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I need a break from 1, 4, 5...

Related threads:
Blues chord sequences (25)
Progressions that make you go 'mmm' (27)
Help: Figuring out chords to songs (13)


Froodo 14 Mar 00 - 12:00 PM
GUEST,Neil Lowe 14 Mar 00 - 12:39 PM
Amos 14 Mar 00 - 12:52 PM
Froodo 14 Mar 00 - 01:10 PM
Amos 14 Mar 00 - 01:19 PM
Whistle Stop 14 Mar 00 - 01:55 PM
dick greenhaus 14 Mar 00 - 02:17 PM
M. Ted (inactive) 14 Mar 00 - 03:03 PM
Grab 15 Mar 00 - 07:52 AM
Crowhugger 15 Mar 00 - 08:14 AM
M. Ted (inactive) 15 Mar 00 - 10:57 AM
Whistle Stop 15 Mar 00 - 11:37 AM
wysiwyg 15 Mar 00 - 12:06 PM
M. Ted (inactive) 15 Mar 00 - 05:08 PM
Whistle Stop 16 Mar 00 - 08:45 AM
rainbow 16 Mar 00 - 10:40 AM
M. Ted (inactive) 16 Mar 00 - 11:38 AM
Whistle Stop 16 Mar 00 - 12:01 PM
GUEST,Neil Lowe 16 Mar 00 - 12:11 PM
GUEST,Neil Lowe 16 Mar 00 - 12:17 PM
Whistle Stop 16 Mar 00 - 01:31 PM
GUEST,Neil Lowe 16 Mar 00 - 02:22 PM
M. Ted (inactive) 16 Mar 00 - 02:33 PM
Whistle Stop 16 Mar 00 - 03:01 PM
M. Ted (inactive) 16 Mar 00 - 04:01 PM
Froodo 16 Mar 00 - 05:38 PM
Whistle Stop 17 Mar 00 - 08:48 AM
M. Ted (inactive) 17 Mar 00 - 03:41 PM
Peter T. 17 Mar 00 - 04:41 PM
WyoWoman 17 Mar 00 - 07:24 PM
GUEST,Neil Lowe 17 Mar 00 - 11:15 PM
WyoWoman 17 Mar 00 - 11:59 PM
GUEST,guest 18 Mar 00 - 08:24 AM
WyoWoman 19 Mar 00 - 01:01 PM
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Subject: I need a break from 1, 4, 5...
From: Froodo
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 12:00 PM

Any suggestions to help me break out of the 12-bar, I, IV, V addiction I've been suffering from lately?


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Subject: RE: I need a break from 1, 4, 5...
From: GUEST,Neil Lowe
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 12:39 PM

...Froodo, why would anyone want to? Don't you know that I-IV-V was handed down from the ancients many, many moons ago? It is the sacred chord progression, and, to be honest, I am simply appalled that anyone would even entertain the thought of breaking away from the most revered of chord progressions. Be that as it may....

You could try I-II-I-II for a while...a short while. It gets kind of boring unless your soloing. I-VI (e.g., E-C#) has an intriguing quality about it.

Try this one on for size, it's a slightly more intricate variation of I-IV-V: IV-VI-IV-VI-I-V-III. This is essentially the progression for a blues-based song called "Towering Fool," by Gov't Mule: Asus2-C#m-Asus2-C#m-E-B-G#. My ear especially likes the transition from G# back to Asus2.

Now that I think about it...I wonder what the difference is between the above progression and this one: I-III-I-III-V-II-VII. The chords seem to be the same...one is in the key of E, the other in the key of A.

Hope this gets you out of your rut.

Regards, Neil


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Subject: RE: I need a break from 1, 4, 5...
From: Amos
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 12:52 PM

Or shift over to "Don't Let your Deal Go Down", "Keep on Truckin', Mama", "Five Foot Two", "San Francisco Bay" and "Walk Right In", and others of like ilk, which go 1..3..6..2...5.

A


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Subject: RE: I need a break from 1, 4, 5...
From: Froodo
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 01:10 PM

1,3,6,2,5 sounds interesting. Thanks.

And Neil, please don't get the wrong idea, I'm not abandoning the I, IV, V at all...I do understand it's importance. I'm just find that everything I'm doing lately is sssssooooooooooooooo I, IV, V. I just need to add some variety.

Keep in mind I'm a very green musician at this point.

Thanks for any and all help in opening my eyes to a larger world.

Froodo


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Subject: RE: I need a break from 1, 4, 5...
From: Amos
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 01:19 PM

In case my fingers, on which I was counting, got tangled or lost, the basic sequence in "C" would be C...E...A(7)..D7...G. Some numbers leave out the "E" depending on the tune but once you learn the sounds of these in sequence you can second guess your way around variations, which includes a lot of raggy blues type stuff and barrelhouse numbers. A good basic song to learn to this pattern is "Don't Let your Deal Go Down" which is also rousing fun to sing.

A


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Subject: RE: I need a break from 1, 4, 5...
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 01:55 PM

It all starts with the ears, not the hands. The best way for any musician, green or otherwise, to progress is to listen to a wider variety of music. If you only listen to 12-bar, I-IV-V music, that's all you'll be familiar with, and consequently that's all you'll feel comfortable playing. But if you listen to other stuff, it will start to make sense to your ears. And the distance from your ears to your fingers is short.

Seek out some music that's outside of your usual comfort zone, listen to it for a while, play along with it if it's in recorded form (staunch Mudcat purists aside, most of us do a lot of listening to recorded music). Some musics are more firmly rooted in the I-IV-V pattern than others. So if you're getting too much I-IV-V from your Delta blues, Woody guthrie folk, Appalacian string bands, or British Isles jigs and reels, try something based in modal Elizabethan music, or West African roots-of-blues stuff, or creative fingerstyle guitar (Martin Simpson, Pierre Bensusan, John Renbourne, etc.), jazz from just about any country or era, or anything else you can find. Hell, you might even try dipping your toes into the poisoned waters of the singer/songwriter stream (Mudcatters, please don't hurt me!); you just might find something worthwhile. There is more accessible music out there now than there ever has been. If you open yourself to it, it WILL come out in your playing.


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Subject: RE: I need a break from 1, 4, 5...
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 02:17 PM

If you just want to spice up your I-IV-V stuff, you can (judiciously) replace the IV with a IIm, and the I with a VIm.

An automated way to try this stuff is to download ABCMUS, and use its chord-setting feature: you have a range of choice of "strangeness" (that's what HE calls it) from zero (I-IV-V7 mostly) to 100 (pretty strange).


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Subject: RE: I need a break from 1, 4, 5...
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 03:03 PM

Do you want to play blues, or are you just looking for some nice chord vamps?

If you want some easy fun with chord vamps--just let me show you some of my favorite music snake-oils--

I like simple stuff that repeats in a Latin (usually called "montuno") fashion--such as the famous Carlos Santana secret chord progression--which, in G, would be |Am7-D9/Am7-D9|--

The real secret of making your playing interesting, though, is learning to use punchy little rhythmic ideas, in whatever chord progressions you happen to like--

Call me a veg--but I have been pounding away for the last three or four days on a |G-G/D7-D7|, playing a rhumba beat, a little like Bud and Travis used to use--The G is nice the nice open position one, and the D7 is the closed C7- position, which I alternate with a D9 or a D7 in the Barred A7-position--simple simple stuff--

I have been finger picking, and, by discreetly throwing in the easy, obvious, hammer-ons, pull-offs, and Bass runs--It sounds like I am really doing something--(I even fool my family, who ought to be wise to my tricks, by now--)

Have fun, but don't hurt anyone---

Aloha,

Ted


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Subject: RE: I need a break from 1, 4, 5...
From: Grab
Date: 15 Mar 00 - 07:52 AM

There's D, C, G progression (best example - Yesterday's Gone, Fleetwood Mac). Or Am, C, D progression used quite often in Irish folk music. Both easy to play and easy to solo over, and sound pretty nice, and they're a break from 12-bar.

Grab.


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Subject: RE: I need a break from 1, 4, 5...
From: Crowhugger
Date: 15 Mar 00 - 08:14 AM

Dick, you beat me to the bit about tossing in some minor chords instead.

Amos, along with your list I like "Sunny Side of the Street."

Froodo, you could try learning to play a chord you can't pronounce but CAN reach with your fingers. Then muck about listening to when it sounds good and when it doesn't. Run into a cul-de-sac? Learn a different "weird" chord and do the same. This is in addition to all the other suggestions, which are certainly the first place to go. I learned to find the unusual chords by first learning them entirely out of any context, then finding where they fit. Eventually when playing by ear or with friends, I found I used them now and again. It's also a method I use to get out of a songwriting rut of tending toward the same old same-old sound.


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Subject: RE: I need a break from 1, 4, 5...
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 15 Mar 00 - 10:57 AM

Frodo--I want to warn you against literally trying to following the directions that Whistlestop lays out--They may be good advice for the longtime guitar player who is bored with what they are doing--but different guitar styles are very different--if you try to learn bits and pieces from each, you will end up overwhelmed--

It is good to broaden yourself through listening to different kinds of music, but, for the sake of your own sanity, and also for the sake of making musical progress, don't try to go in a lot of directions--find a guitar style that you like, start at the beginning, and learn to play it--

If you really want to make progress, you must find a teacher--although it should be one who plays the kind of music that you want to learn, and is inclined to teach you-

My suggestion is to go to clubs or pubs or coffeehouses, or whatever sort of place people play the music that you like and watch, listen, and, when the musicians take a break, ask questions, ask them to show you things, be a general pest--

Some people will blow you off(although I must admit, I the only times people have blown me off have been when they were busy) but most will be happy to help--

Also, as a beginner, you should know that you cannot really learn the technique you need to play something by listening to a record--

I have had a lot of students come to me over the years who learned to play guitar by sitting in their rooms and playing a long with records--or should I say, thought they had learned to play guitar--most of them needed to do a lot of work before what they could play held together on its own--


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Subject: RE: I need a break from 1, 4, 5...
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 15 Mar 00 - 11:37 AM

Just goes to show there's more than one way to skin a cat. MY advice is to ignore M.Ted's advice. As a versatile musician for the past 40 years or so who listened to a wide variety of music right from the outset, I have to disagree with his caution about being overwhelmed by too many disparate styles. Awareness of them, and facility with them -- and yes, "learning bits and pieces from each -- helps you to establish an independent musical voice and vision, whatever level of expertise you've acquired thus far.

There's nothing wrong with teachers (I've had them periodically, and have been one myself), and nothing wrong with focusing your education (to a degree). But you will never be a good musician if you don't listen to a lot of music, and you will never be a versatile musician if you don't listen to a variety of music. You seemed to want to acquire more versatility than you currently possess; hence my advice to expand your listening habits as THE essential first step in that process. I stand by this advice.

As for playing along with records, I am not suggesting that is all you need to do, or that it should be your principal approach to learning your instrument. But it can be one way to help you break out of a rut (which is what you're after at the moment, right?). Essentially, you put on a record that takes you into unfamiliar territory, play what you know how to play now, realize it sounds terrible against what you're hearing, and look for something that sounds more harmonious. Then you turn the record off, explore what you've discovered, and see where else it leads you. Don't skip this last step, or M.Ted will be right (wouldn't want that, would we?).

This kind of solitary musical exploration is absolutely necessary, whether or not you have a teacher. You need to develop an independent relationship with your instrument, or you will just do things by rote. There are a lot of schooled musicians out there who never learned to play without having a teacher tell them what to play and how to play it; in my experience they are often the first ones to get frustrated and give it up. Again, you can't rely on your hands alone -- you must develop your ears. And you can't rely on your teacher alone; you have to learn to function independently. Sorry you're getting conflicting advice, but I'm right about this one.


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Subject: RE: I need a break from 1, 4, 5...
From: wysiwyg
Date: 15 Mar 00 - 12:06 PM

Thanks everyone for great ideas to use autoharping also!


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Subject: RE: I need a break from 1, 4, 5...
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 15 Mar 00 - 05:08 PM

Well, I re-read Whistlestop's advice, and this is going to come off sounding perilously close to a flame--but for all he had to say, there wasn't a single chord progression, a rhythm pattern, or even a suggestion about a piece to play--


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Subject: RE: I need a break from 1, 4, 5...
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 16 Mar 00 - 08:45 AM

Well, I don't want to bicker, but I don't think that giving this fellow another chord or two is really going to change his situation. But reexamining WHY he is in a rut, and giving him a roadmap out of it, just might help. It's the old thing about giving a hungry man a fish vs. teaching him how to fish. We all have our approaches to helping our friend out of this dilemma -- this is mine. Sure, I could send him off to learn "I Got Rhythm" and all its I-VI-II-V progeny, but I think he'll be better served by using his ears to expand his horizons.

My final suggestion is that our friend should listen to ALL the advice he has been given, and then go try it out and see what works best for him. Let's not argue about whose advice is best; I'm sure we all have worthwhile suggestions and perspectives based on our own experiences. Learning music is not a one-size-fits-all process; while there might be some good universal advice out there, a lot of this comes down to individual learning styles, goals, and experiences. I'm sure our friend can benefit from what both of us have suggested; to go back to my shopworn metaphor above, the hungry man benefits both from the fish you give him, and from the fishing instruction I give him. Can we leave it at that?


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Subject: RE: I need a break from 1, 4, 5...
From: rainbow
Date: 16 Mar 00 - 10:40 AM

i like crowhugger's advice.... i love to find chords that i don't even pretend to know the name of... i just experiment and find them... it seems its later when i'm notating or playing it with someone else that i have to pay attention to what the chord is.

therefore the songs i write have wonderful unique and interesting chords... but when i try to play other's songs.... i just play the chords....

someday i will be able to play enough again to adapt my finding of interesting chords to songs i learn of others.

but anyway... i find it fun to make up chords instead of following a structure. i guess when i took music in school i got frustrated. they said to write a melody. i wrote a nice little one. then we had to add chords following all these rules... i aced the test, but couldn't even really hear that nice little melody anymore, even though i followed the chord progression/structure i was provided.

... lorraine


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Subject: RE: I need a break from 1, 4, 5...
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 16 Mar 00 - 11:38 AM

I think you actually gave him a lecture about all of the different kinds of fish he should think about eating*BG*--

Anyway, Whistlestop, I won't let you off the "hook" until you post an nice little chord progression for Frodo to fool around with--


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Subject: RE: I need a break from 1, 4, 5...
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 16 Mar 00 - 12:01 PM

Well, it's not necessary that you let me off the hook (a continuation of the fishing metaphor, yes?) But if you noticed, I did mention the "I Got Rhythm" sequence, which is a good starting place for breaking out of the I-IV-V rut. In fact, he can try it with the VI chord as a major or minor, and with the II chord as a major or minor, and with the V chord as a dominant 7th or straight major triad. That's enough to keep him going for a while.

If our friend truly has trouble locating all these "fish" I mentioned -- the West African, Elizabethan, fingerstyle guitar, jazz, etc. -- perhaps there's a larger problem here. But, your criticisms notwithstanding, I think I've made a legitimate contribution to this thread. Truce?


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Subject: RE: I need a break from 1, 4, 5...
From: GUEST,Neil Lowe
Date: 16 Mar 00 - 12:11 PM

The discovery of the *lost* chords is one of the most rewarding aspects of playing music. I devote a few minutes to this endeavor every time I sit down to play. I just wish it would do something for my playing ability. Occasionally I find a new position or a fingering for a chord I already know...like Am (C on 1st string 8th fret; A on 2nd string 10th fret; E on 3rd string 9th fret; C on 4th string 10th fret; open 5th string). A hit-and-miss method, I realize.

My personal obsession, though - I have to call it something. I find some weird conglomeration of notes I want to hold onto, I punch it into a chord-naming program, then write it down somewhere. Just a little quirk of mine.

Neil


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Subject: RE: I need a break from 1, 4, 5...
From: GUEST,Neil Lowe
Date: 16 Mar 00 - 12:17 PM

Then when I discover the same weird chord in a song that was recorded 30 years ago, well....it's still my discovery, right? *BG*

Neil


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Subject: RE: I need a break from 1, 4, 5...
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 16 Mar 00 - 01:31 PM

Neil, that kind of exploration and discovery is one of the things that keeps all of us coming back for more. And if you want to claim it as your personal discovery, why not?

Now that M.Ted and I have gotten beyond our little disagreement, I'd like to offer another suggestion that is so basic it almost seems that it isn't worth mentioning. My suggestion: just try tossing things in (when you're playing by yourself), and see what happens. For example, if you're sitting in your room strumming away at your I-IV-V stuff in the key of G (G-C-D), try tossing in one of the I-IV-V chords from another key, just to see what it sounds like; throw in an E, an A, a B, an F, or whatever strikes your fancy. Play with major and minor variations, different inversions, etc. If it sounds awful, there's no harm done; you're just trying it on for size, in the privacy of your own home. But chances are that your experiment will sound suspiciously like something you may have heard before, and you will start to recognize other progressions and patterns beyond those that are instantly familiar to you. They call it "playing" music, after all; and the joy of discovery is one of the things that makes music so much fun.

I'll bet even M.Ted agrees with me on this.


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Subject: RE: I need a break from 1, 4, 5...
From: GUEST,Neil Lowe
Date: 16 Mar 00 - 02:22 PM

Sure Whistle Stop ... I'll try just about anything, especially of an experimental nature. And when G-C-D at the nut position gets a little tedius, I mix it up a little by playing the chords in different positions, to reinforce the various locations of the chords on the neck, and to enhance accuracy. E.G., start with G at the nut, change to the barred C at the eighth fret, play the barred D at the fifth fret, etc. Then try a different combination, like starting barred G at the 7th fret, C at the nut, barred D at the 10th fret, which is stretching a little unless I'm plugged into the electric. I-IV-V in lots of different keys can get interesting this way...Hmmm...where is there an Ab chord way up here? Exercises for the eyes and fingers.

Neil


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Subject: RE: I need a break from 1, 4, 5...
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 16 Mar 00 - 02:33 PM

Whistlestop--I am sorry if you thought we were having a disgreement--I was just trying to squeeze a little "News you can use" out of your forty years of musical exploration--and you contributions above are great!!--

You made a comment about something being so basic that it almost wasn't worth mentioning--I think that it is always worth throwing that "basic" stuff in--there is always someone around who doesn't know that it is "basic" gets excited when they hear about, and someone else who has forgotten it, and gets excited because they are reminded---

The other thing is that it takes years to sort out what basics are--


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Subject: RE: I need a break from 1, 4, 5...
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 16 Mar 00 - 03:01 PM

M.Ted, I considered it a friendly disagreement, with a little teasing thrown in. No harm done -- I enjoyed it, and hope you did too. And if I seemed too aggressive (the pitfalls of communicating by typing, mayhap), allow me to say that I have seen a number of your postings -- in this thread and others -- and have been impressed by your insight. We'll trade messages again, I'm sure.


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Subject: RE: I need a break from 1, 4, 5...
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 16 Mar 00 - 04:01 PM

As far as I am concerned, anyone who listens to West African Music, Elizabethan music, and "I've Got Rhythm" is a friend--


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Subject: RE: I need a break from 1, 4, 5...
From: Froodo
Date: 16 Mar 00 - 05:38 PM

I want to thank you all again for your comments. Elizabethan music is something that I'm not too familiar with, any suggestions on where to begin as I explore that genre would be greatly appreciated.

Much of what I play and listen to is the blues...Delta mainly. Anyhow, I've just been realizing that most of my set sounds too familiar. In fact, lyrics to one tune can easily be put into another...suppose I could play on long set of all my tunes without ever stopping. It'll nice to have more variety...I'll need to beef up the ole record collection. I've even noticed this lack of variety in some of the more folky tunes I do...seems they're all G, C & D. And while I can easily play 'em in another key, I just don't feel that's the solution.

Neil, I like your suggestion of utilizing the voicings more...fits into the "things-I-know-but-forget-to-do-too- often-category.

And Whistle, your right too...I need to learn to trust my ears more and worry less about the whole theory thing. I guess sometimes I don't feel I'm doing enough, be it technically or what not, with my guitar to really actualize that "good musician" status...and that's keeping me from being truthful with the music I play.

Anyway, thank you again everyone for sharing your ideas with me.


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Subject: RE: I need a break from 1, 4, 5...
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 17 Mar 00 - 08:48 AM

Elizabethan music comes from the reign of Elizabeth I of England in around the 16th century, when high culture truly took hold in England. It is a very rich genre; it all depends how far you want to get into it. You can dip one toe in the water by picking up something by John Renbourn, who swims in "folky" waters but combines Renaissance and Elizabethan influences with English folk ballads and blues (Big Bill Broonzy being a major influence). His latest, called Traveller's Prayer, is an excellent start; also consider his earlier solo works (Sir John Alot of..., The Lady and the Unicorn, The Hermit, Black Balloon), as well as his collaborations with Bert Jansch and Stefan Grossman, and his work as part of Pentangle.

You can also approach this music from a more "classical" perspective (McGrath, I agree that this category is a misnomer, but it's probably not worth battling against the tide), which gives you a better knowledge of the breadth of Elizabethan music. Try listening to the lute music and lute songs of John Dowland, the preeminent Elizabethan lute composer, as played by Paul O'Dette or Robin MacFarlane (or in early recordings by Julian Bream, who played it on both lute and guitar, solo and with a small consort). For larger ensembles, try recordings by the Waverly Consort or the Early Music Consort of London (with David Munrow at the helm). Most of this type of stuff is categorized by the record companies as "Early Music," along with medieval and Renaissance musics from countries other than England.

This may be more of an introduction than you're looking for, but if this ends up appealing to you as much as it does to me, you'll be pleased that there's so much good stuff out there. Hope all of our suggestions vis-a-vis the I-IV-V rut are helpful; we all hit ruts sometimes, so don't let it get you down. Good luck with everything.


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Subject: RE: I need a break from 1, 4, 5...
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 17 Mar 00 - 03:41 PM

I don't have time to say much, but I wish you'd been more specific about wanting to make blues more interesting--One idea is to substitute a I minor 7th chord for the 4, and a bIIdominant 7 for the V--

Elizabethan music is a good thing to listen to, and borrow from, because it uses musical figures that are remarkably similar to blues figures--


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Subject: RE: I need a break from 1, 4, 5...
From: Peter T.
Date: 17 Mar 00 - 04:41 PM

If you have access to a music library or a music store, there is a magazine called Total Guitar which is usually filled with hard rock stuff, and I would never dream of buying it ordinarily. 3 months ago they had a great supplement on the music of the Beatles, and how they broke away from the I-IV-V model. I was working on rebuilding my elementary music theory at the time to help my playing (I am a novice, or slightly better than novice, guitarist) and I found it unbelievably useful: page after page of the simple things the Beatles used to give their songs that fresh quality by moving the progressions around, substituting, going into minor keys, etc. Beautifully written, and very, very clear. If you can't find it, or are interested, send me an e-mail, and I will mail it to you. If you have any Beatle songs in your head, it is just terrific. yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: I need a break from 1, 4, 5...
From: WyoWoman
Date: 17 Mar 00 - 07:24 PM

What is the "chord-naming program" a couple of you have mentioned, and how do you use it?

wyowoman


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Subject: RE: I need a break from 1, 4, 5...
From: GUEST,Neil Lowe
Date: 17 Mar 00 - 11:15 PM

WyoWoman....look here

Tony Burns turned me on to this program....it's freeware, and has served me well on occasion. Just download it to your computer and click on "Help" or the "Read Me" text for instructions on how to use it.

Regards, Neil


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Subject: RE: I need a break from 1, 4, 5...
From: WyoWoman
Date: 17 Mar 00 - 11:59 PM

Looks interesting.Don't really understand how it works yet, but I'll investigate.

Thanks, ww


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Subject: RE: I need a break from 1, 4, 5...
From: GUEST,guest
Date: 18 Mar 00 - 08:24 AM

1. look into "bass runs" (get a friendly pro to show you)

2. play the minor chords associated with the key the song is in. For G, Em and Am. for D, Bm and Em.

3. That's a start, anyhow.


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Subject: RE: I need a break from 1, 4, 5...
From: WyoWoman
Date: 19 Mar 00 - 01:01 PM

Thenkyew.


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