Missing NAMM? Me too

Well, Winter NAMM 2010 is well under way. Are missing it? Are you wondering what NAMM is?  NAMM is one of largest, if not the largest, music product trade shows in the world.  Every year, hundreds of music vendors gather to display and demo their new gear.  There is a never-ending supply of NAMM music news.

Find your new dream instrument, amp or effect and post it in the comments section.

Praise Him with 10 strings … err 6 strings

Psalm 92

A Psalm. A Song for the Sabbath day.

1 It is good to give thanks to the LORD,
And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High;
2 To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning,
And Your faithfulness every night,
3 On an instrument of ten strings,
On the lute,
And on the harp,
With harmonious sound.
4 For You, LORD, have made me glad through Your work;
I will triumph in the works of Your hands.

Praise is the business of the sabbath.
It is a privilege that we are admitted to praise the Lord, and hope to be accepted in the morning, and every night; not only on sabbath days, but every day; not only in public, but in private, and in our families…
View the entire commentary

About this commentary:
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Bible is available in the Public Domain.

Are you taking advantage of your privilege to Worship the King of kings today?

Scaling to Major Heights

Why does music have to be so difficult? Can’t I just play by ear? Absolutely, some of the best players in the world play strictly by ear. Conversely, some of the best players can also tell you exact keys and scales on which their songs are built.

Song Key
The key of a song provides a foundation for which notes and chords sound pleasing to the ear. In western music, almost all songs follow a set of rules (go away jazz music … you rule breaker). These rules lay out a relationship of tones.  While there are no “wrong” tone-relationships, there are relationships that sound pleasing to the ear.  To simplify things, we’ll use the key of C.  The key of C contains no sharps or flats.

C Major Scale
Above, we can see 2 things:  the notes in the C Major scale,   and the relationship between the notes in the scale (W = Whole Step and H = Half Step).  For piano and keyboard players, the difference between whole and half steps is readily apparent; if there is a black key in between white keys then it is a whole step.  With 2 exceptions, B & C and E & F do not contain any black keys between them.  Those are half steps.  On a guitar, by going up or down 1 fret is a half step.

The C Major scales looks like this in tablature:

    C D E F G A B C     OR    C D E F G  A  B  C

For the guitar, the W-W-H-W-W-W-H step pattern of the major scale is also easy to see.  This pattern of whole and half steps defines the Major Scale.  Each step in the scale also correlates to a number.

The first note in the scale is the Root or Tonic. When someone wants to know what key a song is in, they are asking for the 1st note in the scale. So, C is our song key. Then our melody or guitar solo will likely be based on the C Major Scale (meaning the notes of C-D-E-F-G-A-B) are the “valid” notes for a song.

That’s great, but what if I want to play a song in G?  If you know the Major Scale pattern of W-W-H-W-W-W-H, then you can figure it out by starting on G:

  W - W - H - W - W - W - H
G - A - B - C - D - E - F# - G
1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7  - 8
1 Root/Tonic 2 3 4 5 6 7
C D E F G A B no sharps
D E F# G A B C# 2 sharps
E F# G# A B C# D# 4 sharps
F G A Bb C D E 1 flat
G A B C D E F# 1 sharp
A B C# D E F# G# 3 sharps
B C# D# E F# G# A# 5 sharps

Phil Wickham – Divine Romance

Today’s entry is a hodge-podge of guitar styles, technique, and best of all free music!  Today’s topic is fingerpicking.

So, what is fingerpicking?  It is exactly what it sounds like:  individually picking the strings using your fingers (no pick).  Classical guitar is almost always played using fingerpicking.  But why not just use a pick?  For some patterns you could, but you can also do things with your fingers, which are simply not possible when using a pick; like playing the A-string and B-string at the same time without playing the D and G-string in between.

for example, here is a common picking pattern you could do fingerstyle or with a pick:

G-------0-----0---------0-----0------	I=index finger
D-----2---------2-----2---------2----	M=middle finger
A---------3---------------3----------	R=ring finger
E------------------------------------	T=Thumb
    R I M T R M I   R I M T R M I

But if we add in the bass note (C) with the C on the B-string it becomes impossible to play with a pick:

    R I M T R M I   R I M T R M I
    T               T

The first fingerpicking song I learned was “Dust In The Wind” by Kansas.  After being introduced to fingerpicking through that song, I discovered other songs that used a very similar picking pattern.  I found that Michael Card does a lot of finger-style picking. I learned his song, “The Nazarene“,  to play at my church (you can find the chords under Michael Card on RWTC).

But instead of illustrating fingerpicking with one of my favorite Michael Card songs, I chose Phil Wickham because, well, I know where you can get a free copy of a Phil’s live album, Singalong! The song “Divine Romance” is done acoustically on that album.

You can find the chords to “Divine Romance” under Phil Wickham on RWTC.

Check out the video below and you can see an example fingerpicking in action.  The intro shows a close-up of Phil’s right hand picking the strings.  Phil is using a Thumb, Middle, Ring finger pattern.

This intro to fingerpicking barely scratches the surface on what can be done with fingerpicking.

What songs can you think of that use fingerpicking?

“Enter This Temple” by Leeland

If you haven’t heard of Leeland before, then you are missing one today’s fresh voices in Christian music.  I find Leeland a band that continually evokes my heart to worship and expresses the inner cry in my spirit to draw near to God.

I’m highlighting their song, “Enter This Temple” today.  You can get the chords on Rockin With The Cross.  I’ve also included a devotional written by one of the members of Leeland as well a video of them detailing and showing how to play the song.

Original devotional content from www.leelandonline.com
Enter This Temple – By Jack Mooring

“Father, enter this temple/ Come touch Your people/ we need to be where You are” – from the song, “Enter This Temple”

Ephesians 2:22 says, “And in Him, you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit.”

A temple, simply put, is a place or person in which God lives. I’ve always said that I wanted to “be where God is.” I guess for us to find out where God is, we have to know where to find him. First, we know that He’s in us. That’s made very clear to us throughout our Christian walk; that God actually dwells in us through salvation. But, a second and equally important place for God to be…is “in our midst.”

But you might say, “well if God is inside of us… isn’t He already ‘in our midst’?” Yes, that’s true, but I believe that it goes so much further than that. It’s great that Jesus is in our hearts, but Him being inside of us is only half of the work!

There is a lost and hurting world, including a hurting church that is desperate to see God in a tangible way. Why can’t we experience Jesus the same way the disciples did? God wants to move supernaturally in our midst, just as much as he wants to do an inward work in our hearts. It’s unbalanced to have one without the other.

In the book of Acts, we see men that each had their own amazing inward experience with God. These men were drastically affected by Jesus, but they didn’t let it stop there! They wanted the fullness of God’s power in their midst. What does that mean? It means that they gave their lives to see the hungry fed, the lost saved, the sick healed, the bound set-free, and the dead raised

So, when we sing “Enter This Temple,” we know that God is happy to be in us, and that’s where the work begins. But, will we be bold enough to ask God to enter another temple? The dwelling of our everyday life, changing the people around us and allowing them to experience the God that we know so intimately.

When you decide to draw near to God, how do you enter His temple?

What’s In Your Musical DNA?

Musical DNA

I once heard a speaker on worship declare that the Lord has put a unique song within each of us. In our DNA God has woven a song that only we can create, that only we can sing.

Psalm 40:3 He has put a new song in my mouth—
Praise to our God;
Many will see it and fear,
And will trust in the LORD

What is the song that the Lord has put into your mouth today?

Rethinking Guitar – Fuller Sounds Done Simply

2 guitaristsOne of the great things about blogging is sharing information. I found an interesting blog entry about how to divide up music between more than one guitar player.

Thanks to Effects Bay for the following article

Growing up a guitar player was tough in the early years. I picked up a guitar a few years later than many of my friends, so when I tried out for bands, most of my friends in bands already had guitarists. This prompted me to think differently about playing guitar and how to play the guitar.

While most of these techniques are tried, true, and probably printed in many magazines before me, chances are you might have a small flash of inspiration. Maybe I will mention something you’ve never thought about. It’s also come to my attention–being in various bands in various cities for the past 10 years–that many bands have guitarists who simply strum power chords or basic open-position chords. Even the simplest variation can make a two-guitar texture sound full, or even a single guitar part sound distinctive.

Hopefully I will be able to continue this series which will include techniques, tricks, tips, and even ideas concerning effects pedals.

Let’s get on with it, shall we?

We’ll start with chords. Chords are the building blocks of any great song. Let’s take a simple progression:

A     D     E     A

You already have the building blocks of a great song. A typical guitarist would simply strum open position chords and call it a day. Let’s look at some alternative ways to play these three chords.

The following charts will be from left to right: E A D G B E


X 0 2 2 2 5     X 0 7 6 5 0     X 0 11 9 10 0     X 0 7 9 10 0     X X X 9 10 9


X 0 0 2 3 5     X 0 0 7 7 5     X X 0 11 10 X     X 0 7 7 10 X     X X 7 7 7 10


0 2 2 4 5 X     X X 6 4 5 0     X X 9 9 12 X      0 7 9 9 0 0     X X X 9 9 7  

If you have two guitarists, try having one play the open chord positions and have another play one of these alternatives. You notice that the sound is fuller because different positions/octaves now have a voice in the overall texture. Also, if you are a single guitarist, 9 times out of 10 you have a bassist in the band, why not play an alternate voicing of chords and let the bass form the foundation? Even if the bassist is walking, you will create interesting harmonic movement while keeping everything simple.

Also, try these:

Another easy way to thicken a double-guitar texture is adding a capo to the proceedings. With a capo at the 2nd fret, A D E becomes G C D. At the 7th fret, A D E becomes D G A.

Try playing A D E octaves while letting the high B and E strings ring.

Have one guitarist isolate the third of each chord (A D E is C# F# G#) and play them in octaves. This is a popular technique in modern rock music, but that is because it’s very effective at achieving fuller sounds.

Better yet, for more linear harmonic motion, have a guitarist play E F# E over A D E ( the 5th of A, 3rd of D, Root of E) or C# D B over A D E (the 3rd of A, root of D, 5th of E) for even more interesting results.

Have one guitar distorted and one clean. Japanese rock band Luna Sea used this technique to great effect. You can find various videos on YouTube.

I hope you have found this interesting!

– Kevin Ian Common

The Common Men

How many of you use more than one guitar with your worship team? How do you differentiate what is played by each guitar player?