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Chris Breen

Guitar World Member For: 1 year 20 weeks
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Beyond the Fretboard: Ways to Improvise Over a Breakdown

The traditional approach to breakdowns is that they be heavily percussive and rhythmic in their delivery. This means the entire band is in lockstep with the same groove-based and sometimes staccato-sounding pattern. The result is a very precise, tight and often catchy section to a song, which can even eclipse the main chorus.

Beyond the Fretboard: Why Guitar "Noodling" Might Be Underrated

First off, what is noodling? Well, it depends on who you ask. But for our purposes, I'll say it is generally the act of unorganized or undisciplined practice. Those of us who have been playing for a long time know it takes dedication and sometimes sacrifice to accomplish a certain goal.

Beyond the Fretboard: Letting Go of Our Perfectionist Tendencies

The line between proficiency and perfection is sometimes blurred, to the detriment of the player. We are solely focused on improving our miscues from the prior day's practice that we don't stop to realize just how far along we've come. When I would play along to songs in my room, I had a habit of replaying a song from the beginning if I screwed up just one section.

Beyond the Fretboard: Why Musical Purity is Overrated

Rock, pop, metal, alternative, blues, jazz and hip-hop have die-hard fans who firmly believe the best aspects of their favorite genre lie in its purest form. Mixing these styles together can be thought of as blasphemous by some, an attempt to dilute their purity. But is this really the case?

Beyond the Fretboard: Music Theory Offers "Options," Not "Rules"

In my previous column, I briefly touched upon how polarizing the topic of music theory can be for some musicians. I described it as being a false choice, a line in the sand between the ardent supporters of theory and those who believe it's a hindrance to the creative process. I say this is a false choice because it is not a cut-and-dry issue.

Beyond the Fretboard: Knowing "a Ton of Scales" Made Simple, Part 2

In my previous column, we explored how you could visualize four seemingly separate scales as one unified concept. To illustrate this point, I used the major scale to produce the major pentatonic, the natural minor and the minor pentatonic scales. How did I do this? Well, it's all a matter of perspective. Simply by changing the tonal center of the given scale, our ears perceive dramatically different flavors and musical moods.

Beyond the Fretboard: Knowing "a Ton of Scales" Made Simple, Part 1

We all know the true measure of an accomplished guitarist is not dependent upon how many scales he or she can blaze through. Instead, it's much more enjoyable to hear a player who has great command and control over just one or two scales. Many of the greats did not possess encyclopedic knowledge of music theory, and it didn't seem to hinder their progress or creativity.

Beyond the Fretboard: Finding Inspiration in Unlikely Places

In my opinion, a key symptom of this cynicism is when the listener starts to gloss over the finer details of a song, a band or a whole genre. Failing to realize the subtle yet important variations in music can further contribute to a person's indifferent mindset. Reactions toward specific bands or styles become over-generalized and less insightful.

Beyond the Fretboard: Changing Things Up

Unlike the piano, for example, the guitar offers us the opportunity to manipulate a note in various creative ways. We can even alter a note to where it's no longer one of the established 12 tones of Western music. This kind of versatility is what helped the guitar earn its status as the dominating instrument of the 20th century.