How to play like Atomic Bob
How’s it goin’?
There are a couple things that I’m thinking about when writing or composing music that I’d like to share with you tonight. The reason is that I don’t think many guitarists put much thought into what they’re actually doing when rockin’ other than just sounding cool.
The first thing before anything is to learn how to make shapes on the guitar. Obviously that makes sense, but try to figure out which ones work best for what you’re trying to accomplish for what you’re creating. There are tones that fit certain styles and tones that are placed best within context of certain parts of songs that click together like a puzzle when making it all happen. These are the shapes I want you to master right off the bat. Starting with the 5th fret on the low E make a power chord and work it one fret back at a time A5, Ab5, Ap4th, AM3rd, Am3rd, AM2nd, Am2nd, and AUnison. Going the other direction starting with the same power chord A5, A#5, A6, A dominant 7th, A Delta 7th and last but not least A Octave.
Now, they’re not all gunna sound like the “Star Spangled Banner” so don’t think that’s what you’re getting into. The reason why I want you to learn the shapes is to recognize the tones to see if they strike a resonancy with what you wanna do. Some people like really crazy dissonant sounds that create chaos. The 2nd tones work wonders for this as does the flat 5th chord.
Next I want you to learn your key signatures and your circle of 5ths. This is goin’ away faster than the music business is crumbling. Back in the first few years starting out as a guitar player there were transcriptions in Guitar World that would have a 5 line staff attached to the 6 line tab to help generate both rhythm and sense of Key. Now with the modern day Euro-tab, the attached tab to rhythm makes the Key signature less necessary but it’s still important when trying to develop the side of the brain that wants to create chaos out of order. Don’t get me wrong man, I’m built to make noise and I dig on all that Euro-tab myself… Just learning the Cycle of 4ths is enough to put some sense into your writing.
Next I would like you to learn your basic modes. Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian, and Locrian. The simplest way to do this is to assign a number or degree to each and then just plug and chug the Key signature. In the Key of C, C would = 1 D =2, E = 3, F = 4, G = 5, A = 6, and B = 7. In the same Context Ionian = 1, Dorian = 2, Phrygian = 3, Lydian = 4, Mixolydian = 5, Aeolian = 6 and Locrian = 7. The reason why you don’t see any sharps or flats is just cause the Key of C doesn’t have any sharps or flats. This should be enough to help you figure out you’re just using all the same notes but starting on a different degree to get the modal sound you’re trying to achieve.
That should have been easy. From here I want you to breakdown the interval structure and transpose that to every other note. For example the Major scale is always going to be spelled Whole Whole Half, Whole Whole Whole Half. The formula is solid and when throwing it into the Key of G for example where you have your 1 sharp (F#) G, A, B, C, D, E, F#, G … your Ionian (or Major) scale is still spelled the same.
So if you decide to learn this then can you play like me? Yes and no… knowing the notes is important but showing that you can defy all sense of logic while making sense is the ultimate goal for Atomic Bob.
I’ll end this segment with E.
[E Phrygian: E F G A B C D E] [E Aeolian: E F# G A B C D E] [E Dorian: E F# G A B C# D E] [E Mixolydian: E F# G# A B C# D E] [E Ionian: E F# G# A B C D# E] [E Lydian: E F# G# A# B C D# E]