Monday, 11 February 2013

Back to the old school...

Lately I've been going through a bit of a quiet period on the guitar front. Since I haven't been playing long I'm very aware I need to keep practising to improve, but how do you move forwards when you find yourself aimlessly noodling and repeating things you already know? Well of course you try and change your routine, so the book that's on my music stand now is Mel Bay's Deluxe Enyclopedia of Guitar Chord Progressions.
Johnny Rector. Images copyright Mel Bay

I was put onto this by a couple of posters at the GuitarNoise forums. This is a guitar instruction book so venerable it has a Wikipedia Page, though its roots seem to go back to Johnny Rector's Guitar Chord progressions book from 1956. Which would put it up there with Bert Wheedon's 1957 Play In A Day. My copy is a recent print, but seems to be a direct facsimile of the 1977 edition, complete with era-appropriate typesetting:
The 70's: say it with capitals. Copyright Mel Bay
Why use a book that's older than me and whose predecessor is older than my parents? Well, this is a really different approach to more modern books which give you pieces to play through to practice a scale or timing, or to learning from tab or YouTube which usually focuses on arrangements or techniques for a particular piece. All have their place, but to give myself a change of pace I'm going to be trying this for a while:
How many ways can you play one
sequence? Copyright Mel Bay

Basically the first half of this book is 'learn these chords and play this progression until you can do it in your sleep, now do it again a semitone up', with variations on each progression and a new progression each page. That sounds pretty dull, but getting chord changes down cold is important, and there are some weird chords in there; the very first exercise has 6th chord voicings I haven't seen in any beginners book. So while the process sounds dull the challenge isn't.
And if I do get bored at any point I have that quirky 70's American look to cheer me up. It's like being taught guitar by Hunter S. Thompson.

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