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Old 05-16-2015, 11:28 AM   #1
Sean0913
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How Knowing My Theory Got Me Upset at Truefire

I've been a Charter Member of TrueFire U since the first day they started sending out monthly computer discs. Its just one of those things that I've never cancelled and never really used, I've just accumulated their stuff.

If you're a teacher like myself, you might also be one of those that accumulates almost every book and video, but never watches them or reads them, because you don't "personally" need them .. but you grab whatever you can get, in case one day you want to use something that might be useful as a teaching resource. From time to time I check out what "perks" I have on TFU, but to be completely honest, I've never watched a single video series they have.

I've tried, but they put me to sleep. Still I've just kept the meter running, in case I ever decide to. And I've accumulated a lot of "perks" for example I have over 1000.00 in True Fire "cash" which I never see myself using because frankly nothing TrueFire has is of much need or interest to me.

But I digress.

I was killing a little time recently and logged in to Truefire and I was watching this guy, Joe Dalton, teach some Western Swing. Now if none of you know who Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys are, or were, this guy was a beast at these very fluid, technically complex licks and chords and fills, kind of like the Django of western swing. So I was just looking at some material on pedal steel effects and bends on the guitar.

And I saw him play this "stretch" chord thing, and it instantly caught my attention, because, I've been playing for 30 years and while Ive never tried Western Swing even a day, I respect the genre and the music itself, and this was a good sounding chord. Joe Dalton called it an E7.

That got me thinking, "I teach every chord there is and I'd never seen that chord. If it were an E7 one of my students or myself would have found that"

Here's the chord.

x 14 11 9 9 x

I looked at it, and the next chord following that, which he called an A7

x 10 11 9 8 x

Sounded great but then once more, I hadn't played that chord shape before for a Dom 7 chord, and this is when I started to wonder, how am I missing all these great sounding chords, that sounded very western swing-ish.

So, I decided, "OK, lets see why this is a E7 chord" I know the notes on the neck and every chord. Started out with the notes of the first chord, top down:

B - so far so good
C# - wait a minute, since when has E7 had a C#? Since never.
E - OK
G# OK thats the 3rd of E.

Where's the b7? There wasn't any.

A C# from E is a 6th. The dude either didn't know his chord names, theory or flat out watered down the truth of this chord. This was an E6. No wonder it didn't look or sound like any E7 I was familiar with, because it wasn't. Ear familiarity with intervals probably tipped me off on that, but I needed to make sure, because maybe I'd missed something.

My point is, that so called experts will sometimes water down the facts, and if you don't own your own knowledge to check what someone in a teaching role, or so called authority says, you'd never know. My thought is, for all the people in TrueFire that take these videos or lessons, its possible that no one ever knew that what Joe Dalton called an E7 was actually an E6.

That sucks in my opinion. That your knowledge is at the mercy of the completeness of the person that's teaching. Did Joe just think, "ah its just these TrueFire scriptkiddies and tab monkeys, they don't need the technical name of this chord, because 99 percent of them wouldn't understand what I just said anyways, so I'll just call it an E7"?

If so, that's terribly condescending. That's a sad commentary about us, to think that we don't have the capacity to actually understand and own relevant knowledge for ourselves. It's sad that he's probably correct in that too.

But how would you feel if you know that people were treating these explanations with simplified "kid gloves" because they believed that you're not smart enough to get what's really going on? It just hit me the wrong way. It highlights what I think is wrong about guitar players. It also makes me wonder, how much more misinformation do you think we are getting that is watered down, just because someone thinks you're not intelligent enough as guitar players to carry the full explanation.

As a result, you walk away with inaccurate information, but because it was given by someone that was supposedly a teacher, and unchallenged, you'd never know it.

Thoughts? For some I'm not sure you'd see this as a big deal. It is one to me, as I seek to have empowered, informed musicians, and its what I work towards every day of my life, pouring what I know into the lives of my students.

Best,

Sean

Last edited by Sean0913 : 05-16-2015 at 11:44 AM.
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Old 05-16-2015, 12:49 PM   #2
GoldenGuitar
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Look, we're all human. Humans make mistakes. It was probably an honest mistake (although it could do a lot of damage). But all when can do is be careful and double check everything. I'm also a teacher, and I try to triple check everything before passing it on to a student. That's why universities have a peer review system, so people can't make stuff up without others in the same field double checking.
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Old 05-16-2015, 01:24 PM   #3
SuperKid
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In my experience with Truefire instructional material, the lessons progressively got better. If you look at the old lessons they had, most of the courses are honestly useless. What bothers me the most is when the teacher keeps talking all the time, but doesnít actually play or only plays for 10 seconds during a 5 minute video. So when they publicize a DVD that has 180 minutes and 60 videos of lessons, the amount of actual useful information is often at probably 10% or less of those 180 minutes.

As you gain experience with instructional music material in general, it becomes really easy to tell right away a good course from filler material. In my opinion, a good course has to have a lot of playing examples you can emulate, the more playing the better, and examples of applications of the concepts presented in the course in the context of songs, because the point is to play music in the end

I really enjoy Andy Aledortís teaching because in one of his Truefire series (Jam Night vol. 1 and 2), the concept is to take chord progressions of popular classic rock/R&B tunes by the Rolling Stones, Bob Marley, and others and to demonstrate how you could approach rhythm and lead guitar, how you could improvise over those common changes, etc. Really useful material! Jason Loughlin is another excellent teacher as well as Fareed Haque, Jon Finn, Sheryl Bailey, Howard Morgen, Kenny Wessel, and Jeff McErlain. The Survival Guide courses are great too

I agree with Sean that there is a lot of misinformation (mainly the courses that present you many scales, modes, inversions, CAGED chords, fingerings, thousands of technical exercises and drills, but have 0 actual real world applications, no demonstrations in musical context, too much talking and no playing). There are also some excellent teachers, but it takes some experience to discern the good from the bad. Ok ill stop my mini rant

Last edited by SuperKid : 05-16-2015 at 01:30 PM.
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Old 05-16-2015, 01:37 PM   #4
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Old 05-16-2015, 01:45 PM   #5
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That sucks in my opinion. That your knowledge is at the mercy of the completeness of the person that's teaching.


Human learning in a nutshell, really. That's why research which refers back to only a single source is considered dubious at best.
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Old 05-16-2015, 02:28 PM   #6
Sean0913
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JRF - Exactly...Exactly. You nailed it. That's how I feel sometimes.

Kids these days...



I dig Jason Loughlin. He's a beast of a player too. Massive respect. Jon Finn is one of my favorites, a smart guy, even though he is a Berklee guy, he's got it right. I actually like him.

GG - apparently no one's (his peers) called him on that. Blind leading the blind? I don't know (shakes cane)

(shakes cane some more)

Best,

Sean

Last edited by Sean0913 : 05-16-2015 at 02:32 PM.
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Old 05-16-2015, 02:41 PM   #7
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I doubt it was "intentional" I remember well my teacher would punch out a series of chords..name them..play them..and then realize..ohh that E13 chord is really just a 9 chord..then he would cross out the chord diagram and create a new one with the correct name..now on a vid..that step may have been overlooked or edited out..if you forming chords with wide intervals and extreme stretching..you should be aware of which notes you are aiming at for all that effort..

I have watched a larry Coryell vid on the melodic minor scale..he had to retrace his steps on this vid to get the notes correct..its not that he didn't know the scale or want to impart incorrect information..it's larry Coryell!

I rip apart chords when I have a question on how they are named..many chords are implied with strange voicings but functioning as the chord named the reason could be as simple as the player is thinking in moving voices and playing around those voices -- note the double C# in your example..the player could be thinking D C# or C# D in his head and calling it an E7..which would then be correct..
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Old 05-16-2015, 05:59 PM   #8
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What was the harmony behind the "E7" chord? What was played before and after it? Taking one voicing out of context really tells nothing. You could use an E6 voicing over an E7 chord.

The second chord has G, C# and E in it. Those alone don't make an A7 chord, but I bet one of the other instruments is playing an A. I wouldn't call that C# diminished, I would call it an A7, even though it doesn't have an A in it. The chord name has a lot to do with the context.


I don't think it was that bad a mistake, and it may not even be a mistake.
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Old 05-17-2015, 02:47 AM   #9
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First of all I'm not sure if I can agree about Bob Wills, since I doubt he was playing complex chords on fiddle.

Mag's got it though. In the old days before pedals became widely used (the first Gibson Electraharps were made in 39 but pedal steel never really caught on until 53 after Bud Isaac's playing on Webb Pierce's "Slowly"), steel guitar players were limited to whatever chords they could play in one position.

The big name guys like Leon McAuliffe and Herb Remington were using were using mainly E6, C6, or A6 that were imported from Hawaiian steel playing. And none of those were capable of producing a 7th chord. So if your guitar player is making a 7, you add in a 6 to make 13. The 6 chord actually became part of the sound of western swing arbitrarily because it's just the default sound that the steel guitar makes.

So while harmonically in the context of western swing a 6 chord would be used on steel guitar against a 7th chord on a guitar (and the lesson was about steel guitar sounds, which is why the stretch voicing is needed since a steel guitar chord would have all the notes in order like that due to the close intervals of a tuning), he could maybe have mentioned that.

By the way, those tunings would be something like C#EF#AC#E, CEGACE, EG#BC#EG# (which was commonly called E13 despite the 6 string variation not having a 7 8n it). There were a lot more and there were E7 based tunings, such as BDEG#BE, but those weren't as common in western swing in the early days before Fender started making the double neck console steels.
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Old 05-17-2015, 01:30 PM   #10
Sean0913
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Originally Posted by theogonia777
First of all I'm not sure if I can agree about Bob Wills, since I doubt he was playing complex chords on fiddle.

Mag's got it though. In the old days before pedals became widely used (the first Gibson Electraharps were made in 39 but pedal steel never really caught on until 53 after Bud Isaac's playing on Webb Pierce's "Slowly"), steel guitar players were limited to whatever chords they could play in one position.

The big name guys like Leon McAuliffe and Herb Remington were using were using mainly E6, C6, or A6 that were imported from Hawaiian steel playing. And none of those were capable of producing a 7th chord. So if your guitar player is making a 7, you add in a 6 to make 13. The 6 chord actually became part of the sound of western swing arbitrarily because it's just the default sound that the steel guitar makes.

So while harmonically in the context of western swing a 6 chord would be used on steel guitar against a 7th chord on a guitar (and the lesson was about steel guitar sounds, which is why the stretch voicing is needed since a steel guitar chord would have all the notes in order like that due to the close intervals of a tuning), he could maybe have mentioned that.

By the way, those tunings would be something like C#EF#AC#E, CEGACE, EG#BC#EG# (which was commonly called E13 despite the 6 string variation not having a 7 8n it). There were a lot more and there were E7 based tunings, such as BDEG#BE, but those weren't as common in western swing in the early days before Fender started making the double neck console steels.


My bad, I should have clarified and said the guitarist(s) in the band - actually, there were many guitar players. I really started to appreciate them after running into a guy named Leon Grizzard a while back, and a cat named Eldon Shamblin hit my radar.

But awesome context and insights. Appreciate it!

Best,

Sean
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