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Symphony 1 in C Major “Odyssey”

In 1994 I decided I wanted to write symphonic material. I scribbled ideas in wire bound score books and I worked out melodies and basic harmonies on piano and guitar. I played all of these raw ideas on an electric keyboard with MIDI cables ported into an Atari 1040STE running Cubase. By 1996, I had gradually worked the ideas into the form of my first symphony: Symphony 1 in C Major.

Over the last two decades the raw MIDI data of this work has moved to multiple updated computers, sequencers, multiple updated versions of keyboards, improved sound cards and modules, soft synths and finally the Garritan Personal Orchestra sound samples being used in the current rendering. I’ve been living with the music as an unfinished project for a long time.

The notes have remained the same. They’ve finally been given the beautiful form they deserve to be heard.

The digital image is another beautiful design by my dear friend, Viking graphic artist, Klaus Nordby.

Cover Design by Klaus Nordby

Cover Design by Klaus Nordby

https://www.cdbaby.com/cd/christopherschlegel2

I am officially publishing this music today, April 13th, for a very special reason.

This is the birthday of my late grandfather, George J. Schodroski.  He encouraged me in my musical passion. In the late 1980s he was the first person to inform me of a new, developing technology he’d read about called MIDI. He told me I should definitely look into it. I am very grateful that he was able to hear some earlier renderings of this music. I am also grateful I was able to tell him that this work is dedicated to him.

I hope you enjoy my first symphony.

Symphony 1 in C Major “Odyssey”, dedicated to George J. Schodroski, self-made, bootstrapping, life-long, active-minded American, beloved grandfather, poet and fellow lover of beautiful art.

Trill Drills

First new GT tutorial of the new year!  If you combine a hammer-on and a pull-off you’ve got the beginning of a trill.  A trill is a musical ornamentation technique that consists of rapidly alternating between two notes.  In this tutorial you’ll learn some exercises that can help building your trilling technique.  We’ll systematically work each finger into the routine.

http://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=1829

I used my red Strat with the maple neck for this one.   Here’s a screen shot of the backing track play along video.   Enjoy!

Trill Drills Screen Shot

Jingle Bell Blues

My final video blog entry of the year is a fun bluesy romp through a holiday classic. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NDi5r0IbLcs

I also published the third installment of my Bread & Butter Blues Licks series.

http://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=1808

The first two are here:

http://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=1614
http://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=1646

Enjoy!  Safe & happy holidays to you & yours!  See you next year!

Morning Guitar Warmup Session

A lot of guitar students ask me how I warm up.  This is a typical morning warm up session.  After a cup of coffee, I run through some basic chords & scales.  Then I goof around with some tunes or song parts to get warmed up for work!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RW2eCYUGZRE

I’ve covered all these exercises in various tutorials over the years.  The chord inversions are here:

www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=148

The pentatonic scale sequences are here:

www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=185

The minor & major scale sequences are here:

www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=928

www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=929

A few of those type exercises will get you warmed up in no time!  Enjoy!

Klaus’s Cointreau Blues

Here’s another vid made from more blues riffs & licks that came out of lots of work for Guitar Tricks blues tutorials.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4mRAQHiO2I

“Klaus’s Cointreau Blues” the instrumental version!  There are lyrics that I’ll get around to putting in a future blues tune.  For the main rhythm guitar & lead solo in the middle I used my Marshall JCM 800 50w half-stack.  For the melody that pops in on the 2nd guitar I used my Reason Amps Bambino Combo.

Stick around until the end for an alternate ending! 

It’s all based on stuff I teach in a bunch of GT tutorials like these:

http://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=723
http://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=1614
http://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=1646
http://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=217
http://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=232
http://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=826
http://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=244
http://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=1108

And there’s a lot more where that came from.  Enjoy!

And All That Jazz

I recently published two huge tutorials on how to jazz style guitar.  Each is an in depth, introductory look at how to play jazz from the ground up.

In Intro to Jazz Rhythm Guitar I cover the three primary characteristics of jazz as a distinct genre of music:  sophisticated harmony, swing rhythm, and improvisation.  Lots of examples with explanations, notation, backing tracks & play along vids.

http://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=1697

In Intro to Jazz Lead Guitar I cover those primary characteristics from the perspective of soloing over chord changes.  Playing the changes using chord-scales & arpeggios lots of examples with explanations, notation, backing tracks & play along vids.

http://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=1757

My monthly video blog entry is me practicing some of these jazz rhythm & lead concepts.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kcJMjdIsQwg

Enjoy!

Funky Mu-tron Blues

This is a work in progress.  It’s the music for a future blues tune.  I still have to write & record lyrics.  I used a Zoom multi-stomp box that has a really neat Mu-tron plus octave simulator on some of the 2nd guitar overdubs & also used it to double-track the solo!  I also needed to test some new studio light bulbs & camera settings.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybjkj-YPbx4

I’ve spent a lot of studio time this summer playing, recording, producing blues lessons for Guitar Tricks.  For example, these are already published.

12 Bar Blues For Beginners
http://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=189

Bread & Butter Blues Licks Series 1
http://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=1614

Bread & Butter Blues Licks Series 2
http://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=1646

I’ve got three more on the way in a similar style!  All this work & play with blues guitar led to recording a wide variety of grooves, riffs, tones, licks in various blues styles.  Beside all the lessons, I wrote a lot of blues tunes!  So maybe by next year I’ll have a whole CD of blues tunes to release.

For now, enjoy that funky Mu-tron tone.  I sure do.

Comparing Strat Pickups

June’s video blog entry is a Strat with a maple neck and standard Fender single-coil pickups.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fW13c32EPjs

July’s video blog entry is a Strat with a (scalloped) maple neck but Dimarzio HS-3 pickups in neck & middle position and a FastTrack 2 in the bridge position.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9W2NvmRDRcE

In both vids I’m playing over the same basic backing track using the same basic melodies & licks.  It’s compare & contrast time.  Enjoy!

2 Odes To Joy

Way back in 2005, one of the very first tutorials I did on www.GuitarTricks.com was a simple classical guitar arrangement of Beethoven’s “Ode To Joy”. I recently re-filmed it in High-Definition video and audio, with three-camera picture-in-picture close-ups.

http://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=1662

I also had a little fun with a completely different version of the same piece of music. Ingredients include: Beethoven, Stratocaster, Reason Amplifiers Bambino Combo, Flanger, Delay. Just add Schlegel. Makes it’s own sauce.

Enjoy!

Prometheus

 

“Prometheus” is an instrumental symphony of Stratocasters in three movements.

I had several goals in mind when I started writing it. In the mid 1990s I was learning about classical music and writing my own orchestral and symphonic pieces. I had the idea of combining my electric guitar with traditional orchestral instrumentation in a classical style. The results were unsatisfactory every time I tried to do it. I was able to make rock and pop style songs that used or featured orchestral instruments. But I was unable to work the electric guitar into a classical style piece.

I realized that I’d have to take the path of other guitarists, like McLaughlin, Demiola, Malmsteen and Vai and approach it like a concerto: orchestral backdrop featuring the electric guitar as the primary melodic featured instrument. This approach made sonic space for the guitar, so it didn’t compete with or interfere with the orchestral resources. But it was still a difficult challenge. Eventually, I got Garritan personal orchestra software, which contains excellent real-world samples of orchestral instruments. I wrote a few melodies and started scoring orchestration. I started to record guitar along with it. It was unsatisfying. Often, it was frustrating. I compensated by making it a full fledged concerto form for electric guitar.

I started writing and planning virtuoso cadenzas and places to solo and shred with orchestral chord padding and punches. The further I got into the project, the more unsatisfying it got. So, I’d add another solo! I’d hit a dead end.

In the middle of this I realized I had a bunch of good ideas, guitar licks and chops I should just use on another project. The compositional ideas are where a lot of the material on the Classical Guitar Sonatas CD came from. The licks and chops went into the Concert Electric Guitar CD.

http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/schlegel3
http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/schlegel4

My electric guitar concerto went on the back burner.

But I kept writing melodies and themes for it. Instead of going overboard with guitar solos and grandstanding cadenzas I decided to focus on long, flowing, romantic melodies. Melodies that were traditionally tonal, but also had angular and modal twists that I love; that are unmistakeably my individualistic style. I wrote and rewrote the melodies on score paper. I played them over and again on piano and as unaccompanied guitar pieces. I changed them a hundred times as I gradually molded them into the most solid, sturdy, beautiful, timeless melodies I could possibly create.

After working on and playing them for so long as multi-voiced pieces on solo guitar and piano, I also decided to focus on guitar harmonies.

That focus on long melodies and harmonies lead to an important breakthrough. I finally realized I should completely drop the orchestral instrumentation. I could *orchestrate with the electric guitar*. I decided the only instruments used would be electric guitar, bass and drums. I would create a multi-timbred symphony of electric guitars. I could make use of everything I’ve ever learned about electric guitar timbre & playing over the last 36 years.

I recorded demo ideas using many guitars and amps. But, when it came time to really record it for posterity, I decided every take of every track would be done with only one guitar and one amp: my red Stratocaster and a Reason Bambino Combo. I used a Boss Overdrive pedal for some of the lead lines to make them sing and punch more. I occasionally used a Dunlop Crybaby Wah pedal for some lead lines or chord swells to make them sound like horns or windwoods.

I started arranging themes with this approach explicitly in mind. I started to plan overall forms. I still liked the idea of a concerto, three movement overall form: bold intro, sad and slow middle, glorious ending. Since I’d already said what I wanted to say about shredding in the Concert Electric Guitar CD, I’d gotten that out of my system. I kept the focus on melodies, harmonies, forms, overall composition and squeezing every timbre necessary out of one guitar and amp.

After the overall forms started shaping up, I realized I needed a working title. So far, it had been “Electric Guitar Concerto 1″. We went to NYC on vacation in the spring of 2012. I saw the Rockefeller Plaza Art Deco statues of the Titans Prometheus and Atlas. I realized the music for my “concerto” was a good fit for my feelings about the Prometheus myth: fire-bringer, exiled, released.

This is not a musical telling of the stories, characters, plots of Shelley or Aeschylus. Obviously, since there are no lyrics, this music does not follow a specific story line or plot per se. This is a musical piece that represents the emotions I experience when reflecting upon the myth of the Greek Titan Prometheus: the hero that represents the ascent of Man via reason, science, art; getting punished for his good deed; longing for justice and freedom; finally freeing himself and returning to his rightful place of being honored as a hero.

Among my inspirations are the traditional Greek myths; but also English translations, summaries and excerpts of works by Aeschylus, Goethe and Shelley.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prometheus_Unbound_(Aeschylus)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prometheus_(Goethe)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prometheus_Unbound_(Shelley)

Finally, my favorite novel also provided quite a bit of inspiration. It tells the story of an architect that parallels old Prometheus’ trials, tribulations and eventual triumph closely in some beautiful ways.

The result is an instrumental in three movements: Fire, Exile, Return. They are meant to flow together, but are also standalone pieces. Some of these melodies date back to the 1990s. Most of them were slowly and carefully developed over the course of the last decade. Each guitar line was recorded and recorded at least 100 times, in order to get each take, note, phrase and timbre exactly right. Each entire movement was done as a demo, then deleted and redone from scratch three times. It was more difficult and demanding work than I’ve ever done for any other project. It was the most fun I ever had playing the guitar.

Once I finished the music, I needed a CD cover design that matched the concept of the music. My good friend and fellow artist Klaus Nordby provided the perfect design for the final packaging. The picture at the top of this post is Nordby’s CD cover design.

Finally, here are some wonderful poetic excerpts to match the glory I intend in my music.

Here I sit, forming humans
In my image;
A people to be like me,
To suffer, to weep,
To enjoy and to delight themselves,
And to not attend to you –
As I.

“Prometheus”
-Goethe

To suffer woes which Hope thinks infinite;
To forgive wrongs darker than death or night;
To defy Power, which seems omnipotent;
To love, and bear; to hope till Hope creates
From its own wreck the thing it contemplates;

Neither to change, nor falter, nor repent;
This, like thy glory, Titan, is to be
Good, great and joyous, beautiful and free;
This is alone Life, Joy, Empire, and Victory.

“Prometheus Unbound”
-Shelley

I hope you enjoy my ”Prometheus”.

Christopher Schlegel: Prometheus