Thursday, August 27, 2009

Target Melodies

glennmcintosh 9/15/2004 11:57 AM
Greetings Don, Great book! The best in my ever-growing collection on soloing techniques. I'd like to get some background on the target melodies you've sighted in the books. In particular, why these two? Are there just two? Are there some popular three and five note variations, etc? Are these two target melodies just as endemic to Jazz as the 12-bar form is to blues? Will you be publishing some other sample lines created from the target melodies? Thanks

cjazz 9/21/2004 7:26 PM
Of course there are other melodies. In fact I did write a book called :" An approach to chromatic playing" In this book I demonstrate the hole picture and theory about approaches to certain chord or scale tones. Start from one note approach up to four and five notes to chromatic playing. After that you have so many choices and so many little melodies to create your own.Any one you wants information about my book, can reach me

Don Mock 11/10/2004 8:06 PM
Thanks for the post Glenn and sorry it took me so long to reply. The target melodies are two of hundreds of possibilities but they both (being three notes that setup or target a chord or scale tone) work best for basic jazz phrasing. These two simple melodies demonstrate the fundamentals of chromatic playing. The are longer versions but to me they often end up being combinations or variations of the original two. If you really want to immerse yourself in chromatics in a million possibilities, find a copy of "Thesaurus of Scales and Patterns" by Nickolas Slominski. It is one amazing piece of work. I learned a lot of intervallic and chromatic ideas from this book, but it is deep! Hope this helps, and don't hesitate to send along any questions or comments. -Don Mock

bluesyourdaddy 2/24/2005 7:57 PM
Don,Got the book an think it is great. Any reason behind why Melody #2 targets the Maj3 and Maj7 and melody #1 targets all others? Just a little theory on that would be great.Thanks,Brian

Don Mock 2/24/2005 11:19 PM
Brian, the reason the two melodies target different chord tones is because of their first note. The melodies make more sense if the first note is in the "key" that the chord or scale tone is in. So in melody #2, the first note is 1/2 step above the target or chord tone which is almost always in the key. I think (hope) there is a pretty clear definition about this in the book and on the CD. Thanks, -Don Mock

Where to Start/ Where to Resume?

Soundhound 3/10/2005 2:39 PM
Don, Just discovered this site, great stuff! I've just got back into playing the last year or so, and have hit the same wall I did years ago. I've got decent chops and feel, but found myself limited by the tools I've got - those being the major and minor pentatonics, and the modes. Back when I used to play I basically learned the pentatonics and the major scales up and down the neck, and used the major scales for the modes. I find myself trying to get 'outside the box' harmonically in soloing, but was limited. I've been collecting some great DVDs, Robben Ford's stuff, an older Larry Carton video, and have been picking up some great stuff: using the half diminished, using the melodic minor, chromatics, triads, etc. The problem is I think I need a good system to really drill it into me. Learning any new scale is hard because the stuff I learned long ago is so burned in, I keep reverting back to it. I wind up trying to learn Robben Ford solos note for note, instead of being able to understand what he's doing. I did the same thing as a kid, and it's limiting. Now that I'm all grown up I know I'll never be Robben Ford, but I would love to understand more and be able to apply it. So I guess my question is, what would you recommend for a good outlining of the various scales (melodic minor, half diminished) for playing through changes, both learning the scales and their applications? Which DVDs, videos, cds etc do you think would give me a good foundation? I've so far been most successful with DVDs, I don't read well, and being able to watch the instructors hands is a great help. The online quick lessons on this site work well also, really helps me see where things sit. I'm also trying to find a teacher in the L.A. area who could help me understand the Robben Ford/Larry Carlton/Don Mock world of playing. Do you know anyone on the West side of L.A. that you might recommend? Sorry for the rambling, endless post! Thanks very much, Doug

Soundhound 3/16/2005 4:36 PM
Is this mike on? Testing, testing... Is this the best place to get a hold of Don?

Don Mock 3/16/2005 10:15 PM
OK, Doug, I hear the mic feeding back.I read your post the other day and was very impressed with your description of yourself and your problems learning and applying. You posed a lot of great questions, more than I can deal with right now, but now lets start with theory. Theory always seems to bite most players cause they let it slide by but they always end up paying for it later. And when you are not sure of the theory, then your mind inevitably reads way more into things making everything seem more difficult. And contemporary "players" music theory is pretty simple, and can be learned in a few months or less.The other issue you nailed was about application. Without a place to "try out" and prove new ideas, you are going to always fade backwards. You have to force some kind of playing situation for yourself, whether it be a rehearsal band, play-along tracks or something that make you get it up and play for real on a regular basis. You also mentioned reading. A lot of players think that not being a good reader will hold them back. Fast "sight-reading" is not a necessary ingredient to learning to be a good improviser. However, just knowing HOW to read, even if you are very slow is very important. And reading and interpreting charts, especially chord symbols is essential. Your toughest question is which cd, videos, etc. would I recommend. I've produced so many that I think are great learning tools. All of Robben's and Scott Henderson's are some of the best. On the jazz side, Pat Martino's (Creative Force) and the Joe Pass videos are packed with information. If you want to get to the basics, get anything that Keith Wyatt has done... i.e.. Beyond Basics Blues Guitar etc. Keith is about the best guitar teacher in the world and you WILL learn a lot from him. You also asked about a teacher in the LA area. Well, where do I start? There are so many great players there, lots of them are friends and teachers at MI. Two guys, you can't go wrong with are Dave Hill and Art Renshaw. (I will email you their phone if you send your email).( Both guys are GIT grads that became instructors at the school, but are also very involved with Frank Gambale and the LAMA. school.I do have to ask if you have seen my video "The Blues from Rock to Jazz? It is suppose to come out on DVD at any time and just might be some of the information you are looking for. Thanks again for the post Doug. -Don Mock

Target Tones - Improv on Track 24

Jp 5/19/2005 2:01 AM
Hey Don, using track 24 as an example... how do you position your hand when picking very fast lines? do you use more forearm or wrist motion? floating hand vs hand anchored with finger? does your picking approach change when you perform lines that have both intervallic and linear qualities? thanks, jamie

Don Mock 5/19/2005 12:58 PM
kJamie, thanks for the question. I listened to track 24 and I guess you are talking about all the fast "filler" I added after the example. Good technique usually requires all the muscles working together from the fingers, through the wrist and up your arm. It's not a stressed thing where you tighten up, (which feels kind of necessary at first) but a loose and relaxed motion. We all use too many muscles and add too much force when trying to play fast at first. Over the years your muscles start to figure out that some of them don't have to work so hard and things start relaxing. One thing to try is tremolo (pick fast up and down on one note) and experiment with arm and pick positions. Don't squeeze the pick too hard. In fact you could easily pull the pick out of my fingers when I'm playing. Relaxes the pick pressure until it drops out of your hand. Then find the place where it's still loose but you can still control it. The only thing that you will have to do to get dynamics in you playing (loud and soft) is to squeeze a bit in on the pick on certain notes to make them jump out. Hope this gives you a few ideas about picking. -Thanks, Don Mock

Major Scale Secrets Revealed?

bluesyourdaddy 6/19/2005 12:11 PM
Don, After having gone through your three "Secrets" books I was wondering why you never did one on Major Scales. If you did, and combined them all with your "Target Tone Master Class", it would be a complete guide to improvising. Any thoughts of doing a complete improv course like that? (BTW, Using your "Rock to Jazz" video and the two "Frank Gambale Technique" books I was able to put it all together) Thanks, Brian

Don Mock 6/29/2005 3:23 PM
Brian, I had planned out a Major Scale book to go along with the series, but I guess we did not think it would sell as well as melodic, harmonic and symmetrics scales. No plan at this point but it is a good idea because 90% of everything we play is rooted in the major scale. Many players overlook the major scale and it's modes thinking that it's too "straight or inside" sounding. But some of the best melodies and lines are from major scales. My students are always surprised when I tell them that most of my intervallic and "outside" sounding lines are really just major scales. -Don Mock

Best Book to Start With?

Vettestrat 5/18/2006 12:17 PM
Hey, I just purchased all the guitar axis masterclass and secret scales revealed books. Is there a better one to start with?

Don Mock 5/23/2006 2:18 AM
Wow, V-strat, way to go on getting all the books. Tough call on the best one to start with. The Target Tones book might be a good place to get some of those basic melodies around arpeggios under your fingers. And if you are into jumping into the Turnaround book, the basic master melody can be used right out of the box for lots of things. I think the Harmonic Minor scale is the best (beside the major scale) to start with of the scale books. It's classic use over a dominant 7th (a fifth above) is a sound players of nearly every style can really use. The only thing I would like to add is for you to just sit back and listen to the CD's and make note of the sounds and ideas that interest you. Start anywhere, any page you want. Just make a point of doing the best you can at understanding the music theory involved. Thanks again V-strat and hope you don't get too sick of listening to me talk on all those CD's. -Don Mock

Drum Machines and Midi Guitar?

Jp 4/12/2006 12:33 AM
Hey Don, What gear do you use for recording "drums and harmonic parts" on the practice trax and CD audio examples in your books? Drum machine? Keyboard? or other.... via midi guit??? Also, any news about the trio project with Jay Roberts? any CD's available? thanks, Jamie

Don Mock 4/13/2006 1:50 AM
Thanks for the questions Jamie. Jay and I have got ourselves pretty busy at our new school to get our recording done. We'll come up with something by the end of the year. (We have been playing as a guitar duo for a few years) The trio I'm involved with is also working on a CD but we got sidetracked recording a ton of play-along tracks for a new product out in a few months. More on that later. Yep, I recorded most of the tracks on those book CD's with a midi guitar (basic Roland system) into my computer using Vision software for the sequencing. I play all the drum, bass and keyboard parts from the guitar usually live and then quantize and edit all the errors. Lots of the tracks end up pretty good but the jazz swing stuff is hard to duplicate in the midi world, especially the drums. But stand by for our new play-along tracks which are REAL human players. I don't know if I ever can go back to midi drums and bass again.Thanks, -Don Mock

Don Mock's Stevens LJ Guitar

Don Mock 10/24/2005 12:48 AM
I get a lot of questions about the guitar I've used in most of my videos and performances. Check out:
-Don Mock

Tung 11/21/2005 1:37 PM
Hi Don, For years I've been wondering how you got all the sounds on your instructional recordings. I have all of your instructional materials and it's amazing that you always seem to get a really good distorted sound and a warm hollow body tone as well, were they all done on the LJ? ( I'm referring to the Melodic and Harmonic Minor books)Anyway, not flog the same guitar questions to death, but can you fill us in on the LJ set up? Like picks and strings, effects and amps?Thanks for being a great teacher,Tung

Don Mock 11/21/2005 10:26 PM
Thanks for the post Tung. Hope you check out the article I wrote about the LJ guitar on the Stevens site. I think the LJ was the only guitar I used on the Harmonic Minor and Melodic Minor books. There might be some acoustic on the beginning of the Harmonic Minor, but everything else is the Stevens. For most of the teaching stuff, I plugged direct into a Roland VS-880 digital recorder. The distorted sounds I think are the Stevens plugged straight into a Fender Twin that's mic'd. The effects are either from the VS-880 or Cubase in my computer where I mix from the recorder. I did use a Tele a bit on my later "Symmetric Scales" book and on some of the Masterclass books. I now use a POD for direct recording and also Pro Tools but the Stevens still sounds best just direct. The custom Duncan neck pickup Michael Stevens put in the guitar (and probably the wood and body shape) has an amazing hollow-body like tone. I use D'Addario XL strings, 11-14-18-28-38-49. I've been sticking an .011.5 for the high E to get a bit more tone. As far as picks go, I make my own plexi-glass picks. Years ago when I was spending time with Pat Martino, when he joined us at GIT, I got into his "stone' agate picks. Ever since I have to have very stiff picks and there's no commercially made ones that I like. The ones I make are shaped like a standard Fender pick but a bit longer and narrower. Takes me 5 minutes to make one, I just trace out the shape, rough cut it out on a band saw and final shape it on a belt sander. I've been making picks from the same 2 x 2ft sheet of plexi-glass for nearly 20 years. Thanks again for the post Tung, and keep the questions coming. -Don Mock

Tung 11/22/2005 11:00 AM
Thanks so much for the info, Don. I actually learned something else from working on your books regarding my gear. For years I main workhorse has been an ES-175 with flatwounds 13's. It's a great jazz machine, but trying to do some of your intervallic ideas at quick tempo on that is very challenging, so I started working on your stuff with my 81 Les Paul, and boom! much easier but I miss the authentic jazz-Wes feel of the flatwound/hollow body tone. the reason I brought this up is that I noticed you used to use hollow body archtops earlier on, but now you have switched to solidbody LJ and Teles as well? Did you encounter similar experiences? Anyway, just want to say that your books have singlehandedly changed the way I approach jazz improvisation. From your ideas I have developed my own style, fingerings and fretboard mappings. I have a Hons BA in music, done both college and universities with jazz as my major, yet none of this formal training really brought it home in a real practical sense, until I started working on your books. Now I even use it to teach some of my advance students, some of whom are doing their own music degrees at the moment. Thanks again for the great teachings.Tung

Vettestrat 1/25/2006 7:02 PM
Hey Don, I love your lessons, you're quite the inspiration. What is the synth guitar you used at the end of the "Blues from Rock to Jazz" video? Thanks.

Don Mock 1/29/2006 12:29 AM
The double-neck synth guitar is a custom instrument I designed and was built by luthier Lane Moller. It's actually two guitar synths in one. The top neck uses the electronics from one of the first attempts at guitar synths called a Patch 2000 by Ampeg. The frets and the strings are wired and when the string makes contact on the fret the synth is triggered. I worked hard for a few years perfecting the right-hand hammering technique but it had lots of limitations. My right hand usually worked a pitch-bend knob to add vibrato and bends. The strings are deadened with felt and no tuning was necessary. I could use all E strings and only used the tuning gears to set the tension of the strings for the hammering technique. The strings only job was to carry voltage to the frets. The tracking is instant, and I used to play more notes-per-square inch than any guitar player ever dreamed. But no dynamics and no chords. It is a monophonic and monodynamic instrument. But I had lots of fun through the '80's playing that heavy guitar. The bottom neck is a regular guitar but did have a Roland system build in so I could play chords and synth lines with guitar. It was not a midi instrument (except for the Roland part).Now days I've retired the double neck in favor of the basic Roland systems and normal guitar technique. I considered converting the double neck to some kind of midi controller but musically the top neck is just too difficult to play bop and swing feels with only my right hand. But it's a great rock and roll toy! I might get it out of the closet sometime just to freak people out. -Don Mock

Don Mock 1/31/2006 11:57 PM
I meant "left hand hammering technique" not right on the above post. I'll try to post a tune where I played the double neck so you can hear it. -Don Mock

turner 9/14/2006 2:25 AM
id like to hear some of that crazy guitar your talking about of love stuff like that with the synth in all and thanks for the lesson on guitar I play my heart out all the day long and any new things really inspire me I’ve been play for about 5 or 6 years and iv kind of floated around the same kind of style of playing and the stuff on this website really broadened my horizon thanks, any way id live two hear that synth guitar

danepaul 2/6/2008 9:05 PM
Hi Don, I was wondering what do you use for your rhythm/drum tracks for your instructional books and videos? I’m looking to get something to jam/record with. Thanks for your help.Dane

Don Mock 2/8/2008 2:31 PM
Dane, In the past I've been using midi recording software called Vision which is no longer available. All of the drum, bass and keyboard parts are triggered from the Mac G4 to several synth modules including three different Roland guitar synths. Everything was recorded and mixed into a Roland VS-880 digital recorder. But now-days I use a Pro-Tools system and can do midi parts on it along with audio. But there are so many great systems out there that don't cost too much you can't go wrong. Thanks - Don Mock