Saturday, July 7, 2012

''GUITAR GODS: Tommy Emmanuel''

- David "Skinny Devil" McLean
Originally published at Tinfoil Music
Date: Friday, February 14 2003 @ 15:24:55 GMT

Saying Tommy Emmanuel plays guitar is like saying Arnold Schwarzenegger lifts weights.

With 13 studio albums, 2 live concert videos, an instructional video, 19 major awards, a Grammy nomination, multiple world tours, and a featured spot at the 2000 Olympic Games closing ceremonies in Australia (and broadcast around the world to over 2 billion viewers!), Tommy Emmanuel - the Kid from Downunder - has certainly attained the respect and admiration of fans and peers alike.
The late & great Chet Atkins (with whom Tommy shared a Grammy nomination for their work on "The Day Fingerpickers Took Over the World") said Tommy is, " of the greatest players on the planet...". Other giants of music have similar things to say. No wonder, since he has amazed everyone who hears him with his undefinable acoustic guitar style - a style which has led him to working with not only Atkins, but with Jerry Reed, Sir George Martin, Stevie Wonder, Eric Clapton, Michael Bolton, Olivia Newton-John, John Denver, Albert Lee, Robben Ford, Larry Carlton, Leo Kottke, Hank Marvin, Joe Walsh, and countless others.

Insanity 101; Way of the Gods (3) Jennifer Batten

- David "Skinny Devil" McLean
originally published at Insane Guitar, 2003

As many of you know, I write a column for TinFoilMusic called “Guitar Gods” that has featured some awesome players and will feature many more players in the months to come. (editor's note: Tinfoil is now off-line and all IG lessons and "Guitar Gods" interviews are found here at Skinny Devil Magazine) In the past, we’ve featured the playing styles of two of our “Guitar Gods” interviewees – Grammy winning guitarist Steve Stevens (of Billy Idol fame) and shred dominatrix the Great Kat. This month we feature the playing style of Jennifer Batten.

Jennifer is currently on tour with guitar legend Jeff Beck, andhas recorded and toured with the King of Pop: Michael Jackson. She has also released several solo albums and two books, and was for a time an instructor at the famed GIT.

"Insanity 101: Way of the Gods (2) The Great Kat"

- David "Skinny Devil" McLean
originally published at Insane Guitar, 2003

As many of you know, I write a column for TinFoil Music called “Guitar Gods” that has featured some awesome players and will feature many more players in the months to come. (editor's note: Tinfoil is no longer on-line, so all IG lessons and "Guitar Gods" interviews are found at Skinny Devil Magazine.) Two of those players, the Guitar Goddesses, are Jennifer Batten and The Great Kat. This month is a primer of sorts for the Kat style of playing…which is always intense!

The Great Kat – who is not only an excellent shredder, but a fine composer, too – is probably best known for re-orchestrating classical music standards for shred-metal interpretation. This has included the works of Vivaldi, Rossini, Beethoven, and others, and requires a firm grasp of both speed-picking and sweep-picking, not to mention a very limber fret-hand. Primers for these techniques can also be found in the IG “Master Class” archive (care of Joel Wanasek).

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Geometry of Music

 From Science News

The connection between mathematics and music is often touted in awed, mysterious tones, but it is grounded in hard-headed science. For example, mathematical principles underlie the organization of Western music into 12-note scales. And even a beginning piano student encounters geometry in the "circle of fifths" when learning the fundamentals of music theory.

But according to Dmitri Tymoczko, a composer and music theorist at Princeton University, these well-known connections reveal only a few threads of the hefty rope that binds music and math. To grasp the true structure of music, he says, we need to understand the geometry of hyperdimensional objects. Doing so has given him new ways of understanding pieces of music that have long baffled theorists and even led him to new insights into the history of music.

Muriel Anderson's ''A Journey Through Time''

- David "Skinny Devil" McLean
Originally published at Tinfoil Music
Date: Tuesday, February 10 2004 @ 02:33:20 GMT

When I think of Muriel Anderson's music, words like "exquisite" and "beautiful" and "devastating" come to mind. If you've heard her performances of songs like "Nola" and "Vincent" or heard her compositions like "Sakura" and "After Tonight", then you've certainly been stunned by the beauty and power of her skill. That said, it was with great anticipation that I opened my copy of "A Journey Through Time"......

What I got was completely unexpected. First off, Muriel is being quite literal when she says "A Journey Through Time". The disc contains 13 songs, each with a different time signature. The first song is a free-time track called "Owl's Psalm", leading to the second track in 2/4 ("Skirts of Mexico"), traveling all the way to track 13 (in 13/8) called "Baker's Dozen". See the pattern? The liner notes state explicitly, "On a musical journey through the feel and rhythms of every time signature..." and that is exactly what she does; with a mastery of style and technique and emotion that will rivet you to your chair.

'GUITAR GODS: Marty Friedman''

- David "Skinny Devil" McLean
Origina;y published at Tionfoil Music
Date: Friday, January 10 2003 @ 10:39:42 GMT

               How does one write a summery of a guitarist who plays as well and is as influential as Marty Friedman, the man who has been the hero of budding axe-slingers for well over a decade while recording solo projects and fronting the bands Cacophony, Megadeth, and Red Dye #2?

With 27 gold and platinum albums, 5 Grammy nominations, 5 Top Ten singles, countless performances (including late night TV, MTV & other video stations, world tours, giant festivals [including headlining sets at Woodstock & Rock in Rio & Madison Square Garden]), regular instructional columns for 3 major guitar publications, a signature model guitar from Jackson Guitars, and articles & interviews in every major music publication in the free world, Marty Friedman has become a musical force with few peers.

Marty started his career in the late 1980s with the band Cacophony. Their albums (1987's "Speed Metal Symphony" and 1989's "Go Off!") featured the twin leads of Marty and his pal Jason Becker (who later recorded with David Lee Roth) and set a new standard for neo-classical style guitar players across the globe. In 1990, Marty joined Megadeth. His work with Dave Mustaine and the boys of Megadeth demonstrated Marty to be more than just a speed demon, and his contributions helped propel Megadeth to their current status of legends of heavy metal music.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

"GUITAR GODS: Preston Reed''

- David "Skinny Devil" McLean
 Originally published at Tinfoil Music
Date: Friday, December 13 2002 @ 20:43:45 GMT

               Preston Reed is absolute magic with a guitar. His style is impossible to pigeonhole - it can only be said that it is performed on acoustic guitar and involves techniques influenced by everything from Bach to the Beatles played in a manner that is downright fierce. His compositional skills are par excellence, his harmonic sensibilities highly advanced and finely honed, his technique exquisite. In a word, this guy is dangerous.

     Preston started playing guitar much in the same manner as any other kid: a few chords here and a few lessons there. But by 17, when he performed his first live gig backing poet Allen Ginsberg at the Smithsonian Institute, he was already a force to be reckoned with. Soon after, he signed a deal with MCA Records - a deal which motivated him even further to improve as a guitarist. This motivation led him to explore beyond the finger-picking styles into which he'd delved, and deep into territory only occasionally treaded by such luminaries as Kottke and Hedges and a handful of Classical and Flamenco stylists of the highest order.

What Does It Mean to Be Fat-Adapted?

From Mark's Daily Apple:

When describing someone that has successfully made the transition to the Primal way of eating I often refer to them as “fat-adapted” or as “fat-burning beasts”. But what exactly does it mean to be “fat-adapted”? How can you tell if you’re fat-adapted or still a “sugar-burner”? I get these and related questions fairly often, so I thought I’d take the time today to attempt to provide some definitions and bring some clarification to all of this. I’ll try to keep today’s post short and sweet, and not too complicated. Hopefully, med students and well-meaning but inquisitive lay family members alike will be able to take something from it. 

Billy Idol - ''Devil's Playground''

 - David "Skinny Devil" McLean
Originally published at Tinfoil Music
Date: Wednesday, March 23 2005 @ 14:13:11 GMT

Someone once told me the 1990s were the "Extreme Generation". Clearly that is not true, because Billy Idol was on vacation. But now he's back...and not alone. The team that made some of the best music in the 1980s - Billy Idol, certified Guitar God Steve Stevens, and super-producer Keith Forsey - is back together with the best rock-n-roll record so far in the 21st century: Billy Idol's "Devil's Playground".

With 13 songs of hard-driving rock-n-roll rhythms and a fearlessly up-front guitar, the stage is set for Billy's surprisingly wide-ranging vocals. The album opens with the fast-paced "Super Overdrive", which finds Billy not only growling out his signature sound, but expanding into a higher range than we've heard since the days of Generation-X. Also of note is Steve's incredible guitar work - ripping licks and fast turns and that "Rebel Yell" lazer-beam! Next up is the punk anthem "World Comin' Down", which reminds us for just a moment of "Dancin' With Myself", but then veers off with Billy again opting for a change in vocal style that will keep you unbalanced but happy, and Steve laying down some brilliant guitar flash.

''GUITAR GODS: Tony Smotherman''

 - David "Skinny Devil" McLean
Originally published at Tinfoil Music
Date: Thursday, December 05 2002 @ 10:42:41 GMT

               I knew there was something incredible about this guy, Tony Smotherman, when I got a call from shred-god Francesco Fareri. Fra said, "You must listen to Tony Smotherman. You will want to interview him for your series.".

He was right!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Nodal Point

"Nodal Point" by Joshua McLean
part 1 of 3
also see Ootheca and Viral Creche

"Nodal Point" - Joshua McLean

''GUITAR GODS: Kyle Honea''

- David "Skinny Devil" McLean
 Originally published at Tinfoil Music
Date: Tuesday, December 03 2002 @ 06:55:18 GMT

               They say everything from Texas is big. Real big. If the talent of bassist Kyle Honea (of Dallas, Texas, USA) is any indication, there is truth to that saying.
Kyle began playing in 1988 and sweated it out in bands gigging in small clubs around Texas. He soon was influenced by bass extremists Billy Sheehan, Geddy Lee, and Doug Keyser, as well as guitar rippers like Jason Becker and Marty Friedman, and started practicing 8-10 hours a day. That practice paid off when Mike Varney (Shrapnel Records) featured Kyle in his "Spotlight" column in Guitar Player Magazine.

''GUITAR GODS: Jennifer Batten''

- David "Skinny Devil" McLean
 Originally published at Tinfoil Music
Date: Friday, November 22 2002 @ 20:19:59 GMT

               Jealous of her sister's guitar, Jennifer asked for a guitar for her birthday. When her dad brought home "...the coolest looking guitar on the block..." - she had an red & blue electric while all the other kids had acoustics - she was hooked. 

From lessons with a San Diego jazz guitarist to studying music at Pasadena City College to a stint at the Musicians Institute (where she graduated and then taught guitar), Jennifer has grown into one of the true giants of modern guitar music.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Guitarist Jennifer Batten - Past and Future

- David "Skinny Devil" McLean
 Originally publsuihed at Tinfoil Music
Date: Wednesday, April 07 2004 @ 15:31:42 BST

               The disc opens with a wicked drum groove, eerie vocals sounds, and a pseudo-fade, then explodes into a huge drum & funky bass jam that will plaster you to the wall. Seconds later, a screaming guitar crashes in playing a twisted and fiery melody, with a second clean guitar playing stabs of ethnic harmonic icing. This is the beautiful assault that is Jennifer Batten's "Wodaabe Dancer" from her second CD, "Momentum".
Jennifer Batten on stage with Michael Jackson

This is the guitarist who brought us a fearless version of Rimsky-Korsakov's "Flight of the Bumblebee" (played with all 8 fingers on the fretboard, no less!) as the opening of her debut CD, "Above, Below, & Beyond". She is planning to release her 3rd solo offering soon, so let's take a quick look at her past work now.

"Insanity 101: The Bridge to Esoterica pt. 2"

Originally published at Insane Guitar

Last month’s installment of "Insanity 101" covered the whole-tone scale. We took a quick look at the scale and then a few runs and ways in which we might apply them. This month, we’ll look at some chords based on the whole-tone scale. These are not quite as easy to inject into a piece, so it may serve you to compose a brief etude (a short piece of music written to explore a specific musical idea or technique) as a means of more deeply exploring and exploiting the sonic potential of this interesting scale.

Here are a few possible chord shapes to start you off.

Listen (midi)

''GUITAR GODS: Francesco Fareri''

Originally published at Tinfoil Music
Date: Sunday, November 17 2002 @ 15:14:36 GMT

               Guitar Gods come in a variety of styles and flavors. Italian virtuoso Francesco Fareri is most definitely from the high-octane, super-speed, neoclassical metal school of music which includes such fabulous players as Yngwie J. Malmsteen, Rusty Cooley, and Jason Becker. While Francesco certainly possesses incredible technique, calling him merely a technician is to miss the music as a whole, as he is also a very passionate player with a gift for both texture and intensity.

     Amazingly, Francesco, born in the late 70s, has been playing for fewer than 10 years. In that time, he has recorded an startling number of releases; transcribed (in tab & notation) tons of music by Becker, Greg Howe, Vitalij Kuprij , and George Bellas; and written lessons on technique for Chops from Hell, Insane Guitar, Guitar-9, Shred Zone, and many others. Francesco has also released an instructional CD-ROM called "Arpeggios", and his new CD is titled "Suspension".
I had a chance to speak to Francesco a few months back (his native tongue is Italian, of course, but his English isn't half bad!) - here's what he had to say.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Insanity 101: The Bridge to Esoterica

Months ago, a fellow (whose name I can’t recall) posted to the IG forums requesting information about the whole-tone scale and other “exotic” scales, as well as advise on how to apply new scales to soloing and composition. A recent letter from an IG reader (Chad from Iowa) reminded me of whole-tone scales…and that the name of the site is “INSANE guitar”, and that I should tread a bit closer to the edge. Thanx for the reminder, Chad. Let me know how you like this one!

We’ll start with a common progression in A minor – let’s say: Am (8) – Am (8) – F (8) – F (4), G (4) – repeat. Improvise freely over the first two chords of this progression using A natural minor (A, B, C, D, E, F, G). When you get to the “F” chord, however, switch to the whole-tone scale until the progression returns to “Am”.


''GUITAR GODS: Katherine 'The Great Kat' Thomas!''

Originally published at Tinfoil Music
Date: Wednesday, October 09 2002 @ 21:52:21 BST
The Great Kat is hands-down the most outrageous performer on the rock scene today - no doubt about it. With her brazen attitude and wild-woman appearance (complete with blood, S&M imagery, and the like), it's amazing she hasn't glossed the covers of more magazines.
The Great Kat is also one of the most skilled and passionate players on the rock scene today. With her Juilliard-trained facilities, she reworks classical fare into modern-day metal anthems and blazes with a technical proficiency which is nothing short of intimidating to even many an advanced 6-string shredder.