwriting style?

Honest and emotional. I write about stuff I've gone through and things that make good songs.

What advice would you give to songwriters?

Write about your experiences, dont try to be someone else. I find I usually write best when I'm really angry, sad, or happy, theres a connection there. Also write a ton, the first stuff usually wont be that good but it develops and improves over time.

he also added:

Rock on ya'll      

Donald: how would you answer those questions (as geetar/keys)?

So here it is...

Why do you play you're instrument?
why keys? it was kind of a fluke really. I got a toy keyboard from alco and that's what got me started.

why guitar? one of dad's past girl-friends gave me a blue guitar. I started playing it about half a year after getting it.  I would do a lot of hammering but I used a piece of glass to do it.  ( I don't recomend doing this.  It's just one of the things I did.  It left scratches.) Getting an electric guitar later inspired me a lot.

How did your style / skills develop?
PIANO:  piano lessons were influential. I started imitating classical music. I was jamming my own stuff since the beginning, and also practiced scales. Later on I tried to bring percussion / drumming influences into my playing. (example some of the more chaotic stuff and the dissorderly part of Second Spider, some Paynesville teens might be familiar)

GUITAR: Yngvue Malmsteen was semi-influential. I imitate him a little bit some times. I try to use drone tones with guitar a little bit (playing one string all zero's while the other one moves up in down) The effect is reminicent of the Zither, an old folk instrument. Convinient fingerings are always nice. I would jam a lot.
The guitarist of the B-52's ( played a guitar with the middle two strings removed and a bizzare tunning ) inspired me to play with weird tunnings and inspired the creation of the grunge guitar.  Sunny Landreth inspired me to play around with the guitar slide. (though I'm not super skilled with it as of yet.)

Tips for other piano players and guitarists:
PIANO: I used to have some hard candy when I practiced piano. I guess it was a little incentive to practice or somethin' like that.   It would probably be helpfull for parents trying to get your kid to practice.
GUITAR:  Having a good guitar teacher helps.

BOTH: learning what notes are where is beneficial. 

4. Guitar: Adrien Belew is my favorite guitarist.

Composer: Mike Oldfield is my favorite composer (he play's bass, guitar, piano and more)

Keyboards: Steve Bays of HHH (but his keyboarding style was more flashy in the old days. now he's more of a vocalist / songwriter)  The keyboarder of Wolf Parade. 

songwriting (lyrics) style:
 punk-ish grung-ish alternative. 

Advice for lyric writing:
Think about how another band would write it (I overheard that one from Dan, my guitar teacher)
Read other band's lyrics to see how they do it.  And of course listen to the music. 
I like to make lyrics rhythmic and catchy.  The Kills are very good at this lyrical style.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Indian Scale And More

This is something for you musicians to play around with.  It's called the Indian Scale.  It goes like this:

C  D flat  E  F  G  A flat B  C

Regarding key signatures:

No sharps or flats:  key of C

One sharp: key of G
Two sharps: key of D
Tree sharps: key of A
Four sharps: key of E
Five sharps: key of B
Six sharps: key of C#

One flat: key of F
Two flats: key of Bb
Three flats: key of Eb
Four flats: key of Ab
Five flats: key of Gb
Six flats: key of Cb

The first secular songs to be written down were those of the troubadours, who were aristocratic poet-musicians living in France in the twefth and thirteenth centuries.  Their songs were all written in the "natural" scales.  These scales had no sharps or flats (no black keys) 

C to C: Ionian
D to D: dorian mode (very popular)
E to E: Phrygian
F to F: Lydian
G to G: Mixolydian
A to A: Aeolian
B to B: Locrian

I thought sharing this might give you guys some cool new musical ideas.  And the key signature thing should come in handy.

information from:
The Wonderful World of MUSIC by Benjamin Britain and Imogen Holst


This is an interactive chord and scale finder (it's pretty impressive):


check out this site.  It is moy bueno!  Here you can get chorded songs, tabs, blank chord diagram paper, and more!

Hints From Doctor Grinch

Hey guys.  I've decided to make my stage name Doctor Grinch. 

Now on to business.

A friend of mine complained that my guitar solos go on and on and don't seem to have any sort of ending.

Here's what I did: I wrote a whole bunch of ways to start and finnish a guitar solo.  It gave me lots of new ideas I never had before!

So hint number one:  prepare ways of starting and finnishing a guitar solo (you can usually improvize what's in between)

hint number two: having trouble making eye contact with the audience?  Then force yourself to play your instrument with your eyes closed.  It will make you better at playing more by feel and not by sight.

hint number three.  Recycle good ideas from past performances and compositions.  I will be doing this with the Psychodelix song Tempest in which I have a large role as a SYNTH MASTER!!

hint four.  I've said it before.  Practice your scales.

hint five.  With guitars hammer-ons and harmonics are cool.

hint six when playing piano don't neglect the sharps and flats (black keys) 
accidentals are very fun to throw in when playing.

hint seven pentatonic scale

x ---------5--7---------------------------------
x--- 5--8---------------------------------------

hint eight

be awesome.

Life and Music

Working at Good Will is going well.  I've started a sort of band with Rick Brix of the Aspergers support group (St. Cloud).  The band is called Woof Puppies.  We have seven songs in our songlist so far:

1. Come As You Are
2. All Along the Watchtower
3. Lake of Fire
4. Johnny B. Goode
5. Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door
6. Incense and Peppermints
7. Sonshine of Your Love

Psychodelix (a Paynesville based band that I'm in) is progressing but there's much more work to do.

I've called Bo Diddley's of St. Cloud.  I may get the opportunity to perform some of my piano material there.  That would be great as it has been a while since I've performed.

I just called Alison Janson (of Paynesville MN) and asked about doing another back to school bash.  She suggested I try working with the St. Cloud Food Shelf for some sort of event.  She also said that we might do something for the end of the school year (an end of school bash)

I will be playing an original song called Ultra Life at the Paynesville Community Talent Show.