Archive for September, 2008

Now that that’s out of the way…

Now that the Guitar books are done (enough to sell at least), I can concentrate on gearing up for NaNoWriMo. I’ve added the little image on the right that links to my wordcount. NaNo doesn’t start until November, so I have a month to get all my ideas down. This year I’ll be writing The Autobiography of Ziggy Swift, a first person narrative of the life story of Ziggy, as told by Ziggy. It will fall firmly into the fantasy genre since he’s from a DnD campaign, but I think it’ll still be amusing for the average person to read. My main concern will be how to write a story from the perspective of someone who’s slowly going insane. That’ll be a stretch for me.

If I manage to get through this one, the follow-up will be Ziggy Swift: The Truth, which will be an educational narrative as told by a teacher to his class. He’ll be treated as a historical figure of questionable importance.

Ziggy is one of those characters that follows the creator through life- like Ernest, Radar, Gomer, and Larry the Cable guy- Fortunately I write more than act, so people won’t stop me on the street and ask me if my chickens are dancing finely today.

Guitarist’s Tab Notebook – On Sale Now!

So I’ve sorta been quiet about it on here, but I’m finally done- I’ve written a book! …well, design might be a better word. It was created for guitarists to uses as a journal for keeping tab for songs. I’ve included a link to my storefront on the top so it’ll be easy to find

You can also buy a copy here:

The storefront will also be used for other books I produce, such as my NaNoWriMo creations.

Unfortunately, since the book is spiral bound, it doesn’t meet the requirements for a free ISBN from Lulu, so I can only sell it on Lulu’s storefront. However, once I sell enough copies to be able to afford an ISBN (must sell 40 books), I’ll buy one, slap it onto a new revision, and make it available on If you know any guitarists, show them this book and encourage them to buy it!

Reading Guitar Tab

So some of you may know that I’ve been working on a second book- this one is music-based. Anyways, I have a few friends who are new to guitar and my book is more or less aimed at them, however some of them don’t know how to read tab- hence this post. So here’s the rundown:


The above is a sample of some tablature. Each of the 6 lines represents a string on the guitar, each number represents a fret on that string. The lower case (small) e represents the “high e” string on the guitar (the thinnest one), and the rest fall into place from there. In the example above, to play the first note you’d place a finger right behind the 5th fret on the A string (second fattest string), and pluck the string with a finger or a pick.

Above I’ve also laid out some basic notation, as listed below:

  • /: indicates a slide between two or more frets, e.g. 5/7 says start on the 5th fret and slide to the 7th. A forward slash usually indicates sliding up, while a backslash indicates liding down (e.g. 5/7\5\3).
  • x: Indicates a muted string. This is usually done with the fleshy edge of your palm on the pinkie side. In the instance above it’s used to set rhythm.
  • h: Indicates a “hammer-on”, where a note is struck and you hammer a finger on the next fret without actually striking the string a second time. By quickly pressing the following fret you retain the vibration from the previous note. This is often paired with p, pull-offs (e.g. 5h7p5 is 5, hammer on 7, release back to 5).
  • b: Bend a note. By stretching the string slightly sideways on the fretboard you can change the pitch of the note. Notes are usually only bent one or two step (frets), and are occasionally bent back, which is signified by an r (e.g. 7b9r7 means bend the 7th fret to sound like a 9, then back down to 7)
  • ~: Vibrato. there are two ways to do this- slightly vary the pressure on the string of a struck note so it wabbles back and forth, or bend it back and forth using the technique above very slightly, like a quarter of a step. It produces an effect similar to a whammy bar on an electric guitar. The more of these in a row, the longer you do it.

You’ll read through guitar tablature like the old pianos with the punch-card sheet music on a reel, playing each note as you go. Tab is meant to be a rough guide, so don’t expect exquisite timing details. Generally speaking, the farther apart the notes, the farther the pause; the closer the notes, the quicker the interval. Notes that appear on the same column are usually chords, and should be played in a single strum. Some tablature will define a set of used chords at the top, and simply refer to their name later on.

So that’s a quick intro into guitar tab. Let me know if I missed anything.

An Epiphany.

I’m the first to admit I’ve been slacking on my scales practice, mainly sticking to pentatonic (because I’m lazy). So while reading through my Scales and Modes book and I stumbled across something obvious, yet I’d never recognized. Each scale has a mode for each note in the scale- Major scale having 7, pentatonic scale having 5, etc. That I was remotely aware of, but didn’t think much of it.

I never really bothered with the major scale since it’s sorta boring, and felt overwhelmed by all of the basic scales (ionian, dorian, phrygian, etc) knowing that I’d have to learn their modes as well. Then the book pointed out that the first mode of the major scale was called the Ionian scale- wait, what? It turns out that all of those scales I feared learning didn’t have modes- they were modes- of the major scale!

So here’s the following:

Ionian In C:   C D E F G A B 
Dorian In D:     D E F G A B C
Phrygian In E:     E F G A B C D

This means, rather than learning 7 scales with 7 modes each, I just have to get down the 7 modes of the major scale. So simple, yet I never put it together.

Church of England apologizes to Darwin, booyah.

This is excellent, yet disappointing at the same time- both the Pope and now The Church of England have come forward and said “mah bad, Darwin was right, sorry about oppressing science… again…”

The depressing part is while all of the old-world christian religions are coming to terms with evolution, those in the US are still desperately fighting reality. I’m wondering what it’s gonna take for people to accept it. It’s like there’s just enough unverified data and blatant mistruths out there to convince people who’ll deny the enormous mountain of data that disagrees. Argh I find this so frustrating! the worst part was I had to follow up and make sure this wasn’t an Onion story.

And the fact this BS is gonna enter into a presidential race? For frack’s sake, if someone ran for president insisting the earth was flat, what chance would they have, seriously? Is this really that much different?

It’s Happening Again…

I go through these obsessive cycles where I’l focus on one thing and ride it out for a few months, forgetting about everything else.

Since I started talking to Mr. Bojangles about guitar lessons, I’ve been playing nonstop.
My calluses are up to 80% already (after being at 2% for over a year) and I’ve been looking for all sorts of teaching resources. I’ve found some great tools that will help me improve and allow me to help others get better. Now the question is “how long will it last?”

My record is about 5 months. If Ed doesn’t give up on lessons, it could go longer.

Writing another Book

So I’ve started on another book- this one however isn’t a novel, it’s a notebook for guitar students. The first two pages contain a layout of notes on the fretboard, commonly played chords (open, barred and power), pentatonic modes, and relationship of the guitar and tablature to standard musical notation.

The rest of the book will follow a simple format, allowing notes, sketches and some notation on the left page and the right containing 6 tab staffs similar to this:


I suspect it will be around 80 pages, about the same size as a black and white college-rule journal-type notebook. It'll be US-letter size paper and spiral bound (so it'll lay flat).

If you can think of anything else that should be added to the first two pages of cheat sheet, let me know. I also need a name for this beast, something better than "Morgajel's Guitar Notebook".

A reply from California Tortilla!

to me

show details 1:15 PM (48 minutes ago)


We’re on it, Jesse!

—–Original Message—–
From: Comments []
Sent: Thursday, August 28, 2008 12:59 PM
To: Comments
Subject: Customer Comments

Name: Jesse Morgan
Store/Location: Troy, MI

I require urgent assistance. I lived in the Arlington, VA area for 18 months and ate a BCCB almost every day for lunch. In 2006 I moved back to Michigan.

I miss the BCCB.

Please open a location in Troy, MI so I may once again enjoy a delicious BCCB. Preferably near the intersection of Stephenson Hwy and I-75.

In your debt,
Jesse Morgan

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