WHY USE TWO HAND CHORDS AND CLUSTERS?

Because they sound great! Two-hand chords and clusters allow you to play voicings on the guitar that would normally be impossible to play. Unless, that is, you have more than one guitarist to work with, or more than five fingers that are abnormally long. And two-hand guitar voicings are done without the percussive ping you get from tapping on the fretboard.

Many beautiful chords are small and harmonically minimal by comparison, but the chords included here are the more lush, rich, thickly voiced kind. That doesn’t mean that they are intended to replace conventional chords, only that they provide a harmonic supplement to traditional guitar chord vocabulary. And they are yours for free!

HOW IT WORKS

Whenever there is an indication to use the same numbered finger in a particular voicing (a need for two 1st fingers in the same chord, for example), use the left hand for the numbers furthest to the left (lower frets, lower pitches) and the right hand for the numbers furthest to the right (higher frets, higher pitches).

Here’s an example:

To play the first of the above F major chord “clusters,” use your left hand to fret the notes on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd strings. Now press on the 7th fret of the “D” string with the 1st finger of your right hand, and press on the 10th fret of the “A” string with the thumb of your right hand. Then, strum upward with the pinky (4th finger) of your right hand; slowly for a cascading, harp-like effect, quickly for a more traditional chording sound. Be sure to maintain sufficient pressure and finger angles in order to produce a clean sound.

Listen to the first chord cluster of the F major clusters

HEAR “TWO HAND CHORD CLUSTERS” ON YOUTUBE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YnnffA8v6X4

Fingerings for You Tube video “Two Hand Chord Clusters”:

MORE ON FINGERINGS

My fingerings are only suggestions; use whatever fingering makes sense and is comfortable for you. For the right hand fretting, I find that the 1st and 2nd fingers, and the thumb, are the most commonly used. Depress strings with the right hand the same as you normally would do so when using the fingers of your left hand. The letter “T” indicates the use of the thumb of your right hand. The letter “L,” though rarely used, would indicate the use of your lip. You will find it useful to keep the nails on your right hand, including your thumb nail, short in order to get a clean sound.

CHORD LABELS

Chords and clusters are labeled by the highest pitch. For example, the label “9th” next to an A minor chord indicates that the A minor chord is voiced with the 9th, “B,” as the highest pitch. I’ve made no attempt to provide an exhaustive list of chord and cluster possibilities; there’s plenty of room for you to come up with your own voicings. The categories I’ve placed all chords and clusters in follow the scales upon which their pitches are derived.

WHAT IS REQUIRED OF YOU?

Nothing more than curiosity, creativity and a good ear. On the other hand, knowing a little about jazz chord voicings, voice leading, chord progressions, chord embellishments and alterations, and intervals might also prove useful. Good luck and good music!

Steve Montgomery – Summer of 2011

CONTACT ME

Sharing your comments, questions and personal applications is greatly appreciated.

gatosr@sbcglobal.net

FEEDBACK

Mr. Scofield,

In 1982 when I was 19, I showed you a couple of pieces I had written for two hand chording. For the final bass note in one of the tunes I used my lip while fretting with both hands. I thought you might be interested in the site I’m currently putting up on the topic of playing guitar chords with two hands. It includes thumbnails of chords and chord clusters that require the use of both hands fretting at the same time. It also includes some explanatory text and some audio samples of me using the technique on some of my arrangements and originals. Do you mind visiting the site and letting me know what you think?

Steve Montgomery

Hi Steve

Yes, I remember! . . . 1982, wow . . . time flies. I checked out your website, it’s great! . . . you’ve got me thinking . . . Thanks and good luck with your music!

John Scofield

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Hello Mr. McLaughlin,

Give a listen if you get the chance; I think you may like what you hear (about 30 seconds worth of two-hand guitar voicings loosely based on the beginning of “Giant Steps”). So what do you think?

Thanks,

Steve Montgomery

Hi Stephen,

To say the least, your chord structures are very interesting. I have no idea how you can get this harp-like quality on the guitar. On listening, I would imagine that your work will take you into the realm of composition as opposed to the analysis and re-synthesis of existing harmonic movement, though these two aspects are closely related. In any event keep up the good work and thanks.

Best,

John McLaughlin

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Steve,

I’m delightfully impressed with what you’re doing. The playing is exquisite and your chord-structure is gorgeous.  I love “Home.” It is simple and lovely. I also loved “Lulu by Carlight” and “Rainbow,” too. I listened to all of your bites and was really glad to hear what you are doing. I’d love to see you go into the studio and do a really good CD of your playing. I’m also curious about how you tune your guitar. You are doing some really interesting things that require much more than just a typical EADGBE tuning!

Thank you for sharing your amazing creations with me.

Rob Landes

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Hi Steve,

I like the sound of these chords, but I was having trouble getting the “thumb” note to ring because I have a long thumbnail.

Best,

Ben Monder 

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I like those chords a lot [ the chords to "Giant Steps Chord Exploration #1"].
Ben Monder
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I love it…

the tighter the voicings [on "Giant Steps Chord Expoloration #1] the deeper you go…

Thanks,

Phillip DeGruy

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Surreal, dreamy, haunting, shimmering…beauty
[referring to "Be" and "Lulu by Carlight"]
Phillip DeGruy
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Oh my word! Marvelous!
[referring to "All the Clusters"]
Phillip DeGruy
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Steve,

Really gorgeous sounding!
“Home” and “Giant Steps” sound great.
Your technique brings me inspiration even
for writing stuff for other instruments.

Regards from Brasil,

Julio Herrlein

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I’ve spent the past 1/2 hour or so listening to your beautiful music. I’m not entirely sure I understand the technique, but I clearly understand the results.

Your compositions are lovely, thoughtful and rich in color. As far as every composition being short, I find it a strength.  Every piece leaves me wishing for more.  Bravo!

Joe LoCasio

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Hey Steve,

Thank you for the music!!! LOVE the chord voicings!!!! Really beautiful!!!
Wouldn’t mind sitting down and watch you play that stuff!!
Keep up the great work!!!

Best,

Bill Solley

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Very interesting 2 hand voicings! It seems that you’ve built a whole world of thinking about new jazz concepts with this technique!
Hippolyte Bergamotte 
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Hi Steve,

I checked your site, great collection of voicings. Certainly solves the problem of reaching close voicing inversions, not to mention various kinds of clusters. This inspires me to experiment for sure.

Thanks and all the best,

Steve Cardenas

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Steve,

I love your stuff man…you should put this in book format and sell it…quickly…I’ll be the first to buy a copy. I would like to explore some of these sounds…and find the ones that work for me. Great stuff.

Thanks,

Thaddeus Hogarth

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Steve,

I got a chance to check out your website.  Very intriguing!  I really enjoyed listening to the mp3 clips.  Many of the voicings have a harp-like quality to them, so I think you’re really onto something.  I’d enjoy hearing more mp3 clips of your voicings!

Congrats on the site, and best of luck to you,

Scott Hardy

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Gorgeous! A great use of your techniques ["Giant Steps Chord Exploration #1"]. I really enjoyed it – thanks for sharing.

John Kiefer
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Steve,
i just lost myself in your audio clips. Far freakin’ out! Seriously, they are beautiful and compelling. Your works should be made available in book form. If there is a book in print already, i want one.
Schell Barkely

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Hello Steve,

You have a very unique sound that I enjoy listening to. I’m sure part of it is your technique, but I always believed that those kinds of techniques are born out of musical urges.

Grace and peace be yours in abundance,

Eddie Lewis

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Hi Steve,

I listened to your piece (“Lulu by Carlight”) and I love it.

Stephan Badreau

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Hi, Steve.

I checked out your website and was very impressed with your playing and the sounds you get with your two-handed technique. You get some sounds unlike any I’ve heard. I’ll check out more of your site when I get some time and get back to you.

Thanks for getting in touch,

Tom Lippincott

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Steve,

I read thru your instructions and think they are quite good in explaining. This is a wealth of material as you cover all the chord types. The fact you want to share it with people is both kind and generous. The voicings [used on Giant Steps Chord Explorations] sound great, very modern, almost like Bartok!

Byron Atkins

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Hello Stephen.

They really are beautiful sounds. I greatly admire anyone that is adept in this style.

Thank you.

Rhoderick

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Hi Steve,
That is fantastic! I never heard something like this. It is very unique and special. What a wonderful talent God gave you! Thank you for sharing this song with me brother. I really appreciate it.

Daniel Veliz

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I have been able to take some time to look at and listen to some your work, moreover, I am also trying out some of your techniques and really enjoying and learning from them. You most certainly have some truly amazing sounds. I was stunned by your rendition of  “Jesus Loves Me.”

Rhoderick

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Hi Steve,

I listened to all of your music on your site – really beautiful music.  I love your style and the sound of your two hand voicings. My favorite tracks are Be, Deep Feelings and Travis. I also love the atmosphere and lush effect the voicings create on Rainbow, and the arrangement of Walking in a Winter Wonderland with All blues is awesome.
Thanks for sharing your page, very honest and sincere music.  I’ve passed the link on to guitarist buddies of mine.
Thanushka Lewkebandara

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Nice voicings, man! Hip sh__! Sounds great, inspiring!

Alf Carlsson

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The music is astounding. You truly are a master in every sense of the word. Your years of dedication has reaped its rewards. Dennis’ words:  “pretty impressive”.  We both read through your blog.  Just astonishing.  Makes me realize how much I don’t know about music.  Dennis immediately recalls you talking about your technique over 30 years ago.  I guess it left an impression on him as well.
Grant Pittard

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Wow, sounds amazing and impossible! [referring to "All the Clusters"]

Hodge

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Wow, thank you Steve for your great blog! Very interesting ideas and beautiful music; well, isn’t that the most important thing after all?

Guelda

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Hey Steve,

Thank you! Nice sounds you use. Pretty unique to my ears. I like your “Lulu by Carlight.”

Take Care,

Viktor Sandstrom

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Hey, Steve –

This looks very nice. It’s understandable — I feel like I could try your instructions and get decent results . . .  even for a trumpet player!   = )

Nice to hear from you,

Carol Morgan

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Very interesting to read about your dual-hand technique. I like the “strumming with the pinky” part.

Cheers,

Ilya

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Steve,

The world needs more marching band music.

Walter

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Hey Steve,

I took a look at your blog, very nice. Did you come up with the two hand guitar voicings yourself?

In Christ,

Mike

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Hi Mike,

Thanks for the good feedback. Yeah, I developed the idea on my own in the early 80’s with two seeds to push things along: (1) I was in a jazz big band that was playing some pretty difficult pieces, but since our piano player quit at an inopportune moment, I had to attempt to cover some of his parts. One tune by Thad Jones had a chord that went like this (from top to bottom): F#, D, B, G, F#. This is impossible normally. But then (2) I thought about how Eddie Van Halen was using two hands (tapping and for a different style) and figured maybe I could use both hands to play some of the jazz piano chords and just kept tinkering with it.

Then I went to Boston (the land of Berklee and 10 thousand guitarists) and compiled a bunch of two hand chords and wrote some pieces for the technique. While I was there I met a 20th Century composer, Merton Brown, and interested him in writing a couple of pieces for the technique (they were pretty difficult but also unique, as far as I was aware, for guitar music of the time). Merton was in on the second wave of atonal composers. He roomed with John Cage (!) was buddies with Lou Harrison (the guy that finished some of Charles Ives’ works), studied with Carl Ruggles, was favorably reviewed by Virgil Thompson, and hung out with a host of other movers and shakers of that style and period. Merton wrote a kind of delicate, minimalist atonal music that could fool you into thinking it was tonal. He was clearly influenced by the music of Duke Ellington and George Gershwin. I was very lucky to have known him and proud to have introduced him to the solo works of pianist Art Tatum.

While I was in Boston (still early 80’s) I was introduced to the music of John Scofield and he became my new favorite guitarist, although Jim Hall was a very close second. I went up to Scofield on the break of one of his gigs and told him I’d like to show him how my two hand chording worked and how it was different from what Stanley Jordan was doing. Scofield said sure, come to Berklee the next day and show me what you’re doing. The next day I was real nervous but I played a piece for him that I’d written that used both hands. He said he liked the song and that if I kept at it I might have something in 10 years or so. As a 19 year old this wasn’t very encouraging, but now that I’m 50, I get a kick out of the comment and think it was a good one (both humbling and accurate).

I’ve looked around for someone doing the same thing so that I could trade ideas and learn from them, but I haven’t found anyone so far. I know there are lots of tappers out there, and lots of guys doing excellent stuff with artificial harmonics, but my chords seem a bit different. Some truly great players that have a bag of tricks and that I’d love to sit down with and show them how I do chords (Ted Greene, Alan Holdsworth, Phillip DeGrue, Pat Metheny, Lenny Breau, Phil Keaggy, etc.) are unfortunately also pretty hard to get a hold of.

I really don’t mind whether or not I get a lot of traffic at this blog; my goal is to make the technique available to other guitarists and maybe get some feedback, or maybe get the chance to hear how someone else might apply it. So please tell anyone that you feel might be interested. I understand I’m not the end all, and I’d love to see what others can do with this idea.

Sorry for the excessive amount of self-absorption,

Steve Montgomery

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MUSIC SAMPLES THAT CAN BE FOUND AFTER THE CHORD AND CLUSTER FINGERINGS BELOW:

Be

Deep Feelings (intro)

Deep Feelings (solo accompaniment)

Home

Jesus

Breathe

Lulu by Carlight

How He Loves You and Me

Come Home

Travis

Rainbow

There is

Try

Angels

Silent Night

Snow

All the Clusters

Summertime

Giant Steps Chord Explorations #1

Partially Porgy

Pure

Cherry Tree

Progress

Some Chords

For Emily

Heart Failure

Star

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

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DIATONIC BASED CHORDS AND CLUSTERS

Fingerings for G major chords

Listen to G major chords

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Fingerings for F major clusters

Listen to F major clusters

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Fingerings for A minor chords 

Listen to A minor chords

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Fingerings for D minor clusters

Listen to D minor clusters

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Fingerings for D7 chords

Listen to D7 chords

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Fingerings for F7 clusters

Listen to F7 clusters

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Fingerings for G major7 b5th chords

Listen to G major7 b5 chords

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Fingerings for G major7 b5 clusters

Listen to G major7 b5 clusters

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“JAZZ” MELODIC MINOR BASED CHORDS AND CLUSTERS

Fingerings for A minor major 7th chords

Listen to A minor major 7th chords

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Fingerings for F minor major 7th clusters

Listen to F minor major 7th clusters

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Fingerings for Am7b5 chords

Listen to Am7b5 chords

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Fingerings for Dm7b5 clusters

Listen to Dm7b5 clusters

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Fingerings for D7 altered chords (dominant 7th chords based on the “jazz” melodic minor scale that include a b5th, #5th, b9th, and #9th)

Listen to D7 altered chords

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Fingerings for E7 altered clusters (dominant 7th chords based on the “jazz” melodic minor scale that include a b5th, #5th, b9th, and #9th)

Listen to E7 altered clusters

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Fingerings for D7 “nonaltered” chords (dominant 7th chords based on the “jazz” melodic minor scale which include a b5th)

Listen to D7 nonaltered chords

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Fingerings for Bb7 nonaltered clusters (dominant 7th clusters based on the “jazz” melodic minor scale which include a b5th)

Listen to Bb7 nonaltered clusters

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Fingerings for Ab major#5  chords

Listen to Ab major#5 chords

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Fingerings for Ab major#5 clusters

Listen to Ab major#5 clusters

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Fingerings for G7sus4b9 chords

Listen to G7sus4b9 chords

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Fingerings for G7sus4b9 clusters

Listen to G7sus4b9 clusters

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DIMINISHED BASED CHORDS AND CLUSTERS

Fingerings for G diminished chords

Listen to G diminished chords

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Fingerings for G diminished clusters

Listen to G diminished clusters

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Fingerings for C13b9 chords

Listen to C13b9 chords

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Fingerings for F13b9 clusters

Listen to F13b9 clusters

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APPLICATIONS

Fingerings for chord applications

Listen to Chord applications

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Fingerings for cluster applications

Listen to Cluster application 1

Listen to Cluster application 2

Listen to Cluster application 3

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CHORD COMBINATIONS

Fingerings for G major and A minor chord combinations:

Listen to G major and A minor chords

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Fingerings for G major and D7 altered chord combinations:

Listen to G major and D7 altered chords

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Fingerings for G major and D7 nonaltered chord combinations:

Listen to G major and D7 nonaltered chords

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Fingerings for A7b9sus4 and D major cluster combinations:

A7sus4b9 to D p1 001A7sus4b9 to D p2 001A7sus4b9 to D p3 001A7sus4b9 to D p4 001A7sus4b9 to D p5 001

Listen to A7b9sus4 to D For Two Hands

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ORIGINALS AND ARRANGEMENTS

BE

“Be” was written for the birth of my son, Stephen. The first chord is a dissonant “B”; the last chord is a consonant “B.”

Fingerings for “Be” by Steve Montgomery:

Here’s “Be” written out on the staff:

Listen to Be

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DEEP FEELINGS (intro)

“Deep Feelings” was written for my wife. The two-hand chord clusters are easy to hear in both the intro and in the accompaniment for the guitar solo.

Fingerings for the intro of “Deep Feelings” by Steve Montgomery:

Listen to the intro to Deep Feelings

DEEP FEELINGS (solo accompaniment)

The changes to the solo section are the same as with the “head,” which is not included here. There is a quote from the beginning of “The Rite of Spring” by Stravinsky.

Fingerings for the solo section of “Deep Feelings” by Steve Montgomery:

Listen to the accompaniment for the solo section of  Deep Feelings 

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HOME

“Home” was written with the Prodigal Son in mind; the departure, the return, and the acceptance. Thanks to Kevin Moody for a great job of sight singing the vocal part.

Fingerings for “Home” by Steve Montgomery:

 Here’s “Home” written out on the staff:

Listen to Home

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JESUS

“Jesus” (“Jesus Loves me this I Know”) was intended for female voice, but Kevin Moody did a great job of  sight-reading my arrangement and filling in for me.

Fingerings for “Jesus” by Steve Montgomery:

Here’s “Jesus” written out on the staff:

Listen to Jesus

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BREATHE

This is my arrangement of the old Church Hymn “Breathe on me Breath of God,” with Kevin Moody sight singing the vocal part.

Here’s “Breathe” written out on the staff:

Listen to Breathe

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LULU BY CARLIGHT

“Lulu by Carlight” is a combination of bits and pieces taken from “Lulu” by Alban Berg (one of Arnold Schoenberg’s students), the jazz standard “Stella by Starlight,” and some of my own ideas. 

Here’s “Lulu by Carlight” written out on the staff:

Listen to Lulu by Carlight

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OH, HOW HE LOVES YOU AND ME

This is the intro to an old Gospel tune that I’ve revamped a bit. It provides an easily recognizable example of two hand voicings.

Listen to Oh, How He Loves You and Me

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COME HOME

“Come Home” is my take on another old Gospel tune that I’ve tinkered with a bit. It gives a clear example of two hand guitar voicings.

Listen to Come Home

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TRAVIS

Travis is an original I wrote in memory of the late great Merle Travis. It has two hand guitar voicings sprinkled throughout.

Fingerings for “Travis” by Steve Montgomery:

Listen to Travis

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RAINBOW

As you can hear, the chords at the beginning of my arrangement are conventional, but they change into two hand voicings when the melody starts.

Listen to Rainbow

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THERE IS

This is my combination of  “There is a Savior” as performed by Sandi Patty, and “Dancing Queen” by ABBA. For most of it I used conventional guitar chords, but the intro has a few good examples of two hand guitar voicings.

Listen to There is

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TRY

For this tune, I just put together a repeating set of two hand voicings, and then improvised the melody on top.

Fingerings for “Try” by Steve Montgomery:

Listen to Try

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ANGELS

I wrote this as a simple exercise to showcase a couple of two hand chord clusters I had recently discovered. A few overdubs assisted things in this case.

Listen to Angels

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SILENT NIGHT

For this traditional Christmas song I used two hand chord clusters for the accompaniment to the guitar solo.

Fingerings for “Silent Night”:

Listen to Silent Night

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SNOW

This is a quick study for two hand voicings based on Claude Thornhill’s “Snowfall.”

Fingerings for “Snow” by Steve Montgomery:

Here’s “Snow” written out on the staff:

Listen to Snow

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ALL THE CLUSTERS

An exercise based on part of “All the Things You Are”

Fingerings for “All the Clusters” by Steve Montgomery:

All the Clusters 1 001All the Clusters 2 001All the Clusters 3 001All the Clusters 4 001

Listen to All the Clusters 

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SUMMERTIME

An exercise based on the changes to “Summertime”

Fingerings to “Summertime” by Steve Montgomery:

Summertime 1 001Summertime 2 001Summertime 3 001Summertime 4 001Summertime 5 001

Listen to Summertime

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GIANT STEPS CHORD EXPLORATIONS #1

I put together these two-hand chord voicings for the first part of John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps.” 

Fingerings for “Giant Steps Chord Explorations #1″ by Steve Montgomery:

Giant Steps Chord Exploration #1 p.1 001Giant Steps Chord Exploration #1 p.2 001

Here’s “Giant Steps Chord Exploration #1″ written out on the staff:

Giant Steps Chord Exploration #1 001

Listen to Giant Steps Exploration #1

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PARTIALLY PORGY

Some of my chord voicing ideas for parts of “I Loves You Porgy.”

Fingerings for “Partially Porgy” by Steve Montgomery:

Partially Porgy 1 001Partially Porgy 2 001Partially Porgy 3 001Partially Porgy 4 001

Listen to Partially Porgy

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PURE

This chord exercise is based on Gene Wilder’s version of “Pure Imagination” from the 1971 film “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” For a change, I’ve included a separate bass part and melody track to facilitate the use of certain voicings in the chording tract.   

Fingerings for “Pure Imagination” by Steve Montgomery:

Pure p1 001Pure p2 001Pure p3 001Pure p4 001Pure p4b 001Pure p5 001Pure p6 001

Listen to Pure

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CHERRY TREE

This is my version of “Cherokee.”

Fingerings for “Cherry Tree” by Steve Montgomery:

Cherry Tree 1 001Cherry Tree 2 001Cherry Tree 3 001Cherry Tree 4 001Cherry Tree 5 001Cherry Tree 6 001

Listen to Cherry Tree

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PROGRESS

A simple hymn-like piece.

Fingerings for “Progress” by Steve Montgomery:

Progress 1 001Progress 2 001Progress 3 001

Listen to Progress: Progress

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SOME CHORDS

Fingerings for “Some Chords” by Steve Montgomery:

Some Chords p.1 001Some Chords p.2 001Some Chords p.3 001Some Chords p.4 001

Listen to Some ChordsSome Chords

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FOR EMILY

After explaining my two hand guitar technique to Emily Remler, she suggested I make a recording and send it to her New York address. I put together a short chord study entitled “For Emily,” which quotes “Emily,” “One Less Bell to Answer,” and “A Time for Love.” I then sent it to her for comments and suggestions. About a month later I learned of her unfortunate overdose and untimely death.

Fingerings for “For Emily” by Steve Montgomery:

Here’s “For Emily” written out on the staff:

Listen to For Emily

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HEART FAILURE

I wrote this with spiritual, rather than physical, failure in mind.

Fingerings for “Heart Failure” by Steve Montgomery:

Here’s “Heart Failure” written out on the staff:

Listen to Heart Failure

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STAR

I put this together as a chord study based on the introductory “verse” to “Stardust.”

Fingerings for “Star” by Steve Montgomery:

Here’s “Star” written out on the staff:

Listen to Star

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WALKING IN A WINTER WONDERLAND

For this tune I played the bass part to “All Blue” by Miles Davis and then overdubbed the guitar parts. I used two hand voicings briefly in the background of the intro, and then again for the first 16 bars of the guitar solo.

Fingerings for “Walking in a Winter Wonderland”:

Listen to Walking in a Winter Wonderland

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BLANK FRETBOARDS

CURRENTLY UNDER CONSTRUCTION

 

Pandiatonic Guitar?

ROAD MAP

  1. Overveiw
  2. How did I Come up With This Idea?
  3. List of Examples of Music With Pandiatonic Harmony
  4. Labels, Terms and Clarifications
  5. Pandiatonic Harmony in a Nutshell
  6. Arpeggios, Scales and Chords with Pandiatonic Harmony
  7. The Pandiatonic Arpeggio
  8. Fingerings for the Pandiatonic Arpeggio
  9. Applications for the Pandiatonic Arpeggio
  10. The Pandiatonic Scale
  11. Fingerings for the Pandiatonic Scale
  12. Applications for the Pandiatonic Scale
  13. The Pandiatonic Hexachord
  14. Pandiatonic Chords
  15. Chord Applications for Conventional Fingerings
  16. Chord Applications for Two Hand Fingerings
  17. Examples of Music with Pandiatonic Harmony

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Also be sure to visit http://twohandguitarvoicings.wordpress.com to learn more about Two Hand Guitar Voicings, including thumbnail fingerings, audio clips, originals and arrangements, and clear explainations.

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OVERVIEW

For years musicians have tinkered with ways to expand the harmonic pallete, devising systems, or else no system at all, in this pursuit. In the Classical world Stravinsky, Ives, Berg, Schoenberg, and a host of others, did amazing things to broaden musical vocabulary. In the Jazz world, the list is equally long, with names like John Coltrane and Miles Davis coming to the forefront.

While Polytonal, Twelve Tonal, and Atonal Schools of Thought have been more prevalent in the Classical world, “outside” and “free” playing have made substantial advances in Jazz over approximately the last 50 years. Often Jazz improvisations will slide in and out of these more “expanded” sorts of harmonies intuitively, implying a relation to other keys, without any systematic underpinning. Obviously, playing instinctively is not a problem, with numerous examples that attest to the skills of many gifted jazz soloists. Conversely, there have been jazz musicians who have supported the direction of their “outside” work more systematically.

What I hope to provide is a framework that will give input for writing and improvising, one that simplifies some of what has been labeled “outside,” which at times implies “outside” the realm of understanding, to be attained exclusively through impulse or inspiration. My focus will be primarily on Jazz Guitar and how what I will call Pandiatonic Harmony relates to it.

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HOW DID I COME UP WITH THIS IDEA?

As I began to learn my scales and arpeggios in high school, I started to notice the inconsistencies with the Diatonic system. When I played arpeggios diatonically, I saw that there was a “glitch” in the pattern. The thirds progressed from major to minor, to major to minor, to minor to major to minor: C, E, G, B, D, F, A, C. The pattern of alternating major third to minor third was broken when D only went up a minor third to F, rather than continuing the pattern with a major third, landing on an F#. The same discrepancy occurred when A failed to go up a major third to C#, and instead only ascended a minor third, landing on C.

So I decided to try a more consistent pattern for constructing arpeggios; I would consistently alternate from major third to minor third. For a start, I got this: C, E, G, D, F#. I found that the flatted 5th provided by F# was a pleasant surprise, and obviously a familiar sound in the Jazz world. But the next departure from the key of C was a bit more alarming — a flatted 9th in a major key! C, E, G, B, D, F#, A, C#. This led me to the conclusion that the alternating major third to minor third construction, if used consistently, would promptly lead you right out of the key. It raised questions like; if F# (b5th) is an acceptable and sought after sound in jazz harmony, often used as an embellishment for major 7th chords, why isn’t C# (b9th) equally acceptable for major 7th chords? Especially since both pitches are derived from simply following the same Non-Diatonic, yet logically consistent, alternation of major and minor thirds: C, E, G, B, D, F#, A, C#.  And what would happen to Diatonic harmony in the key of C if this logical progression was followed consistently beyond F# and C# to other points of “dissonance,” like G#, D# and A#?:

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

I also began to notice the presence of a Hexachord of stacked 5ths within this arpeggio:

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

These six Diatonically anchored pitches would become important in developing a sense of relative usefulness when applying the almost limitless choices provided by this sequence of notes, as well as a vocabulary of chord voicings that are Pandiatonically compatible.

As I continued to tinker with this idea of consistently alternating major and minor thirds, I noticed that I was hearing sounds similar to those of Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, and many others whose “moderisms” had delighted but previously baffled me. I had obviously not found the Oracle of all Harmonic Wisdom, but at least a tool to help decode some of the incredible sounds of some of those incredible players. I found that continuing through this “Pandiatonic Arpeggio” (the term I began to use for the result of consistently following the pattern of major to minor third) would eventually make a complete cycle, ending where it began, running through all twelve Diatonic systems, a total of 24 notes, all 12 pitches, all 12 major and minor triads, from which would consequently come a redefining of the term “key.”

I found that the Pandiatonic Arpeggio may be seen as a harmonic backbone connecting all keys. It in turn creates a framework of stacked perfect 5ths, each composed of consistently alternating major and minor 3rds. I use the term Hexachord to label these 5ths within the Pandiatonic Arpeggio. The Hexachord, through the self-imposed limitation of only 6 notes, remains rooted in Diatonic harmony while simultaneously acting as the means to transcend it: C, G, D, A, E, B. Each note of the Hexachord acts as a portal, a point of departure, into what is often considered “outside.”  This unity between Diatonic tradition and Pandiatonic expansion, provides an internal integrity and accounts for generating “outside” yet “familiar” music.

What does this imply as far as possibilities for chords? What about scales? Improvisation? Composition? The material below is for you to investigate, argue with, compromise with, and apply as you find useful.

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LIST OF EXAMPLES OF MUSIC WITH PANDIATONIC HARMONY

How He Loves You and Me

Only the Very One at Heart

Unheard of

Star

Giant Steps Chord Explorations #1

Pandiatonic Chord Exercise #1

Pandiatonic Exercise

Heart Failure

Solitude

Faun

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LABELS, TERMS AND CLARIFICATIONS

Pandiatonic: “Pan” means  everything;  “diatonic” means the harmonic system used in most Western music. According to Nicolas Slonimsky, who coined the term “pandiatonic” to describe what Stravinsky and Copland were up to musically, Pandiatonic means using the notes of the diatonic scale without conventional resolutions or chord progressions. I’ll be using the same term, but in a different way. The way I use it, “Pandiatonic” means the connecting of all keys through the backbone of a Pandiatonic Arpeggio constructed of alternating major and minor thirds, implying many of the conventions of Western music and at the same time going beyond them.

Pandiatonic Arpeggio: The Pandiatonic Arpeggio is the starting point from which the Pandiatonic Hexachord, the Pandiatonic Scale, and all subsequent chords, patterns, and improvisations stem.

Pandiatonic Hexachord: “Hexa” stands for 6; the way I’m using this term, it means a chord built by stacking 6 perfect 5ths, for example, C, G, D, A, E, B. This Hexachord exists within the Pandiatonic Arpeggio. A Hexachord may be applied to a tonal center or generated on a chord by chord basis. It also forms the basis of what I,  arbitrarily, have set as the bounds for what is harmonically most useful.

Primary and Secondary Hexachords: “Primary” refers to the stacked 5ths of the Hexachord built on alternating major triads to minor triads; “secondary” refers to the stacked 5ths of the Hexachord built on alternating minor triads to major triads. Again, the assignment of these terms is purely arbitrary.

Octaves: The Pandiatonic “octave” is actually a #8th: C, D, E, F#, G, A, B, C#. Starting on one of the notes of the Secondary Hexachord produces an 8th, or octave: (C) E, F#, G, A, B, C#, D, E.

Chord Quality: In applying Pandiatonic Harmony to improvising and writing, I have made several compromises based on my personal opinion of what sounds “good” and is most often useful. The following are a few of these observations regarding chord quality.

(1) Pandiatonic Harmony seems most useful when applied to modifying major chords. This usefulness remains high for major chord applications all the way through the Hexachord (C, G, D, A, E, B).

(2) Pandiatonic Harmony “works” best on dominant 7th chords that are based on the 9th, 6th, 3rd, and 7th of the Hexachord.

(3) In Pandiatonic Harmony minor chords are the most problematic and, in my opinion, the chord quality that Pandiatonic harmony seems to have the least to offer, but this opinion is subject to change. In Pandiatonic Harmony, there is a major/minor merger due to the consistently alternating major and minor triads; any given major triad will be attached to a minor triad with the reverse also being true. This is not always the case in Diatonic harmony due to its built-in inconsistencies with triadic succession.

Intervals: I choose to call the 6th note of the Hexachord a 6th rather than a 13th because 13th, to me, implies a dominant 7th chord and detracts from the idea that the pitches are named according to common usage in chord labels for major chords.

The Big Picture? Interestingly, Pandiatonic harmony is analogous to Unified Theory. It is prescribed and bound by certain rules, such as with subatomic theory, but through those same rules, and paradoxically in opposition to the very rules driving the  logic behind the system, it encompasses everything and enjoys the vantage point of the “Big Picture.” But that still leaves the arbitrary limitations which I have set on the diatonicly-limited perfect 5ths for the Hexachord (C, G, D, A, E, B), expressed intervalically (Root, 5th, 9th, 6th, 3rd, 7th), as an ironic embrace of apparent inconsistency. We should always give ear to the lessons of Ives and Berg in regard to the relative value of systems and the arrogance of inviolability over the harmonious compromise of judicially wrought self-limitation. The comprehensive order and consistency of Pandiatonic harmony, in contrast to the built-in inconsistency of Diatonic harmony, stands in a position to provide useful enhancements, greater choice and expanded horizons.

What is Pandiatonic Harmony? Pandiatonic Harmony is based on a moveable Hexachord of perfect 5ths. The Hexachord has been arbitrarily limited to six pitches and therefore remains Diatonic, i.e., C, G, D, A, E, B. It is “limited” in the sense that not going beyond a six-note Hexachord of stacked fifths is my subjective choice to bring order, usefulness and what I consider the more commonly used Pandiatonic chords, arpeggios and scales to the forefront. Obviously, this should not impede exploration and experimentation in what lies beyond the Hexachord. Pandiatonic harmony comes from this Hexachord and is applied primarily to major chords and dominant 7th chords, another subjective choice based on my observations of most common use.

What is a Pandiatonic Hexachord? What I mean by Pandiatonic Hexachord is another way to organize scales, arpeggios and chords that allows for options to Diatonic harmony and traditional theory. The Hexachord is composed of 6 stacked perfect 5ths (for example, C, G, D, A, E, B). It is from the Hexachord that the Pandiatonic Arpeggio, Pandiatonic Scale and Pandiatonic based chords are generated.

Why not just say “arpeggio” instead of “partial arpeggio”? I use the phrase “partial arpeggio” because there is only one Pandiatonic Arpeggio. This means that Pandiatonic-Compatible arpeggiations will always be only partial, unless the full 24-note, 12-key cycle is being played. This is why a root-centered, moveable, Hexachord is used to set practical limitations on the Pandiatonic Arpeggio and establish a point of reference.

What do you mean by “Pandiatonic-Compatible”? This phrase is used for arpeggios, scales, and chords that are based on the pattern of continuously alternating major and minor thirds.

What do you mean by “skipping”? Skipping is jumping from one point to another in the Pandiatonic Arpeggio, to interface sections of the Pandiatonic sequence, rather than to arpeggiate in direct succession.

For example: G, B, D#, F#, A#, C#, E, G#, A

implies a start in “G,” but then “skips” to “B” and “F#,” and finally “skips” to “A,” all of which are consistent with the G-based Hexachord.

What Good is a Structure for Playing Outside? Jazz players often speak of playing “outside.” “Outside,” however, is often so vaguely defined that it may mean anything from playing in other keys simultaneously (polytonal), playing “weird” or especially dissonant, to even playing randomly. In the final analysis, what “outside” can often end up meaning is following others known for their abilities to play “outside” (John Coltrane, McCoy Tyner, etc.) Although there is nothing wrong with having a master to emulate, Pandiatonic harmony provides a more systematic approach to playing “outside.”

Is Pandiatonic Harmony Better than Diatonic Harmony? The Diatonic system has been responsible for 100’s of years of good music, and much of our understanding of musical tension/resolution. Pandiatonic harmony is not a replacement of other harmonic systems, only a supplement. Just as Diatonic harmony is good and useful for certain types of sounds, so also is Pandiatonic harmony. Just as playing by ear, playing by instinct, is good and useful, so is informing the ear with the structure of Diatonic, Pandiatonic and other systems of harmony. All are simply sources of order, options, and input from which to deviate as musical needs dictate.

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PANDIATONIC HARMONY IN A NUTSHELL

– Pandiatonic harmony provides a systematic way for playing “outside” and expands and supplements existing harmonic systems for improvisation and compositional use.

– Alternating major and minor thirds which create . . .

– The Pandiatonic Arpeggio which is . . .

– A 24-note arpeggio that encompasses and connects all 12 keys and all 12 diatonic systems which allows for . . .

– The Pandiatonic Scale which is . . .

– A 48-note scale composed of four-note continuously connecting mini-scales. Start on any pitch, such as (C), then ascend whole step/whole step/whole step then resolve up a half step to G:

C, D, E, F#, G

Then continue with the same pattern to A, B, C#, resolving up a half step to D:

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

then follow the same pattern to E, F#, G#, resolving up a half step to A:

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

and so on, continuing through the remaining notes of the Pandiatonic Hexachord (C, G, D, A, E, B), or further through the complete cycle of the Pandiatonic Arpeggio, that encompasses and connects all 12 keys.

– A moveable Pandiatonic Hexachord based on 6 stacked perfect 5ths exists within any given point of both the Pandiatonic Arpeggio and the Pandiatonic Scale. It provides a subjective limitation on the full cycle, 24 notes, of the Pandiatonic Arpeggio, and the full cycle, 48 notes, of the Pandiatonic Scale, and functions as something like a moveable backbone for Pandiatonic Harmony.

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ARPEGGIOS, SCALES AND CHORDS WITH PANDIATONIC HARMONY

These arpeggios, scales and chords are not meant to be used in a regimented way, always starting from a predetermined spot, but are better thought of as a continuous flow of interconnected notes, scales, arppegios and chords to be tapped in to from any point, and to skip from point to point in the Pandiatonic sequence, interweaving with other harmonic systems, such as Jazz Melodic Minor, Diatonic, etc., at will and as “the spirit leads.”

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PANDIATONIC ARPEGGIOS

In Pandiatonic Harmony, from any given major triad that you are arpeggiating, you are only one note of the arpeggio away from being on a minor triad. For example, the major triad C, E, G, is ony one note away from becoming minor by starting on the E and building an E minor triad: E, G, B. This is not always the case with Diatonic arpeggios due to their built-in inconsistency. For example, the G, B, D major triad in the key of C (C, E, G, B, D, F, A, C) is not followed by the minor triad B, D, F#. In short, the Pandiatonic Arpeggio is built on consistently alternating major and minor triads, while Diatonic arpeggios are not.

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The Pandiatonic Cycle (Arpeggio)

The Pandiatonic Cycle

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FINGERINGS FOR PANDIATONIC ARPEGGIOS

Fingerings for “F Pandiatonic Arpeggio through the Hexachord”:

Listen to F Pandiatonic Arpeggio through the Hexachord

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PANDIATONIC ARPEGGIO APPLICATIONS

Fingerings for Partial Pandiatonic Arpeggio Based on the 5ths of the Hexachord (Part 1):

Listen to Fingerings for Partial Pandiatonic Arp major and minor part 1

Fingerings for Partial Pandiatonic Arpeggio Based on the 5ths of the Hexachord (Part 2):

Listen to Fingerings for Partial Pandiatonic Arp major and minor part 2

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Shapes for Partial Pandiatonic Arpeggio

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Major Pandiatonic Partial Arpeggios in Bb

Listen to Pandiatonic Turnarounds in Bb (major arpeggios)

Pandiatonic Minor Partial Arpeggios in Bb

Pandiatonic Major and Minor Partial Arpeggios in Bb

Turnarounds for Pandiatonic Partial Arpeggios in C and G

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Turnarounds for Major Pandiatonic Partial Arpeggios in F

Maj Arps in F on Root #1 001

Listen to Major Arp in F on Root #1 maj arp in F on root #1

Maj Arps in F on Root #2 001

Listen to Major Arp in F on Root #2 maj arp in F on root #2

Maj Arps in F on 5th #1 001

Listen to Major Arp in F on 5th #1 maj arp in F on 5th #1

Maj Arps in F on 5th #2 001

Listen to Major Arp in F on 5th #2 maj arp in F on 5th #2

Maj Arps in F on 9th #1 001

Listen to Major Arp in F on 9th #1 maj arp in F on 9th #1

Maj Arps in F on 9th #2 001

Listen to Major Arp in F on 9th #2 maj arp in F on 9th #2

Maj Arps in F on 6th #1 001

Listen to Major Arp in F on 6th #1 maj arp in F on 6th #1

Maj Arps in F on 6th #2 001

Listen to Major Arp in F on 6th #2 maj arp in F on 6th #2

Maj Arps in F on 3rd #1 001

Listen to Major Arp in F on 3rd #1 maj arp in F on 3rd #1

Maj Arps in F on 3rd #2 001

Listen to Major Arp in F on 3rd #2 maj arp in F on 3rd #2

Maj Arps in F on 7th #1 001

Listen to Major Arp in F on 7th #1 maj arp in F on 7th #1

Maj Arps in F on 7th #2 001

Listen to Major Arp in F on 7th #2 maj arp in F on 7th #2

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Turnarounds for Minor Pandiatonic Partial Arpeggios in F

min arps in F on 3rd #1 001

Listen to Minor Arp in F on 3rd #1 min arp in F on 3rd #1

min arps in F on 3rd #2 001

Listen to Minor Arp in F on 3rd #2 min arp in F on 3rd #2

min arps in F on b5th #1 001

Listen to Minor Arp in F on b5th #1 min arp in F on b5th #1

min arps in F on b5th #2 001

Listen to Minor Arp in F on b5th #2 min arp in F on b5th #2

min arps in F on #5th #1 001

Listen to Minor Arp in F on #5th #1 min arp in F on #5th #1

min arps in F on #5th # 2 001

Listen to Minor Arp in F on #5th #2 min arp in F on #5th #2

min arps in F on 7th #1 001

Listen to Minor Arp in F on 7th #1 min arp in F on 7th #1

min arps in F on 7th #2 001

Listen to Minor Arp in F on 7th #2 min arp in F on 7th #2

min arps in F on b9th #1 001

Listen to Minor Arp in F on b9th #1 min arp in F on b9th #1

min arps in F on b9th #2 001

Listen to Minor Arp in F on b9th #2 min arp in F on b9th #2

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SKIPPING

Skipping is jumping from one point to another in the Pandiatonic Arpeggio, to interface sections of the Pandiatonic sequence, rather than to arpeggiate in direct succession. For example:

Example 1: Bb Pandiatonic: (up) Bb D F# A C# E  F# (down) D B G

(The Bb Hexachord includes Bb, F, C, G, D, A, which is the same as saying Root, 5th, 9th, 6th, 3rd, and 7th. The above example of “skipping” moves through portions of the Bb Hexachord, starting with a partial Bb major triad, then skipping to a D major triad, an A major triad, a partial D major triad, and finally a G major triad. This could obviously by analyzed according to the presence of major 7th and minor arpeggios but, in either case, the continuous flow of alternating major and minor triads remains unbroken in relation to the staked 5ths of the Hexachord.)

Listen to Skipping in Bb Example 1

Example 2: Bb Pandiatonic: (down) G# E C# (up) F# (down) D B (up) C (down) A F D

(The Bb Hexachord includes Bb, F, C, G, D, A. The above example of “skipping” moves through portions of the Bb Hexachord.)

Skipping in Bb Example 2

Example 3: G Pandiatonic:  (up) G B D# F# A# (down) A G# E C# A (up) F#

(The G Hexachord includes G, D, A, E, B, F#. The above example of “skipping” moves through portions of the G Hexachord.)

Skipping in G Example 3

Example 4: G Pandiatonic: (down) G F# D C# A# F# D B (up) E

(The G Hexachord includes G, D, A, E, B, F#. The above example of “skipping” moves through portions of the G Hexachord.)

Skipping in G Example 4

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THE PANDIATONIC SCALE

Just as with the Pandiatonic Arpeggio, it’s more accurate to think of scales in terms of one Pandiatonic Scale which is tapped into at whatever point is musically expedient.

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The Pandiatonic Cycle (Scale)

The Pandiatonic Scale

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FINGERINGS FOR THE PANDIATONIC SCALE

Non-Stretch Fingerings

Stretch Fingerings

Slide Fingerings

F Pandiatonic Scale through the Hexachord

Fingerings for “F Pandiatonic Scale through the Hexachord”:

Listen to F Pandiatonic Scale through Hexachord

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APPLICATIONS FOR THE PANDIATONIC SCALE

In the works.

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THE PANDIATONIC HEXACHORD

The Hexachord is created by stacking six perfect 5ths, starting from any given note. The Hexachord provides a moveable backbone, dependent upon what root or tonal center it is based on, from which arpeggios, scales and chords are fleshed out.

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Pandiatonic Hexachords

Intervalic Relationships of Primary and Secondary Hexachords

Major and Minor Triads Through the Hexachord

The F Pandiatonic Hexachord

Fingerings for “The F Pandiatonic Hexachord”:

Listen to F Pandiatonic Hexachord

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PANDIATONIC CHORDS

Pandiatonic chords are chords that are Pandiatonic-Compatible. This means that the pitches that comprise each of them fall within the parameters of a moveable Hexachord. In other words, they are based on voicings whose roots are centered on the Root, 5th, 9th, 6th, 3rd, or 7th of the chord or tonal center, and whose pitches are derived from those available to the Hexachord.

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FINGERINGS FOR PANDIATONIC CHORD VOICINGS

These are the five chord voicings that will be used for what follows, either for conventional fingerings or two hand fingerings.

G Pandiatonic Voicings #1

D Pandiatonic Voicings #2

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CHORD APPLICATIONS FOR CONVENTIONAL FINGERINGS

Fingerings for Application of Pandiatonic Voicings 1

Listen to Application of Pandiatonic Voicings 1

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Fingerings for Application of Pandiatonic Voicings 2

Listen to Application of Pandiatonic Voicings 2

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Fingerings for Application of Pandiatonic Voicings 3

Listen to Application for Pandiatonic Voicings 3

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Fingerings for Application of Pandiatonic Voicings 4

Listen to Applications of Pandiatonic Voicings 4

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Fingerings for Application of Pandiatonic Voicings 5

Listen to Applications of Pandiatonic Voicings 5

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Pandiatonic Voicings with the Root in the 5th or 6th String (Playable using Conventional Fingerings)

Pandiatonic Voicings with Root on 5th or 6th String page 1

Listen to Pandiatonic Voicings with Root on 5 or 6 String page 1

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Pandiatonic Voicings with Root on 5th or 6th String page 2

Listen to Pandiatonic Voicings with Root on 5 or 6 String page 2

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Pandiatonic Voicings with Root on 5th or 6th String page 3

Listen to Pandiatonic Voicings with Root on 5 or 6 String page 3

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Pandiatonic Voicings with Root on 5th or 6th String page 4

Listen to Pandiatonic Voicings with Root on 5 or 6 String page 4

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Pandiatonic Voicings with Root on 5th or 6th String page 5

Listen to Pandiatonic Voicings with Root on 5 or 6 String page 5

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CHORD APPLICATIONS FOR TWO HAND FINGERINGS

The following voicings are applied through movable Hexachords (Root, 5th, 9th, 6th, 3rd, 7th) based on various roots or tonal centers. They include the 5 voicings used above in “Fingerings for Pandiatonic Chords.” The Root is indicated for voicings in which it is not, or cannot, be played. It is marked by placing an “R” on the appropriate fret. The interval of the top pitch of each voicing is given in relation to the root of the chord. 

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Pandiatonic Voicings for Two Hands (Type 1)

Fingerings Type 1, page 1

Listen to Pandiatonic Voicing for Two Hands (Type 1) page 1

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Fingerings Type 1, page 2

Listen to Pandiatonic Voicings for Two Hands (Type 1) page 2

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Fingerings Type 2, page 1

Listen to Pandiatonic Voicings for Two Hands (Type 2) page 1

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Fingerings Type 2, page 2

Listen to Pan Voicing for Two Hands (Type 2) page 2

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Fingerings Type 2, page 3

Listen to Pandiatonic Voicings for Two Hands (Type 2) page 3

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Fingerings Type 2, page 4

Listen to Pandiatonic Voicings for Two Hands (Type 2) page 4

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Fingerings Type 2, page 5

Listen to Pandiatonic Voicings for Two Hands (Type 2) page 5

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Fingerings Type 2, page 6

Listen to Pandiatonic Voicings for Two Hand (Type 2) page 6

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Fingerings Type 2, page 7

Listen to Pandiatonic Voicings for Two Hands (Type 2) page 7

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Fingerings Type 2, page 8

Listen to Pandiatonic Voicings for Two Hands (Type 2) page 8

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Fingerings Type 2, page 9

Listen to Pandiatonic Voicings for Two Hands (Type 2) page 9

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Pandiatonic Voicings for Two Hands (Type 3)

Fingerings Type 3, page 1

Listen to Pandiatonic Voicings for Two Hands (Type 3) page 1

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Fingerings Type 3, page 2

Listen to Pandiatonic Voicings for Two Hands (Type 3) page 2

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Fingerings Type 3, page 3

Listen to Pandiatonic Voicings for Two Hands (Type 3) page 3

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Fingerings Type 3, page 4

Listen to Pandiatonic Voicings for Two Hands (Type 3) page 4

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Fingerings Type 3, page 5

Listen to Pandiatonic Voicings for Two Hands (Type 3) page 5

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Fingerings Type 3, page 6

Listen to Pandiatonic Voicings for Two Hands (Type 3) page 6

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Fingerings Type 3, page 7

Listen to Pandiatonic Voicings for Two Hands (Type 3) page 7

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Fingerings Type 3, page 8

Listen to  Pandiatonic Voicings for Two Hands (Type 3) page 8

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Fingerings Type 3, page 9

Listen to Pandiatonic Voicings for Two Hands (Type 3) page 9

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Pandiatonic Voicings for Two Hands (Type 4)

Fingerings Type 4, page 1

Listen to Pandiatonic Voicings for Two Hands (Type 4) page 1

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Fingerings Type 4, page 2

Listen to Pandiatonic Voicings for Two Hands (Type 4) page 2

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Fingerings Type 4, page 3

Listen to Pandiatonic Voicings for Two Hands (Type 4) page 3

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Fingerings Type 4, page 4

Listen to Pandiatonic Voicings for Two Hands (Type 4) page 4

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Fingerings Type 4, page 5

Listen to Pandiatonic Voicings for Two Hands (Type 4) page 5

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Fingerings Type 4, page 6

Listen to Pandiatonic Voicings for Two Hands (Type 4) page 6

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Fingerings Type 4, page 7

Listen to Pandiatonic Voicings for Two Hands (Type 4) page 7

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Fingerings Type 4, page 8

Listen to Pandiatonic Voicings for Two Hands (Type 4) page 8

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Pandiatonic Voicings for Two Hands (Type 5)

Fingerings Type 5, page 1

Listen to Pandiatonic Voicings for Two Hands (Type 5) page 1

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Fingerings Type 5, page 2

Listen to Pandiatonic Voicings for Two Hands (Type 5) page 2

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Fingerings Type 5, page 3

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Fingerings Type 5, page 4

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Fingerings Type 5, page 5

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Fingerings Type 5, page 6

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Fingerings Type 5, page 7

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Fingerings Type 5, page 8

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Fingerings Type 5, page 9

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Fingerings Type 5, page 10

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Fingerings Type 5, page 11

Listen to Pandiatonic Voicings for Two Hands (Type 5) page 11

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Fingerings Type 5, page 12

Listen to Pandiatonic Voicings for Two Hands (Type 5) page 12

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Fingerings Type 5, page 13

Listen to Pandiatonic Voicings for Two Hands (Type 5) page 13

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EXAMPLES OF MUSIC WITH PANDIATONIC HARMONY

How He Loves You and Me

My arrangement of an Old Gospel tune. Listen to how the solo uses conventional harmonies until the end, where it branches off into Pandiatonic harmony.

Listen to How He Loves You and Me

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Only the Very One at Heart

Based on the old standard Only the Very Young at Heart, made popular by Frank Sinatra. The chords and the melody owe some to Pandiatonic harmony.

Fingerings for “Only the Very One at Heart” by Steve Montgomery:

Listen to Only the Very One at Heart

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Unheard of

A short improvisation. Listen to how the chords and soloing progress from conventional to Pandiatonic.

Listen to Unheard of

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Star

This is a chord exercise based on the introductory “verse” of Stardust. Many of the chords are Pandiatonic-based.

Fingerings for “Star” by Steve Montgomery:

Here’s “Star” written out on the staff:

Listen to Star

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GIANT STEPS CHORD EXPLORATION #1

This is a portion of “Giant Steps” by John Coltrane using Pandiatonic voicings for two hands.

Fingerings for “Giant Steps Expolaration #1″ by Steve Montgomery:

Giant Steps Chord Exploration #1 p.1 001Giant Syeps Chord Exploration #1 p.2 001

Here’s “Giant Steps Chord Exploration #1″ written out on the staff:

Giant Steps Chord Exploration #1 001

Listen to Giant Steps Exploration #1

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PANDIATONIC CHORD EXERCISE #1

Fingerings for “Pandiatonic Chord Exercise #1″ by Steve Montgomery

Pandiatonic Chord Exercise #1 001

Listen to Pandiatonic Chord Exercise #1

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PANDIATONIC EXERCISE

This is an example of harmonizing a Major 9th add #11 arpeggio (i.e., C, E, G, B, D, F#, A) through part of the Pandiatonic Arpeggio.

Listen to Pandiatonic Exercise

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HEART FAILURE

This short original contains a mix of Pandiatonic Harmony and other sources of harmonic input.

Fingerings for “Heart Failure” by Steve Montgomery:

Here’s “Heart Failure” written out on the staff:

Listen to Heart Failure

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SOLITUDE

I made this arrangement with Billie Holiday and her version in mind. I used just three voicings, two of which are Pandiatonic-Compatible, one that isn’t.

Fingerings for the bridge of “Solitude”:

Listen to Solitude (the bridge)

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FAUN 

This is my arrangement of “Prelude to the Afternoon of the Faun” by Claude Debussy. The ending uses one Pandiatonic-Compatible chord voicing in several different applications.

Fingerings for the ending of “Faun”:

Listen to Faun Ending

WHY USE TWO HAND CHORDS AND CLUSTERS?

Because they sound great! Two-hand chords and clusters allow you to play voicings on the guitar that would normally be impossible to play. Unless, that is, you have more than one guitarist to work with, or more than five fingers that are abnormally long. And two-hand guitar voicings are done without the percussive ping you get from tapping on the fretboard.

Many beautiful chords are small and harmonically minimal by comparison, but the chords included here are the more lush, rich, thickly voiced kind. That doesn’t mean that they are intended to replace conventional chords, only that they provide a harmonic supplement to traditional guitar chord vocabulary. And they are yours for free!

HOW IT WORKS

Whenever there is an indication to use the same numbered finger in a particular voicing (a need for two 1st fingers in the same chord, for example), use the left hand for the numbers furthest to the left (lower frets, lower pitches) and the right hand for the numbers furthest to the right (higher frets, higher pitches).

Here’s an example:

To play the first of the above F major chord “clusters,” use your left hand to fret the notes on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd strings. Now press on the 7th fret of the “D” string with the 1st finger of your right hand, and press on the 10th fret of the “A” string with the thumb of your right hand. Then, strum upward with the pinky (4th finger) of your right hand; slowly for a cascading, harp-like effect, quickly for a more traditional chording sound. Be sure to maintain sufficient pressure and finger angles in order to produce a clean sound.

Listen to the first chord cluster of the F major clusters

HEAR “TWO HAND CHORD CLUSTERS” ON YOUTUBE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YnnffA8v6X4

Fingerings for You Tube video “Two Hand Chord Clusters”:

MORE ON FINGERINGS

My fingerings are only suggestions; use whatever fingering makes sense and is comfortable for you. For the right hand fretting, I find that the 1st and 2nd fingers, and the thumb, are the most commonly used. Depress strings with the right hand the same as you normally would do so when using the fingers of your left hand. The letter “T” indicates the use of the thumb of your right hand. The letter “L,” though rarely used, would indicate the use of your lip. You will find it useful to keep the nails on your right hand, including your thumb nail, short in order to get a clean sound.

CHORD LABELS

Chords and clusters are labeled by the highest pitch. For example, the label “9th” next to an A minor chord indicates that the A minor chord is voiced with the 9th, “B,” as the highest pitch. I’ve made no attempt to provide an exhaustive list of chord and cluster possibilities; there’s plenty of room for you to come up with your own voicings. The categories I’ve placed all chords and clusters in follow the scales upon which their pitches are derived.

WHAT IS REQUIRED OF YOU?

Nothing more than curiosity, creativity and a good ear. On the other hand, knowing a little about jazz chord voicings, voice leading, chord progressions, chord embellishments and alterations, and intervals might also prove useful. Good luck and good music!

Steve Montgomery – Summer of 2011

CONTACT ME

Sharing your comments, questions and personal applications is greatly appreciated.

gatosr@sbcglobal.net

FEEDBACK

Mr. Scofield,

In 1982 when I was 19, I showed you a couple of pieces I had written for two hand chording. For the final bass note in one of the tunes I used my lip while fretting with both hands. I thought you might be interested in the site I’m currently putting up on the topic of playing guitar chords with two hands. It includes thumbnails of chords and chord clusters that require the use of both hands fretting at the same time. It also includes some explanatory text and some audio samples of me using the technique on some of my arrangements and originals. Do you mind visiting the site and letting me know what you think?

Steve Montgomery

Hi Steve

Yes, I remember! . . . 1982, wow . . . time flies. I checked out your website, it’s great! . . . you’ve got me thinking . . . Thanks and good luck with your music!

John Scofield

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Steve,

I’m delightfully impressed with what you’re doing. The playing is exquisite and your chord-structure is gorgeous.  I love “Home.” It is simple and lovely. I also loved “Lulu by Carlight” and “Rainbow,” too. I listened to all of your bites and was really glad to hear what you are doing. I’d love to see you go into the studio and do a really good CD of your playing. I’m also curious about how you tune your guitar. You are doing some really interesting things that require much more than just a typical EADGBE tuning!

Thank you for sharing your amazing creations with me.

Rob Landes

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Hi Steve,

I like the sound of these chords, but I was having trouble getting the “thumb” note to ring because I have a long thumbnail.

Best,

Ben Monder 

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Very interesting 2 hand voicings! It seems that you’ve built a whole world of thinking about new jazz concepts with this technique!
Hippolyte Bergamotte 
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Hi Steve,

I checked your site, great collection of voicings. Certainly solves the problem of reaching close voicing inversions, not to mention various kinds of clusters. This inspires me to experiment for sure.

Thanks and all the best,

Steve Cardenas

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Steve,

I love your stuff man…you should put this in book format and sell it…quickly…I’ll be the first to buy a copy. I would like to explore some of these sounds…and find the ones that work for me. Great stuff.

Thanks,
Thaddeus Hogarth

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Steve,

I got a chance to check out your website.  Very intriguing!  I really enjoyed listening to the mp3 clips.  Many of the voicings have a harp-like quality to them, so I think you’re really onto something.  I’d enjoy hearing more mp3 clips of your voicings!

Congrats on the site, and best of luck to you,

Scott Hardy

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Steve,
i just lost myself in your audio clips. Far freakin’ out! Seriously, they are beautiful and compelling. Your works should be made available in book form. If there is a book in print already, i want one.
Schell Barkely

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Hello Steve,

You have a very unique sound that I enjoy listening to. I’m sure part of it is your technique, but I always believed that those kinds of techniques are born out of musical urges.

Grace and peace be yours in abundance,

Eddie Lewis

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Hi, Steve.

I checked out your website and was very impressed with your playing and the sounds you get with your two-handed technique. You get some sounds unlike any I’ve heard. I’ll check out more of your site when I get some time and get back to you.

Thanks for getting in touch,

Tom Lippincott

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Steve,

I read thru your instructions and think they are quite good in explaining. This is a wealth of material as you cover all the chord types. The fact you want to share it with people is both kind and generous.

Byron Atkins

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Hi Steve,

I listened to all of your music on your site – really beautiful music.  I love your style and the sound of your two hand voicings. My favorite tracks are Be, Deep Feelings and Travis. I also love the atmosphere and lush effect the voicings create on Rainbow, and the arrangement of Walking in a Winter Wonderland with All blues is awesome.
Thanks for sharing your page, very honest and sincere music.  I’ve passed the link on to guitarist buddies of mine.
Thanushka Lewkebandara

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Your voicings are very interesting. I haven’t heard anything like it before. Sounds great, inspiring!

Alf Carlsson

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Wow, thank you Steve for your great blog! Very interesting ideas and beautiful music; well, isn’t that the most important thing after all?

Guelda

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Hey, Steve –

This looks very nice. It’s understandable — I feel like I could try your instructions and get decent results . . .  even for a trumpet player!   = )

Nice to hear from you,

Carol Morgan

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Very interesting to read about your dual-hand technique. I like the “strumming with the pinky” part.

Cheers,

Ilya

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Steve,

The world needs more marching band music.

Walter

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Hey Steve,

I took a look at your blog, very nice. Did you come up with the two hand guitar voicings yourself?

In Christ,

Mike

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Hi Mike,

Thanks for the good feedback. Yeah, I developed the idea on my own in the early 80’s with two seeds to push things along: (1) I was in a jazz big band that was playing some pretty difficult pieces, but since our piano player quit at an inopportune moment, I had to attempt to cover some of his parts. One tune by Thad Jones had a chord that went like this (from top to bottom): F#, D, B, G, F#. This is impossible normally. But then (2) I thought about how Eddie Van Halen was using two hands (tapping and for a different style) and figured maybe I could use both hands to play some of the jazz piano chords and just kept tinkering with it.

Then I went to Boston (the land of Berklee and 10 thousand guitarists) and compiled a bunch of two hand chords and wrote some pieces for the technique. While I was there I met a 20th Century composer, Merton Brown, and interested him in writing a couple of pieces for the technique (they were pretty difficult but also unique, as far as I was aware, for guitar music of the time). Merton was in on the second wave of atonal composers. He roomed with John Cage (!) was buddies with Lou Harrison (the guy that finished some of Charles Ives’ works), studied with Carl Ruggles, was favorably reviewed by Virgil Thompson, and hung out with a host of other movers and shakers of that style and period. Merton wrote a kind of delicate, minimalist atonal music that could fool you into thinking it was tonal. He was clearly influenced by the music of Duke Ellington and George Gershwin. I was very lucky to have known him and proud to have introduced him to the solo works of pianist Art Tatum.

While I was in Boston (still early 80’s) I was introduced to the music of John Scofield and he became my new favorite guitarist, although Jim Hall was a very close second. I went up to Scofield on the break of one of his gigs and told him I’d like to show him how my two hand chording worked and how it was different from what Stanley Jordan was doing. Scofield said sure, come to Berklee the next day and show me what you’re doing. The next day I was real nervous but I played a piece for him that I’d written that used both hands. He said he liked the song and that if I kept at it I might have something in 10 years or so. As a 19 year old this wasn’t very encouraging, but now that I’m 50, I get a kick out of the comment and think it was a good one (both humbling and accurate).

I’ve looked around for someone doing the same thing so that I could trade ideas and learn from them, but I haven’t found anyone so far. I know there are lots of tappers out there, and lots of guys doing excellent stuff with artificial harmonics, but my chords seem a bit different. Some truly great players that have a bag of tricks and that I’d love to sit down with and show them how I do chords (Ted Greene, Alan Holdsworth, Phillip DeGrue, Pat Metheny, Lenny Breau, Phil Keaggy, etc.) are unfortunately also pretty hard to get a hold of.

I really don’t mind whether or not I get a lot of traffic at this blog; my goal is to make the technique available to other guitarists and maybe get some feedback, or maybe get the chance to hear how someone else might apply it. So please tell anyone that you feel might be interested. I understand I’m not the end all, and I’d love to see what others can do with this idea.

Sorry for the excessive amount of self-absorption,

Steve Montgomery

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MUSIC SAMPLES THAT CAN BE FOUND AFTER THE CHORD AND CLUSTER FINGERINGS BELOW:

Be

Deep Feelings (intro)

Deep Feelings (solo accompaniment)

Home

Jesus

Breathe

Lulu by Carlight

How He Loves You and Me

Come Home

Travis

Rainbow

There is

Try

Angels

Silent Night

Snow

For Emily

Heart Failure

Star

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

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DIATONIC BASED CHORDS AND CLUSTERS

Fingerings for G major chords

Listen to G major chords

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Fingerings for F major clusters

Listen to F major clusters

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Fingerings for A minor chords 

Listen to A minor chords

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Fingerings for D minor clusters

Listen to D minor clusters

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Fingerings for D7 chords

Listen to D7 chords

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Fingerings for F7 clusters

Listen to F7 clusters

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Fingerings for G major7 b5th chords

Listen to G major7 b5 chords

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Fingerings for G major7 b5 clusters

Listen to G major7 b5 clusters

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“JAZZ” MELODIC MINOR BASED CHORDS AND CLUSTERS

Fingerings for A minor major 7th chords

Listen to A minor major 7th chords

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Fingerings for F minor major 7th clusters

Listen to F minor major 7th clusters

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Fingerings for Am7b5 chords

Listen to Am7b5 chords

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Fingerings for Dm7b5 clusters

Listen to Dm7b5 clusters

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Fingerings for D7 altered chords (dominant 7th chords based on the “jazz” melodic minor scale that include a b5th, #5th, b9th, and #9th)

Listen to D7 altered chords

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Fingerings for E7 altered clusters (dominant 7th chords based on the “jazz” melodic minor scale that include a b5th, #5th, b9th, and #9th)

Listen to E7 altered clusters

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Fingerings for D7 “nonaltered” chords (dominant 7th chords based on the “jazz” melodic minor scale which include a b5th)

Listen to D7 nonaltered chords

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Fingerings for Bb7 nonaltered clusters (dominant 7th clusters based on the “jazz” melodic minor scale which include a b5th)

Listen to Bb7 nonaltered clusters

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Fingerings for Ab major#5  chords

Listen to Ab major#5 chords

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Fingerings for Ab major#5 clusters

Listen to Ab major#5 clusters

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Fingerings for G7sus4b9 chords

Listen to G7sus4b9 chords

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Fingerings for G7sus4b9 clusters

Listen to G7sus4b9 clusters

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DIMINISHED BASED CHORDS AND CLUSTERS

Fingerings for G diminished chords

Listen to G diminished chords

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Fingerings for G diminished clusters

Listen to G diminished clusters

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Fingerings for C13b9 chords

Listen to C13b9 chords

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Fingerings for F13b9 clusters

Listen to F13b9 clusters

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APPLICATIONS

Fingerings for chord applications

Listen to Chord applications

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Fingerings for cluster applications

Listen to Cluster application 1

Listen to Cluster application 2

Listen to Cluster application 3

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CHORD COMBINATIONS

Fingerings for G major and A minor chord combinations:

Listen to G major and A minor chords

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Fingerings for G major and D7 altered chord combinations:

Listen to G major and D7 altered chords

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Fingerings for G major and D7 nonaltered chord combinations:

Listen to G major and D7 nonaltered chords

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ORIGINALS AND ARRANGEMENTS

BE

“Be” was written for the birth of my son, Stephen. The first chord is a dissonant “B”; the last chord is a consonant “B.”

Fingerings for “Be” by Steve Montgomery:

Here’s “Be” written out on the staff:

Listen to Be

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DEEP FEELINGS (intro)

“Deep Feelings” was written for my wife. The two-hand chord clusters are easy to hear in both the intro and in the accompaniment for the guitar solo.

Fingerings for the intro of “Deep Feelings” by Steve Montgomery:

Listen to the intro to Deep Feelings

DEEP FEELINGS (solo accompaniment)

The changes to the solo section are the same as with the “head,” which is not included here. There is a quote from the beginning of “The Rite of Spring” by Stravinsky.

Fingerings for the solo section of “Deep Feelings” by Steve Montgomery:

Listen to the accompaniment for the solo section of  Deep Feelings 

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HOME

“Home” was written with the Prodigal Son in mind; the departure, the return, and the acceptance. Thanks to Kevin Moody for a great job of sight singing the vocal part.

Fingerings for “Home” by Steve Montgomery:

 Here’s “Home” written out on the staff:

Listen to Home

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JESUS

“Jesus” (“Jesus Loves me this I Know”) was intended for female voice, but Kevin Moody did a great job of  sight-reading my arrangement and filling in for me.

Fingerings for “Jesus” by Steve Montgomery:

Here’s “Jesus” written out on the staff:

Listen to Jesus

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BREATHE

This is my arrangement of the old Church Hymn “Breathe on me Breath of God,” with Kevin Moody sight singing the vocal part.

Here’s “Breathe” written out on the staff:

Listen to Breathe

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LULU BY CARLIGHT

“Lulu by Carlight” is a combination of bits and pieces taken from “Lulu” by Alban Berg (one of Arnold Schoenberg’s students), the jazz standard “Stella by Starlight,” and some of my own ideas. 

Here’s “Lulu by Carlight” written out on the staff:

Listen to Lulu by Carlight

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OH, HOW HE LOVES YOU AND ME

This is the intro to an old Gospel tune that I’ve revamped a bit. It provides an easily recognizable example of two hand voicings.

Listen to Oh, How He Loves You and Me

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COME HOME

“Come Home” is my take on another old Gospel tune that I’ve tinkered with a bit. It gives a clear example of two hand guitar voicings.

Listen to Come Home

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TRAVIS

Travis is an original I wrote in memory of the late great Merle Travis. It has two hand guitar voicings sprinkled throughout.

Fingerings for “Travis” by Steve Montgomery:

Listen to Travis

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RAINBOW

As you can hear, the chords at the beginning of my arrangement are conventional, but they change into two hand voicings when the melody starts.

Listen to Rainbow

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THERE IS

This is my combination of  “There is a Savior” as performed by Sandi Patty, and “Dancing Queen” by ABBA. For most of it I used conventional guitar chords, but the intro has a few good examples of two hand guitar voicings.

Listen to There is

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TRY

For this tune, I just put together a repeating set of two hand voicings, and then improvised the melody on top.

Fingerings for “Try” by Steve Montgomery:

Listen to Try

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ANGELS

I wrote this as a simple exercise to showcase a couple of two hand chord clusters I had recently discovered. A few overdubs assisted things in this case.

Listen to Angels

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SILENT NIGHT

For this traditional Christmas song I used two hand chord clusters for the accompaniment to the guitar solo.

Fingerings for “Silent Night”:

Listen to Silent Night

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SNOW

This is a quick study for two hand voicings based on Claude Thornhill’s “Snowfall.”

Fingerings for “Snow” by Steve Montgomery:

Here’s “Snow” written out on the staff:

Listen to Snow

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FOR EMILY

After explaining my two hand guitar technique to Emily Remler, she suggested I make a recording and send it to her New York address. I put together a short chord study entitled “For Emily,” which quotes “Emily,” “One Less Bell to Answer,” and “A Time for Love.” I then sent it to her for comments and suggestions. About a month later I learned of her unfortunate overdose and untimely death.

Fingerings for “For Emily” by Steve Montgomery:

Here’s “For Emily” written out on the staff:

Listen to For Emily

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HEART FAILURE

I wrote this with spiritual, rather than physical, failure in mind.

Fingerings for “Heart Failure” by Steve Montgomery:

Here’s “Heart Failure” written out on the staff:

Listen to Heart Failure

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STAR

I put this together as a chord study based on the introductory “verse” to “Stardust.”

Fingerings for “Star” by Steve Montgomery:

Here’s “Star” written out on the staff:

Listen to Star

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WALKING IN A WINTER WONDERLAND

For this tune I played the bass part to “All Blue” by Miles Davis and then overdubbed the guitar parts. I used two hand voicings briefly in the background of the intro, and then again for the first 16 bars of the guitar solo.

Fingerings for “Walking in a Winter Wonderland”:

Listen to Walking in a Winter Wonderland

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BLANK FRETBOARDS

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