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Free Jam Tracks - Brought to you by Nick Cresswell
Edan's Cutting Horse Theme
Time/size: 4 mins 28 secs/6.2mb. 110 beats per minute/bpm
Rock track: Edan's Cutting Horse Theme is a tune of mine that I've put up both the demo and backing track. It's a solo instrumental rock track in the key of E. I've put the tune above, which has lead guitar over it, and the backing track below. I've written out the guitar tab for all the guitar parts so you can see what I'm playing and use any of those ideas to get you started jamming with the backing track.
Time/size: 5 mins 54 secs/8.3mb. 110 beats per minute/bpm
Rock backing track: The backing track for Edan's Cutting Horse Theme is a very simple vamp on and E Major chord played with two different chord shapes on an electric and acoustic guitar.
Backing track instruments: electric guitar, acoustic guitar, bass and drums.
Progression: The chord used for this track is E Major and E Major only.
The electric guitar is playing an E Major chord in 4th position. 4th position means that your index finger is at the 4th fret. It might not be playing any notes on the 4th fret but that's where your index finger is hanging around. This chord shape is the same kind of chord shape as the D Major chord which everyone (even my Great Grandma) knows how to play. Except with the E Major chord you have to move it up the neck 2 frets and make some adjustments with your fingers. This makes it a harder chord to play but worth it as it produces a really nice sounding E chord. It becomes quite a tough chord to play when you move to and from other chords. Especially as your little finger is playing the Root note of the chord on the 5th (A) string. For this track however, we are just sitting on the chord shape the whole way through the tune.
The acoustic guitar is playing a standard E Major chord, which my Great Grandma also knows how to play. On the backing track I'm playing it with my index finger on the 3rd (G) string. If you wanted to move this chord shape up the neck it's more convenient to play it with your middle finger on the 3rd (G) string. Then when you go to move the chord up the neck your index finger is free to use as a barre for any barre chord up the neck. But with this, I'm using my index finger on the 3rd string so that my little finger is free to mute the strings which I do sometimes during the track. When I go to mute the chord I lightly place my little finger across the strings and am often still playing the strings. I don't want the notes to sound I just want the percussive effect of the pick (or fingers if you can't afford pick) hitting the strings.
Interesting fact: Did you know that in the olden days they used to use tortoise shells for making guitar picks? There were dozens of companies across the United States that used to farm tortoises just so they could get tortoise shells to make plectrums. However, with the invention of the electric guitar the demand for picks grew rapidly: so much that the tortoises were injected with hormones to make them grow faster. They were also caged in confined spaces and not free to (slowly) roam around. Then in the 60s there were mass protests from tortoise rights activist groups who successfully campaigned to set the tortoises free. After that guitar plectrums had to be made using plastic and other non-animal materials.
Another interesting fact: Only the first sentence in the above interesting fact is true. Everything else I made up. Just like most of the other rubbish you find on the world wide waste of time.
I digress. So you can play rhythm guitar with the backing track above, or better yet get a friend (or your Great Grandma) to play the rhythm guitar part while you solo over it. The backing track goes for close to 6 minutes. My fingers are still hurting from when I recorded the acoustic guitar part for this track. The track I recorded went over 8 minutes. That's a long time to play a chord on an acoustic guitar.
Here's the guitar tab for the two chords E Major chords.
For the tune I've used and E Major scale only, mostly in 9th position but I move it a little bit up the neck and down as well. But it's based around the E Major scale in 9th position. When I'm moving up the neck on this tune I just focus on playing on the one string for the movement. The main reason for this is that I like attacking the string and digging into it to bring out the sound from that string. Each string has its own kind of sound to it. I don't just mean pitch; I mean the warmth and texture you get from playing that string. And E on a wound string sounds very different to the same pitched E on a steel string. Each string has it's own tone quality, it's good to explore the sounds of each string.
Below is the guitar tab for four scales (or part scales) in E Major. The notes in brackets on the first two are the Major 7th notes in the E Major scale. I put those notes in brackets because I don't use them at all when playing over this backing track. You should though. You don't want to learn to play what I show you to play. What I am showing you is what's in my head, judging by the tortoise story above you don't want to end up with the kind of thought patterns that come from me. You could get put away. Instead you want to find your own patterns, your own notes and come up with YOUR way of playing. This will become your style. You can look at and use the ideas I give you to help you move forward and come up with your own ideas.
The 1st scale is a standard E Major scale. That is a common pattern that guitar players use.
Scale 2 is not a pattern at all. It's my pattern. I just like the way it moves along the 3rd string and the tones that I get on the tune when I'm playing the lead guitar parts.
Similarly with scale 3: I'm just moving up the 4th string and really digging that sound.
Scale 4: I used in like number 4 which you'll see below. It's just the first 5 note of the E Major scale in 2 positions above the 12th fret.
Play the scales below and work out what you like and don't like. If you are a pattern player and only know scale shapes from books, hopefully scales 2 to 4 will open your mind and help you to release your fingers from being stuck in the one pattern or position all the time. When you force yourself to move your hand, for example by playing a scale only on one or two strings, you will find that your options for notes, sounds and licks will open wide up, which is a lot of fun.
The Intro Theme
The head or the theme (or intro, whatever you want to call it) for Edan's Cutting Horse Theme uses the first 3 notes of the E Major scale to come up with a simple melody. The intro is based around the first 5 notes shown in the guitar tab below. Right from the start I'm moving up the 3rd string instead of staying in position. When I move from the F# on the 11th fret to the G#, instead of playing the G# on the 9th fret of the 2nd string I shift position to play the G# at the 13th fret so I can stay on the 3rd string.
There are two reasons for this. (Note: this is where we really start getting obsessive about note choices and coming up with your own voice. If you aren't that into it that's totally cool, go watch T.V. there is probably a re-run of M.A.S.H. on one of 5 stations that you've only seen 8 times).
The first reason is because I want to slide up to the note from the 11th fret. When you start doing hammer-ons and sliding up and down to and from notes you immediately start to create a voice on the guitar. I'm picking the 2nd note on the 11th fret most of the time but I use a hammer-on as well in some parts of the piece. So after playing only one note you then have four choices to how you're going to play the next note. These choices are:
You can pick the note and fret it with your ring finger.
I've said there are four choices there are actually more. You could play it with your nose or get one of the thousands of people in the crowd to play it but we're just going to stick with the obvious ones.
Even though we are just talking about playing two notes, all four ways of playing from one note to the next give slightly different sounds. When you are practicing (I don't call this practice, I call it playing. Practice to me is playing scales up and down the neck which I never do because I'd rather go watch a re-run of M.A.S.H. that I've already seen 8 times). When you are playing, especially when it's with jam tracks, backing tracks, friends etc. You should put some thought into how you are moving around the neck. How you are going to play the next note. If you play things over and over and think it's boring, especially if it's with a band, make it more interesting by challenging yourself and the note choices and chord shapes you are playing. For example play the same guitar solo or chord, using the same notes but use different positions, move to the notes in different ways, on different strings and play chords using different chord shapes.
With the E Major chord above there are 5 chord shapes you could use to play it. If you are vamping on this chord shape it can get a bit boring, or at least tiring, if you have to play it in one position for 8 minutes. I had to play this when I was recording the acoustic rhythm part. What you can do is play one chord shape for a minute or so and then move to another one. Same E Major chord, different shape. If you find anything you are doing boring on guitar then your approach to it is wrong. Shift your hand immediately and life will become interesting for you again!
The more you use this kind of approach with your playing the better a guitar player and musician you will become.
So anyway, after playing the first 2 notes instead of playing the 3rd note in 9th position I've chosen to pick the note and slide up to the note staying on the 3rd string. I liked the sound it gave me more than just picking the same note on the 2nd string does. It makes the guitar sound more like a voice and an instrument and less like a robot or computer. It helps give it a human element. One of the best things about playing the guitar is that it's such an expressive instrument. Everything you play and do is like a voice. Everyone speaks differently because of the inflexions and tones they use from their voice box. We all sound different. Guitar is very much like that. We can all say the same sentence but every one of us will sound completely different in how we say it.
Music is about expression. It needs to come from within you, from your heart and from your soul. The more time you spend developing how you can express and the number of ways in which you can express what you are trying to play, the more interesting music will become to you as well as to anyone who is listening to what you are playing.
That's enough on the first 3 seconds on the tune!
At the 0.17 second mark I'm playing the same rhythm as I was in the first part however I've moved from the Root, 2nd and 3rd notes of the E Major scale to the 3rd, 4th and 5th notes of the scale. I've used those notes for the theme because they are strong notes that complement the E Major chord. It's an overly simple melody that fits really well with the chord. A big reason for this is because the notes that the lead guitar are playing are focused on using the main notes of the chord.
Then it moves up the scale a bit to the octave and back down. This is just me playing around with the melody, playing around with notes from the E Major scale and doing more of what we were talking about above, shifting up and down to different positions going for sounds that I like in various parts of the neck.
The Solo - Guitar Lick 1
Guitar lick 1 uses the first 6 notes of the E Major scale. It's just a simple little melody to start off the guitar solo with. I also hit the octave in the variation lick. In fact these are all the notes I use in the whole piece. I didn't play the Major 7th or any accidentals (accidentals are notes that aren't in the key you are playing in) in any part of the tune. Those notes didn't sound very good to me so I just focused on the first 6 notes from the E Major scale. You should try playing other notes and see what sounds and licks you come up with.
Here is the guitar tab for lick 1 - this is a simple lick to play to get your fingers in the right frame of mind of what notes you can start working with. You should take this guitar part and turn it into your own. Come up with your own guitar lick, something that sounds better to you that what I'm playing.
I'm sure you'll be able to come up with some better sounding licks if you play around with it for a few minutes.
The Solo - Guitar Lick 2
I like the sound of lick 2 a lot. I'm not boasting that I came up with a cool sound, I took this from Hendrix. Eric Johnson uses this really well too - he got if from Jimi as well. The guitar is playing octaves. 2 note chords using the Root E to the octave E and so on for each of the notes I'm doubling up on. It gives a great sound rather than just playing single notes.
In the variation I'm playing the same notes without the octaves. It still sounds good but playing the octaves gives it some variety which has a great tonal effect.
The Solo - Guitar Lick 3
When I came up with this lick I was thinking of a cross between: Guns N' Roses 'Sweet Child o' Mine' and Eric Johnson's 'Cliffs of Dover'. I liked this guitar lick so I played it twice!
The Solo - Guitar Lick 4
Guitar lick 4 is a melodic sounding riff. You can play around with how you move to and from the notes to get from the two parts that make up this lick. The variation takes the lick to some higher notes. It's almost an arpeggio (where you play each note of a chord), I've just thrown in a few notes in between to make it more melodic and less scale sounding.
The Solo - Guitar Lick 5
This guitar part begins with a big slide from the 9th to the 13th fret. The first 4 notes are a straight down the line arpeggio that uses the Root, 3rd, 5th and Octave of the E Major scale.
This is exactly what I mean when I talk about playing music and note scales. Although I'm playing 4 notes that are shown as exercise 3 in every 2nd guitar book on the planet, I'm playing it in a way that makes it sound melodic and a lot more interesting than if I were to just pick the notes from the arpeggio. Sliding from the 9th to 13th fret helps take away the exercise element of it a lot. As do the notes I play on top of it that move away from it being just an arpeggio.
The Rest of the Tune
After the 5 guitar licks above the tune goes back to the head (intro/theme) and repeats a few of the parts above with some variations. The parts are as follows.
2.20 Back to intro/theme
So there you have it. That's the complete breakdown of the tune Edan's Cutting Horse Theme.
I've given you this so that you can learn the notes of the E Major scale and play them in several positions. Including working on coming up with your own positions to play the scale. You could stay down around the 2nd fret and focus on that area or move it up to the higher frets on the neck like I did in a few parts. Play the notes across a few strings and play the notes up and down one string using lower strings and just on the higher strings.
The more you play around with notes and positions the easier it will become for you to come up with your own guitar parts. If you play the guitar licks I've played you'll make 'mistakes' which will give you different, and often better, guitar licks to play. These 'mistake' and exploring the instrument like this will take you from being a guitar player who is reading a bunch of crap off a website and help you become a musician in your own right.
Don't take what people say as gospel. Don't take what people say as set rules. You make the rules.
Find your own way and come up with your own sounds and you will become your own musician.
And most importantly of all, have fun.