My lifelong goal has been to master the guitar and to improvise and explore new areas and especially to avoid repeating my self or what Larry Coryell calls 'finger patterns'.
My 3 parts in practicing consist of: 1. Rudiments - Technical maintenance and expansion including chords. 2. Expansion exercises I wrote for myself. 3. Exploration & conceptual improvisational exhaustion.
Mostly I improvise to the Jamie Aeborsold play to records starting medium tempo. Also on my exercises I start with 3 note studies (double not exercises) without the use of the metronome (and breaking up of various passes) then eventually to tracking my progress on this and my other exercises with my metronome. I also start my straight 16th note studies with slower tempos and track my progress on this as well. I'll also use improvisational concepts as a means of deliberate patterns to exhaust and the colors within it such as string skipping and 2 string studies.
Items for practicing: 1. Metronome 2. Hand grips 3. Sand clock or watch 4. Audio cassette player 5. Music Notes
Daily Practice Routine
With metronome - keep chart of progress.
1. 100 hand grips. 2. 2 octave diatonic intervals. 3. 1 day's scales - 1 & 2 octave ascending/descending all 5 positions. Work on 'pinky' finger of left arm. 4. 2 octave interval studies with exercises.
4. Same # of notes as 1 octave diatonic double notes. (1 day = 1 series = 1,876 notes).
Double notes of all varieties - all 5 positions except when doing chromatic. Attempt to expand into chromatic scale studies.
5. 2 sets of trills. 6. 2 sets of down-picking (1 for 1 string, 1 for 2+ strings). 7. 2 " " up-picking ".
Assimilation and Coalescence
8. 1 - 1/2 Aeborsold record for 14 minutes. Use string skipping and other improvisational techniques. 9. 1 set of 14 minute St 16ths.
Starting in the mid 60s it was all rock for me with Cream and Jimi Hendrix great musical inspiration. Since 1966 I had had the most wonderful guitar teacher (Diane Whitcomb) who insisted I learn to read, chord solos, and study my exercises so that the following week I could play them as perfectly as I could (which was not very God Damned perfect at all!). In 1971 she and her boyfriend at the time (a great guitarist now in Seattle Washington named Fred McCall) took me to the big jazz guitarists hangout at Donte's in North Hollywood to see Joe Pass. She pointed out who was who in the audience that had turned out to see Joe that night. (And just to show you how jazz was in the SF Valley) Barney Kessel, Howard Roberts, Johnny Smith, Herb Ellis (I'm not joking!) and I was a man I was certain was Larry Coryell (I had recently started getting into him as he was (then and now) the most authentic of jazz/rock fusion guitarists.
The impression Joe Pass had made on me that night was the conviction I immediately had that if a person could only play guitar that way that they would never need to master anything else (I was 17 at the time!).
Anyway moving up to 1972 I became very disillusioned with rock as everyone I had emulated (and worshiped) had either died or broken up. And you know the names: Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, The Beatles, Cream, Jim Morrison etc. and what took it's place (and the place of psychedelic rock) was the emergence of new rock forms that really didn't turn me on very much. The was a return to the suffering singer/songwriter thing, funk, progressive rock (which like fusion was OK at the beginning but soon strangled on it's own pretentiousness). So I had a great High School music teacher as well (Louis Fratturo who had played alto sax with Stan Kenton) who helped me immensely as I crossed over into jazz.
I was struggling very much with studying Wes Montgomery and Django Reinhardt and I was learning and memorizing their solos note for note but nothing was really making sense. So my music teacher (Mr Fratturo) told me 'You really need to study the Bird (Charlie Parker)' which I did starting with the memorization of 3 takes of 'Billie's Bounce' from his Savoy recordings. I started to notice patterns emerging and how he brilliantly resolved the II - V7 - I progression and the many ways he did this. Along the way I learned about Sonny Rollins and couldn't help but notice that my virtue of my studying Bird that I already knew around 50% of Sonny Rollin's music. I very soon concluded that EVERY modern jazz musician from Bird on what playing Bird's stuff!!!! All of a sudden the storm clouds parted and the sun beamed through as I realized I had unlocked the secrets of Joe Pass and everybody else - Charlie Parker!
I was born into the sort of family that made me want to stay by myself in my room practicing guitar & writing songs. Somehow I developed this mindset where I felt drawn to the surreal/abstract so I gravitated and absorbed music that was being produced that was exactly that way (psychedelic, Hendrix, Doors, Beatles, etc.) By 1972 I began studying jazz and as I progressed through bebop, hard bop, modal and into the 'avant garde' or free jazz I not only began to absorb these genres but became completely unmarketable at the same time. Other areas of the music business didn't interest me so I just kept developing on my own my own musical approach. I did put together many musical units mostly in LA, New York, and where I currently reside - the San Francisco Bay Area that did attract some attention and this is what I am continuing to do to this day.
Us here this that. Dead Death Dying They're trying to kill me. But I won't be out on the street. I won't be here. Death cures all fears. I'm not even here now. I can't work. I can't survive.
However, I can see myself in patterns. On the fingerboard. It's like 4 frets, 4 fingers and 6 strings - skipping strings, wide intervals, random colors - there is light. I'm open. I did make the guitar say everything I wanted to say. I can put my colors in the world. Here this me that.
I was always the babe in the woods. Slaughter of the innocent. I me here this rather than that. Pieces, me. Death cures all fears.
All my mind wants to see is my fingers skipping on the strings. Random notes. They're just here. There are too many patterns. I'll never run out of notes. It will never be the same old thing. I, me, here, this, than the world. We're out. I'm trying to make things happen. We're here this that. On the one hand this; on the other hand that. We. Are.
They need to build more bombs so I'm gone. I have failed at Capitalism. Oil is more important anyway.
I think I'm OK now. I'm at this house. they said I can always be here. With my music, me, my computer, all these cats that love me and all of you! And the same guitar that my mother bought me in 1969.
Steps of homelessness: Walk. Find a place where I won't be bothered. Sit down - with a warm enough jacket. Endure the first 5 days of hunger pangs. Wait for death. Watch. See. Observe. Because I'm nothing. Dead is gone They can't hurt you when you're dead.
Dead: I'm not here. I'm not. Nothing. Dwindling reality left in a brain destined to rot. A dream that nobody is dreaming. The dead don't care about being dead. Away.
I am possible. We are possible. I see the tapes. I have mastered it. I am now me.
Primarily electric guitar. I've played electric bass and the bass viole in jam sessions and orchestras respectively. I've also played the clarinet.
2. What is your primary musical influence?
My dark side. Giving voice to all those feelings I've hidden from myself as well as a musical platform for various parts of my personality. Basically unleashing upon the world through my guitar all those thoughts/feelings/experiences that are 'ME' and that I'd probably get arrested for if I ever expressed them non artistically.
I've been aided (and abetted) by a long line of folk: Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, Marilyn Manson, John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, Sonny Rollins, Eric Clapton, BB King, etc. And most of all: Charlie Parker.
3. Are you a professional musician currently?
Sometimes I'm paid but basically no I'm not.
4. If not, why?
'Professional' hypothetically means you'll play anything for money - and align yourself to the corporate music belief that the bigger the revenue the better the music. I create using an unrepresented musical form and occasionally get paid for doing so. 'Professional' meaning musicians with the capability of 'duplicating' the music of other's for commercial purposes or studio players with their mastery of many of other guitar 'styles' (imitations of the originals) where they're not really expressing anything personal but are participating in the process of making a product 'desireable' and therefore 'marketable'. I believe to totally achieve the necessary levels of personal expression in any art form requires an absolute committment to that art form unadulterated from the prostituting of your abilities on non creative artistic/musical pursuits.
5. Do you compose your own music? Yes, I have around 90 performances of mine around the internet here or there.
6. Do you write lyrics?
Yes and have some of them in text form for some of my http://members.soundclick.com/guitar102 songs. (Has my various bands, units, sessions listed on the left side of the page). Actually I have the lyrics listed for 6 of my 'contributions'.
7. Do you have any goals, musically?
To continue to grow and hopefully get a little recognition and community support to the degree that I don't have to work a 'day job' (mine was computer consultant for decades) in order to survive and create. Also to 'HANG OUT' and continue checking out the original bands in my area.
8. What do you see in the future of music?
Endless attempts to break free from the corporate side of music production using 'independent' studios, distributors etc. and hopefully not succumbing (as most do) to the siren songs of fame money minus your pure artistic vision. IOW - not selling out.
9. What is the future of your music?
The urge embedded by others to improvise meaning to create spontaneously avoiding repetition, falling into 'finger patterns', and/or predictability by pursuing newer sounds with new concepts and seeking to play combinations of notes that I haven't played before and endlessly 'stretching' my ear into absorbing sounds I've never heard before. (which incidentally is the only sorts of music I enjoy listening to). Using various techniques of spontaneous creating over many advanced musical forms (modal, song form, atonal, abstract, experimental, chance, etc.). Improvising, as John Cage would say, by eliminating (as far as possible) 'intent'. Because if you only do what you intend to do you're not improvising right? The term 'finger patterns' I got from Larry Coryell is at the essence of it: teaching your fingers to not go to places they've already been lately. Needless to say, this takes eternal study listening and practicing (and performing an opportunity presents itself).
10. Do you have a message to convey in your music? Yes. It's OK to have a dark side and that the revealing of the most hideous parts of yourself find the greatest potential for reaching 'common ground' with others. To be a freak, form a freak scene, and freak!