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.  

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