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Preview: David Hodge

David Hodge



Music Teacher & Writer



Updated: 2017-08-10T14:38:27Z

 



Sharing the Music

2017-08-10T14:38:27Z

Today, August 10, is Fred Schane’s birthday. I moved to the Berkshires on January 1, 2004 and met Fred Schane shortly thereafter. He worked at the local music store, which was actually called “The Music Store.” Learning that I had moved to the area to teach guitar, he promptly requested I attend an open mic […] The post Sharing the Music appeared first on David Hodge. Today, August 10, is Fred Schane’s birthday. Fred Schane (photo by Claudia d’Allessandro) I moved to the Berkshires on January 1, 2004 and met Fred Schane shortly thereafter. He worked at the local music store, which was actually called “The Music Store.” Learning that I had moved to the area to teach guitar, he promptly requested I attend an open mic he was hosting at a local restaurant. I remember being a bit nervous at the first one, wanting to make a good impression on both Fred and the rest of the customers. Things went well and my Monday evenings often found me attending and playing at Fred’s open mic. We developed an easy rapport. He introduced me to many people, some who became students, some who became close friends. He encouraged me to play out, and as he often organized music events for local charities, I often got to perform for his various benefit concerts. I remember showing up for an event at our local “bandstand” thinking I had an hour to wait before I went on but he asked if I could go on straightaway as the performer ahead of me was running late. One of the songs I would do was Ian Tyson’s “Summer Wages.” Fred typically would record any show he was working on and liked his recording of this song so much that it became a part of his demo tape. In 2007 I played a number of shows at the Monterey General Store and had Fred record all four, as well as one by my former student Kathy Reichert. Selections from those recordings became the CD “Songs and Sandwiches.” Somewhere in there he took up the ukulele. He would show up at open mics I’d host for my students and play his songs like “BBQ” and “Wrote It (for You).” Or Peter Gabriel’s “Here Comes the Flood.” Or Anthrax’s version of Public Enemy’s “Bring Da Noise.” Fred playing the ukulele (photo by Claudia d’Alessandro) Fred worked summers doing sound for the National Guitar Workshop’s camp in Connecticut. His work there led to him becoming, in October 2008, the sound manager for Infinity Hall in nearby Norfolk. We’d catch up whenever I’d take in a show there. When I had my stroke last summer, Fred stepped up to provide sound for the benefit concert thrown by Erika Ludwig (to whom he’d also introduced me during the years). And I was delighted to hear that he’d been hired by Club Helsinki in nearby Hudson to run their sound. Last winter, Fred was diagnosed with colon and liver cancer. He passed away early last Saturday morning, August 5. I’ve been spending a lot of time watching his videos on YouTube. To say he was a good friend, a valued colleague, a beautiful human being seems inadequate. As it happens, I am in the middle of writing a piece for Acoustic Guitar Magazine about why we share music, and how easy it is to do. Fred was the living embodiment of sharing music with everyone. Since Fred has passed, tributes have been pouring in from everywhere. Marc Schafler (the owner of Club Helsinki) is starting a scholarship in Fred’s name to help young women train to become audio engineers. I’ll post more details as soon as they become available. This tribute, from Erika Ludwig, pretty much takes the words right out of my heart: As Fred would say, don’t get cancer. But if you’re going to get cancer let it transform you. When I sat with Fred and shared what I’d witnessed in him, we both “got it”. Even if we feel undervalued, unappreciated or misunderstood, we must be assured that living a loving life (not just towards others but also towards ourselves) [...]



Meanwhile, Back in DC…

2017-03-21T23:00:51Z

Hello to all. As many of you know, my friend Nick Torres does occasional roles in theater in the Washington, DC area. He’s currently part of Three Sisters, enjoying a run at Studio Theatre. From the photo, it looks like a wild time: That’s Nick on the far right, wailing away on a custom-made balalaika. […]

The post Meanwhile, Back in DC… appeared first on David Hodge.

Hello to all.

As many of you know, my friend Nick Torres does occasional roles in theater in the Washington, DC area. He’s currently part of Three Sisters, enjoying a run at Studio Theatre. From the photo, it looks like a wild time:

(image)
photo by Jesse Belsky

That’s Nick on the far right, wailing away on a custom-made balalaika. Look’s like a fun time! I hear he’s also playing tambourine!

“Three Sisters” will be playing at the Studio Theatre (1501 14th Street NW) through April 23.

Peace

The post Meanwhile, Back in DC… appeared first on David Hodge.




(most of) A Day with Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers (part 2)

2017-03-24T10:10:19Z

Having spent the afternoon with Jeffrey at his “Grateful Dead for Acoustic Guitar” workshop, I headed home to do some quick errands. That evening I was going to attend the first ever “Berkshire Strings Presents” event at Dewey Hall in neighboring Sheffield. Two things you’re going to want to know about this: first, Berkshire Strings is […] The post (most of) A Day with Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers (part 2) appeared first on David Hodge. Having spent the afternoon with Jeffrey at his “Grateful Dead for Acoustic Guitar” workshop, I headed home to do some quick errands. That evening I was going to attend the first ever “Berkshire Strings Presents” event at Dewey Hall in neighboring Sheffield. Two things you’re going to want to know about this: first, Berkshire Strings is run by my friend Erika Ludwig, a bright and talented violin and viola player / teacher whom I met many years ago. She runs a summer program here in town, usually the second week in July, to teach youngsters about playing in groups. At the end of the week, the students get to play a concert at our local park, as well as pop up at various places around Egremont during the day. Also, the various teachers at the program put on their own show to inspire the students and this inspired “Berkshire Strings Presents,” Erika’s latest venture, promoting concerts which in turn help to fund the music programs of the summer program. As Erika says, “Berkshire Strings Presents” began as a local liaison for Berkshire Summer Strings instructors wanting to perform locally and is now facilitating other musicians wishing to play at Dewey Hall; specifically artists who will inspire my students.” The second thing you should know is that Dewey Hall is a very special place. Built in 1887 on the Sheffield Green in the center of town, I’ve had the honor of playing there numerous times since moving to the Berkshires. It’s an intimate venue where you can be close to the musicians without being on top of them. Not a bad seat in the house, as they say. Pepper and Sassafras – photos by Genevieve Fridley When I caught up with Erika at Dewey Hall before the evening show, we’d both had a full day – me with Jeffrey’s seminar and she with her monthly Berkshire Strings Jam session that afternoon. Somehow, though, she had also found a way to prepare a meal for that evening’s slate of musicians, which included Jeffrey Rodgers and Wendy Ramsay (playing as Pepper and Sassafras) and Jordan Tice and Horse County. The concert started at eight, so we had time to do the sound check, eat, chat, and greet people as they began coming to the hall. It had been cold all day, with the temperatures not getting much into the teens. But a good crowd filled the hall for an evening of music. Pepper and Sassafras kicked off the show with “Almost There,” the title track from Jeffrey’s latest album, which he and Wendy co-wrote, and then played “Eight Days in January,” also from that album. Knowing that the Dewey Hall audience has a lot of love for folk music, the then did an incredible arrangement of “Wayfaring Stranger.” class='youtube-player' type='text/html' width='1165' height='686' src='http://www.youtube.com/embed/videoseries?list=PL-nPkO2FXRpvYxM-lKOmdUdOouFJW4W9a&hl=en_US' allowfullscreen='true' style='border:0;'> Throughout the set, I kept hearing solid examples of the advice Jeffrey had given to us earlier in the afternoon. Keeping it simple, yet interesting. He didn’t shy away from any solos, but he also gave Wendy plenty of room for her wide array of instruments. It’s not everyday you get to hear a folk duet on guitar and clarinet! They next did some cute songs, including one by Wendy: class='youtube-player' type='text/html' width='1165' height='686' src='http://www.youtube.com/embed/videoseries?list=PL-nPkO2FXRpvYxM-lKOmdUdOouFJW4W9a&hl=en_US' allowfu[...]



(most of) A Day with Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers (part 1)

2017-03-21T22:22:58Z

Last Saturday (March 11, 2017), I did something I’ve never done before: I went to a guitar workshop. Usually, I’m way too busy to spare a few hours on a weekend afternoon, but things worked out so that I could attend “Grateful Dead for Acoustic Guitar,” taught by Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers. I knew of JPR through […] The post (most of) A Day with Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers (part 1) appeared first on David Hodge. Last Saturday (March 11, 2017), I did something I’ve never done before: I went to a guitar workshop. Usually, I’m way too busy to spare a few hours on a weekend afternoon, but things worked out so that I could attend “Grateful Dead for Acoustic Guitar,” taught by Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers. I knew of JPR through his work at Acoustic Guitar Magazine (though he had left before I started writing for them back in 2007) and had never gotten the chance to meet him in person. This seemed like a perfect opportunity to do so. The workshop was held at Wood Brothers Music in nearby Pittsfield, Massachusetts and the weather was lovely, though very cold! As it turns out, Jeffrey and I have similar ideas when it comes to songs: we both try to create single guitar arrangements that give the listener the overall flavor of a song without copying any single guitar part verbatim. He also makes use of alternate tunings and capos to make the arrangements simpler. After all, if you can’t easily play a guitar part while singing, there’s little point in creating the part in the first place. Of course, there are a lot of differences in our playing styles, as well. We opened up with some songs done in Drop D tuning. First up was “New Speedway Boogie,” which I’d never even heard before. Jeffrey explained his choice of this tuning for his arrangement of the song. Specifically it allowed a player to concentrate on playing “5” chords (which have no thirds) and creating rhythmic shuffles using one or two fingers of the fretting hand. This ended up being helpful for the rest of the seminar. We followed with “Casey Jones” (also done in Drop D). I have only ever played this song in C, but there was an elegant logic to playing it in A (with a capo on the third fret) – as it made playing the shuffles for the A and D chords a lot easier. Plus, it allowed to recreate the signature guitar lick (albeit an octave lower) quite easily. Far and away the best part of the workshop was the chance to play “Eyes of the World.” It’s easily my favorite Grateful Dead tune, mostly because it was one that I played piano on in my first working band. One time we got a gig playing the signature lounge on the 96th  of the Hancock Center in Chicago and we opened up with this song as the sun set behind the band. “Eyes of the World” features a very interesting chord progressions that primarily switch between Emaj7 and Bm, which can be difficult for beginners. Jeffrey demonstrated how to switch between the chords efficiently, making use of chord voicings that involved only minimal finger movement. They were chords forms that I knew well, having I described them in Part 5 of my Guitar Theory book for the Idiot’s Guides people. All in all it turned out to be enjoyable, educational, and entertaining. I highly recommend you checking out any workshops that Jeffrey may be hosting in your area. You can check out his schedule at his website. The post (most of) A Day with Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers (part 1) appeared first on David Hodge. [...]



Private One-on-One Lessons via the Internet

2017-02-14T10:21:39Z

People have been asking for ages whether or not I'd teach lessons online and I've reached a point where it might be possible. So I'd like to find out just how much interest there actually is for this.

The post Private One-on-One Lessons via the Internet appeared first on David Hodge.

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Hello to all.

People have been asking for ages whether or not I’d teach lessons online and I’ve reached a point where it might be possible. So I’d like to find out just how much interest there actually is for this.

So if you are interested, please drop me an email at dhodgeguitar@aol.com. Be sure to include what you’re interested in in terms of the lessons, as well as preferred length (half-hour or forty-five minutes) and frequency (weekly, every other week, etc.,), and whatever other information you may think helpful and I will get back to you personally with more details.

Looking forward to getting this long-awaited project on the road!

Be chatting with you again soon.

Peace

 

 

The post Private One-on-One Lessons via the Internet appeared first on David Hodge.




Bass with The Barn Owls

2017-02-08T00:54:07Z

I got the email on a Saturday (exactly one week before the gig), asking if I knew anyone, myself included, who’d be able to play bass with a band on very short notice. The next day I practiced the first set. Monday I practiced the second set. The rest of the week I worked on getting very […] The post Bass with The Barn Owls appeared first on David Hodge. I got the email on a Saturday (exactly one week before the gig), asking if I knew anyone, myself included, who’d be able to play bass with a band on very short notice. The next day I practiced the first set. Monday I practiced the second set. The rest of the week I worked on getting very familiar with all the songs. from right to left: Mark, Kevin, Matt, Iris, and myself Strangely, I had a lot of anxiety about doing this show. Some of you are aware that I suffered a stroke last July and this was one of the first big steps I’d taken toward getting my life back to a more “normal” state. Yes, I’d been teaching privately and also leading a few group classes during the fall. I’d even sat in with the Berkshire Ukulele Band (or “BUB,” if you will) just three weeks after getting back from the hospital! And the big FODFest show in October. And the open mic at the Barn numerous times. And providing backup for my friend Erika’s students in December at the local holiday market  Each gig turned out to be a bigger step than the next.  January’s holiday market turned out to be just Erika, Karen, and myself. Back to the Barn Owls’ gig, I had a week to learn about twenty new songs (and the ones I knew I’d not played on bass before!) and would be standing for several hours. This also included practicing my harmonies, which I don’t get much of a chance to do at home on my own. One can get very self-conscious, just singing with the headphones on and totally oblivious to whatever’s going on in the rest of the house. Anyway, about four hours before the 8 PM start of the gig, we all got together for a sound check and last minute rehearsal of the songs we thought still need work. It took close to an hour to set up the stage; we spent an additional hour tweaking arrangements. I went home to have a quick bite to eat and got back just before 7:30. And then we played… Things went very well. Folks were dancing (which is something one doesn’t usually see in Egremont!) and everyone, band and audience, enjoyed themselves immensely. And I was enjoying myself, too, until Mark, who was playing keyboards, looked my way with a big smile and shouted “Bass solo!” towards the end of the first set. I shook him off, much like a pitcher does when he doesn’t agree with the pitch that the catcher requested. Now, there was one thing that I’d forgotten I’d learned – when taking a “bass solo” you can simply play what you’ve been playing all along! Because everyone else is being quiet, it’s very likely the first time that the audience can hear what you’re playing. So don’t panic and try to show off. Just keep cool and play what you’ve been playing, especially if you managed to come up with a very cool bass line in the first place. Fortunately, I remembered this before the start of the second set, and sure enough, during the very first song (a blues song I’d never heard before and that the group didn’t practice at all during the week leading up to the gig), Mark looked my way and yelled “Bass solo!” one more time and I took it in stride. All in all it turned out to be a great night and I hope we get to do it again soon. I’m truly looking forward to playing and teaching throughout 2017. The post Bass with The Barn Owls appeared first on David Hodge. [...]



2017 Spring Workshops at the Berkshire Community College

2017-01-10T23:46:23Z

Hello to all! The Spring 2017 Guitar Workshop classes at Berkshire Community College will be starting up the last day of January! From the BCC website: Anyone interested in learning to write songs, play the guitar or brush up on guitar skills, is invited to register for the following music workshops held this spring at the […] The post 2017 Spring Workshops at the Berkshire Community College appeared first on David Hodge. Hello to all! The Spring 2017 Guitar Workshop classes at Berkshire Community College will be starting up the last day of January! From the BCC website: Anyone interested in learning to write songs, play the guitar or brush up on guitar skills, is invited to register for the following music workshops held this spring at the South County Center of Berkshire Community College TUESDAYS (beginning January 31 and continuing through May 9) (no classes on March 14) “Continuing Guitar” Build upon your basic guitar skills to become better at strumming, picking, and improvising. Have fun learning more about what you and your guitar can do. 5:00PM-6:00PM “Basics of Harmony” An introduction to the concepts of harmony — a great course for singers, songwriters, arrangers, and players of all skill levels. Learn how to create cool harmony lines that complement and enhance any melody. 6:15PM-7:15PM “Songwriting Workshop”  for all levels of experience, teaches songwriting basics. Students work on weekly assignments to improve music skills. Learn to listen with the aim of critiquing songs in order to improve them. 7:30PM-8:30PM  WEDNESDAYS (beginning Febrary 2 and continuing through May 11) (no classes on March 16) “Absolute Beginners’ Guitar” Dream of playing the guitar? Learn the basics from tuning; to strumming; to finger picking; to simple lead and bass lines. You’ll be playing songs from week one. Spend the spring learning an instrument you can enjoy your entire life. 4:30PM-5:30PM “Beginning Ukulele” Anyone can make music and the ukulele is easy and fun to learn. You’ll learn all the basics as well as some fun tricks to make you sound great. 5:30PM-6:30PM “Mastering the Ukulele” Explore and enjoy all of your ukulele’s potential. This class will use familiar songs to help you learn more about your uke as well as more about music in general. 6:30PM-7:30PM Spring Jam Sessions Have fun playing your favorite songs with others! Class will explore arranging songs as well as basic music and improvisational ideas. All instruments and experience welcome. 7:30PM-8:30PM   For more information, or to register, call BCC’s South County Center in Great Barrington, 413-528-4521. For long distance (in Mass only), call 800-816-1233, ext. 5201 or 5202. These classes at BCC are truly a bargain – you get fourteen weeks of instruction for $140.oo (it works out to $10 a session). Learning in a group scenario works very well for some people, plus the classes are a lot of fun! Feel free to email me directly at dhodgeguitar@aol.com if you have questions. Hope to see you there! Peace The post 2017 Spring Workshops at the Berkshire Community College appeared first on David Hodge. [...]



Catching Up

2017-01-10T23:47:29Z

Hello to all. It occurs to me that I’ve never announced three of my last four books! So let’s rectify that, pronto! When last we spoke (not counting the very last post from last week), my Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Art of Songwriting was just about to hit the bookstores. There have been three […]

The post Catching Up appeared first on David Hodge.

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Hello to all.

It occurs to me that I’ve never announced three of my last four books! So let’s rectify that, pronto!

When last we spoke (not counting the very last post from last week), my Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Art of Songwriting was just about to hit the bookstores. There have been three new ones since then!

Just about a year after the Songwriting book, I wrote The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Playing the Ukulele. Guitar Noise’s own Paul Hackett wrote a brilliant review of this on Amazon. And I don’t mind saying that I wrote some great arrangements for this book, culminating in a chord-melody arrangement of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” which Alpha was kind enough to spring for the copyright. In the penultimate chapter, there is an arrangement of Nick Torres’ original piece (from the Sunday Songwriter’s Group) “It’s Not a Love Song.”

The following year saw DK Publishing take over the Idiot’s Guides from Alpha Publishing. Consequently, they wanted an new Idiot’s Guides: Playing the Guitar, which was published in September. This is very different from the old Complete Idiot’s Guide to Guitar (published in 2010), in that it has tons of photographs. It shows you how to hold the guitar with each hand, as well as up-close fingering of various guitar chords, all courtesy of my good friend Greg Nease. Like the previous Guitar guide, this one has numerous public domain songs reimagined for you to learn. It also contains two original pieces of my own – “Lullaby” (sung by Nick Torres) and an example of Hawaiian style “slack key” playing in open G tuning.

Finally, in November of 2014 Idiot’s Guides: Guitar Theory came out. This book is essentially a music theory book, but geared primarily towards the guitarist. The chord charts in Chapters 22 and 23 practically are worth the cost of the book itself!

I think that brings us up to date on the publication front. Coming soon – more news!

Peace

The post Catching Up appeared first on David Hodge.




Where to Find Audio Files for Four “Complete Idiot’s Guides”

2017-08-07T00:31:24Z

Hello to all. UPDATE – AUGUST 6, 2017 Thank you everyone for writing. It seems like the folks at DK keep moving the audio files online! Try this URL for the “Idiot’s Guides: Playing Guitar“ book When you get to this page, you should see a note at the bottom called “book extras.” Put your […] The post Where to Find Audio Files for Four “Complete Idiot’s Guides” appeared first on David Hodge. Hello to all. UPDATE – AUGUST 6, 2017 Thank you everyone for writing. It seems like the folks at DK keep moving the audio files online! Try this URL for the “Idiot’s Guides: Playing Guitar“ book When you get to this page, you should see a note at the bottom called “book extras.” Put your cursor over the “download the audio tracks” (it should appear with an underline) and click on that to start the download to your computer. I’ve not tried this URL yet, so please let me know if it doesn’t work. Should it not work for whatever reason, give this link a try: This is the “properties” URL when I click on the “download the audio files” I mentioned earlier. Hopefully one of these two will work. If not, just drop me another email. I’m still trying to get the audio for “Idiot’s Guides: Guitar Theory,” and I will post it up here as soon as I do. As always, I cannot thank you enough for your patience. Peace David And my apologies for not posting this a lot sooner! It’s been a very weird and busy year (more on that soon!) but I’ve been getting a lot of emails about not being able to find audio files online for my last four books. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Art of Songwriting (written with Casey Kelley) The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Playing the Ukulele Idiot’s Guides: Playing Guitar Idiot’s Guides: Guitar Theory Unfortunately, the URLs for the audio files got changed when DK Publishing took over the “Idiot’s Guides” from Alpha Publishing. When DK changed their website (almost over two years ago now), not all the audio tracks made the switch. They are still available, just at a different URL than that listed in the book. Here are the ones you want: Art of Songwriting http://www.dk.com/us/9781101540497-the-complete-idiots-guide-to-the-art-of- Ukulele https://www.dk.com/ca/9781101584774-the-complete-idiots-guide-to-playing-the-ukulele/ Playing Guitar http://www.dk.com/us/9781615645701-idiots-guides-playing-guitar/ Guitar Theory http://www.dk.com/us/9781615646388-idiots-guides-guitar-theory/ When you get to any of these pages, simply look for the “Book Extras” section, where you’ll see a link to download ZIP files to your computer of choice. Let me know if you have any difficulties downloading the files. And also please feel free to email me anytime with any questions that you may have concerning the book. As with almost all books, there are a few typos and such in there, so if something doesn’t quite make sense, just drop me a note. Thank you for picking up any of the books. I look forward to chatting with you all again very soon. Peace The post Where to Find Audio Files for Four “Complete Idiot’s Guides” appeared first on David Hodge. [...]



The CIG to the Art of Songwriting comes out tomorrow!

2013-06-02T07:54:16Z

Hello to all! I’m thrilled to announce my latest book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Art of Songwriting will be available at bookstores everywhere as of tomorrow, August 2! This is a new experience for me as it’s the first book I’ve co-written, working with Nashville songwriter, Casey Kelly. As you can read in […]

The post The CIG to the Art of Songwriting comes out tomorrow! appeared first on David Hodge.

Hello to all!

I’m thrilled to announce my latest book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Art of Songwriting will be available at bookstores everywhere as of tomorrow, August 2!

(image)

This is a new experience for me as it’s the first book I’ve co-written, working with Nashville songwriter, Casey Kelly. As you can read in his bio on Amazon, Casey is the writer of several Grammy-nominated songs, and his songwriting catalogue includes Kenny Rogers & Dottie West’s “Anyone Who Isn’t Me Tonight,” Tanya Tucker’s “Soon” and George Strait’s country music standard, “The Cowboy Rides Away.” In addition to his songwriting, Casey works as a session player and singer and performs in clubs and concerts for audiences throughout the US and Europe.  A frequent mentor, panelist and workshop contributor, Casey is a member of ASCAP, NSAI and he is currently a Songwriters
Guild of America Board of Councilors member, and Vice President.

This is also a new experience in that this book is the first of mine that’s available for Kindle and other online electronic book devices. I don’t think that was even possible for my first book, and that came out just five years ago!

Anway, there’s a lot here that hopefully you’ll like and enjoy. And, if it’s not too much to ask, should you decide to order one through Amazon, be sure to use the Guitar Noise affiliate link. And, as always, don’t hesitate to either post a note here or drop me an email directly (dhodgeguitar@aol.com) with whatever questions you might have.

Peace

 

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Q & A: Making songs less boring

2011-07-24T22:25:34Z

Here’s a recent question posted on the Guitar Noise Forum pages: Howdy, This is my first post in this sub-forum. Honestly I’ve been lurking on GN for a long time and havent posted in a while. Anyways. I set the guitar down for a bit while some big stuff happened (moved 2000 miles, bought my first home, […] The post Q & A: Making songs less boring appeared first on David Hodge. Here’s a recent question posted on the Guitar Noise Forum pages: Howdy, This is my first post in this sub-forum. Honestly I’ve been lurking on GN for a long time and havent posted in a while. Anyways. I set the guitar down for a bit while some big stuff happened (moved 2000 miles, bought my first home, changed jobs, yadda yadda you know the drill). Just picking it back up these past few weeks. I’ve been working on chords and honestly just switching between chords (following Justin Sandercoe’s lessons) is not super exciting in itself so I’m kind of strumming along and trying to find pleasant combinations of the chords I’m learning. So I’m playing some chords and have a combination / progression that I like, Id like to write my first “song.” Problem is I need to spice it up somehow… you don’t hear many songs that are just four chords strum strum strum strum chord change type songs (I’m sure somebody will prove me wrong !). Anyone have any tips for how to spruce this up a bit? I’m looking around posts here and a lot of them seem to be more tailored towards the lyrics side, which I havent even gotten to yet. It would be cool to be able to add in some single notes etc into the song instead of just the chords, I guess I just dont even know what to try beyond hitting the notes of the chord one by one… I will keep experimenting to see what “sounds good” but wondered if anybody had any advice. Thanks and either way, have a good one! Hi There are actually thousands of songs that are, as you put it, “just 4 chords strum strum strum strum chord change type songs.” Not that that’s a bad thing. What you’re discussing here could be considered more of the arrangement of the song, rather than just the song itself, but there are also a lot of songs that are built around single note guitar riffs as well as other things such as bass lines and even just different chord voicings. For instance, you could have a song that’s just G, Am, D and back to G. Sounds simple enough and it’s easy enough to just strum, strum, strum, but you could make it sound a lot different, even though strumming the chords the same, by changing the voicing of the chords. Playing Am with the (x 0 10 9 10 0) fingering or using Am7 (x05555) for the “normal” open position Am and playing D as (xx0775) or even going with Dadd9 (xx0550). One of the best ways to learn how to go about this is to hear it in other songs and to find what they’ve done to change up the expectation.  You can find a whole lot of examples like this on our song lessons here on Guitar Noise. Even without the tablatures you will get detailed explanations of how different chord voicings are used. There’s also a good article called Multiple Personality Disorder that goes into this topic as well. As far as strumming differently, may I be so bold as to suggest giving a listen to some of our Guitar Noise Podcasts (just click on the Podcast icon at the top of any page). The whole purpose of these podcasts is to demonstrate the very thing you’re looking for – coming up with interesting ways to spice up your strumming, which will in turn make your songs (whether your own originals or covers) less boring. A big thing to remember is that as you grow and improve as a guita[...]



Strumming Resources

2011-07-08T14:34:25Z

Hello to all and I hope you’re having a wonderful summer (or winter as the case may be!) so far. Here’s a recent email: Hey guys, I just want to write how much I love your site and your lessons. I’ve recently picked up my guitar again, i’ve been trying to get into it and […] The post Strumming Resources appeared first on David Hodge. Hello to all and I hope you’re having a wonderful summer (or winter as the case may be!) so far. Here’s a recent email: Hey guys, I just want to write how much I love your site and your lessons. I’ve recently picked up my guitar again, i’ve been trying to get into it and learning to play it, but it was just so difficult finding the correct resources on the Internet. But your site, it was well set out, really appealing the first time i entered it, and I’m just loving it. I’ve just discovered your “Absolute Beginner” series, and I’m just wondering: Do you have an article for beginners about strumming yet? Thanks guys, and keep up the great work. Thanks for writing and thank you as well for your kind words concerning Guitar Noise. We certainly have a number of articles and lessons when it comes to strumming. You might want to start out with either Tom Serb’s Keeping Time or Strumming for Beginners by Matt Guitar. Additionally, be sure to check out our mini-series on “Getting Past Up and Down.” The first article, Sock Puppets, gears you up with basic techniques while the second, Turning Notes into Strokes, explains how you can figure out the strumming for any rhythm that’s been written out for you. Strumming and rhythm are vital parts of playing but we at Guitar Noise also want to encourage players to not become dependent on the idea of “strumming patterns.” Be sure to read our lesson on The Pattern Trap to understand why. In addition to these great articles, we also have the Guitar Noise Podcasts, which are (and I think a lot of people will back me up on this) probably one of the best strumming resources you can find online.  Each podcast is a thirty-minute audio lesson covering a specific aspect of strumming. You might want to check out the first one and see how you like it. Finally, I’d like to add that I am right now finishing up work on a book for String Letter Publishing (the same people who produce Acoustic Guitar Magazine) that will cover the basics of strumming and rhythm. We’re hoping it will be out sometime late this year and I’ll be posting more details about it both here and at the Guitar Noise website, not to mention in the Guitar Noise News, our free twice-monthly newsletter. I hope this helps. Please feel free to write anytime. I look forward to chatting with you again. Peace The post Strumming Resources appeared first on David Hodge. [...]



A Farewell to the Monterey General Store

2013-06-02T07:54:20Z

Today, April 3, the Monterey General Store is closing its doors. It’s been an honor (and my pleasure) to have been a part of the music scene there these past seven years since moving to the Berkshires and I’m going to miss playing there.  Even though I performed at the Monterey General Store more times than I […] The post A Farewell to the Monterey General Store appeared first on David Hodge. Today, April 3, the Monterey General Store is closing its doors. It’s been an honor (and my pleasure) to have been a part of the music scene there these past seven years since moving to the Berkshires and I’m going to miss playing there.  Even though I performed at the Monterey General Store more times than I can count, I never played solo. The venue itself is all about the intimate sharing of music (the musicians usually within arm’s reach of the audience) and I always tried to make my gigs a celebration of music, friends and community. In many ways these shows were a bridge between my old world of Chicago to my then-new home in the Berkshires. My former student and good friend Kathy Reichert had two shows there and Mike Roberto and Anne O’Neil (two other good Chicago friends) and Helena Bouchez (who was in Chicago when I moved but has since moved out east as well) all participated in shows at one point or another. So did new students and friends, such as Marilyn Miller, Jim Martin and Glen Polson. And I also got invited to sit in with people who’d been playing in the Berkshires for ages, such as Todd Mack, Sammy Brown, Joel Schick and many others. There was something mischeviously cool about telling people you were playing in a general store. One of the running jokes was to tell folks to be sure to come early to avoid having to sit right next to the frozen food section. More times than not when we played it was to a crowd of people, many of whom would have to stand in the aisles among the potato chips, canned goods and ice cream bars. It was at Kenn Basler, the owner’s urging that we recorded a number of performances in 2007 to create the Songs and Sandwiches CD. Here’s a video that Nick Torres took of a June 2008 show with Nick singing David Gray’s “Babylon,” backed by Karen Berger on piano (hiding on the far right), Glen Polson and myself on acousitic guitars and Greg Nease on electric guitar (which you might mistake for synthesizer). title="YouTube video player" width="480" height="390" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/Fxljb3XCmCQ?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> Getting the opportunity to make and share music with your community is an incredibly chance and I’d like to thank everyone at the Monterey General Store for allowing me to do so these past years. And I thank them as well for all the new friendships I’ve been able to make, as well as the old ones I was able to maintain and celebrate through the music we made there.   And we’re also hoping that some day in the near future one will hear music coming down those aisles and out the doors again. Peace The post A Farewell to the Monterey General Store appeared first on David Hodge. [...]



Q & A: “Gallows Pole” and “Midnight Special”

2011-03-24T00:58:01Z

Time to dip into the “email bag” once again! Today’s question concerns two of the song arrangements from The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Guitar: Hi David I want to tell you that I’m enjoying your book, a lot, and making some headway in the difficult but fun voyage of learning to play.  It sat on […] The post Q & A: “Gallows Pole” and “Midnight Special” appeared first on David Hodge. Time to dip into the “email bag” once again! Today’s question concerns two of the song arrangements from The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Guitar: Hi David I want to tell you that Iâ€m enjoying your book, a lot, and making some headway in the difficult but fun voyage of learning to play.  It sat on my bookshelf for a few months.  My first impression was that these songs would not be near as much fun as your Guitar Noise songs and, to be frank, “Tom Dooley” and “Banana Boat” reinforced that impression. Luckily, I picked up your book and CD again, skipped around on the CD and heard many songs I liked.  I have worked my way through half of the book, skipping a few things I already knew or already could do, trying some things I cannot yet do and planning to keep going back and trying (like barre chords).  Your arrangement of songs like “Oh! Susannah,” “Wayfaring Stranger” and “The Cruel War” enable a beginner guitarist to sound good.  Iâ€m struggling with playing both “The Gallows Pole” and “Midnight Special” at anywhere near correct tempo.  Iâ€m wondering if this is typical, at my stage of development.  Iâ€ve been working hard at learning the guitar for about eighteen months.  I find fingerpicking style easier (I can do your earlier Guitar Noise version of “Scarborough Fair”) but I do like the sound of the pick, too.  Perhaps, I should concentrate on learning just the fingerpicking style because I do not have the luxury of limitless time.  Any thoughts, David?  Thank you for writing and thank you as well for your kind words concerning The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Guitar. Thank you, too, for giving it a chance! I know that “Tom Dooley” and “The Banana Boat” song are reasonably easy, but it’s hard to come up with something that a total beginning can play easily and still sound like a cool song. I did try to get my publishers on the “Horse with No Name” bandwagon, but they were totally set on using only Public Domain material (or my own songs, which is how I snuck in “Julia and John” at the very end). With “Gallows Pole” and “Midnight Special” you’ve chosen two of the hardest pieces. Not because of the speed but because of the thought behind it. When I recorded both of these songs for the book, my intent was to do something very spontaneous, just as one would when playing a song on the fly. Then came the wonderful task of transcribing it all afterwards! Of the two, “Gallows Pole” is a little easier because pretty much everything is a variation of the pattern given at the top of page 111. And that’s really the key to playing it at speed - work on just the first two measures at as slow a tempo you need to get the rhythm and the feel comfortably in your fingers. The first measure is totally based on the Am chord, so try to keep that in place – keeping your index and ring fingers very close to the strings after performing the pull-offs. Your middle finger should be at the second fret of the D string even though you don’t play it during the first meas[...]



The Left Way

2011-03-06T04:02:13Z

Hello to all! Here’s another recent email of interest: Dear David I want to learn to play the guitar.   But I play left-handed.  Any comments about a “lefty” learning to play guitar. Do you play left-handed?   Your pictures show you playing left-handed.  Does any of your books have instructions for playing left-handed.  And I prefer […]

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Hello to all!

Here’s another recent email of interest:

Dear David

I want to learn to play the guitar.   But I play left-handed.  Any comments about a “lefty” learning to play guitar.

Do you play left-handed?   Your pictures show you playing left-handed.  Does any of your books have instructions for playing left-handed.  And I prefer rock/electric.  Should I buy the guide book pertaining to rock first?

Any comments would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks! 

Hello and thanks for writing!

I play left handed, that’s how I learned from the start.

I’m assuming you have a left handed guitar. Left handed guitars are not upside down or backward as far as the strings go, so you can learn from any book. Going for books that are “learn left handed” are mostly gimmicks, The guitar is still the same and the directions are going to be the same as long as you keep in mind the only thing to remember is that when a book says to use the right hand (or strumming hand) that’s your left hand and vice versa.

Left handed books can actually be harmful, especially if they draw out the chord charts backwards. They are easy enough to learn and when you see them in other books or online they’re always going to be made in the same direction (thickest string on the left, thinnest on the right).

By the bye, if you’re going to get one of my books and you’re more interested in the electric guitar, I’d go with the Rock Guitar book. Both books teach the fundamentals but the rock guitar book really focuses on the electric and on the touch required to play one well.

I hope this helps. Please feel free to email me anytime with more questions. I look forward to hearing how things are going with you.

Peace

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March 1 Winner!

2013-06-02T07:54:23Z

It may not seem like it at the moment, but spring’s a-coming! and for some of us, that means tending to the garden. Ian from the Canadian province of Alberta has decided it’s also a good time to read up on playing his electric guitar: And what better way to wish him even more success […] The post March 1 Winner! appeared first on David Hodge. It may not seem like it at the moment, but spring’s a-coming! and for some of us, that means tending to the garden. Ian from the Canadian province of Alberta has decided it’s also a good time to read up on playing his electric guitar: And what better way to wish him even more success with playing than to send Ian an autographed copy of my latest book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Guitar? As you hopefully know by now, Guitar Noise is giving away two autographed copies of my latest book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Guitar each month throughout the rest of 2011. To enter this giveaway, just get yourself a copy of The Complete Idiotâ€s Guide to Playing Rock Guitar and simply take a picture of yourself, with the book, someplace relatively picturesque. You donâ€t have to have the Eiffel Tower or Mount Rushmore in the background, but try to be creative. As the saying goes, and as Paul literally did, you don’t have to go any further than your own back yard! Paul Hackett and I will be selecting two photos a month and will send an autographed copy of “The Complete Idiotâ€s Guide to Guitar” to those whose pictures are chosen. Just send your photos to me at dhodgeguitar@aol.com and be sure to include an email address where you can be reached, as well as a mailing address. And please put “Picture Book” in the subject line of the email. What you may not know, since it just started this month, is that we’re expanding the rules of our contest a bit. If you’ve got one of my books already, say this latest one, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Guitar or even The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Playing Bass Guitar and you’d like to win a different one of my books, then just take a photo of yourself with the book you’ve got! And when you’re notified about winning, you can let me know which of the three books you’d like. Our next lucky winner will be announced right here on March 15. We’re looking forward to hearing from you and, as always, we wish the best of luck to everyone who enters! And if you’d simply like to buy a copy, feel free to click on the link right here on my blog. If you’d like an autographed copy, just write me directly (dhodgeguitar@aol.com) for details. And my thanks, by the way, to all those who have already bought a copy as well as to those who have taken the time to write and post reviews. I truly appreciate your making the time to do so. Peace The post March 1 Winner! appeared first on David Hodge. [...]



Q & A: Keeping a Guitar in Open Tuning

2011-02-21T01:47:48Z

Hello to all! Here’s a question from a recent email: Hi. I am curious if you can answer this question with a reasonable degree of certainty or if not direct me to someone who can. I tuned one guitar to drop D and one to open G. I have gotten a 50/ 50 mix of […] The post Q & A: Keeping a Guitar in Open Tuning appeared first on David Hodge. Hello to all! Here’s a question from a recent email: Hi. I am curious if you can answer this question with a reasonable degree of certainty or if not direct me to someone who can. I tuned one guitar to drop D and one to open G. I have gotten a 50/ 50 mix of friends telling me I can leave it tuned that way on the one hand and on the other hand I get told I need to retune them to standard every time I finish playing. Any suggestions? Thanks Hello And thanks for writing. I can definitely answer your question with some degree of certainty, but I will also tell you that this is one of those questions where people do have varying differences of opinion, and sometimes quite strong opinions at that. And usually, as is the case with most differences of opinions, these feelings are often based on some instance of personal experience. Someone might have a guitar that he or she keeps in open G all the time without any kind of problem at all. Someone else might have a guitar that he or she retuned to open G at one point and it caused no end of grief in terms of retuning, or perhaps some greater calamity was involved. It’s always good to ask “why” whenever you receive an answer that seems based more on an opinion than anything else.    Be that as it may, you should have no trouble keeping a guitar at open D or open G for any length of time. Forever, if you so desire. Neither of these tunings involves tuning strings higher than they would be if they were tuned to standard tuning, so you’re not causing undue stress on the neck or on the saddle (if it’s an acoustic guitar). Open E and open A are a whole ‘nother kettle of fish. Both these open tuning involve tuning a number of strings higher than they would normally be. Because guitars are designed for standard tuning, keeping these strings high than normal for an extended period of time (extended usually meaning “days” and not “hours”) can cause unwanted stress on your guitar. This discussion is also common among people who own twelve-string guitars, by the way. One faction will say that you should keep your twelve string tuned a half-step or full step lower so as not to stress the neck. The other side says it’s perfectly fine to keep it in standard tuning all the time. There are valid arguments for both sides and usually it becomes a matter of personal taste and experience. There are some factors to keep in mind, though. (aren’t there always?) as laws of inertia apply here. If you keep a guitar in open G  or open D for an extended period of time, your instrument is going to go through a period of adjustment should you decide you’ve got to play it in standard. It may initially not hold its tuning and need some bit of adjustment until the strings get used to being stretched to normal tension again. As silly as it may sound, if the strings are old or have worn spots, you run the risk of breaking them when you retune up to standard. Constantly putting your guitar into an open or alternate tuning and then going back to standard does put wear and tear on your strings. So it’s a good idea to have spares handy. I hope this helps. Thank you once more for the email and I look forward to ch[...]



February 15 Winner!

2013-06-02T07:54:26Z

 A belated Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone! And a hearty to congratulations to Mitch of South Carolina, our February 15 winner of an autographed copy of my latest book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Guitar!  As you hopefully know by now, Guitar Noise is giving away two autographed copies of my latest book, The Complete Idiot’s […] The post February 15 Winner! appeared first on David Hodge.  A belated Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone! And a hearty to congratulations to Mitch of South Carolina, our February 15 winner of an autographed copy of my latest book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Guitar!  As you hopefully know by now, Guitar Noise is giving away two autographed copies of my latest book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Guitar each month throughout the rest of 2011. To enter this giveaway, just get yourself a copy of The Complete Idiotâ€s Guide to Playing Rock Guitar and simply take a picture of yourself, with the book, someplace relatively picturesque. You donâ€t have to have the Eiffel Tower or Mount Rushmore in the background, but try to be creative. As the saying goes, and as Paul literally did, you don’t have to go any further than your own back yard! Paul Hackett and I will be selecting two photos a month and will send an autographed copy of “The Complete Idiotâ€s Guide to Guitar” to those whose pictures are chosen. Just send your photos to me at dhodgeguitar@aol.com and be sure to include an email address where you can be reached, as well as a mailing address. And please put “Picture Book” in the subject line of the email. What you may not know, since it just started this month, is that we’re expanding the rules of our contest a bit. If you’ve got one of my books already, say this latest one, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Guitar or even The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Playing Bass Guitar and you’d like to win a different one of my books, then just take a photo of yourself with the book you’ve got! And when you’re notified about winning, you can let me know which of the three books you’d like.  Our next lucky winner will be announced right here on the first of March. We’re looking forward to hearing from you and, as always, we wish the best of luck to everyone who enters! And if you’d simply like to buy a copy, feel free to click on the link right here on my blog. If you’d like an autographed copy, just write me directly (dhodgeguitar@aol.com) for details. And my thanks, by the way, to all those who have already bought a copy as well as to those who have taken the time to write and post reviews. I truly appreciate your making the time to do so. Peace The post February 15 Winner! appeared first on David Hodge. [...]



(Slight) Change of Rules

2013-06-02T07:54:28Z

As you know Guitar Noise  is giving away two autographed copies of my latest book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Guitar each month throughout the rest of 2011. To enter this giveaway, just get yourself a copy of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Playing Rock Guitar and simply take a picture of yourself, with the book, someplace relatively […] The post (Slight) Change of Rules appeared first on David Hodge. As you know Guitar Noise  is giving away two autographed copies of my latest book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Guitar each month throughout the rest of 2011. To enter this giveaway, just get yourself a copy of The Complete Idiotâ€s Guide to Playing Rock Guitar and simply take a picture of yourself, with the book, someplace relatively picturesque. You donâ€t have to have the Eiffel Tower or Mount Rushmore in the background, but try to be creative. As the saying goes, and as Paul literally did, you don’t have to go any further than your own back yard! Paul Hackett and I will be selecting two photos a month and will send an autographed copy of “The Complete Idiotâ€s Guide to Guitar” to those whose pictures are chosen. Just send your photos to me at dhodgeguitar@aol.com and be sure to include an email address where you can be reached, as well as a mailing address. And please put “Picture Book” in the subject line of the email. Okay, that’s the old news. So what do I do when I get a picture like this, from Denny of California: Well, my first thought is that, does he want a second copy of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Guitar? He’s obviously already got one! But he’s definitely got the spirit of the contest at heart, so after some discussion, we’re sending an autographed copy of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Playing Rock Guitar out to Denny and he should be receiving it sometime in the upcoming week or so. So, I guess I’m saying that if you’ve got one book and want another, take a photo of yourself with the book you’ve got! We’re looking forward to hearing from you. And our next lucky winner will be announced right here in on Febrary 15. And, as always, we wish the best of luck to everyone who enters! And if you’d simply like to buy a copy, feel free to click on the link right here on my blog. If you’d like an autographed copy, just write me directly (dhodgeguitar@aol.com) for details. And my thanks, by the way, to all those who have already bought a copy as well as to those who have taken the time to write and post reviews. I truly appreciate your making the time to do so. Peace The post (Slight) Change of Rules appeared first on David Hodge. [...]



Top of the World

2013-06-02T07:54:32Z

Some of you have written me since the first of the year asking how Charley is doing, not to mention what he’s doing with his time now that he isn’t writing the Guitar Noise News anymore. Well, he seems to be doing a little be of adventure travel, as evidenced by this photo: Looks rather peaceful, […]

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Some of you have written me since the first of the year asking how Charley is doing, not to mention what he’s doing with his time now that he isn’t writing the Guitar Noise News anymore. Well, he seems to be doing a little be of adventure travel, as evidenced by this photo:

(image)

Looks rather peaceful, no? Of course, if you’re ten feet above any potential problems, life probably is fairly peaceful.

By the way, those of you with eagle eyes may be saying, “That can’t be David’s home – those are right handed guitars hanging on the wall!” Well, you’d be right with the guitars but wrong about the home. Those righties belong to my partner, Karen. If the camera had caught a little more on the right you would have seen one of mine hanging next to Karen’s Firefly acoustic bass.

As big a cat as Charley is, he’s in good shape and likes to do a lot more adventurous things than I would dare to do! He would have undoubtedly had a much better time walking along the rooftops of Stockholm than I did.

Peace

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