Blog no. 1

March 19, 2017

Hello, friends and fellow guitarists:

I am a professional guitar player, and am proud to say that I am well known and highly respected, among musicians, in the Chicago area.  I have enjoyed a rather eclectic musical life. From 1959 to 1970, I was a member of the American Broadcasting Company Staff of Musicians in Chicago. During my 56 years of playing professionally, I have performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (both as a classical guitar player and as a Pop and Jazz guitar player), the Chicago Chamber Orchestra, the University of Chicago Contemporary Chamber Players, the Lyric Opera Orchestra, the Chamber Consortium, the Chicago Chamber Choir, the Music Of the Baroque ensemble, and numerous orchestras in accompanying ballet performances.  On some occasions I perform on the classical guitar; on others, I play some form of Pop or Jazz guitar.

I have performed on thousands of recordings for Radio and Television commercials, and elsewhere on this website you will find a list of the Classical and Pop music recordings on which I have played.

Most recently, I recorded my own solo guitar album on which I play the classic (nylon-string, finger-style) guitar using my own Jazz arrangements and improvisations on old standard love songs. The album is entitled, “Expressions of Love,” and is available on the Internet at cdbaby.com and as individual tune downloads at digstation.com.  The album received a rave review in Just Jazz Guitar magazine.

You are visiting an unusual Blog site.  I am a member of a very small minority; I am a  professional musician who has never been interested in becoming famous. My interests have always centered on being a devoted husband, father, and grandfather – and now a great grandfather.  Music is simply what I use to accomplish that goal.

Please don’t misunderstand me; I love music.  I spend most of the day practicing, arranging, analyzing, writing manuals about, and listening to it.  But, I have never understood the drive that some people have towards fame.  I do, of course, understand the need make enough money to feed a family, buy a nice home, put kids through college, and retire comfortably.

If you love music, as I do, and would like to learn more about composing, arranging, transcribing and improvising – from a guitar player’s standpoint – you have come to the right place.  If you are mainly interested in Show Business, fame and a large fortune, I can’t help you, but I advise you to go for it and give it all you’ve got.   There are plenty of other blogs and websites that can help you with that goal.

Today, I am going to begin an experiment that I hope you guitar players will like.  I am going to present a small portion of music theory that you will be able to apply easily to many of your own guitar arrangements – whether you use your guitar as a solo instrument or as accompaniment to yours or someone else’s singing.   If I get even one person to respond favorably to this first offering, I will continue to create more blogs indefinitely.

First, allow me to explain what my blogs will be all about.  As I see it, there is music and then there is show business.  In some cases, the two seem to be intermixed – but they really are not.  When I refer to “music,” I am referring to the aesthetics of music; music that reaches one’s sense of art, beauty, and abstract sensibilities. Such music has nothing to do with fame, fortune or entertainment.  The music that I am referring to is deeper than all of that, and has a value that relatively few people understand.

Show Business concerns dress, appearance, show, spectacle, and all of those things that are aside from music itself.  Are any or all of these extra-musical considerations important?  Of course they are to anyone who wants to make a living, or become wealthy and famous in music, but they are not relevant to music itself.

My blogs are for those of you who love the aesthetics of music, and who feel driven to learn how to arrange, compose, transcribe, and improvise.

Each bit of theory will appear in regular notation and in tablature.  I am including tablature in order to attract those of you who use it, and who might find the regular notation too daunting.  My sincere hope, however, is to convince all of you who prefer to read tablature that you simply must learn how to read music if you want to make your own arrangements and not merely play mine.  After all, you presently have to at least study the regular notation in order to obtain hints as to how to the time values that are not shown in the tablature, don’t you? I promise you that your transition to using regular notation will be so painless that, in a short time, you will wonder why you ever resisted it.

OK, so here we go with the first lesson.  This one deals with what I call the “Substitute Dominant.”

The Substitute Dominant

The first thing that I am going to do is to skip ahead to the finish line, and give you a harmonic principle that you can apply immediately.  Then, after you have it working for you, I recommend that you calmly and diligently apply yourself to learning the theory, behind the harmonic principle.  Please understand that the theory is just as important, and in many ways more important, than the harmonic device itself.  It is only through your coming to understand the theory that you will not only learn how to apply this device, but to build upon it, expand it, and discover additional devices on you own.

Example 1 illustrates the Dominant 7th  (V7) (G7) chord resolution to the Tonic chord (I) (C) in the key of C major.  Example 2 shows you how to find the so-called “root” of the Subsitute Dominant 7th  chord.  By descending a Perfect 4th, from the root (G), to obtain the 5th of the G7 chord, and then lowering that 5th by a chromatic semi-tone, we come first to D, and then to D♭.  That D♭ then serves as the root of a D♭7 chord which can be used as a substitute for G7.  That’s how it works; determine the diminished 5th (flatted 5th) of any Dominant Seventh chord, and you can use it as the root of its “Substitute Dominant” chord (♭ii7).

1

This chord can be used as a substitute for G7 any time the melody note that is a B or an F.  If the melody note is G, that would mean that a D♭+11 would have to be used.  If the melody were an A♭, no problem: it’s in the chord.  The only instance in which this chord sounds a bit too modern is when the melody note is D, so, for now, avoid that use.

Apply this principle to any and all Dominant 7th chords, in every key.  See where it fits, and where the new root tone seems to create a conflict or obstacle.

In the next installment, I will give you the theory behind this device,  You will need to know the theory in order to modify, augment and discover many other important points of applied theory on your own.

I’ll give you one hint regarding the follow-up of the theory that will be addressed in my next blog.  Did you notice that the D♭7 chord in Ex. 1 has a B (and augmented 6th) instead of a C♭,  which would be its true 7th?  To be a bonifide D♭7 chord, it would have to be notated as D♭- F – A♭- C♭.

By fully understanding the theory, you will also be able to apply your knowledge to songs and melodies in any and all keys and modes.  I am not seeking to create a clone of myself; I want to help you develop your own style.

Special Note

If you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth, I am happy for you.  God bless you.  But, if you are from a family whose members have always had to work hard for every nickel of “salary” that they earned, you should consider the following advice.  I very strongly suggest that you organize a guitar quartet and all pitch in to purchase a Bass Guitar.  It can be either a 4-string or 6-string model, and one that is either acoustic or a solid-bodied electric (requiring at least a small amplifier).  Every point of music theory that you learn here, or anywhere else for that matter, should be tested and experimented with using that instrument along with 3 guitars.  Each guitar player should take a turn at playing the bass guitar, the melody, the chords, and the fills.  This is how you are going to learn to arrange, compose and improvise quickly and efficiently.  Take every bit of music theory that you learn and discover how to use it in arranging a guitar solo, plus how to voice and distribute the texture among 3 guitars plus 1 bass guitar.

The second reason for using the bass guitar is so that all 4 of you will gain more strength in both hands by having to deal with the heavier gauge strings.  The third reason is that you should become as adept at reading the bass clef as you are the tenor treble clef that is used for all guitar music.

As far as a learning manual is concerned, may I please add that I have authored a book entitled, Lessons for Electric Fretted Bass, Book One by Patrick Ferreri.  It is available from my own Ferreri Publications for $5.00 plus postage and handling, and I am very proud of it.  Please view my catalogue.

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