November 25th, 2008

I went for something short and sweet and I think it came out rushed and sketchy. I like parts of it a lot but it gets redundant after a while which shouldn’t be happening in a two and a half minute song. I was going for an Yngwie Trilogy Suite Op. 5 kind of thing but I think I got a little ahead of myself. I didn’t plan this one out like I should have, the song needs to be more rooted down than it is right now. I already have a better idea that will take the main idea behind this song and make it better. I think I can take the fast waltz shred thing and work it out into something more melodic (but still fast).

Its in C# minor and though it may not sound like it, I didn’t use any tapping in this song. Everything is picking or legato. I really do like the part in the very middle with the legato lick with the wah cracked open giving it a vocal sound. Too bad that can’t take the song to the next level. After recording it I noticed I liked it a bit more than I did during the process though, so its not a loss and its not bad enough to be B-Listed. I don’t think.

Also: I’m pretty sure I should look into getting a mastering program – some of these mixes are kind of quiet.

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November 22nd, 2008

The cover songs category starts off with something a little different. This is the “Galop Infernal” by Jacques Offenbach, which I got stuck in my head earlier this week and decided to learn and then cover. I actually did two versions of this cover, the earlier one I scrapped and completely redid everything with a different sound. In the first version I was trying to get a huge drum line sound but I just could not keep it from sounding digital so I reverted back to my normal drums. In this song I went for a wall of sound effect to get a larger, more orchestral feel. The melodies are triple tracked, the rhythms are quadruple tracked, and there are three other miscellaneous tracks. In all, for most parts of the song there are usually between eight and nine guitars going at once along with the bass and two drums tracks.

I’m pretty satisfied with the song, though I like the idea of this cover more than the final execution. I am fairly certain that I will revisit this song later, and re-record everything and give it a little more flow and dynamics. Its in A major with a brief section in F# minor, I used the Peavey as usual, but ended up using lots of different tones that I normally don’t use to fill out the rhythm tracks.

Arrangement and recording Copyright Micky Sakora 2008.
Original song, Galop Infernal by Jacques Offenbach.

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November 19th, 2008

Over the next couple of months I will be testing out this program. I tabbed out the exact exercises I will be using and will provide links to download it. Note that it is targeted at my deficiencies – namely picking turnarounds on different strings, sweep picking, and straight alternate picking (I economy pick too much in the wrong places). The practice routine will work well for anyone though, it is well rounded and likely useful to many guitarists with different skill levels.

The key points are as follows.

  • Begin the program at a metronome speed that is easy to you. Use ONE speed for the entire practice session. Practice the exercises EVERY day and increase the speed by one BPM on the metronome EVERY day. Again, begin at an easy speed. You want to use the first weeks to get used to the routine and memorize everything. When it starts picking up you won’t have to think “what am I supposed to do here?” you’ll be able to concentrate on your playing instead.

  • Cover the entire neck with each exercise. Begin on the 1st and 2nd fret and work your way up to the 17th fret or higher. If you’re doing a scale, do it up and down with the 1st fret as the root, then move up to the 2nd and repeat until you’re at the neck joint. The exercises look short but if you do them across the neck it adds up, and it gets you comfortable throughout the registers.

  • Begin passages with down strokes and upstrokes equally. Either allow enough time to play each passage twice (once beginning with a down stroke, once with an upstroke) or alternate after each new root fret. Again with a scale – play the scale with the 2nd fret root beginning with a down pick, move to the 3rd and begin with an up pick, then to the 4th and begin with a down pick. Alternate to the end. Using both picking equally on the same exercises will eliminate problems with inside picking (like Petrucci said he used to encounter) or with outside picking (like me).

  • Keep practice time to an hour. That means focus 100% for one hour. Play your guitar throughout the day, jam and work on songs, but leave one hour for serious practice. And get everything important done in that hour. DON’T WASTE TIME.

  • Warm up with easier exercises and progress to the hardest sections at the end. Warm ups should be useful but not strenuous – use them to get ready for the more difficult passages later on.The routine I have tabbed is organized easy->medium->hard->medium->hard.

  • This isn’t totally necessary though I’m including it in the supplied tabs – but have a difficult song to practice at the end of the session to test all the skills you went over. I have Paganini’s “5th Caprice” which goes into string skipping, alternate picking, arpeggios, sweeping and is generally ridiculous. This is a short section but it is not easy to play both fast AND clean. I am also practicing “Flight of the Bumblebee” but I didn’t include that in the tablature. You can find it at Ultimate Guitar.

I started at 80 BPM. I probably should have started at 73 or 75, but I’m anxious to see how it works. I will be updating the Method when I figure out more, and I will create a separate page for it as I get a better handle on the routine. Note: its available in Guitar Pro 5 and 4 format as well as pdf.

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Download Super Sonic Shred Method V.1.0 pdf

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November 17th, 2008

Today I’m beginning a new practice routine that will hopefully get my chops up to speed as quickly and as efficiently as possible. It is inspired by the Stronglifts 5×5 Program, which has a trainee starting with a very low weight on his lifts, upping the weight every single workout in very small increments. The Super Sonic Shred Method does the same thing; I will run through a series of exercises at 80 BPM and will increase the speed by 1 BPM every day.

I will limit the routine to one hour a day, focusing on scales, speed picking, sweeping, some pentatonics, chromatics and Flight of the Bumblebee and a section of Paganini’s 5th Caprice. I tried out some of the exercises at 79 BPM yesterday and while much of it was easy, I noticed that I’m really going to have to focus on learning and losing the thought behind these exercises these first few days to make any of this worthwhile.

I’ll post tablature of the routine either today or tommorrow, after I finalize the exercises.

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November 16th, 2008

After exporting and posting Collapse I immediately started playing the intro guitar part to this song. I figured out the other backing chords and sections pretty easily but I felt like it took forever to figure out the leads and melodies that went over them. I recorded and re-recorded a lot of material that I didn’t end up using in the final track. Surprisingly though, I got the solo over the piano down easily. After figuring out the first couple bars, I improvised the rest in one take. My thinking went something like, “go Steve Vai on it,” and I think it worked out. The bass line was similarly easy, it only took a little bit (comparatively) to figure out which part needed what.

I’m not a huge fan of the mix. I spent a while on it – longer than most of the other songs – and I’m still not happy about it. It seems too muddy in some places and some of the dynamics are off. I did it over two days but I got impatient after a while, wanting to get the song posted by tonight.

Just the Peavey and my bass. A cello VST through the song, and a short interlude with the MDA piano. The chords are weird in that they go between A minor and A harmonic minor every other bar, and the soloing goes in some weird directions consequently.

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November 14th, 2008

I was shooting to break three songs out this week but that plan didn’t totally work out. I got two good ones out with The Sea and Cordelia, but going for number three I fell quite a bit short. I’m going to post it anyway, and any other mess ups that occur in the future in the new B-List category.

I was going for a heavier, more industrial version of The Sea, but it came out messy and lacking cohesion. There are some cool things I figured out how to do so I don’t consider it a failure at all. Actually I was more relieved then anything else when I decided to drop it. There are some cool chopped up pieces in the middle, and a couple cool drum patterns but none of it works together as a whole. Its mixed very, very loosely, just enough so its listenable.

The biggest gripe I had in the actual recording process was that I used the Washburn on all the guitar tracks. This guitar is great for rhythm but the truss rod and bridge both need heavy adjustment – soloing past the seventh fret is very frustrating. There is some rough action in the higher register and it is neither easy nor fun to play. I’m definitely going to have to work on that guitar before I record an entire song with it. But without further ado, here’s Collapse.

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November 13th, 2008

This song came out of listening to 80s pop songs for a couple of hours, specifically hearing Joy Division. It might be easy to miss, but the second chord progression reeks of Love Will Tear Us Apart. Also I’m not quite sure about this, but I kept thinking of The Fifth Element every time I played the intro line, maybe the Leeloo theme in the second to last scene (where Milla Jovovich tears up the super-evil-death-ball). Speaking of which, apparently Milla Jovovich released an album years ago called The Divine Comedy which also apparently got decent reviews. Hopefully writing it down will remind me to listen to it.

So, five guitar tracks total, all on the Peavey. Electric bass, a little synth stuff for background color. Three drums tracks. Its in D major (yes MAJOR), but ends at the very end in A major.

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November 10th, 2008

Now for something a little different. Much credit goes to State of Mind’s Sun King which I referenced liberally (the drum and bass). This time I started with the beat and chord progression heard in the beginning which was heavily influenced by that song. It grew into something much different after that with the weird solos and heavy guitars. I think starting with the beat first helped immensely, giving the song more structure than last week’s offerings. The piano/synth arpeggios came from a sweep picking lick I made up a little bit before starting the song proper and sound just a little bit like a certain theme from Final Fantasy XII.

I didn’t use any bass at all for this song, instead I relied on the three drums tracks and the detuned rhythm guitar for the low end. I used the yellow Washburn which is tuned to C# for the rhythms – it has a way thicker, darker sound than the Peavey. I used the Peavey for the leads in standard tuning. Also a synth through most of the song for the airy background sounds. Its in C# minor.

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November 7th, 2008

This song started off with the simple hybrid picked intro and got kind of out of hand after that. I doubled a lot of the guitar parts and doubled the main lead with a synth. I was shooting for a Ratatat kind of lead sound with that but it came out kind of harsh sounding. I’ll need to work on that. For the synth I had to tab out the solo which was easy enough, but it was far harder playing it than writing it. Each individual part is fine, the problem came trying to put it all together. I realized that I am really out of practice. I need to pull out the metronome for this stuff.

Its in E minor, a key which I’ve shied away from as its my default (It’s the metal key). I feel like this goes beyond what I normally do so no problem there. That’s what this is all about anyway. Peavey guitar, and my P-Bass knockoff, and Ableton Live drums.

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November 5th, 2008

This song started with the opening melody on the E and B strings and was built in order from there. Each section was built after the last without too much real arranging. I think it shows as the direction of the song is kind of muddled, but it allowed me to thing of things differently than how I normally write. The solos were written and then performed back to back to keep with this idea.

Its in B minor with the electric guitar and bass doing everything besides the percussion; no synths. There is a weird pick scrape thing going on between 2:30 and 3:00 with a phaser and distortion on that I thought was interesting. I’ll probably refine it in another song.

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