Formas de estudiar escalas

Al practicar escalas lo típico es que nos preocupemos a cuantos bpm (beats por minuto) podemos tocar nuestras escalas de corrido.  El tocar las escalas rápido no va a mejorar nuestra musicalidad ni nuestro sentido rítmico. ¿Por qué mejor no buscar otras formas de practicar las escalas y que de paso también nos sirva para otra cosa?  Por ejemplo: mejorar nuestro pulso interno (es mucho más difícil de lo que parece tocar una escala con tiempo certero a 40bpm con valores de 4tos, que en 16vos a 120bpm).

Una idea relativamente sencilla pero que hace el estudio de las escalas mucho más interesante es poner el metrónomo a un tiempo moderado (i.e. 60bpm) y practicar la escala en 8vos, tresillos y 16vos.  Incluir patrones como “Retro 4″ (agrupación de 4 notas) o “Retro 3″ (agrupación de 3 notas) lo vuelve todavía más interesante porque se generan especies de poliritmos o agrupaciones al cambiar entre valores rítmicos.  Esto te acostumbrará también a implementar esa soltura al momento de improvisar y le dará otro ángulo a tus frases melódicas.
Puedes explorar más e implementar secuencias como 3ras mezcladas con fragmentos de escalas, o incluso tomar del libro clásico Hanon para pianistas,  o inventar tus propias secuencias (¡que ayudará a darte una identidad propia en tu instrumento!).  Pasar todas estas ideas melódicas a través de agrupaciones rítmicas binarias y ternarias le dará un sabor mucho más interesante a tu práctica de escalas.

Otra idea para mejorar tu pulso interno es trabajar con el metrónomo a un tempo lento, aproximadamente 50bpm (¡¡entre más lento más difícil!!).  Empieza tocando la escala, ascendiendo y descendiendo, primero una nota por tiempo (4tos); luego dos por tiempo (8vos); luego 3 por tiempo (tresillos); luego 4 por tiempo (16vos); y sucesivas subdivisiones 5:4; tresillos de 16vos; 7:4; 32vos; 9:4; 10:4; 11:4; etc.  Este es un ejercicio realmente difícil de ejecutar precisamente, pero que ayudará mucho al desarrollo de tu tiempo interno.


What´s the role of the ego?


Ego is a necessary part of a musicians life.  But to what extent?  Without it, you can´t do much.  Too much of it, and it can start shadowing your personal life, however triumphant you may be in your artistic life.
You build yourself and your skills on a certain platform of ego.  But when you develop enough, the next homework is to rid yourself of the excess of it.  The ideal level should be enough to say “This is Me”,  I am not perfect but I am not useless.  This is me, at this moment.  A clear channel between my skills and what I want to express from the inside.  Not competing, but being true to your-”Self”.  Always learning, always changing, and always evolving.  Always listening.  50%Ego levelled out by 50%Humbleness.

Ego cannot be discarded 100%.  There has to be at least a tiny bit for one to develop any activity, specially a creative one.  But there is the positive ego, which pushes you to learn and develop yourself for its own sake.  And there is the negative ego, which bases itself on comparisons.  Positive is surrounded by fun, curiosity, excitement, even sadness, but a true link to yourself and your feelings.  Negative is always some kind of burden brought on by comparisons, too much talk about others and not enough about yourself, and it probably ends up being pretty lonely.

We all carry a bit of each, and we each have our own homework on how to balance things out.


Después de varios meses de inactividad, Fuxé vuelve al escenario en la ciudad que dió origen al grupo.  Varios meses de ausencia en el escenario y un proceso de re-inveción han permitido generar nuevos aires al grupo.  Manteniendo el ritmo, la energía y el dinamismo, regresamos con algunas nuevas propuestas el día jueves 06/Dic/2012 a las 7pm, en la Sala Manuel M.Ponce del Jardín Borda en Cuernavaca.

Probablemente será el último concierto de Fuxé en lo que resta del año, esperando reaparecer en Febrero con nuevo material, y con mira hacia una grabación de un nuevo disco EN VIVO en Mayo del 2013!!    Esperen noticias! 

Exercise: 3-Note Voicings

Exploring different ways of playing chords and mixing different intervals is one of my favourite activities on the guitar.  There is such a vast palette of textures and interesting harmonies available, even with just 3-note harmonies.  There are many many different ways of playing a standard chord, but we usually always get caught on playing only two or three types of typical voicings.  There is so much more to explore!

Here is an example for how to practice this:

Pick any type of standard chord.  For example, let’s pick DMaj7.  We have four notes in that chord: D, F#, A, and C#.  All chords relate to a general mode or scale.  In this case, DMaj7 would usually refer us to an Ionian mode or Lydian mode.  Let’s choose Ionian mode for this exercise.

Apart from the 4 notes of the chord/arpeggio, you usually have 1, 2 or 3 extra notes to use from the chord extensions (i.e. 9ths, 11ths, and/or 13ths).  (*You can always use all the extensions created to generate the specific taste for the mode, but you need to choose the right moments and styles).

So for example, take a DMaj7 Ionian chord, you would have the D(root) F#(3rd) A(5th) C#(7th) plus  E(9th) and B(13th).

Now be creative and combine any of the notes available into different 3-note voicings.  On guitar, practice them on sets of 3 strings at a time (i.e. focus on strings 123, then on strings 234).   Explore different intervals between the 3 notes.

(*Take into consideration that if you really want to have the Major or Maj7 chord quality over the root bass/drone, you will have to keep the 3rd and 7th (or 6th) in the voicings of your choice)



Thoughts on: What is a “good musician”?

What is a “good musician”?

Artistry?  Technical Skills?  Ability to adapt to different situations?  Mastery of single idiomatic musics?  Musical Visionary?

Is it the same as being a “good artist”?

It’s a question I need to revisit often, and each musician (and non-musician) has their own valid point of view.  In my opinion, few musicians hit the right balance between the several factors involved.  It’s not enough to have good technical skills.  And in the same way, musicians who have an interesting artistic voice but lack the technical skills to properly convey their ideas tend to make me feel as if I’ve missed out on something potentially excellent.  Of course there are the exceptions for this, but those are the really special ones (i.e. Bob Dylan; although his great technical skills are in lyric writing).  It also depends on the kind of musician you want to be.  If you’re happy just expressing yourself in the simplest way you know possible, great.  If you’re happy just fulfilling a technical role, much as a cog in a bigger machine, training in the same way as any athlete would, then that’s great too.

I find both sides very important, but keeping only to one side seems quite boring and uninteresting, but even more so limiting.  My personal belief is that as a musician you should definitely strive at finding your own musical and artistic voice, even if this changes throughout the years.  However, at the same time, through this work, one should care about keeping different skills up.  If you don’t, you might find yourself limited to only one way of doing things, or one point of view.  Whereas in the last decades we were pushed at concentrating on the mastery of exclusively one thing, I think that contemporary demands have changed and it’s important to expand one’s abilities into different useful areas.

Regardless, I’ve come to find that questioning yourself periodically is a very important element in your growth as a musician/artist.  As much for finding your true artistic interest, as for letting yourself being open to different points of view and ideas.  It’s very limiting to be stuck to one single point of view.  Everybody has different points of view and although you might not agree with what is being said (verbally or musically), everyone has to listen as much as be listened to.


ELCJO & Jazz at Lincoln Centre

Today is the first of 3 concerts with the East London Creative Jazz Orchestra at the Barbican FreeStage!!  Members of Jazz at Lincoln Centre have been working with us all this week on repertoire and original collaborative material.  I’ve been coaching the guitar section, and enjoying hearing some very talented young musicians in the band.  Should be a great gig!!

This comes immediately after having spent several days working with other extremely talented young musicians at Aldeburgh Music alongside workshop leaders Jo Wills and Ross McDouall, and composer Christopher Mayo, preparing some material for the Olympic Torch Relay celebration.

PLUS, gigs with a great funk band led by Matteo Grassi.

Very busy summer in London!!