Song For Kathryn

Latin jazz kind of feel. One of 6 tunes that will be on my new EP, Sea Glass.

Look for a free download of Song For Kathryn to be available soon !!!!!

Peace,

Art

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Daria Semikina–Guitarist, Composer, Arranger

Daria Semikina

This is the first installment of a series of blog posts I have planned. I want to publish one review a month as part of Art Davis Guitar Music. I will review a guitarist and provide links to some videos of their work.

This first installment features Daria Semikina. Daria is a Russian acoustic and electric guitarist that has an extensive catalog of videos (107 videos) on her YouTube Channel and on Facebook.

I’m not sure I remember exactly how I discovered Daria’s work. I think it was on YouTube. Her videos are top shelf. The audio recording is excellent and her video production is simple and elegant. Her biographical info on line is (intentionally I assume) sparse. She has a very broad and wide set of stylistic interests.

Her playing is very controlled and demonstrates a light touch that is very expressive. The recordings are first rate and her Ramirez 130 Años (spruce top) nylon string guitar is a good match for her sense of touch. She has very delicate tone. Her phrasing is very thoughtful and contemplative. I find her music mesmerizing.

One of the really delightful things about exploring her video catalog is her carefully curated list of composers and pieces that she chooses to record. She has a deep interest in the amazingly robust acoustic guitar scene in Japan. There are dozens of excellent composer/performers that have a unique style. These compositions are a great match for Daria’s style of playing. Many of these pieces she plays on her Taylor 314 CE steel string guitar. She also has recorded pieces on electric guitar that are very atmospheric in the ambient genre.

Daria is also an excellent composer and arranger. Many of her videos have links to Selfly where you can purchase and download lead sheet/TAB of her arrangements. She has also arranged many rock and popular tunes for solo fingerstyle guitar.

So let’s dive in to some of her videos.

I’d like to start with a video that is most likely her most popular video. It is of her arrangement for solo nylon string guitar of the Eric Clapton classic, “Wonderful Tonight”. It is a very simple rendering of this beautiful song and demonstrates her ability to get to the heart of a composition in the solo guitar context. She first posted the video on YouTube on May 4, 2014. It became very popular on YouTube garnering over 130K views. This year she re-recorded/videoed this solo nylon string guitar arrangement on March 11, 2017 in HD.

Guitar World Magazine featured her in a fantastic article: Five Killer Rock-Song Arrangements for Classical Guitar in March of this year.

http://www.guitarworld.com/acoustic-nation-five-awesome-rock-song-arrangements-classical-guitar

Here is the link to the YouTube Video in HD:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ndRbVYUhqOg

Perhaps my favorite video of hers is “Big Sky” by Satoshi Gogo:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vCE7g8jN5qE

This is great piece that has a soaring drive of perpetual motion. I particularly like the chromatic descending sequence. Daria’s technical precision is a great match for this piece. It flows out of the guitar with effortless phrasing. It is also a great example of one of the premier Japanese guitarist and the acoustic guitar scene that is so popular in that country.

Next I’d like to feature another piece by a Japanese guitarist/composer, “Ka-re-n” by Hirokazu Sato:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7bmrXIYDIs

This is another perfect match for Daria’s musical interpretation. There is a sense of carefulness and attention to each note that elevates her interpretation of this piece. There is very sweet element to Daria’s playing that shines through in this piece. Time seems to stand still and the piece unfolds in a universe all its own.

“Growing Up” by Masaaki Kishibe is a lively tune. Masaaki Kishibe has dozens of excellent compositions. This one is beautifully played by Daria. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UY8I3BcCYlU

A good number of Daria Semikina’s videos are of rock songs arranged for solo finger style guitar. This is a great example. U2’s “With Or Without You”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FzD3qr5Tmbs

I’ll leave you with one of Daria’s original compositions, “Stream”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TkPegIKMP58

I hope you enjoyed this and I invite you to check out more of Daria Semikina’s videos on her YouTube Channel:

https://www.youtube.com/user/dseguitar

Watch for future reviews of guitarist I’ve discovered and admire at :

Art Davis Guitar Music.

Visit Art at:

https://arthurddavis.wordpress.com

Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/artdavisguitarmusic

Email:

mailto:ArtDavisGuitarMusic@outlook.com

SoundCloud:

https://soundcloud.com/art-davis

YouTube Channel:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCIdlJODRwneGUlsmDrjkYQ

Composition: Add Variety To Your Chord Progressions Part II – Mapping Functions To Modes

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The the previous post Composition: Add Variety To Your Chord Progressions Part I   we looked at how the seven chords in a major key fall into three categories or Functions (Tonic, Sub-Dominant, Dominant). And we explored how any chords in a given Function are interchangeable with each other exemplifying the concept of Chord Substitution.

This post assumes you understand the concepts in the previous post sited above.

So as a next step:  In this post we will take a look at how to do the same thing using different modes. In addition, we will examine different ways of using modes to expand your harmonic palette.

If you aren’t familiar with the musical modes we will go over the basics and I’ll give you a few links at the end of this post to excellent articles on the web that go into further detail.

Modes are pretty easy to understand in a basic sense but as you start working with them and begin incorporating them into your compositional process they open a very complex set of options that instantly provide you with a wide variety choices. Sometimes that’s a good thing and sometimes it can be crippling. On the simple side you probably already know two modes:

Ionian which is the same as the major scale.

Aeolian which is the same as the natural minor scale.

In the simplest light (which is always the best light) modes are just scales. Any scale or mode is just a pattern or sequence of whole steps and half steps.

The seven modes are:

  • Ionian – WWHWWWH.
  • Dorian – WHWWWHW.
  • Phrygian – HWWWHWW.
  • Lydian – WWWHWWH.
  • Mixolydian – WWHWWHW.
  • Aeolian – WHWWHWW.
  • Locrian – HWWHWWW.

A Major Scale/Ionian Mode follows this step pattern/sequence:

C Major Scale – C, D, E, F, G, A, B,

C – Whole – D – Whole – E – Half – F – Whole – G – Whole – A – Whole – B – Half – C

If you play that step/interval sequence starting on any note (C, D, F#, Bb, etc…) you will be playing a Major Scale/Ionian Mode.

Modes are just scales that follow a different pattern/sequence of Whole Steps and Half Steps.

There are two primary ways to think about modes:

The first way is to look at the following graphic showing how the different modes can be thought of as a Major Scale step/interval pattern/sequence and just start and stop on different notes.

 

modes

 

So you can think of the Dorian Mode as a C Major Scale from D to D, the Lydian Mode as a C Major Scale from F to F, and so on …

The second way is to relate a mode to a Major/Ionian or Natural Minor/Aeolian scale and call out the altered raised or lowered notes.

Dorian – Minor Scale with a raised 6th

Phrygian – Minor Scale with a lowered 2nd

Lydian – Major Scale with a raised 4th

Mixolydian – Major Scale with a lowered 7th

Locrian – Minor Scale with a lowered 2nd, and lowered 5th

OK so you get the idea of modes.  They are just scales, patterns of whole steps and half steps. Just as the chords of a Major Key are based on the degrees of the Major Scale the chords of a mode are based on the degrees of the mode.

The chords in the key of C major/Ionian Mode are:

C or I = Tonic

Dm or ii = Supertonic

Em or iii = Mediant

F or IV = Subdominant

G or V = Dominant

Am or vi = Submediant

B(dim) or vii(dim) = Based on the Leading Tone

If you do the same thing using a particular mode you will notice that the chord qualities of the different chords based on the degrees of the scale are different.  This sets up a whole different harmonic sound. Chord changes based on these chords sound very different than the same chord changes based on the chord qualities related to the Major or Minor Scale.

Let’s take the Dorian Mode as opposed to the Natural Minor/Aeolian Mode as an example and explore what we get:

The D Dorian Mode is a C scale from D to D (first way to think of it) and it is a D Natural Minor scale with a raised 6th degree of the scale (the second way to think of it).

Let’s see what that looks like for the chords of D Dorian as opposed to D Minor:

D    E    F    G   A   B(natural instead of flat)   C

D chord -i- is minor – 7th is dominant

E chord –ii- is minor instead of diminished – 7th is dominant

F chord -III- is major – 7th is Major

G chord -IV- is major instead of minor – 7th is dominant

A chord -v- is minor – 7th is dominant

B chord –vi(dim) is diminished instead of major – 7th is dominant instead of major

C chord –VII- is major – 7th is major instead of dominant

So as you can see that is a really different set of chord qualities. A very typical vamp in D Minor Dm7 to Gm7 back and forth is very different if you make the vamp Dorian. You get Dm7 to G7 (dominant 7 not minor dominant 7) a real different sound.

I’ll let you take it from here.  Try taking a chord progression in a minor key then change the chords to relate to Dorian or Phrygian and see what you get. It’s a lot of fun.

So from a practical perspective you can approach incorporating this into your compositional process in many ways. You can keep a tune or a section of a tune straight in a mode or you can just take any phrase or part of a tune and imply a mode. We all actually already do that all the time. For me, my musical harmonic language doesn’t use diminished chords very much. So when I’m in a minor key – say D minor –  the –ii- chord is almost always a minor  Em7 or Em9. I rarely make the chord diminished – E(dim) –  which would be strictly in the minor key. Em7 is borrowed from the Dorian Mode even when I might immediately go to Gm7 which is Minor Mode.

Play around with this and explore the different tonalities that are in each of these modes and add that knowledge to your harmonic bag of tricks.

As always thanks for reading this blog. Come back for future posts. Also if you like the post please take the time to “like” it and leave a comment to let me know what you think.

And let’s all go out there and make some music.

For more detailed information on modes check out the following articles on the web:

http://www.theorylessons.com/modes005themodes.php

http://www.classicfm.com/discover/music/guide-to-musical-modes/#76Vk3liVLJu9gsqV.97

 

Art’s Davis Guitar Music

View past blog posts at Art Davis Guitar Music:

https://arthurddavis.wordpress.com

Visit my YouTube Channel:

https://www.youtube.com/user/MrArtddavis/

Visit me on SoundCloud:

https://soundcloud.com/art-davis

Contact me directly:

ArtDavisGuitarMusic@outlook.com

Future Blog Topics:

Recording: Complementary EQ

Recording: Art’s Music Table Rig Rundown – Why I Chose The Equipment I Use

Composition: Add Variety To Your Chord Progressions Part III – Using Approaching Chords

Composition: Add Variety To Your Chord Progressions Part IV – Chords as a Sonority – Stepping Away From Functional Harmony

 

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Composition: Add Variety To Your Chord Progressions – Part I

MusicSnippet

This topic will be presented in multiple parts as separate blog posts. Part I will start out with a very simple concept and in subsequent Parts the concepts will gain in complexity and build on one another.

In Part I we will look into a very simple concept of chord function and explore what the alternatives are for that function and different ways to think about chord function. If you have studied this concept as part of traditional classical music theory or as part of jazz theory what I’m going to share won’t track 100 percent. The reason being:

Popular music for the most part doesn’t follow those paradigms 100 percent. Classical music theory uses the Bach Chorales as a model and presents a set of rules for chord movement and individual chord part movement. Jazz theory involves a much more complex harmonic language than most popular music makes use of. So what I’ve done is taken some of the concepts from both these traditions and adapted them to the musical language used in folk, pop, rock, blues, fusion, and other popular styles.

Two examples come immediately to mind:

Firstly, in the Blues the Tonic (I7) is a Dominant 7 chord, and so are the Subdominant (IV7) and Dominant (V7). This sets up a totally different chord movement tendency. A lot of pop and rock music has blues influence so you end up with this type of chord usage.

Secondly, if you listen to the early rock music from the 60’s it is obviously a mixing and matching by ear of 1st position guitar chords (C, G, D, Dm, A, Am, E, Em, C, etc…) the result is a harmonic language that formed the early rock song sound and is now totally in our ears as a natural sounding harmonic language. Chord function is circumstantial and there are some “head scratchers” from a Classical Theory perspective.

This blog post assumes a fundamental understanding of chord symbols (CM7, Gm7, F#7, etc…) and chord change notation using Roman Numerals ( I  IV  ii7  V7, etc…).

If you are unfamiliar with the concepts of Chord Symbol Notation or of Roman Numeral Chord Change Notation here are links to excellent articles on the web that you can reference.

Chord Symbols:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chord_names_and_symbols_(popular_music)

Roman Numeral Chord Change Notation: http://www.pianoclues.com/wordpress/2008/01/28/roman-numerals-and-the-number-system/

OK so let’s get started.

The chords in the key of C major are:

C or I = Tonic

Dm or ii = Supertonic

Em or iii = Mediant

F or IV = Subdominant

G or V = Dominant

Am or vi = Submediant

B(dim) or vii(dim) = Based on the Leading Tone

Chords in a given key fall into three primary categories or “Functions“. They are:

Tonic

Subdominant

Dominant

In the simplest form they map to (major key):

Tonic = the I chord

Subdominant = the IV chord

Dominant = V chord

In the key of C major:

Tonic = C

Subdominant = F

Dominant = G or G7

A massive amount of rock music is made up of those chords.

So what about the other chords in the key of C major?

So here’s a picture of how the seven chords of a major key fit into the three primary Functions:

clip_image001

C or I, Em or iii, Am or vi Function as Tonic

F or IV, Dm or ii Function as Subdominant

G or V, B(dim) or vii(dim) Function as Dominant

Here is the key concept:

The chords of a given function are interchangeable.

This is a super simple concept and one that is taken to a mind numbing extreme in Jazz Theory. The concept is called Chord Substitution. The idea is that for any chord in a given progression you can swap out another chord from the same Function group.

Here’s a kind of dumb example but one everyone will immediately recognize in C Major:

Ex1 - RotL

We swap Am for C in measure 2 and Dm7 for F in measure 3.

Here’s another example:

Ex2 - RotL

In this one we swap Em7 for C and Dm7 for F in measure 2.

We swap Am7 for C in measure 3 and Em7 for C in measure 4.

These are super simple examples and are just meant to demonstrate the concept and obviously don’t represent killer chord progressions.

You can take this simple idea and expand on it by in a number of ways. I’ll be exploring several of these in future Parts/Posts on this topic.

Here’s a very simple one you can try:

Change the quality of any given chord.  Change from major to minor, add a 7th or a 9th, or a 6th, etc… Once you start working with the idea of chord substitution it will become part of your compositional process. It is just another tool in the toolbox to Add Variety To Your Chord Progressions.

Give this idea a try and let me know if if you find it helpful by “liking” the post and leave a comment. It would be cool to hear from you.

Thanks for reading this post.

Let’s all go out there and make some music.

Art Davis

Art Davis Guitar Music

View past blog posts at Art Davis Guitar Music:

https://arthurddavis.wordpress.com

Contact me directly:

ArtDavisGuitarMusic@outlook.com

Visit my YouTube Channel:

https://www.youtube.com/user/MrArtddavis/

Visit me on SoundCloud:

https://soundcloud.com/art-davis

Future Blog Topics:

Recording: Complementary EQ

Recording: Art’s Music Table Rig Rundown – Why I Chose The Equipment I Use

Composition: Add Variety To Your Chord Progressions Part II – Mapping Functions To Modes

Composition: Add Variety To Your Chord Progressions Part III – Using Approaching Chords

Composition: Add Variety To Your Chord Progressions Part IV – Chords as a Sonority – Stepping Away From Functional Harmony

Guitar: Epiphone Worn G-400 – Edition of the 1962 SG

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Creating Contrast by Changing Your Compositional Process

MusicSnippet

Whether you write folk songs, rock songs, jazz, jazz/rock fusion, progressive rock, or compose chamber music most musical forms make use of the idea of contrasting sections.

While the idea I’m going to talk about in this blog has to do with writing music the concept works in other forms of creativity (painting, dance, cooking, gardening, etc…) .

I’m going to focus on the most basic of musical forms – the 3 part “Song Form”. Way over 90% of all popular music uses this form or a variant. The concept does translate into more complicated forms as well. I’ve chosen this form as it demonstrates the idea in a simpler context.

First I’m going to give a quick description of Song Form.

Song form is recognizable in music we hear every day. It is everywhere. It is annotated as:

ABA or AABA or ABAB

Where A is typically referred to as the “verse” and B is referred to the “chorus” or “bridge”.

A driving force that makes this form successful is the contrast between the A and the B sections. This contrast can take many forms. It will usually go to a different chord center, the arrangement will change, may include harmony vocals, or more dense orchestration.

But most importantly the melody and/or harmony will change its character.

One of the most important songwriting teams of the 20th century was John Lennon and Paul McCartney. They used their own differences to their advantage. While later in the Beatles carrier they would write complete songs that were obviously written by one or the other. But early on it is pretty obvious who wrote what part of a given song. They had a pact to publish everything as a Lennon and McCartney song regardless of who wrote what so the credits reflect that.

An easy example and one that meets our needs for this discussion is “We Can Work It Out”.

The A them is Paul:

Try to see it my way

Do I have to keep on talking till I can’t go on?

While you see it your way

Run the risk of knowing that our love may soon be gone

We can work it out

We can work it out

The B theme is John:

Life is very short, and there’s no time

For fussing and fighting, my friend

I have always thought that it’s a crime

So I will ask you once again

Obvious contrast in the language and the sentiment. Also the rhythm of the lyric is very different. The A them bounces along and the B them is very choppy rhythmically.

When you listen to the music it changes drastically as well. The A theme accentuates major chords and the B theme goes to a minor sound and even goes so far as to alternate 4/4 time and 3/4 time.

This works out great. You take two very different people and have them alternate on A and B themes and you automatically get contrast. So while most of us don’t have a childhood friend as talented as John Lennon we have to find another way to create that contrast.

One way to create a similar situation is for you to change your compositional method. So what do I mean by that? What is a compositional method anyway? You very well might have not given it much thought. Probably you write your music the way you write it and have developed a pattern that works for you. What I challenge you to do is to try something new and see where it leads you. Changing up the way you write works great for the idea of creating contrasting sections as well as opening and widening the musical language that you have at your fingertips when you write. It also is great when you are just “stuck” and aren’t liking what you are coming up with. It is also a lot of fun.

A very simple example of what you can change comes from probably the most asked interview question of songwriters – “What do you write first? Lyrics or music? The most common answer is, “It depends.” Most people do one or the other most often and some actually kind of write both at the same time. You’re most likely going to think I’m a Beatles freak because I’m going to use another example from Paul McCartney. The idea of “scratch” lyrics is something that he used a lot. The opening couplet from his song “Yesterday” was:

“Scrambled eggs

Oh my darling how I love your legs”

So he often uses scratch lyrics to focus on writing the melody first.

Here is something for you to try. It is easy and will automatically create a contrast between the A section and the B section of a song.

Write the A theme by writing the music first and then going back and writing words to the melody you already have written.

Then for the B theme write lyrics first. Just with pen and paper. No instrument or even thinking about melody. Then go back and write the music for the B theme.

A variant would be to write melody with no instrument for the A theme then go back and harmonize it.

Then for the B theme write a chord progression and then go back and write a melody over the chord progression.

I play several instruments – trumpet, piano, and guitar, and I’ll sing if no one else will. So I have found that for writing melodies I write melodies with a very different character if I change my compositional method with these options:

Write on the trumpet.

Write on the piano.

Write on the guitar.

Write in my head singing the melody.

Write with pencil and paper with no instrument.

Also I write very different chord progressions with these options:

Write on the guitar.

Write on the piano.

Write with pencil and paper with no instrument.

So when I compose I’m always switching around which method I use to write – melody first, harmony first, kind of mushed together, and altering which instrument I use or if I choose to just sit with pencil and paper.

These ideas will help open up new kinds of melodies and chord progressions and help you create contrast between sections of a piece or between different pieces. I hope you find this general idea useful.

Give this idea a try and let me know what happens. If you come up with new variations of this idea please let me know.

Thanks for reading my blog and let’s all go out and make some music.

Art Davis

Art Davis Guitar Music

View past blog posts at Art Davis Guitar Music:

https://arthurddavis.wordpress.com

Email:

ArtDavisGuitarMusic@outlook.com

Visit my YouTube Channel:

https://www.youtube.com/user/MrArtddavis/

Visit me on SoundCloud:

https://soundcloud.com/art-davis

Future Blog Topics:

Recording: Complementary EQ

Recording: Art’s Music Table Rig Rundown – Why I Chose The Equipment I Use

Composition: Add Variety To Your Chord Progressions Part II – Mapping Functions To Modes

Composition: Add Variety To Your Chord Progressions Part III – Using Approaching Chords

Composition: Add Variety To Your Chord Progressions Part IV – Chords as a Sonority – Stepping Away From Functional Harmony

Guitar: Epiphone Worn G-400 – Edition of the 1962 SG

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Featured

Art Davis

 

ArtGuitarArt Davis is a composer and acoustic guitarist living in the Texas Hill Country just outside of Austin. While his music is rooted in Classical and Folk music, it is his incorporation of elements from Post-Minimal Composition, Jazz, and Celtic/English folk traditions that gives his sound unique and broad appeal. Fans describe Art Davis as Andrew York meets Phillip Glass meets Bill Frisell. His music is meditative, with strong melodies and textures, and demonstrates an individual sense of harmony melding jazz with simpler folk, and ethnic influences.

Art comes from a long lineage of musicians and composers. His grandfather was a composer of concert band and orchestral music. Art began playing trumpet professionally at the age of 16 in his father’s Jazz Big Band, The Art Davis Orchestra. In many ways Art’s current music projects are a continuation of that lineage. While studying Music Composition at NTSU Art’s love of classical composition, folk, jazz, and ethnic music was a natural response to the vibrant music scene at the music school.

Art has been involved with many theatrical productions. He has composed music for dance and theatre productions. He has written five plays incorporating his music in creative ways blending spoken word and pantomime. Art’s works have been produced by The Hip Pocket Theatre, Stage West, The Tongue and Groove Theatre, and The Token Mime Theatre.

Art is currently in his studio recording, composing, and researching new folk material for his new CD, “Sea Glass”. Keep an eye out for a free mp3 track, “Song For Kathryn” to be released soon.

 

Visit Art at:

https://arthurddavis.wordpress.com

Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/artdavisguitarmusic

Contact me directly:

mailto:ArtDavisGuitarMusic@outlook.com

Visit me on SoundCloud:

https://soundcloud.com/art-davis

Visit my YouTube Channel:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCIdlJODRwneGUlsmDrjkYQ

 

 

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