Neck Positions Are Dumb, Discuss.

Let’s clear something up before watching the video. There’s been some confusion in the  video comments which, I think, stems from the fact that there’s 2 things often referred to as “Neck Positions”, but only one of these is relevant here. The first is Scale Position – the note of the scale you begin on, (“starting on the 2nd degree of the scale”, for example); the second, and the subject of this video, is Fret Positions – the fret on which you start playing.

Guitar positions are a way of indicating where on the fretboard you play barre chords or scales. It allows you to know what chord voicings a composer wants you to play, or it lets you know if there’s an easier way to approach a lead line, by starting in a position you wouldn’t usually expect to. If I say “A minor, 5th position” everyone knows to play an A minor barre chord rooted to the 5th fret. These can be indicated on notation with roman numerals, but since TAB has become more and more popular it kinda makes the position markings obsolete.

They are, in my opinion, pointless because the number that dictates the position is the same as the fret number. Fret 1 is position 1 for example. So, we could quite easily replace the word “position” with “fret”, everyone would know what we meant and we wouldn’t have to pointlessly throw around extra terms. It’s just unnecessary. For example – could you play “A minor at the 5th position” becomes “A minor at the 5th fret” – easy. If it meant something other than the fret number then it’d make sense. But it doesn’t.

I sometimes use neck positions as a starting point for teaching modes because it allows a student to think about a scale as being something you can play all over the neck, rather than being confined to a box shape. I’ll usually talk about how the Major and Minor scales can be played together, then work out the notes in between. Usually that’s enough for students and is a great basis for building up to the modes, but sometimes I’ll talk about these traditional scale positions for a couple weeks, and then basically replace the position number with the name of the mode.

For example, if we’re in A Minor, we could play 3rd position Am, then start referring to it as G Mixolydian. Similarly, B Major, 4th position becomes G# Aeolian. It makes more sense to refer to modes in terms of how they relate to each other rather than being abstract and separate scales which is how they’re usually taught – maybe not in a classroom, but certainly on the internet. That way is helpful to teaching modulation, but with my method you actually learn how modes are created, how they relate to each other, so when you do start to address modulation you have a much better foundational understanding. It doesn’t seem to have a detrimental affect when we then start talking about modal modulation, which was a concern when I first tried this. I will use the term “open position” when referring to open chords or a scale using open strings, because you can’t say the “0 fret” because it’s not a fret, right?

So, that’s why I don’t usually teach neck positions – because we can just say “fret 3” and we all know what’s going on. Also a bit of info on how I approach relative major / minor scales, and teaching the modes.

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My Music Education Background

Today I’m talking about my music education background, the courses I’ve taken, schools I’ve attended and so forth. Hopefully you’ll get some useful ideas if you’re looking to pursue music education yourself.

If you want to take a look, the college I attended and highly recommend is called Access To Music. I attended the Norwich campus, but there’s a few all over the UK.

Introducing Liam Taylor

Inflated Inspirations

Inflated Inspirations will use art created by those on the ‘Pop My Mind’ forum for inspiration for the completed work.  We will take a look at each artist in turn to find out a bit more about them.

Image Liam Taylor

Liam Taylor is a composer for multimedia and music technician from Cambridge. He has created a variety of pieces for Pop My Mind including electronic minimalism, sound designs and more traditional pop & rock compositions. Most intriguing are his creations centred around audio-visual interaction and image sonification.

Sonification is a way of digitally translating data or still visuals into audio. Liam takes works from the Pop My Mind community, and uses software to translate them into raw audio files, which are then manipulated in his recording studio. His pieces entitled Black Hole Sonification and Waves Sonification demonstrate the creative potential of sonification, with the latter introducing more reconizably “musical” ideas.

In 2016…

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My Favourite Chord: Stacked 5ths

Today I’d like to introduce you to my favourite chord of all time. Behold:

Favourite Chord.PNG
A Gsus2, or a Dsus4?

In my mind this chord could actually be any one of 3, depending on which note you decide to be the root:

  • If the deepest pitch is the root then the middle note is it’s 5th, and the higher note is a 2. That makes the chord a Sus2.
  • If the middle note is the root, that makes the deeper note a 4th; while the higher note is a 5th. So this chord is an Inverted Sus4.
  • If the highest note is the root, then the middle pitch is a 4th, while the lowest pitch is a m7…. Root, 4th, m7th…. I don’t think there’s a name for that chord to be honest…
    EDIT: Having spoken with a musical colleague we came to the conclusion that, you could refer to this chord as Inverted Stacked Fourths. Maybe read-up on Quartal Harmony for more info.

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