Friday, 18 October 2013

[Guitar TAB] "Armando's Rhumba" (Chick Corea) & "Airegin" (Sonny Rollins) + Chords & Lesson

For guitar class today, my teacher actually introduced me to 2 great songs - Airegin by Sonny Rollins and Armando's Rhumba by Chick Corea ! Wow, I absolutely love the sound of the chord progressions of these 2 songs, plus their melody too. So latin & sexy :D

So here's a version of Airegin by West Montgomery :D

This song is really seriously fast, and according to its original lead sheet the tempo in which this song is played is 232bpm. Its really challenging to be soloing chord changes to this song and by strumming the chords too at every downbeat if you're playing it gypsy jazz style.
Well, according to my teacher, sometimes if its really too fast, of course you can strum it alternating between upstrokes & downstrokes but remember that every chord has to be properly muted after hitting it for that classic gypsy jazz comping style. So, work on cleanliness of the notes.

Also, work on making both the downstroke and upstroke sound the same, because for anyone just starting out, there is definitely inconsistency in the attack between the strokes - one may sound louder than the other, or has more punch than the other. So practice till when people hear it, they can't distinguish whether it's an upstroke or downstroke. Lesson here = consistency.

And so, I asked my teacher another question "So what if you have to play this song at this tempo at a gig tonight and you really don't have enough time to practice and improve on the chord changes already and that you find the song really really difficult and challenging to solo to the changes ?"

Well, my teacher replied by saying that if you find the song too fast to cope with the changes, you just have to settle with just highlighting the basic chord changes. Guide tones at certain parts will do. The note values can be big, it doesn't matter, if you can't cope soloing 16th notes or 8th notes or even quarter notes to the changes, then by all means stick to half notes and full notes. Really it doesn't matter that you are not playing your 16th notes like you used to, but full notes is alright and sounds jazzy enough if you know which notes to use and play.
Wow, I found that enlightening, do you ? :D

And now, for those of you who want to learn the melody of the song or the chord progression of the song, here is my Tab for you guys, chords and melody in one :D Have fun playing this awesome song !

So guys, if you are going to solo to the changes to this song you have to know the arpeggios to the chords of the song. I thought I would just list out the chord tones of the chords to the song so that it can make things easier for you if you may be slightly theory-weak in this aspect. I would assume that once you know the chord tones, you can figure out the arpeggios on your guitar so I won't be tabbing the arpeggios. Figure it out yourself and it will get easier and easier :D
Here we go
First 4 bars of section A
Fm                    F Ab C
C7(#9, b5)        C D# E Gb Bb
F7                     F A C Eb
Bbm7               Bb Db F Ab

Last 4 bars of section A
F7(#9, #5)        F G# A C# Eb

First 4 bars of section B
Dm7                D F A C
G7                   G B D F
Cmaj7              C E G B
C#m7              C# E G# B
F#7                 F# A# C# E 

Last bar of section B
Gm7(b5)        G Bb Db F

Last 4 bars of section C
Eb7(b9)         Eb E G Bb Db
Ab6               Ab C Eb F

Okay next, Armando's Rhumba is part of the repertoire of the day. There's plenty of cool arpeggio stuff going on throughout the melody of the song :D

Here's a version of it by The Rosenberg Trio:

And if you want to listen to it played by its original composer, here it is by Chick Corea:

Though I really can't deny the fact that I really prefer latin music played on the guitar, more specifically the gypsy guitar, because of the timbre of the instrument. If you checked out the version by The Rosenberg Trio you would know what I mean :D

Hahahah but the Chick Corea version is great to listen to for guitarists too, & definitely for pianists to learn, especially with all the rhythmic montunos going on for the piano and the cool clapping. The clapping I won't really call it a clave I think because it ain't a 2-3 clave or a 3-2 clave, it is just a segment of the 3-2 clave, more specifically the first half of the 3-2 clave. Maybe there is an official term for it, ok I will go and find it out !

Okay so here's the Tabs and chords:

Now for this tune, your homework would be to figure out the chord tones yourself and of course the chord voicings as well.

Also, though my teacher can solo over chord changes like no one's business and he has tons of jazz classics under his belt, but even he says that the melody of Armando's Rhumba is hard to play. So, for you guys out there trying it, be prepared to work double. Don't give up if you find it hard to nail at first try, well, you will get it if you try it hard enough.

Now, I was thinking I could introduce you to a bit more awesome music in this post (just to whet your appetite), that is provided that you don't know these tunes yet hahahah !
Here are more stuff by West Montgomery. Of course he is not the composer of the tunes but his influence as a jazz guitarist is so great I thought I could just put up his versions of more classic jazz tunes.
Here is Montgomery playing Caravan ! Hahahah in fact there have always been people who said that "jazz is weird", "jazz is atonal" or that "jazz is not melodious". Well this is certainly one of the songs that our dear Pop-lovers would exclaim in dislike. Nevertheless, it is songs like this that I adore so much !! The notes of the melody is just so exotic, not to mention the chord progression !

I think you might want to check out Chick Corea playing the song North Africa as well on youtube ! Some cool latin instrumentation in there :D

Alright, I know what next to show you: Blues For Alice by Charlie Parker. Well it seems I'm a Charlie Parker fan. I really love Blues For Alice !!!! I don't know why but I love the song <3 <3 Something about the melody...

Okay, I hope this lesson post with the focus on Armando's Rhumba and Airegin has been beneficial to you and opened your eyes to some awesome music :D :D 
Well it did for me, at the least before this guitar class I had with my teacher, I may have vaguely heard Armando's Rhumba or Airegin played but I didn't officially know the songs, but after my class I'm like "Wow, such beautiful music, I want to learn them more in depth !"
Yup, how classes can get inspiring :D I hope this inspired you as well to continue learning and practicing.

Catch you again & Love ya,
Sapphire Ng <3 <3 <3

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

FULL 3-Page Spread: 1 PhotoShoot Idea/Day for 31 Days

Desmond Lee Heavyweight (Day 10 & 21)
Vanessa Chai (Day 26, 27)
Gucci Tan (Day 23)

Big Thanks to

Bret: Lamborghini Gallardo Super Leggara (Day 3)
Desmond Lee Heavyweight: Toyota MR-S (Day 11, 21) 
Dave Weng: Pink Nissan Fairlady 350Z (Day 31)

Credits to

Photographer: Mike S
Make Up/Hair: Gucci Tan
Model: Sapphire Love

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Page 3 of 3

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Page 2 of 3

Page 3 of 3

Monday, 14 October 2013

Sapphire Ng's Pictorial Quotes (Part 1)

Formula For Self-Confidence

Social Approval & Acceptance

Being Independent

Boredom Is Not A Sin

Being Different

Be The Mastermind Of Your Life

Let Go & Forgive

Jealousy & Back-Stabbing

You Are Born To Be Unique

Sunday, 13 October 2013

1 PhotoShoot Idea/Day for 31 Days: Day1 to 9

Now, the FULL 3-page spread is out with an idea for each of the 31 days in a month !
To see it, go here:

To see only the first page with Day 1 to Day 9 only, here it is:

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Saturday, 12 October 2013

[Improvisation Workshop] Jazz & Bebop (By Mariano E. Abello)

Hello guys, so I attended a workshop at my school, International College Of Music (ICOM) just yesterday 11 Oct 2013. Our school invited Mariano E. Abello, who is the founder of the Kathmandu Jazz Conservatory and Nepal Music Educators' Society and who also holds a MA in Music from Florida Atlantic University, specializing in Woodwind performance & pedagogy. He plays the saxophone, flute, clarinet and the oboe.

Well the workshop started off in a relatively serious note whereby apart from introducing himself, his main message was that "IT IS GOING TO BE HARD" if you plan to be a performing musician. And seriously he was just warning students that they have to be really really REALLY good in order to feed themselves by performing. And of course that came from his experience trying to make a living out of performing (and educating).

Disclaimer: Note that none of the images included here are owned by me, all credits to notes given out by my school for the purposes of the workshop I attended.
In this post, I will walk you through the content of the workshop bit by bit :) And I hope you guys benefit from what I'll be sharing here.

*The content included here will get progressively harder, so for those of you who already knows the easier stuff, by all means just skip them.

*For this post I assume all of you guys read music notation, but if there are some of you out there who want me to tab these instead you can let me know, I'll tab them and put the whole workshop up in another separate blog post. Just drop me a message or comment below. If I don't receive any requests for tabs for content in this post, I'll just assume that all of you guys are fine reading music notation :)

So the workshop officially started off by Mariano saying that for any progression that he is given, he would encourage students to sing the root motion first. For instrumentalists, you can play the root motion on your instrument and sing along. A really simple example is given - Blues !

So, that is to help students hear the root motion in their heads.
Of course he was testing students on their knowledge of scales and chord tones. For example, what are the chord tones of F7 ? It is F A C Eb. 
Chord tones of Dbmaj7 ? It is Db F Ab C. 
A-7(b5) ? It's A C Eb G.

He kept repeating the importance of knowing chord tones and scales inside out. So of course I have studied the class that is related to this topic a few semesters ago, so for me, it is just a repetition of things I already know. But for those of you who find the information here new, I hope they help you :D

Anyways he gave us examples on how to proceed with the practice. Students could approach each chord with a scale. For example, it will be F mixolydian for the F7 chord in bar 1, 3, 4 and so on. Bb mixolydian for Bb7 chord in bar 2, 5, 7 and so on. So the idea is to just play the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th notes of the scale for each chord like this:

For the F7 chord, it will be the notes F G A C.
For Bb7 chord, it is Bb C D F.
C7, C D E G.

Once you are familiar with that, you could practice something that is of a slight variation. Add the 4th note into the 4 notes already there and you have the notes 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5 from the scales of each chord.

Another simple one would be just playing the 1, 3 & 5 of the notes of the arpeggios from the chord. Of course you can vary the note values in any way you like and are comfortable with, but the material illustrated it in really simple terms, in just quarter note, quarter note, half note:

Then, you can practice playing the entire mixolydian scales for every chord, just like this:

Yay, ok now finally to the actual arpeggios of the chords, it would be the root, 3rd, 5th and b7th of every chord.

Alright, just in case you might need a recap. I'll list the chord tones of the chords here again, so it can help you learn better :)
F7 = F A C Eb
Bb7 = Bb D F Ab
C7 = C E G Bb

Okay, finally ! To more interesting stuff. The Be-Bop Scale.

The formula for the Bebop Scale would be 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, b7, 7. There are many other variations of the Bebop scale, but this would be the most basic. So you would have 3-note chromatics within the scale itself. Just like how the Blues scale has a 3-note chromatic within the scale due to the b5, 'blue' note that connects the 4th and 5th notes of the scale.

Now, a lick.

What you can do to bring this to the next level is that you can come up with your own 1-bar lick, and then transpose it across the other chords within the progression and there you have it. The same lick played in different chords/arpeggios just like how it is shown above.

More variations & ideas to show you how you can play around with these stuff yourself :D

You get the idea ?

Just in case you guys are wondering, tensions are usually labeled 9th, 11ths or 13ths, instead of 2nds, 4ths or 6ths. So the 9th of F7 chord would be the G note that functions as a tension of the F7 chord. For Bb7, it will be the C note; and for C7, it will be the D note.
For the example right above, there is a 5-note chromatic in the lick from the 9th of the chord all the way 5 semitones to the b7 of the chord.

Here is another example of what you can do, but the entire 15-bar example applies for the F7 chord only, not the blues progression.

Okay, now take a look at this following example:

If you're wondering why are the notes bracketed in groups of 3, know that they are not part of the scale of the individual chords. Notice also that for every 3rd note of the group, it will be a chord tone of the prevailing chord, in the above example, it is the root of each chord. That root note is called the target note. Then the 2 notes before the target note is called the approach note, and it is used to approach the target note by surrounding it or by 'enclosure' of the note. 

Let's say, the target note = Bb. Thus you would play Bnatural which comes a semitone after Bb, and then play the A note which comes a half step before the Bb note before hitting Bb. It is a very common bebop sound. Adding it into your phrasing would immediately jazz up your lines :D

Similarly, to target F, you can play F# E F.
Target note = C, just play C# B C.
Hahahah simple & straightforward ?

This concept of course can be applied to other notes other than the root of the chord.

So in this illustration above, it shows that you can do the same thing for the 5th or 3rd of the chord. Thus for F7, you would target the C note which is the 5th note, by playing C# B C.
Just play the examples provided here to get a clear picture for yourself.

Okay, now here are other song examples whereby the same concepts are applied. Instead of dominant chord after dominant chord. We shall have something different - major triads and minor 7th chords.
A simple approach:

Combining all you learnt into one:

More examples:

Like this:

Or like this:

Okay, are you guys familiar with guide tones ? They are the 3rd and 7th of a chord, and people call them the most important notes of a chord, that is the most essential in defining the chord sound.
Here's an exercise that lets you practice playing the guide tones of all the chords of a progression:

Okay, more homework time !
1. Go and practice the concepts discussed in this post by playing along to your favorite songs, or just grab any song that you like to apply the concepts learnt.
2. Pick any song from the Real Book and practice to it.
3. Here is a progression for you that came as part of the learning material for this workshop:

More homework to keep you busy :D :D

Chromatics yay, I love chromatics. Let's go crazy with chromatics !

A poignant message from Mariano to end this post of mine:
One thing Mariano said that really caught my attention is that if you want to make music that can change the face of music, you have to dare to go out of your comfort zone and experiment. If everyone else is going to play or sing the root note of chords or progressions just so it sounds the best, the most melodious (or most commercial for that matter), chances are it's hard for you to stand out because everyone else is doing it. And it is by breaking new grounds and doing what others don't that new things are discovered. In Mariano's own words, "Try a b9 instead of the root".

Big thanks to ICOM and Mariano for the great workshop.

Okay guys, hope all of you benefited from this.
I'll be off to practice :D :D

Catch you again & Love ya,
Sapphire Ng <3 <3 <3

Friday, 11 October 2013

My Jazz Heroes & Playlist !!!!

In this post, I would like to create a playlist of the tunes that I love !! Of course it would serve as a mental note to myself and a reminder as to what I want to achieve in time. This would definitely serve as constant motivation for me as well, to give me positive energy and to remind me to keep working hard :D :D 
So, I hope one day along my career I could reach the standard to play such music, with such world top musicians and to write such tunes !!!! Yes, I have no idea when on earth would I be able to start writing tunes just like those exciting ones that Hiromi wrote and played with The Hiromi Trio Project.

I hope this playlist here would introduce you to more awesome jazz music that you might not have encountered before. So I hope they inspire you & fill your heart & mind.

Okay, since we are on Hiromi, let me start off with Hiromi, also because I've been listening to a lot of Hiromi lately. Her solo piano pieces are totally awesome, but for my preference I prefer & really love the line-up and music of her work with Simon Philips on drums and Anthony Jackson on bass as part of the Hiromi Trio Project (because I don't imagine myself playing solo guitar anytime in my career - I love playing in a band). The songs they played are totally high energy and high passion & induces into me the type of excitement & passion that well, words can't explain, but is fully expressed in the songs. So here we go:

My favourite songs (!!!!!!!!!) from Hiromi, feat Simon Philips & Anthony Jackson:
Somehow I couldn't upload Desire here, but I absolutely love her rhythmic groove throughout. Her lines are insane !! Her dynamics and accents are so so so sophisticated oh yeah ! Her reference to the epic jazz classic Caravan in the song was epic, as a culmination point in her improvisation. Not to mention I would love to improvise phrases like she does <3 <3 And there is so much intensity in the hook of the tune it ignites a burning emotion in me when I listen to it. Also her upbeat part of the song provides a great playful contrast to the rest of the song. Passionate and then playful innocence. Wow ! Too good not to be missed !

Summer Rain

The melody of the song is burning sexy & cool all at the same time. My crush hahah ! The groove gets me shaking my body yeah. Her comping during the bass solo is so passionate and confident, and her lick right at the end of the bass solo was so perfect & beautiful. Great highlights of the song I think would be how she builds up her solo.

IMPACT - that's the word for this song & repetition. The introduction may catch someone off-guard if he ain't wary of what's coming, or it may just shock some people off their seats. The introduction totally sounds like some sort of an explosion, or even armageddon. Dynamic-wise, this song definitely leans more towards the loud end compared to many of her other songs. Her touch is actually really hard in this song, but it really conveys the message of the song totally aptly, especially at 2:22 to 2:40 where she bangs away really really hardly on 2 chords interchangeably. Wow, that is awesome. Then after that, the latin montunos enter. The predominant theme of repetition throughout the song is just brought to a whole new level with Hiromi's virtuosity :D I'm in love with this song !!!!!

Now Or Never
Another fierce and unapologetic tune !

Wow, how breathtaking and how passionately captivating everything is !!!!! The rhythmic patterns, the solo lines, the hook of the tunes, the harmony, everything !

Okay next artist. So how many of you now are mind-f*cked after listening to the above epic songs by Hiromi ? Well, just to caution you just in case you may need it, there will be tons of songs like this for a majority of this playlist of mine because of ONE simple reason - I love songs like this hahah !

So, who out there knows who is Bireli Lagrene. He is another beast. Well I think he plays one of the fastest jazz guitars out there. Well he is categorized under gypsy jazz guitar. His improvisation is absolutely crazy, I can't believe anyone can improvise fluently and legibly at speeds at crazy as that. Well, here is an example of his rendition of Spain. Well, others typically play Spain at 130bpm, but this guy plays Spain at 150bpm !! So, guitarists, listen closely :D

Now, more fast-paced stuff - Michel Petrucciani. Small guy, but awesome piano skills. I love his fast runs on the piano. How I wish I could improvise like him ! Well, in time, in time hahahah !!

I totally adore his rendition of Caravan. And I love Caravan, it is a really beautiful song, not to mention downright cool. It's hard for many people to appreciate the sound of Caravan though because they think it is not melodious. Just Youtube it if you would like a listen.

Now, to another damn cool song: Jazz Crimes by Joshua Redman.

Groove, hot sax lines, interesting rhythmic patterns, all of them really make my day :D :D :D

Okay, want something slightly different ? Yes, it will be different in terms of sound. It ain't going to sound as out as Jazz Crimes and it will be a song featuring a really legendary guitarist plus saxophonist as well. It's Lee Ritenour ! Well I love Ritenour's phrasing. And both his solo and sax solo by Eric Marienthal in this version of Rio Funk totally gets me to the edge of my seat. They get me moving and head-banging hahahah ! Come on, the phrasing is indescribably hot !!! And the emotions induced into me when listening to their solos is just priceless.

Now, now, more cool stuff. How about a Tower Of Power song, What Is Hip with a version played by Marcus Miller. Yes, I love groove and punchiness and attacks. So expect more of these types of songs in my playlist :D 

Yes somehow I have a love affair with unison attacks. I have no idea why, but recently I just listened to Get The Funk Out by Extreme, of course the vocals are awesome and really full of attitude, but the moment I hear attacks in the song, it is like instant affection hahahah !! Anyway, What Is Hip has tons of attacks & I love them. Attacks, Sapphire. Sapphire, Attacks. Maybe we are one. Hahahahah !!

But we can't deny the fact that attacks make a song really fun, especially when it is played really fast. It is excitement. Yes, oh yes, excitement, that's all we need, or rather that's all I need. And I also love how every instrument is just really busy in the song, for example during the sax solo, the bass is just busy slapping away, the organ is playing cool comping rhythms, & the drums is really hyped up. And so I discovered I have a love for complicated stuff. But do not fret, towards the end of my playlist I would feature un-complicated songs that I really love :D

More attacks songs: Paul Jackson Junior - The Workout.
Well, for this song I would proclaim my love for his solo lines.
Couldn't attach the video here though, but don't fret, it's easily found on Youtube.

So here's another great legendary guitarist, Pat Martino for his rendition of Sunny. Really when I first heard this version I got so excited, but the more & more I listened to it somehow I got used to the speed and tempo, and subconsciously or actually consciously, it actually sounds so so SO much slower now. I have no idea whether it's a good thing or bad thing, but it could mean my ears are getting more familiar with the song :D

And guess what, I tried to learn a couple of licks from his solo of this song. And wow, they really are hard, the fingering, the length of the phrase. His long phrases really can span from full 16th notes in for example 4 bars to his epic 3-note sequence that went continuously to more than a minute of the song ! 

I learned a 16th note lick from him that spans 4 bars, I could play it at 115bpm (I actually worked my way up from 95bpm, to 100bpm, increasing by 5bpm every time), but well Pat Martino plays it at 130bpm in that song. I guess I have more practice to go :D :D

So, any John Scofield fans out there ?
Well, Hottentot is another one of my favorite. Seriously, it's so hard to describe the emotions that these songs make me experience. But that's why music was created, so that stuff that can't be explained can be felt through other means. It seems that the only words I've managed to use to describe how all these great music sound like since the start of this post would only be "sexy", "hot", "cool". Well, I shall be a bit repetitive then. This song is sexy yumm yumm.

Okay, here's something that sounds more commercial to the ears, but the attacks on the first beats are totally full of attitude. I love stuff that are full of attitude. They know what they want to say and express and they aren't afraid of it :)

The song is called "Attitude" by Pieces Of A Dream. Just Youtube it.

Now, are we ready for latin sounds ? This song is my absolute favorite. Sensual.

Snarky Puppy feat. Magda Giannikou - Amour T'es Là 

Oh yeah, we shall move into saxophonists now. I absolutely love saxophonists, & saxophone improvisation are always so beautiful I always fall in love with their playing again & again. My favorite saxophonists would be people like Dave Koz, Gerald Albright & David Sanborn.

Lately I love a tune by Gerald Albright a lot. It's called Winelight.

Wow, how sexy it is. I can't believe how sexy his tone sounds like and his phrases are damn hot as well. Ahh, saxophones always induce a sense of romantic-ness into me, such heavenly beauties.

Here is another one of my crushes on saxophone music:
So Fine by Paul Taylor

Oh my gosh, I can hear the saxophone talking directly to me, in fact it sounds like it is flirting with me. Wow, so sexy :D :D

Okay, I shall stop talking to myself for a moment just in case you guys think there's something wrong with me hahahah !! Well, in fact sexy music makes me go crazy or makes me go wild, whatever way, I can't deny it. Oh well, let's continue.

The master Dave Koz, with his song Together Again.

Smooth jazz, smooth, sensual & divine.

Okay, that's about it for this playlist of mine. But this is definitely not a complete list, if you encounter other awesome jazz music & would like to share and would like me to include them here, please do let me know and include the link in the comment boxes below. Thank you ! Share the joy of music :D

Also there are tons & tons of material here for any musician to listen, appreciate & digest. So I really hope you got inspired from all these tunes. So, going to practice soon ? Hahahah !

Okay see ya & Love ya,
Sapphire Love <3 <3 <3