Monday, May 10, 2010

The "Wrong" Notes.

Hi guys.

I've been really busy for the past few weeks. Trust me, there is plenty I would love to write and share to the public, but I've been dead busy with work and studies at the same time. It is that period of time that the university decides to go on a full-assignment spree.

I had it easy, compared to some of my university/course-mates. They have quizzes, tests and stuff piled up on the same week or so. The weight for mine is seperated into different weeks, so I had enough time to finish up whatever I needed to.

Then again, they had enough time to complete their stuff, unless if..

*Stares at blog header*

.. I'll keep that for some time around.

Anyway! I was watching Victor Wooten's Groove Workshop DVD, for at least an hour, and it's great to watch versatile musicians like him. And finally, a workshop/clinic that he shares what he thinks, instead of techniques, and how you're supposed to play something.

He puts his studies and what he has learnt in metaphors that you would understand.

95% of the time, we're always worried about notes, scales, melodies, harmonies, and whatever it is.

But with the most recent jam that I still find it hard to believe (that also made me pause and watch the video in slow motion), is that Victor Wooten was solo-ing with the "wrong" notes.

Now if they were the wrong notes, why are they the "wrong" notes? Are they even "wrong", in any way?

The scenario was simple. The jam was based on a simple 3 chord progression that's in the key of Gm. We all understand that the 7 notes that we use to stay safe would be G, A, Bb, C, D, D#, F and back to G again.

I got that right, right?

Guess what notes Victor Wooten was solo-ing in?

G#, B, C#, E and F#.

The 5 "wrong" notes that is definitely in contrast of any conventional Gm scale.

After the first part of the solo, he went back into the Gm scale and solo'ed there instead.

Believe my words as you read this. The solo that he played with the 5 notes, sounded better than the solo he played in the Gm scale.

Of course, that's just the 1st hour of his geniusly created DVD.

I'll write again when I have more time.

If you find that an odd thing, and if you think that the 5 notes should not be used and is fairly impossible, drop the Lydian, mixolydian, dorian, docrian, phyrigian modes then.

Victor Wooten also abused the chromatic scale in a way that I never knew that chromatics actually made sense.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Remember, It's All About Arrangements!

I was planning to do this as a later post, but since I did not have the time to post new stuff on this blog due to my (somewhat) hectic university, I decided to write this now.

Besides university, I've been occupied with Some online Flash game that my brother got me hooked onto.

For today, I was reading Guitar World (Most of you guitarists out there would know this magazine), and for this issue (which I forgot, but has John Mayer as the front cover), it has an interview with none other than the great guitar wizard, Steve Vai. He always captured my attention when it comes to his style of playing, tone, arrangements, compositions and his unique-ness. Besides that, there's always that pretty outstanding guitar of either odd colours that stands out really well, or the deadly JEM7VWH - his standard choice of guitar he uses live that has the markings "EVO" or "FLO".

Back to the interview, this caught my attention.

"Now, with two violins and two guitars - myself and Dave Weiner - I had four "melody" instruments to work with. If I had four guitars, it would be a mess."

For beginners who just got into music, I'm not sure if you noticed that most of the songs around you, or more obviously, orchestras or brass essembles, sounds a little bit better with a twist when there're different than the conventional instruments playing along to the song.

Let's take a punk rock band. The good old Blink 182, or Green Day. They've got 1 thing in common. The band's made out of 3 members, and it doesn't have fretboard-burning soloes, but they just produce punk music with lots of banging distortion.

They could have ranged that down to the bassist playing whatever the guitarist is playing - power chords for this simple example - But all three instruments are doing their parts of the songs.

Now, when it comes to orchestras, why do all of the instruments take their turns to play bits and pieces arranged by the composer/arranger?

Have you seen 20 chefs doing your Campbell's Instant Mushroom Soup? Or have you seen 5 baristas working on your cup of regular latte?

Well, you might see 5 baristas working on your cup of latte - only if the 4 baristas were to be new and under training.

I've learnt this while playing in a church praise & worship group back in the period of 2003 - 2005, and you don't play everything on the chord sheet at all times. You can skip out on some, if you want to. Sometimes, if you just be silent, that will improve the surprise of the song from time to time.

What Steve Vai has for his 4 "melodies" would be in reference to his Blu-Ray / DVD release of Where The Wild Things Are. You would see the basic line up, but with two keyboardists switching back and forth the violins. Sometimes either one of them come up to Steve Vai and would be playing the same thing - like a guitar/violin battle, or both of them would team up with Steve Vai to give away all of melodic insanity.

You see, the truth is, the more instruments you have, the more ideas you will have. Violins have the range of the higher octaves whereas the cello consist of the lowest. And both instruments are different in sizes and tone. If you were to allocate certain bits and pieces for them to play (either both rhythm or lead), you would notice that there is a difference in just playing the lead with one certain instrument.

Sometimes having all three at once, you can do more ideas. Let's take a normal guitar solo with a backing guitar major 3rd harmony solo to accompany it. The best example would be Metalica's Master of Puppets, where they slow down for the instrumental bit. The slight arpeggio/harmony bit shows Dave Mustaine and James Hetfield playing to probably one of the 1980's best harmonic solo for Metal tracks back then. Get my drift?

But if you were to be as experimental as anybody else, why don't you change Dave Mustaine to.. Vanessa Mae? Or a trumpet. Or an accordian?

You'll definitely change the feel and the basic idea of the whole song into something else. Either that it will sound odd, but that's just acceptable as another idea.

I never really looked at arrangements when I was picking up the guitar, but after exposures of many kinds during my young age (Nobuo Uematsu for the Final Fantasy series except for 9 and X-2, I think), I have never seen him play the guitar before, and I don't think he can play any better than Jason Mraz.

But Nobuo has abused the MIDI technology in an early stage to compose plenty of compositions for the Final Fantasy series. Let alone, the rate of those series being released were to be at least once a year until the PS2 was released. And for a year's period to come up with 40 songs and above for the game's settings, place, and feel.

One reason behind this would be that some of the songs secretly shared the same theme, and melody lines, just that he completely revamped it to different instruments, giving it a different kick.

Sometimes it could be just an instrumental.

And when I mean an instrumental, I don't mean a minus one of an original track.

To expand and to learn more would be a musician's key tool in being a better musician and a player. Also to be a little bit more matured than you would expect. If you have something in mind for the guitar, and the only thing you can play is the guitar, write that composition down.

One key to music composition is for you to arrange how a song is supposed to sound like. Think of something cool, and odd if possible, to add into a song besides the guitars, drums, bass and vocals.

Try having a choir covering the sustained chords while you shred the solo.

Or you overpower the choir humming and singing the soloes out while you're jamming on chords!

You never know what you will receive in terms of musical genius.

And sometimes, to play good music, you just have to be the big, white, fuzzy haired dude, standing in front of the orchestra, waving your magic wand to make them all play funny notes at once, or from time to time.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Basics of Basics

Like in the words of John Petrucci in his instructional CD, Rock Discipline, the first few things you want to consider about the guitar, are the types of practices you will be performing on the fretboard with your fretting hand, and the picking hand.

So the first thing you should do with the guitar, is to put away the guitar.

What you have to think, and consider, is a very important step before you begin touching the guitar. A few things you should keep in mind when it comes to the physical side:

  • You should never slouch. Even I tend to slouch naturally whenever I play the guitar due to long hours of practice. But it’s just not good because it’ll become a habit eventually.
  • Be disciplined.
  • Always be aware if what you’re playing is right. Just because you nailed your first tough solo, it doesn’t mean that you’ve made it through in a ‘clean’ sounding sense. It’s common to hear your guitar instructor, or guitar buddies, to tell you to record yourself while you’re practising certain riffs, so you can listen to your own playback, which is the best advice to offer, really.
  • As much as you hate it, practice with the metronome. I begin to do that daily and it’s pretty beneficial. Especially when you plan to record your own material.
  • Never think that solo-ing is hard. Rhythm guitar riffs are usually harder than expected, and harder to record. This will be covered if there were to be a recording section in this blog. Try to treat both aspects equally.
  • Watch your practices. Try not to be a rock star in an instant by pushing yourself beyond your limit in certain aspects, such as finger stretching, power bending or, commonly, playing really fast at light speed. Never ever go against your body’s nature and capabilities as it will affect the muscles responsible in playing the guitar.

On a mental note, sometimes what you think in your mind, would be the best presentable notes that you might have. Remember to try and practice all sorts of tunes, and know what you’re actually playing. It’ll help out drastically whenever you listen to a song, and try to pick up the tune, keys and the chords being used over its respective scales or modal progressions.

That, we shall cover in the near future about the types of basic scales and modes.

For modes, the easiest way I can explain, would be the alternate “scales” that you can use in certain parts of songs. It could be an augmented 4th note (sharpened 4th note) that produces a Lydian mode if it were to be a major scale. That sort of a sound can be usually heard by the playing likes of Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson and plenty more. It gives a very dynamic twist, and usually an aero-ic sort of sound.

Just keep this in mind. Get a proper stool that has no handles, or a chair with a backrest without handles, and always sit straight to play, and never ever go beyond your nature talent in playing the guitar.

Sometimes the best way to play the guitar, is to play as little notes as possible. It’s not a compulsory thing to play in ultra speed to be a good guitarist. A good example would be that there is this kid that goes by the name of Tallan Latz. For a boy who got recognised at 8 years old, he had idolised the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Albert King, and mark my words, he is not a shredder of any sort. But the way he plays the Blues, is no joke at all. It’s a fact to many guitar buddies I know, that to play blues, you require a different talent. If it were possible, you dissect your soul, and place it as the strings. That’s how you play blues – through your feelings. And Tallan Latz plays it extremely natural. You can YouTube him up, to check out how a small kid is able to play such riffs. It's always great to learn and appreciate music of other people.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Guitars.

Now, the things that I have at home in Penang, would be an unknown branded Indonesian made classical guitar, which is undoubtedly the only guitar you’ll see me play anywhere if it were to not be my Ibanez JEM JR.

I also have a dreadnaught Santa Cruz acoustic guitar with a cutaway body of 20 frets, which has a very distinctive tone on it with the right strings. My choice would be DiMarzio 0.11 gauge. It just sounds so much more rigid compared to the other strings I’ve tried.

My third guitar would be the electric guitar, that is as heavy as shit, with the brand of Feeling. It looks like a typical black and white Fender Stratocaster, but it’s just not the real deal. And the real weight, as well. Came with the usual – Rosewood frets, maple neck, single-single-humbucker pickup setting, two tone knobs and one volume knob. This strat has a liquid paper marking stating “Lydian”, which is the name of that guitar. Currently, it is beat up. But if I ever go back to Penang, I just might revive the guitar with new hardware pieces and replenish the guitar to be a working one.

Hence, I got lazy to fix my old strat, and it being only 21 frets, I couldn’t play all the flashy stuff. Came the Ibanez Jem JR. Yes, the lowest range amongst the lot. It’s not even a Korean JEM5, to start off with. So, it’s missing of a good Floyd Rose tremolo bridge, actual DiMarzio Pickups, actual fretboard design – vine inlay like Steve Vai’s one, so on and so forth. It was just an Ibanez RG series (not even prestige!) that had a few extra holes hammered onto it.

Now, to get some bits sorted out. I acquired the Jem JR only because it has 24 frets, a working tremolo and the basic pickups which were adequate for punk rock or some of the flashy shredding bits for solos. The 24 frets setting was fun. But it came to the end of the day where why my guitar instructor, Kelvyn Yeang, preferred 24 frets on some of his guitars, because it makes the 22nd frets accessible for bending and fretting purposes. I don’t know about some of you, but my preference is the same, and I seldom use the 24th fret. Even if I were to hit any of the string’s 24th fret, it’ll be just bended to the pitch that I want to. Even if the note is 3 semitones away from the note you’re hitting.

Plus, playing on a guitar like that, with advice from a local guitar technician, the Wizard necks from Ibanez tend to bend a little bit more than you expected. It comes out straight after production purposes, but in the long run, he mentioned that the neck will bend due to the string tension being too strong for something that thin.

Although the Wizard necks on Ibanez guitars are fun, but it does make sense regarding that issue.

That’s what I heard, and what I heard about Joe Satriani is he purposely picked a fatter neck with smaller frets for him to play easier, and to not face that issue of his guitar turning into a boomerang.

Plus the Jem Junior was a good alternative in terms, and in priority, weight. Although the neck was a bit fatter compared to the Feeling, but I got used to the high action, and better feel in some ways.

Plus, a full white guitar just looked so awesome - compared to the black Jem JR that they had available in the shop, anyway.

Although here’s the basic fact that you should consider in buying an electric guitar, if you’re getting one:

- The more mass you have on the guitar as a whole, leads to a better and more solid-bodied tone. This results from the neck, to the bridge. If the neck were to be super thin, and the bridge comes in a Floyd Rose tremolo bridge, you’ve had it. You have to depend on your pickups and your amp to project a good tone from your guitar. Because the main point for a guitar to have its tone, would be the strings. And if the string vibrates, the end points are your headstock and the bridge’s saddles. Which if it were to be a floating bridge, it’ll get vibrated into thin air. If it’s a flat tail bridge, everything will channel through your body, and it’ll contribute back to your tones and back to your pickups.

It’s a simple fact, but many beginner guitarists tend to oversee this point. I have as well.

And this might answer some facts about how the Fender Stratocaster may sound good in a versatile way? Same goes for Gibson Les Pauls, and many other guitars out there.

I’m not saying that some guitars were just produced wrongly. If they were, how come they’re used widely by different artists? It really depends on what you’re looking for. I went for the whole Jem Jr thing because it was nearly (.. well not really) the thing that Steve Vai played. But everything turned out wrong in terms of quality. The whole whammy and divebomb that many great guitarists out there would do.

But if you want to have a look at insane whammy usage, you can search up for Brad Gillis on YouTube. Never have I seen anyone using a whammy bar that psychotic.

For the moment, that’ll be it for guitars. The next bit would be the stuff you have to consider first, before playing the guitar.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

So, Who Am I?

Warm greetings to those who have stumbled upon this blog!

Since this is going to be new, I shall begin with a slight introduction of myself, and the reason why I started up another blog.

My previous blog, known as, may be recognised by some of you, before you were even directed to this blog through that blog. The odd “m” in the beginning of the link, would be “Musical Glacius”, where I had this idea to start a music blog, but failed.

Because it turned out to be my personal blog after I posted up more random stuff besides music.

My name is Jean Louis Sibert. My preferred nickname would be Glacius. Born on the 20th of October 1988, and I would be the only musician in the whole family. Born and raised in Penang, Malaysia. My current location, after I finished my diploma studies in Kuala Lumpur, is Hobart, Tasmania. I picked up the guitar somewhere on the first week of August 2002 at the age of 14, after I was playing and got inspired by Gitaroo Man, which was a Koei Production for the Sony PlayStation 2 gaming console. Unlike many talented self-taught musicians, I began my guitar classes at a close-by music school, which turned into a wedding planner organisation. The lessons went on for about a year, but only learnt how to play the guitar, and copied solos off from other songs. Feeling bored, but still playing the guitar without proper musical education, I stopped the lesson.


2003, came the birth of my first Acoustic project, called No Piss – No Peace, which still can be found at for amateur compositions. But it showed two people who knew nuts about guitars, but just wanted to play music. This was done by Choo Kok Cheng, who’s an extreme gamer right now, and me.

In the midst of 2003, I was offered to be a guitarist for my church in Pulau Tikus, known as Immaculate Conception under the aid of Ms. Catherine Tan, in Youth Praisers. Armed with a Santa Cruz dreadnaught acoustic guitar with an external pickup, things just worked out well. Being in a praise and worship group just improved my performance and coordination with band members by then. This went on, until August/September 2005, where I was officially disbanded from the group as I had my major finals to face in high school.

Ever since then, I still helped out time to time, but inconsistently due to attending National Service and college after that.

In 2004, came Dark Room. Later named Dysnomia because Dark Room sounded just pretty odd. And Dysnomia sounds just as odder, but cooler in a way. A band that consisted Evan Tan (drums), Zachary Chong (bass) and me (guitars). The vocalist varied only due to the fact, we could not find a consistent one to meet our needs. Missing of another guitarist, we asked Ying Kit (who can be seen in Panic Overdrive/Six String Samurais), to join us. From then, he mentioned he was taking lessons from Kelvyn Yeang on how to play the electric guitar. Not long, me and Ying Kit became good friends and went together for lessons. I initiated the lessons but only lasted 3 months due to parents’ advice to focus on my studies.

Sure, it was the right thing, but I didn’t like one bit of it at all. I was the one prepared to drop out from school and just play guitar like other greats out there.

In 2005, our first real live performance happened in a local gig, The Fusion Party, that consisted of a Rock and Hip Hop theme to promote our youth’s potential in the music scene at that time. Since then, it was my first time knowing a lot of people. The line up for Dysnomia, was probably the largest one in numbers on stage for the bands. The line-up consisted of Evan Tan (drums), Roy Khrisna Nair (bass), Lim Ying Kit (rhythm guitar/2nd lead), Christabel Choo (keyboards), Fiona Fox (lead vocals for Nymphetamine, Bring Me to Life and Goin’ Under), Freddie Oon (lead vocals for Nymphetamine) and me (lead guitarist, harmony guitars, backing vocals). Where the songs we presented were Canon in D (re-arranged rock version), A Night In The Sky (A No Piss – No Peace cover, by my acoustic project),

Ever since then, I was musically inclined towards the music scene, and always stood close to Ying Kit and Kelvyn Yeang to improve on certain guitar techniques and knowledge.

In the middle of 2006, after I came back from National Service, I disbanded myself from Dysnomia due to different music interests. It became a Rock band to a Heavy Metal band.

So, once again, giving private clinics, workshops and guitar lessons at my home, I still played the guitar in accordance to my own stuff.

But August 2006 began, and another project existed, known as Fundamental Mentalities, a hip-hop based band but turned into a fusion hip hop elements with guitar inspirations. Whichever they want to call it, but the original produce would still be hip-hop. Which is the biggest project I’ve ever joined in terms of members. It consisted of Schizzow/Koh Yung Shen and Wormy/Chong Yong Le, LooLoo/Eunice Tan Yin Loo, and Avni as the founding members since their 2004 Back2dBasix EP. Since we were all friends, automatically, I provided my services as a guitarist and a musician, and got my friend, Chan Zhu May to enter as a keyboardist. We wrote some, but never managed to get the type of materials we wanted out.

Until we thought about Valentine’s day. Hence the conceptual album, Sentimentalities, was released in late November 2006. With frequent trips to the local studio in Penang, we got to know Roosh/Tan Yon Lynn to join in as the vocalist.

Through this band, I didn’t focus changing into a rock and of some sort, but stayed as a composer/arranger, therefore learning about music arrangements which made me appreciate music a little bit more than ever.

I wasn’t in a proper rock band to suit my head-banging needs, until I went to a gig in Equator Academy of Arts at the end of December 2006, came Panic Overdrive which it consisted of Moe Nasrul (vocals), Lim Ying Kit (lead guitars), Joshua Tan (drums – sessionist but became a permanent member), Julian Goh (bass, but got switched to Roy from Dysnomia at a later date.) I didn’t matter about what sort of music they played. It may be punk rock, where there are no guitar works, but I enjoyed listening to the music they covered and produce. It was amateur as well, but music was all about having fun.

Noticing that they were missing of another guitarist, I approached Ying Kit and asked if I could join. Just so happens that they were looking for a permanent member as well.

Panic Overdrive, later known as Six String Samurais, was a band that we considered a rock/metal band. And it was the time where we travelled around between Penang and Kuala Lumpur, playing in gigs, just for the love of music.

But due to studies, once again, I left for Kuala Lumpur permanently in August 2007, and disbanded myself facing several non-compatibilities.

Ever since then, I haven’t performed on stage. And I have self-commitments to understand that my knowledge in music is not up to average standards. So I decided to pull myself back, and go back to the serious basics.

Until today, where I just arrived in Hobart, Tasmania, in pursuing my Bachelors in Business Finance.

So, with past experiences, I am a guitarist, but a music arranger as well. Only for personal projects as music is always fun.


After my story, some of you might be curious in the people I seek as my inspirations. Trust me, I have a wide and odd bunch music groups that I like.

When I started watching MTV in 1996, was the era of Backstreet Boys, Spice Girls, NSYNC, Eminem, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, etc. I loved all of the commercialised bands and artists, because they just made it so far!

But only a handful made me really listen to them. Such as Linkin Park, Blink 182, Metallica, Green Day, Daft Punk, Nickelback etc.

When I dropped into the guitar life starting 2002, I listened to Creed, Puddle of Mudd, Blink 182, Metallica, so on and so forth.

Until 2003, where I got more serious in SlipKnoT, In Flames, Metallica, The Eagles, and many others.

2004 would be the year where I started to drift off from Heavy Metal to Instrumental Rock, hence came (in order as well), Yngwie Malmsteen and then Steve Vai.

But in 2005, I figured that music is not about neo-classical shred, hence why I idolised Steve Vai as my favourite guitarist until I purchased an Ibanez JEM JR in December 2006.

Also, laying my eyes on other greats from the G3 experience, I listened to Joe Satriani and Eric Johnson as well.

Then December 2007 came, where I got to know MORE greats out there, such as Dream Theater. Undoubtedly, the best group out there when it comes to progressive rock/metal. And made me learn about time signature, the pitch axis theory (written by Joe Satriani), and modal changes and progression.

In April 2008, I found a part-time job when I was still in Kuala Lumpur, and this expanded my interest in Jazz music through the radio while working in Starbucks.

And 2009, with recent discover of Guthrie Govan, Zakk Wylde, George Lynch, Greg Howe, George Benson, Paul Gilbert and Pat Metheny.

Of course, somewhere in the middle, with appreciation for music arrangements, comes Nobuo Uematsu (SP?), the recognised music composer for SquareSoft/SquareEnix’s Final Fantasy Series, and Harry Gregson-Williams, who’s also responsible for several Metal Gear Solid soundtracks.

Besides these two, there are plenty of people I would like to state, but due to the fact that I play a lot of games and listen to a lot of music being done to fit the environment and mood of the games, I can’t remember all of them.

All of these guys have a very distinctive way of playing the guitar. And it was pretty amazing to watch these guys on YouTube to blast time away.

With that, concludes my little journey of how music is. Over the past few months, came The Bee Gees and none other than Jimi Hendrix.

The classics are getting revived in my life when the world’s moving forward.

It’s about appreciation, and through this blog, I shall share how music can be appreciated regardless of the genres that you’re in, to learn about the musical geniuses that existed before all of us!

The main rule, ladies and gentlemen, still lies in the fact that if you like music, just play it, and don’t force yourself to play something you want to play. This will be further explained in different posts in the near future.

For now, I’ll let my fingers rest in Metal Gear Solid 4. I might come back again tonight to write more.

For the moment, the comment boxes in this blog, if you find any usefulness in them, is opened to those who have a Google account for any questions in guitar stuff. The Cbox on your right, will be opened to public as well for short comments.

Now, I’m not the God of Guitars or something. I’m just sharing what I know up to date, and would appreciate if you could help me out as well if my knowledge is insufficient.

Till then, good day, my friends!