Monday, 14 December 2015

Tommaso Zillio: Hitchhiker’s guide to finding the right music theory

If you don’t associate music theory with creativity, then it’s possible that you’ve been learning the wrong theory. There is a common misperception out there that theory just stifles creativity, and holds players back from reaching their full potential. If learning theory hasn’t been working for you, then this guide will tell you why.
People seem to believe that music theory is no more than music notation. It’s often confused with memorizing and reciting scales and arpeggios. While memorization can be important, it’s not really what theory is about, and spending too much time on these won’t necessarily make you a good player.
Music theory is actually about learning how to make music emotionally impactful. It may seem a bit odd, but then how often have you listened to music and noticed that it has a profound ability to alter your mood? Some sounds and patterns are euphonious (they sound 'good') while others are cacophonous (they sound 'bad'), and if used correctly, they both have an effect on the listener’s mood. In this vein, studying keys can help you to create a unified song, while using different scales can help you produce certain feelings.
Here are some common beliefs about the definition of music theory, and how these misconceptions serve only as a distraction from the real deal.

Knowing the chords isn’t the same as knowing theory

Have you ever been searching through the forums, only to land on a one of those “what chord is this?” threads? It always seems that the thread dies as soon as a member says “That’s a minor G sharp,” as if the only knowing how to write the chord was more important as knowing when and how to use it.
Music theory cares much more about how that chord will sound on its own or in a progression, where to place it, and how it makes the listener feel, rather than just knowing how to name it. Just knowing the name means nothing if you can’t actually use it to make music. It’s like sitting in front of a chord book without ever picking up a guitar - even if you know every chord in that book, will you actually be able to put them together?

Music notation isn’t everything in music theory

Believing that theory is comprised of knowing music notation is one of the things that actually harms a player’s ability to learn an instrument. Learning notation is helpful and a necessary part of some theory, but it is just a small part of the big picture.
There are actually a lot of players out there who are well-versed in music theory, but don’t actually know the standard notation all that well. Understanding how chord progressions work together, as well as understanding rhythm and musical form are truly independent from the standard notation.
One famous example of a player who does not use music notation is Hans Zimmer, the movie composer who wrote the music for The Dark Knight and Gladiator — all of his writing is done on a computerized piano roll rather than a score. He doesn’t use notation, but he is using music theory as a composition guide.

Music theory isn’t just about knowing the terms

It can certainly be easier to pass ideas around the jam space if everyone knows the difference between Dorian and Aeolian modes in the key of C, and yes, it might be easier to teach them the names for communication purposes. But the issue is when people mistake knowing the name for knowing how and when to use it.
Just because you know a word doesn’t mean you know how to use it in a conversation. And really, it doesn’t matter to the audience that you know the name of the mode you’re playing in... and if you know how to use it, it probably doesn’t matter to you either.
There are plenty of composers who don’t know the name of mode they’re using, and in fact they don’t need to know the names to intuitively use it. Even just a couple of days ago, I spoke to a musician who said she tends to go back to a few usual chord progressions when she’s ending a song. After talking for a couple minutes, it was obvious that she was actually using perfect and plagal cadences. But even if she had known that, would she have been a better player?

Knowing a set of scales is not the same as knowing music theory

Tommaso Zillio: Hitchhiker’s guide to finding the right music theory

There’s a common belief that learning music theory involves simply knowing a number of scales on the fretboard. I’ve gone into detail about the problem of using the CAGED system in other articles, so I will keep this one quick. Just because a player knows how to play the major scale in 5 different patterns, doesn’t mean that they can play Jazz music - it’s just adding another layer of difficulty.
In fact, teaching these scales can actually holds you back: if you think all you need to do is learn a couple of scales, how will you experiment, or put them together in a song? The easiest way to tell if a you are on the right path is if you can potentially use what you learn on a different instrument. For instance, there is no way to play an "D shape" scale pattern on a keyboard, but the A major scale will work perfectly. The A major scale is something that actually exist in music, the "D shape" is just jargon from a patter system that will not help you make music. Focusing on the theory is far more valuable than focusing on the fretboard.

How can I find out if the theory I'm learning is fake?

Look at how you are learning the theory. Music theory must be an experience: to actually learn how theory works, you have to listen to the way a note changes a progression, and hear it in every concept you are taught. This also applies for every scale and every musical device that you learn. The best part is that it’s two birds with one stone, because this is also the way ear training is supposed to be done.
There’s also a simple test: when you learn something new, can you use it to compose a simple song? If you don’t know how to, then you haven’t actually learned the concept.
When you begin to learn a new piece of theory, the best questions to ask are “How can I use this” and “what does it do in a different context” rather than “What is it called”.

About the Author

A professional guitarist, teacher, and composer, Tommaso Zillio enjoys particularly writing about music theory and its application to guitar playing

Nita Strauss: to Co-Host 2016 She Rocks Awards on Friday, Jan. 22, 2016, in Anaheim

Nita Strauss to Co-Host 2016 She Rocks Awards

Acclaimed guitarist currently on tour with Alice Cooper to grace She Rocks Awards stage as co-host

ANAHEIM, Calif. (Dec. 14, 2015) – The Women’s International Music Network (the WiMN) is thrilled to announce that Nita Strauss will co-host the 2016 She Rocks Awards. Honoring women who stand out as role models in the music industry, the She Rocks Awards will take place Friday, Jan. 22, 2016, in Anaheim, Calif., during the Winter NAMM Show.

"I'm so excited to be a part of the She Rocks Awards this year, and join Laura Whitmore and the WiMN to honor some of the incredible women in all the different aspects of our industry," said Strauss.

Hosting duties will be shared between Strauss and WiMN Founder Laura B. Whitmore. “Nita Strauss has serious chops and is a role model for guitarists everywhere. When I asked her to join us for the She Rocks Awards, she didn’t hesitate. It will be a pleasure to share the podium with her!,” said Whitmore.

Strauss has become a force to be reckoned with in the music world, dazzling audiences across the U.S., U.K., Europe, South America, Asia, Australia and Africa, and sharing the stage with a diverse range of artists including legendary R&B star Jermaine Jackson, early MTV darlings Femme Fatale, video game supergroup Critical Hit, and popular tribute band The Iron Maidens.

In 2014 Strauss became the official in-house guitarist for the LA KISS, the arena football team owned by Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons of KISS. She is currently playing guitar for Alice Cooper on the Mötley Crüe "All Bad Things Must End" Farewell tour.

The WiMN recently announced the lineup for the 2016 She Rocks Awards, including the legendary Chaka Khan, trailblazing guitarist Jennifer Batten, and Amy Heidemann of the chart-topping duo, Karmin. Other honorees include Leslie Ann Jones of Skywalker Sound, Chalise Zolezzi of Taylor Guitars; Cathy Carter-Duncan of Seymour Duncan; Mindy Abovitz of Tom Tom Magazine; and many more.

The She Rocks Awards pay tribute to women who display leadership and stand out within the music industry, and has become a standard at the NAMM Show. Previous award recipients include female industry leaders such as Colbie Caillat, Sheila E, The Bangles, Orianthi, Dinah Gretsch, Craigie Zildjian, Janie L. Hendrix, and more. The event brings together industry professionals, music icons, artists, fans and media to celebrate women in music.

The She Rocks Awards will take place on Friday, January 22, 2016 at the Anaheim Hilton Hotel at 6:30 p.m. This event has sold out the past three years and a NAMM badge is not required to attend. Tickets are on sale now at

The 2016 She Rocks Awards is sponsored by Martin Guitar, Seymour Duncan, Roland, Boss, Gretsch, Avid, Taylor Guitars, Zildjian, Guitar Center, D'Addario, Fishman, Berklee College of Music, Tech 21, PRS Guitars, 108 Rock Star Guitars, Volume & Tone, Ear Trumpet Labs, and West Coast Pedalboards, with additional support from these media partners: Tom Tom Magazine, Guitar Girl Magazine,, Guitar World, Guitar Player, Keyboard, Bass Player, Electronic Musician, Music Inc., Making Music, International Musician, Premier Guitar, LAWIM and more. For information regarding She Rocks Awards sponsorship opportunities, please contact

To find out more about the award recipients and the 2016 She Rocks Awards,

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Ian Ethan Case: The Comforter 18-String Guitar Candyrat acousti tapper

New album "Run Toward The Mountains" out now!

Visit Ian Ethan Case at:

Live performance dates:

Filmed by Sid Ceaser -
Edited by Duncan Wilder -

Ian Ethan Case - The Comforter (18-String Guitar)

Jeff Waters: Annihilator - 2015 tour rig rundown with Hughes & Kettner

Watch as Jeff Waters of thrash godfathers Annihilator takes us through his simple yet devastatingly effective live rig!
We caught up with Jeff before the band's show at Luxembourg's den Atelier venue in November 2015 and he showed us his HUghes & Kettner GrandMeister 36 setup, his ergonomic pedalboard and the other little bits and pieces he needs to get an Annihilator crowd whipped up into a frenzy!
We also did a full sit-down interview with Jeff later on that day, where he told us all about his favorite guitar amp recording techniques, plans for the next Annihilator album, and a whole lot more! Watch that interview here:
Subscribe to our YouTube channel by clicking this magic button:
Check out Annihilator here:

Jeff Waters of Annihilator | 2015 tour rig rundown with Hughes & Kettner

Rob Scallon: Win a GHOST FRET!!! (video contest w/ Yousician)

Everything you need to enter:

Woo!... Winner will be announced on my 2nd channel:

To Enter:

- Learn the song using the 7 day free trial of Yousician. (minus the solo)
- Record the song and your own audition video for it.
- You can download the original drum, bass and solo tracks as well as some new Riffson footage if you'd like. (Song is at 140bpm btw)
- For the solo section, do whatever you want, write your own, use the original, leave it out, mime along with a bassoon, whatever!
- Videos must be submitted by January 4th.

Results will be announced a week after submissions close on my second channel:
Runners up will be featured on my 2nd channel as well.

Winner get's a brand new Ghost Fret and a year of Yousician Premium!
(will ship internationally)

Have fun :)

The original Super Metal Audition:

Song mixed by Fluff:

keep in touch...
Second Channel:

Win a GHOST FRET!!! (video contest w/ Yousician)

Andy Wood: creates his "Slow Vibes" StarJam Loop

Andy Wood creates a StarJam Loop for the Ditto X2 Looper

Andy Wood creates his "Slow Vibes" StarJam Loop

Johnny Hiland: creating the StarJam Loop "Johnny's Jam"

Johnny Hiland creates his "Johnny's Jam" Loop for Ditto X2 Looper pedal.

Learn more about StarJam Loops:

Johnny Hiland creating the StarJam Loop "Johnny's Jam"

Bart Hennephof, Joe Tal,Uri Dijk: Textures - New Horizons playthrough - from the new album Phenotype - progressive djent from Tilburg, Netherlands

TEXTURES noodling through 'NEW HORIZONS', taken from their album PHENOTYPE!

PHENOTYPE will be out on February 5th on NUCLEAR BLAST!



Daniël de Jongh - Vocals
Bart Hennephof - Guitar
Joe Tal - Guitar
Stef Broks - Drums
Remko Tielemans - Bass
Uri Dijk - Synths


Özgür Abbak: guitar solos - fretted and fretless exotic soloing - I instantly want a solo instrumental album from the guy!!

Özgür Abbak fourth of the series consists of video clips of guitar solos, Abdurrahman Tarikc the / İMECE in the album' Haydar Haydar '' is the work of a stolen guitar solos. The release of that guitar solo; solosuz infrastructure, you can download music and tabs from address.

Özgür Abbak gitar soloları - 1

Özgür Abbak solo 2 (bir albüm çalışmasından...) 'olduğu kadarıyla'

Özgür Abbak gitar soloları - 3

Özgür Abbak gitar soloları - 4

Özgür Abbak solo 1... bir albüm çalışmasından... (grossman audio sound)

Anthony Lipari, Charlie Shaughnessey, Bryan Baker, Tom Geldschläger: Thoren by Thoren - heavy progressive technical metal from Sterling Heights

Thoren by Thoren

1. Gaw Onnen 02:05
2. Gwerlum 05:15
3. Mugsh Burzum 04:08 
4. Ungoliant 02:59
5. Cirith Ungol 03:58
6. Shelob 04:59
released November 26, 2014

Anthony Lipari: Guitars and Composition
Joseph Paquette: Bass
Chris Burrows: Drum Programming

Guest solos by Charlie Shaughnessey and Bryan Baker on Gwerlum and Cirith Ungol respectively.

Mixed and Mastered by Colin Marston
tags: death metal metal instrumental progressive metal technical death metal Sterling Heights