Mick Goodrick Triads 1

If you aren’t familiar with Mick Goodrick’s writing on the guitar, you’re missing out. His book The Advancing Guitarist is one I’ve come back to again and again since I bought it 25 years ago (!) after reading his amazing articles in Guitar Player magazine in the 80s. This book is well known to many, so I won’t belabor what so many before me have said, but to sum up: this is the rare (RARE) book that continues to give back no matter how many times one revisits. The only truly humble guitar book I own.

I’ve been diving deep into his triad material beginning on p. 39 for the last 2 weeks, and have had a series of epiphanies thanks to just… taking some hours and doing exactly as Mick suggests. He begins this section by reiterating fundamental music theory around triads – root position, and 1st and 2nd inversions. One page later, the reader is invited to

go ahead and learn all C major, C minor, C augmented and C diminished triage, all inversions, all registers, all locations, in closed as well as spread voicings that follow.

Four staffs lay out the voicing verbosely:

After revisiting my voicings, and practicing the triad row exercise on the following page, I’ve found a groove in voice leading through what initially sound like arbitrary progressions. Mick lays out a 48 item ‘triad row’, using every permutation of maj/min/aug/dim across the 12 possible roots, then generates progressions ala circle of fifths, but with varying intervals. I’ve been struck by how interesting these progression can sound, particularly playing with how you apply the type of triad. Here are the roots according to consistenly applied intervals (all on C):

Min 2nd: 
C C# D D# E F F# G G# A A# B C

Maj 2nd:
C D E F# G# A# C

Min 3rd: 
C Eb Gb A C

Maj 3rd:
C E G# C

Perfect 4th (circle of fourths):
C F Bb Eb Ab Db Gb B E A D G C 

Tritone :) :
C F# C

Perfect 5th:
C G D A E B F# C# G# D# A# F C

Minor 6th:
C Ab E C

Major 6th:
C A F# D# C

Minor 7th:
C Bb Ab Gb E D C

Major 7th:
C B A# A G# G F# F E D# D C# C  

You don’t have to use the same interval every time, of course. Mick alternates between maj and min 3rds. You can alternate between as many or few intervals as you like. How about:

Major 3rd, perfect 5th:
C E B D# A# D A C# G# C G B F# A# F A E G# D# G D F# C# F C 

Applying the 4 triad types to these progressions in a serial fashion yields some interesting results. I’ve been generating progressions (whether randomly ala Mick’s Triad Row, or with some recipe as above) and applying the triad types, THEN voice leading through the results using one set of 3 strings.

For example:

My progression:

C E B D# A# D A C# G# C G B F# A# F A E G# D# G D F# C# F C 

My triad series:

M m M m + o M o M +


C Em B D#m A#+ Do A C#o G# C+ G Bm F# A#m F+ Ao E G#o D# G+ D F#m C# Fm C 

I pick 3 strings (D, G and B strings, here), and voice lead through my triads. A bit of a workout first time through, but interesting results come from diving deep.

Great talk from Rhizome Seven on Seven

Great points in this talk from Rhizome’s Seven on Seven conference. Watch the whole thing, but one highlight for me, is at 7:30: artists were originally valuable to the tech world for their boundless view of the world, technologists the bound thinkers; now it’s the reverse: technologists are going crazy, artists bring the discipline and context. It’s a beautiful thing to see this wall dissolving as I read the forums on processing.org and elsewhere, and see more folks state both ‘artist’ and ‘technologist’ as core strengths. Later in the talk, he rasies the idea of teaching programming as a liberal art at the elementary school level, which is a natural evolution of this mindset.

Ruth Crawford Seeger

Audio MP3

I first listened to Ruth Crawford Seeger’s String Quartet (1931) in a class at the University of Washington in the late 90s with Dr. Diane Thome, who would do much to broaden my musical horizons during my stay there. As a Composition major, I was stewing in music from all periods and genres that year, and began to develop an anxiety when I heard rich, dense music like Seeger’s.

On initial listen to some pieces, there is so much that washes over you initially that it can be difficult to let go and absorb the sound viscerally. My mind would kick in heavy once the needle dropped, and my inner reptile would get to work processing sound objects, looking frantically for connections, so that I’d ultimately have something astute to say about the construction of the piece.

I took solace in composers who I could grok on first listen without having to listen and analyse as quickly as possible. This is where I got the name ‘Listen Faster’ – it’s a command I felt was always coming from the Music Dept at UW. Ligeti and Varese were my first blushes at comfort in this context, but I became consciously aware of the issue when I first heard this piece.

I had the opportunity to speak on a Music Technology panel this past weekend at the Grammy’s MusicTech summit and spoke to the stellar Passenger String Quartet (no site?) afterwards. Asking them if they knew the piece, I realized I’d been let in on a secret (unfortunately) back in Dr. Thome’s class. Ruth’s music was historically overshadowed by the valuable theoretical and ethnomusicological work of her husband Charles Seeger and their son Pete Seeger.

I love this piece – it’s allusions to timbre’s we’d hear in electronic music 20 years later, it’s balance, it’s rocking-ness.


Brother in art Matt Wainwright has a music project he was showing me last night: 4shadows. I’ve already got a previous release of their’s under the name ‘Lightwind’ and a cd + book set called something like ‘Lets go buy some useless shit’ – both awesome. I think it’s down at the practice space and not handy for quoting here and now. ANYWAYS:

I get all inspired whenever I see a collection like camera-wielding-4shadows-member Rob Z’s site – lots to explore. This was my Saturday morning:

Seattle-based musician and programmer