The Journey to total Harmonic Freedom (Really!) Part I

Aug 27, 2021

Hello and thanks for checking out the Guitarfocus blog. Here you will find parts of my story as well as valuable information that can help your own playing, practicing and musical career. Enjoy!!


Ok, let’s go way back near the beginning of my guitar playing journey. Before the lights, the theaters and arenas. Before the major label singers, world tours and NYC Broadway shows. Let’s go all the way back to…(insert scary music here!)…High School. Yes, high school. Back in the day, I would spend hours and hours(just ask my sister!) jamming along with my favorite rock albums. The range was huge. One day it would be Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin or Stevie Ray Vaughn. The next it would be Prince, Van Halen or the Police. Remember though, this is back when as a kid, I had to get  jobs mowing lawns or pulling weeds or mopping floors in order to go to the store and BUY the record, tape or CD. These were expensive and highly revered objects and one cassette or CD would typically stay in the boom box for weeks at a time. I was more than happy to jam over this store bought set list for days on end. As a 13 year old, I would find the key the song was in and SOLO! I mean solo over everything…the vocals…the breaks…the bridges…Everything! This actually worked pretty well and my soloing improved over time. I was having fun and feeling pretty good.

Then a day of wild excitement came. It was the day Jazz band was announced at  school. So I showed up with my cheap Strat copy and was handed a chart. I knew some of the chords and could actually get through the solo with a fair bit of confidence…until I found myself sinking fast in the quicksand of unfamiliar key changes and extended harmony all in the same song! The song ended and the band stopped.  I can still remember that burning sensation of embarrassment on my face when the teacher addressed me and announced that “Some of those notes did NOT fit”. I was not in Kansas anymore. These were no longer one chord Suzie Q jams where I had been comfortably living.

Musically, this was the same confusion I felt while trying to solo in one key over Stevie Wonder’s Ribbon In the Sky or Steeley Dan’s Hey Nineteen.  This new music I was hearing was not what I was used to, but I wanted desperately to solve the puzzle. So…the journey to understand music began……… be continued!


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