Right now I am working on my first book with the title: "The Magic Triangle" a comprehensive improvisation method with three magic scales. Stay tuned...

Scales and Modes

Scales & Modes are the basic material for the improvising musician, our alphabet. You can download two pages with the most important fingerings for Major/Melodic Minor. Don't use this fingerings only as a technical exercise. Try to hear the sound of each mode with the corresponding chord. Especially the more unfamiliar modes like phrygian or locrian tend to be heard as a Ionian scale when you play them without any harmony.

The Melodic Minor Modes are the standard material for Bebop and modern Jazz. Listen to Ch.Parker, G.Benson, Karl Ratzer... and check out Cannonball Adderly playin' with Miles...

But always remember: The alphabet itself yet does not make a good story. You have to learn to speak, build sentences and phrases, tell a story that is thrilling...
Try to be creative with the material you got, for instance, take phrases you know and put them into other modes, play short sequences up and down every scale, make playbacks with grooves you like and improvise in some unusual scales like lydian augmented or locrian...


Since his work with Joni Mitchell on "Wild Things Run Fast" Mike Landau is one of my longtime favorites.

His own records with Burning Water, the Raging Honkies and his live Albums Live 2000 and the latest Michael Landau Group Live made me an even bigger fan. In spring 2007 I had the pleasure to see Landau live in some Club in Austria and I was floored by his true mastery of the instrument, his colourful, rich phrasing, the rawness and power of this performance. truly great music...

Here is a transcription of "I'm Buzzed". ( A tip: drop D tunings with Vibrato guitars work much better with 4 or even 5 vibrato springs. )



PS: The soundclip is taken from the Suhr homepage, where Landau made some demos with the Custom Audio Classic

Robben Fords piece Rugged Road can be heard on a recording of my Bluesrock band BRunO. I transcribed both solos, one in the middle, the other one in the end of the tune. A quite interesting aspect of recording in your own studio, is the fact, you can risk a little more than normally and often catch some nice ideas, sometimes even as a result of mistakes. The phrase in bar 10 is such an example. It just happened, I really had to learn it again when I transcribed the solo.

When you work for other people, you better avoid experiments like this and play only what you can execute effortless and what sounds good. Nothing is more nerve racking for a producer than a "guitarhero" who plays take #25 of a killerhighspeedlick, which he probably would not get right after 50 takes either. (and which does not contribute to the song anyway...)
The two solos contain some nice blues- and mixolydian licks, and they show also some of my main influences: Pat Martino, Larry Carlton and of course Robben Ford.

PDFs Rugged Road 1  Rugged Road 2
MP3s Solo1 [lo] [hi] Solo2 [lo] [hi]

Life Song (One for Annie), an instrumental by Robben Ford, dedicated to his wife Anne Kerry Ford, contains a solo, which shows the qualities of this master guitarist: „killer“-phrasing, exquisite tone, his huge repertoire of bendings and articulations, formal strenght and emotional power...
The structure of the solo is much more like a composition, very dramatic, each phrase a little bit more intense. Beautyfull how he suddenly changes the mood two bars before the end with using open strings, cools down and ends with this majestic, fat E.
Also very impressing how Robben connects the two tonalities E and G, nearly every phrase is played over the chord change instead of seperating the phrases. My favourite lick comes in the eight bar, suddenly G-Lydian instead of dominant 7.

PDF:Life Song Solo pdf.

MP3: [lo] [hi]

Wes Montgomerys solo over Misty is one of this pieces of music, which can open a big gate and give you a deep insight in the art of improvising. I transcribed the solo a long time ago when I was a student at the conservatory. But up to now I'm fascinated by the wealth of ideas, the swing, the brilliant mastery of different time-levels and rhythmic displacements, the melodic beauty and the flawless phrasing.

Reissue Cd "Impressions" on Verve

PDF: Misty Solo

MP3: [lo] [hi]

Some final words: Don't forget it is a privilege to be able to make music, use your talent and be grateful, work hard but have fun. Learn as much as you can, and most important: never stop learning...