Thursday, January 31, 2013


This week's Theory of Ethos might be delayed a little.  I'm still going to try and get it up sometime Friday.

But more importantly, Doctrine is going to be rocking The Sound Hole Friday.  Come out and and rock out with us.

We've got another show coming up February 15th and we'll be unveiling a brand new song.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Doctrine of Woodshed: Legato - Rise of the Machines

This week we’re stepping away from the theoretical and gonna dig into a Doctrine riff.  I wanted the solo to “Rise of the Machines” to be aggressive and full throttle, so I decided to open with a lick that will “grab you by the throat.” It is a fast legato run that spans nearly the entire span of a seven string guitar.  Don’t worry six stringers, you won’t be left out of this one.

First some basics.  Legato means “smooth and connected.”  Playing legato means different things for different instruments, but on guitar it comes down to not picking: Hammer ons, pull offs, slides and tapping.  

Different players have different legato techniques.  Lately I’ve been working on a technique I picked up from Alan Holdsworth.  When he plays legato he plays everything with hammer ons (sometimes called “left hand tapping”) even when you change strings.  Some other players always pick the first note of a string change.  

My usual legato technique is somewhere in between.  Whenever I move up a string, I pick.  Whenever I stay on a string or move downward, I don’t pick.  It’s something that I just did intuitively and decided to stick with once I found out John Petrucci and Rusty Cooley do the same thing.  And it is the technique I use on “Rise."

Click on the image for full size

The riff is comprised of a pattern that repeats and rises through the B minor scale.  First, three notes on one string played with hammer ons.  Then, pick a note on the next string, followed by two hammers and two pulloffs.  

After each iteration of the pattern there is a slide up to the next position, and the pattern repeats.  Practicing a lick like this is simply a matter of breaking it down into bite size pieces and then stringing pieces together.  I’d take the first measure, practice the first two beats, then the second two beats, then work in the slide to put them together.  

Here is each iteration of the pattern.  Six string players, just skip pattern one:

After practicing each one slowly, putting measures together should be easy enough.  Once you have strung the entire monster run together, then put it to a metronome and slowly crank up the speed.  The trick is to be very conscious of what your right hand is doing.  ONLY pick the fourth note of each pattern.  You’ll be sorely tempted to pick the first note of each pattern, but after the first note of the solo each pattern starts by being slid into.  Take your time, and you’ll be flying through your fretboard.  

The lick that ends this section quickly descends and the re-ascends.  It is here that we have our only “hammer on from nowhere” in this lick, since we won’t rearticulate while descending.  To play the E at the 17th fret on the B string you just tap with your left hand pinky.  The only notes picked are the F# on the “e” of 2, and I pick the last note instead of hammering on to accent it.

All that’s left is to put it all together.  I’ll leave you with a video of the entire solo.  Don’t forget that Doctrine’s EP is available on CDBaby, iTunes and Amazon mp3. This track is still unreleased, but there's plenty of playing like this on the EP.

Check out Doctrine of Ethos on facebook and our debut album on

Joe, Corey, and myself all have lessons available through Star Music.  Send me a message or call Star Music at 843 448 2819 for more details.  

Blake Graham exclusively uses (and is not endorsed by):
Carvin Guitars
Line 6
Jim Dunlop

Friday, January 25, 2013

Odd Meter: Theory of Ethos

Welcome to week two of Theory of Ethos.  This time we’re talking about meter.  First some introductions, and then next week we’ll take a look at a Doctrine song and how we think when we’re playing in crazy meters.

Odd Meter.  If you know Doctrine of Ethos’ music, you know we love odd meter, but how on earth does a rock band manage four people playing in strange timings?  What is odd meter?  

Well, first, let’s take a look at what meter is in general and what not-odd meter looks like.

Meter is the rhythmic organization of music.  If you’ve ever danced, or even tapped your foot or clapped along with a song, then you have felt the rhythmic cycles that make up most of western music.  

The musical term for the most common meter is 4/4 (voiced “four four”).  The top number means there are four pulses in each cycle.  The bottom number means a quarter note gets one pulse when it is written down.  I’m assuming you know what a quarter note is, but if you don’t all that is important right now is that they are typically divided into halves or quarters (eighth notes and sixteenth notes).  Other divisions are possible but less common.   

So what does 4/4 look and sound like?  Well, a typical rock drum pattern might go something like this:

Also, don’t forget to click on the noteflight link to hear the examples played.  Play button is in the lower left hand corner.

Notice how the snare and bass drum emphasizes the four pulses.  Musicians call these “beats.”  So there are four beats in a measure of 4/4, and these beats are divided in half by the cymbal.  

So then, what makes a meter “odd”?  Well, odd means two different things.  The qualitative odd - “weird,” “unusual” - and the mathematical odd - not divisible by 2.  Both of these definitions are related to what odd meter is.  

Meter that is divisible by 2 seems more familiar to us.  By “divisible by two,” I mean both that the pulses are a multiple of 2 and that the divisions of the pulse are by 2 (quarter notes into eighth or sixteenth notes).  Changing one of these makes slightly more uncomfortable groupings; changing both leaves the realm of “normal” to western music.  

Let’s look at them one at a time:
Change the top number to 3.  ¾.  Now there are three quarter notes to a measure. 

This is often called “waltz time,” as it is the meter that you dance a waltz to.  You’re much more likely to find it in dance music of old, but it finds its way into western popular music where it lends a slightly unusual air to rock or pop music.  

Waltz of the Flowers from the Nutcracker

“.45” by Shinedown

Ok, what if we change the divisions instead of the number of pulses?  4 pulses divided in half is eight notes - the eight cymbal hits in the 4/4 pattern above.  4 pulses divided into thirds is twelve notes - the twelve cymbal hits in the 12/8 example below.

To me, 12/8 feels much more comfortable than ¾, though neither is terribly unsettling.  Having the familiar number of pulses feels more natural than the odd number of pulses in ¾.  Though, now, it is the divisions of the pulse that are odd - into threes instead of twos.  

12/8 is all over the blues, often found in ballads or sped up in shuffles.  
“Still Got the Blues” by Gary Moore

The second movement of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony no 5 is in 12/8, but it might be a little difficult to discern the pulses.

The opening of the famous “Moonlight” Sonata (Beethoven’s Sonata quasia una fantasia in C# minor) illustrates the divisions much clearer, though his original score is in 4/4!  It could also be written in 12/8, and you should immediately hear the “ONE two three” in each pulse.

So now what’s left is to see what happens if we change both the division and the number of beats.  

Same as 12/8 - if we divide three pulses into three notes, we have nine cymbal hits.

Ride of the Valkyries (which got famous when it was used in the Apocalypse Now soundtrack) is in 9/8

As is Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring

More recently, “Morning Has Broken” by Cat Stevens

So...what happens if a measure isn’t always divided into two or three? What if we mix them up?  Make sure to come back next week and find out.  

Check out Doctrine of Ethos on facebook and our debut album on

Joe, Corey, and myself all have lessons available through Star Music.  Send me a message or call Star Music at 843 448 2819 for more details.  

Blake Graham exclusively uses (and is not endorsed by):
Carvin Guitars
Line 6
Jim Dunlop

Monday, January 21, 2013

Doctrine of Woodshed

Guitar Lesson 1

If you wanna know how to play Eruption, there are better places to learn than me, so I won’t even try. Instead, I’d like to give some some tools and techniques that have helped me.  Along the way I’ll dig into some Doctrine songs and break them down.

These guitar lessons are going to make a few more assumptions than the theory lessons. While you don’t actually have to know all the theory involved to follow the lesson, the more you know the easier it will be to apply to your own playing.  Feel free to leave me a question in the comments, or request a topic for me to cover in another lesson.  
1) You can play chords
2) You are familiar with power chords
3) You can read chord diagrams.  If not, there are plenty of places online to learn.  Here’s one:
4) You know the difference between a major and minor chord.  Most guitarists who can at least play barre chords should have a pretty good grasp on this.
If not, Wikipedia might be a good place to brush up.  This article is a great, guitar-istic intro to chords.

Let’s start with some harmonic ideas.  One of my favorite chords is a power chord with an added 9th.  

It’s interesting for several reasons, mostly related to how it responds to distortion.  Dense chords don’t sound great with distortion.  Play a major or minor chord with high gain and it sounds like mush.  Power chords remove the third from a chord and as a result sound huge instead of mushy.  

But that doesn’t have to be the end.  Physics cannot so easily condemn the guitarist to nothing but Ramones’ covers until the end of time.  (Much as I love the Ramones, it’s harmonically boring)  You can still sound heavy and play harmonically interesting rhythm parts by arpeggiating chords.  

You can hear one application of this in the Doctrine song “Wake Up.”

That passage is in the free sample at CDBaby.  Also, just saying, the whole track is a buck twenty five.

You can find the tab at this link. I'm going to be using NoteFlight pretty extensively for these lessons. Click the Play button in the lower left hand corner to listen to the guitar part.

But that is using add 11 chords instead of add 9.  Let’s explore some add 9 chords more by taking the chord shape above (Gadd9) and adding notes to it. I play something very similar to this near the end of “Wake Up,” starting at around 4:44.
Here's the tab.

To the G5 add 9 chord, I added the note Bb to create a Gm add9.  The half step between the 9 (A) and the third (Bb) creates a dissonance that would sound horrible if played as a chord with distortion, but arpeggiated it creates an eerie, haunting sound that is much more pleasant.  

Each subsequent chord also gets a third added, with occasional other notes in passing, to create the following chord progression:

Gm add9, Bb add 9, Cm add 9, Gm/D, D9*

*The greyed out note in the D9 is the ninth, but as it happens on the string as the root in the arpeggio cannot be played simultaneously with it.  

Remember what I said about mushy chords?  For comparison sake, here is that progression played chordally, with the same setup as before.

The add 9 chord is to be found in the toolbox of adventurous rockers everywhere,
from the famous guitar part to “Every Breath You Take,”

to the outro of Floods by Pantera.

Adding a ninth to your power chords is a simple and great way to spice up rhythm parts without turning down your gain or sounding muddy.  While today we took a look at arpeggiated chords with the 9 plus other notes, simply adding the 9 to power chord rhythm parts can give them new life.  Here’s a quick example for the road.

All tracks were recorded direct using a Line 6 Pod HD 500
Backing tracks made using GarageBand
Special thanks to Corey Holden

Blake Graham exclusively uses (and is not endorsed by):
Carvin Guitars
Line 6
Jim Dunlop

Doctrine of Ethos on Facebook
Our debut album produced by Jamie King (Between the Buried and Me)

Joe, Corey, and myself all have lessons available through Star Music. Send me a message or call Star Music at 843 448 2819 for more details.  

Friday, January 18, 2013

Theory of Ethos

So here’s the plan.
Twice a week, I’m gonna post a lesson.  Once a week a guitar lesson, another day a theory lesson.  At least that’s the plan.  The theory lessons are going to be oriented to guitar player, though beneficial to any musician.  See the end of the lesson for more information about my ideas on music theory.  

The theory lessons are, hopefully, going to be in two parts.  First, some fundamentals, and then a cool application of it.  There’s gonna be some semblance of gradation to it, but the lessons won’t necessarily be intended to be seen in order.

First up is modes.  This lesson is going to be pretty basic, but I’m going to make a few key assumptions.  
1) You know what a scale is.  If you're a little rusty no worries. I’ll review briefly, but if you have no idea then you’ll probably get lost.
2) You know the layout of a piano keyboard.  

Below is a major scale, with the intervals between each note indicated.  

I'm going to be posting the musical examples on NoteFlight so you can hear and see them played back. You can find the first example here:

You can click on any the examples to view them full size.

Scales in western music are comprised of a series of whole and half steps.  What gives a scale its character is this order.  The familiar major scale consists of:
Whole Step, Whole Step, Half Step, Whole Step, Whole Step, Whole Step, Half Step

Note: Since a whole step is two half steps, you can easily memorize this by memorizing the phone number “221-2221.”  2 is a whole step (two half steps), and 1 is one half step.

No matter what note you start on, if you progress through these series of intervals, you end up with a major scale.  Below is D Major.

Note that the intervals are the same, but now the notes aren’t all natural notes.  C major and D major are obviously different, but there is something similar about them.  These scales are “relative,” a topic we’ll get into in later lessons.  

Below is a list of all 12 major scales

Every one of these scales is comprised of that same series of intervals from the beginning: Whole Whole Half Whole Whole Whole Half.

So that’s step one.  Now here’s the fun part:  What happens if I mix that order up?  More specifically, what if start in a different place in the order?  

Scales repeat, right?  So let’s write our familiar series twice.
Whole Whole Half Whole Whole Whole Half Whole Whole Whole Half Whole Whole Whole Half

If we divide it in a different place, we get a different sound.  Still clearly a scale, but now it does not have that “relative” similarity to C major.  
Whole | Whole Half Whole Whole Whole Half Whole | Whole Whole Half Whole Whole Whole Half

This is the Dorian mode.  If we take this order of intervals, we’ll always get a Dorian scale.  If we start on D:
D (whole step up) E (half step up) F (whole step up) G (whole step up) A (whole step up) B (half step up) C (whole step up) D

No matter how you divide that series of intervals up, you get a different Mode.  Mode is the word musicians use for taking a type of scale and starting on different parts of it.  Don’t worry if that’s tripping you up, I’ll make it clearer in later lessons.  

But that might be enough for now.  In the meantime, as promised, here’s a fun way to apply it.  If we take the intervals of familiar melodies, and use whole steps and half steps in different orders, we get the melodies in different modes.  

Check this out.  
Here’s the melody to "Paint it Black."

It’s in a mode called Harmonic Minor, that is these intervals.  
Whole Half Whole Whole Half Minor-3rd Half

If we reorder these intervals, we can get a scale called Phrygian Dominant, one of my favorite scales.  It’s intervals look like this:
Half Minor-3rd Half Whole Half Whole Whole Whole

So, what if we put Paint it Black in Phrygian Dominant?

Heh.  Weird.  It’s recognizable as something that used to be a Stones tune, but now it has a psuedo-Middle Eastern vibe to it.  Make sure you go to NoteFlight and listen to this one, as hearing it is the best way to understand what change has happened. If you’re feeling adventurous, try taking some of your favorite melodies and change the mode.  

Check out Doctrine of Ethos on facebook and our debut album on

Joe, Corey, and myself all have lessons available through Star Music. Send me a message or call Star Music at 843 448 2819 for more details.  

Oh yes, my ideas on theory.  Ok, here’s the relevant bit: Guitarists have been developing their own brand of music theory, mostly excluded from academia.  The rules are cobbled together from Western art music (read: classical), folk traditions and jazz, all filtered through the physical nature of the guitar.  
It has a defined syllabus, contained in the pages of guitar magazines, (formerly) instructional tapes, and (more recently) YouTube.  It has virtuosi and celebrity.  What it doesn’t have is codification and academic recognition.  I intend for these lessons to be both a starting point and a drafting of a large work to be done on this theory. Perhaps it will eventually be published and bring music theorists attention to the monumental effect this practice is having on popular music and western culture as a whole.

Under Construction

There will be some work in the next few days bringing this blog into the 21st century.  There should be no downtime, just cosmetic changes.

Also, imminent new content alert!  Should have some surprises posted very soon.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

New stuff coming

I've got lots of new content coming down the pipe that I'm real excited about.  Stay tuned, first of it should hit this blog before week's end.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Blogging Resurrection: The Game: The Movie: The Game

So here's take two of blogging.  This time with a twist.

This blog is now shameless dedicated to Tripod and Doctrine of Ethos.  But there's a bit of a rub - neither of those two entities put out enough news to keep anyone's attention.  Don't worry - there's plenty going on, but between Tripod being seasonal and Doctrine trying to find a home for our album we don't have alot to share with our loyal fans lately.

So here's the deal.
I'm gonna talk about music.  I have a masters in theory, and quite a few things to say about music and how it works that are relevant to parts of our audience.  Additionally, anything else musical that comes into my weird brain may find it's way here.

Doctrine and Tripod are both music, so when we have some news, it'll find it's way here, too.  Like, take this for instance!!

Could this horrible piece of chicken scratch be  related to new Doctrine material?  And what on earth do all those fractions mean?  Join us next week for another installment of  *radio edit*.