Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Some (Guitar) Music Theory Review

Wednesday, August 28th, 2019

Western music is based on the major scale. To play the major scale, you need to start at some note and then do the following sequence: WWHWWWH. Each H represents half, which means you increase the frequency by one semitone, (i.e. 2 ^ (1/12), i.e. 1 fret on the guitar.) The W represents two semitones. When you start on a note1 , you can stay in the key of that note by following any rotation of the major scale sequence. The index of the major scale that you start with determines the mode you are in.2

Switching modes throughout a piece is not advised. It swaps the mood of the piece, and gives the sense you are changing your style mid performance. However, switching keys while staying in the same mode can add lots of variety to the music.

Plato suggests only playing in the Dorian and Phrygian.

  1. the root []
  2. WWHWWWH Ionian (C D E F G A B C)
    WHWWWHW Dorian (D E F G A B C D)
    HWWWHWW Phrygian (E F G A B C D E)
    WWWHWWH Lydian (F G A B C D E F)
    WWHWWHW Mixolydian (G A B C D E F G)
    WHWWHWW Aeolian (A B C D E F G A)
    HWWHWWW Locrian (B C D E F G A B)

    The notes listed to the right of the mode are the note sequences for that mode that have no flats or sharps. But a mode can start with any note.
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Picking Up The Guitar At Age 24

Thursday, August 22nd, 2019

One of the gifts I would give my younger self, had I the ability to be my own father1, would be music lessons for a decent instrument. My childhood music career consisted of meeting once a week in school to play the recorder. The recorder sounds awful, and I had horrible instruction. So for my whole life I considered playing an instrument an activity I was not good at and did not enjoy.

But when I was living in Costa Rica, I had the good fortune to have a neighbor who had a guitar lying around. After borrowing his for a few months, I got my own, and I've been playing ever since. I oscillate between whether or not I consider the guitar a waste of time. Playing an instrument gives an enjoyable way to measure progress in your ability to be self disciplined. The meta learning skill that comes with practicing an instrument can be carried into other aspects of life. The drawback is that it is easy to sink _lots_ of time into the guitar. Today I skipped my daily Spanish lesson in order to jam on the guitar for an extra hour and a half.

  1. I have a lot of resentment towards my father for not making smarter decisions on my behalf while I was too young to make them myself. This is the tragedy that befalls ~every child in America. To be fair, I had it better than most. I was put in a decent private school and had a somewhat stable home life. Yet the curse of my decent education is that I am now wise enough to know how much I've missed out on. Or rather wise enough to know I am not wise enough to know how much I missed out on. But I have a lower bound, and that lower bound is higher than I'd like it to be.) []

Guitar Tips

Saturday, October 27th, 2018

A few months ago, a good friend of mine here in Costa Rica let me play his guitar. Since then I've been playing just about everyday, while reading about music theory along the way. Here are my tips to an aspiring guitarist:

1. Do the exercises in Kitharologus: The Path to Virtuosity by Ricardo Iznaola. I have yet to get to even level 1, and I have already seen great improvement in my guitar playing.

2. Learn to breath steadily and properly, this will help you in all walks of life.

3. Keep one finger on the fretboard when you can. This will allow you to play standing up without a strap, as it will give you the leverage to hold the guitar in place. Also, it allows you to keep a more accurate model in your brain of where you are on the fretboard, allowing you to take your eyes off the guitar.