Bruce Arnold Blog for Guitar at Muse Eek Publishing Key Retention

Since its release, I’ve received a few general questions about the contents of the “Playing off the Melody” course, and how it will help with your musicianship.  This course will obviously help you play more compositionally over “Stella By Startlight.” But here are some further thoughts I had this morning.

A large percentage of students have a problem wherein they tend to start and end their improvised melodies in the same place rhythmically, within the measure.  This makes your melodies all sound similar; not something you want in a good solo.  This course forces you to play starting on every eighth note pulse, in order to get your ear to hear new places to start and end melodic phrases.  That will affect not only the example tune “Stella by Starlight,” but every other tune you play.  This is one of the main “takeaways” from this course.

The next exercise gets you switching between the 6 melodic shapes.  These exercises present etudes that randomly change which melodic shapes is being played.  This gets you out of the common rut of playing the same melodic shape.  It also hopefully makes you re-examine all the melodies you play and to see how using a simple “rotation” pattern can help you to extrapolate new melodic shapes from all the melodies you commonly play.

The 3rd exercise varies the rhythm AND the melodic shape and these are the most “musical” of all examples.  Literally each exercise is close to being a good solo within itself rather than an exercise.  When I worked on this part of the course I really enjoyed reading these parts and then improvising around them.  Doing this creates a very strong solo which highly relates back to the essence of “Stella by Starlight.”

The 180 permutations of the six note motif from “Stella by Starlight” is included if you want to further expand your use of this melodic fragment.  I often use these permutation exercises as a chop builder.  They quickly point out which melodic shapes are weak and need work.  I also find really cool sounding melodies within these lists.

Like the Melodic Rotation 012345 book, the “Playing off the Melody” course also contains exercises that take you through various cyclic movements of the melody.  You will find Minor 2nd, Major 2nds, Minor 3rds, Major 3rds and Augmented cycle exercises in the “Playing off the Melody” course.   The kinds of melodies found in these exercises are frequently used by contemporary improvisers who like to play intervallic melodies.  Often musicians will combine parts of these cycles to create hybrid scales, and many of them are actually used in real music, as can be seen in the Scale Analysis book which examines which scales you actually hear over chord progressions rather than the scales you are often told are correct.  Personally I like these rotations for developing my sight reading skills and expanding my ear.  By practicing these exercises with a MetroDrone you expand your ear by hearing new melodic ideas within a key center while the sight reading really helps with accidental recognition.  Finally, they build chops, so that’s in there too.

All exercises are in all keys so you learn to play “Stella by Starlight” in all keys.  This will deeply imprint the song in your memory while it helps you to play similar types of progressions no matter what key they are in.  If you work with singers, then this is another important aspect of the course.  You never know what key a singer may ask you to play a song in.  This prepares you for that situation.

While there are midi files of all exercises, the really useful audio is the 36 MP3s which present a rhythm section version of “Stella by Starlight” at 3 tempos in all keys.

Bruce Arnold Music Education Genealogy Chart

You might enjoy checking out the “Music Education Genealogy Chart” located on my artist’s site. You will clearly see the historic progression of pedagogy that is the basis for Muse Eek Publishing Products. Great musicians throughout history have been studying the ideas presented by which derives its content from a a lineage that stretches back to Scarlatti!

Blog by Bruce Arnold for Muse Eek Publishing Inc. Playing Off the Melody

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About Muse Eek

Muse-Eek Publishing Company is a publishing house with a broad focus on music education. Muse-Eek also publishes fine art and poetry books, and has its own record label, Muse-Eek Records. Our online presence, specializes in the publication of music workbooks, video courses and sound and video recordings that teach the foundation of good musicianship through groundbreaking and innovative methods along with traditional methods that have been taught for centuries. These historic methods date back through centuries of great musicians and educators. To see these interesting relationship please see Bruce Arnold's Music Education Genealogy Chart which tells you a lot about the where many of his educational ideas took root and some of the educational pillars that are evident throughout the books you find on this website. The Muse-Eek Records catalogue contains a diverse selection of music much of it by Bruce Arnold in collaboration with some of today's best players in classical, jazz, rock and avant-garde music. These are available in CD, DVD and mp3 formats. We believe in a working relationship with our music education customers; they are free to interact with the author after purchasing a book to help them through any material they don’t understand or which they need further clarification. We also have a member's area which contains a wealth of free information to help a student understand music at a deeper level and access additional files for our books. Many of our books offer cutting edge ideas regarding ear training, guitar technique, rhythm and time. These methods have a proven track record. Our main author Bruce Arnold has taught at some of the most prestigious music schools in the world, including Princeton, Dartmouth, Berklee College of Music, New England Conservatory, The New School and NYU. Along with Mr. Arnold's publications on the website he has also written books and appeared in educational DVDs for MelBay and Truefire. Over the years Mr Arnold has used his experiences with his students to develop a program that can elevate a musician's ability to world class caliber. If you have questions about any of our books or recordings please send us an email. Along with general questions about either our record label or our publishing company we also welcome questions to help a student choose the proper materials to reach their goals. We have over 300 products to help you learn any style of music and to develop your musicianship to its peak. We also make recommendations for practice schedules for students who use our methods to get the most out of their study time. This, along with personal interaction with Bruce through email, nurtures the student's ability through a closely monitored situation, ensuring there is no wasted time or misunderstanding.

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