Magazine article Guitar Player

Mythology, Reality, and Chemistry

Magazine article Guitar Player

Mythology, Reality, and Chemistry

Article excerpt

I grew up in Toronto, an urban, multicultural melting pot where European influences and British heritage (with later Invasions) somehow came together with the giant global juggernaut of American show business. Motown from Detroit and Chicago blues weren't any further away than the legacy of Hank Snow, the ballads of Gordon Lightfoot, or the work of Robbie Robertson.

In the neighborhood mom and pop music stores and schools, apocryphal stories were told and "classic" stuff revered: Dominic Troiano's Tele, supposedly baked in his mom's oven with coats of floor wax, played through razor-slashed speakers and gargantuan Traynor heads. There were the heavy monsters privy to the secrets being taught downtown in the Eli Kassner Classical Guitar Academy, or in private lessons with the legendary Hank Monis, Tony Branden, or the up-and-coming Bobby Edwards. And, of course, there was all the unreality that swirled around a local Lenny Breau gig. I also remember how respected Mickey Baker's jazz guitar book was, with dog-eared copies making the rounds in high school, and especially Ted Greene's Chord Chemistry [Belwin-Mills]. What made Ted's book such an awesome, instant classic around here was its thoroughly detailed handling of the subject, and yet this book isn't about guitar playing! It's about finding and making music on the guitar, and there's a basic difference in this approach. Allow me to illustrate.

Ask a beginner to play an E chord, and you'll probably get Ex 1. A little more knowledge and practice hopefully gets you Ex. 2 as well. These are "guitar" chords, their sound universally known and loved, their finger-board locations and shapes standard. But when Ted shows us an E chord, there are over 60 of 'em! (Have a look at just a few of the ones that I love in Ex. 3.) Why so many? Because that's just about how many useful ones really are on the fingerboard. …

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