Music terminology for Idiots.

I have a confession to make. I have barely touched my guitar in several years. I played for a long time, starting in high school, and made some decent advances when I stayed consistent. The problem was staying in the habit of practicing. It turns out picking up a guitar for fifteen minutes a day, two or three days a week will not turn you into the next Eddie Van Halen. Now when I do pick up my guitar within minutes I’m frustrated by the realization that my finger callouses are long gone and I can’t play near as well as I could twenty years ago.I was self taught, and in the days before the internet this meant listening to records and buying guitar instruction magazines. I would take the transcriptions to the songs I like and proceed to learn the first thirty seconds until I got to the hard part. A good friend of mine took up playing at the same time, and a lasting by-product of being self taught was our own terminology to describe everything from chords, to instruments, or to describe whether a part was major or minor in key. One prime example is chords would be referred to often by whatever song we had learned that featured prominently in that piece. “D major” was the “Fly by Night” chord, since it was the start off of the Rush classic. Now where it gets tricky is that this title by no means applies only to “D major”. The second chord in the song happens to be a “D sus 4”. Did I know what the heck a “D sus 4” was back then? Hell no. So, if I was writing my own piece, or learning a different song that contained this chord the only clear way to communicate it to my friend was “The Fly by Night ” chord. It’s kind of like any spoken language, you have to know what it means by context. If I say “The Sun is bright today”, you just have to understand I mean “Sun”, not “son”. Same thing here, you just have to watch my fingers and listen, and understand “Oh, not that Fly by Night chord, that one”.Similar made up names applied to keys. The “Moody chord” applies to any minor or dissonant part that I like. But “Moody keyboard” is usually reserved for the single high note buried in the mix of a song that remains constant underneath chord changes. It can be a major or minor note, it just has to be “Moody”. Yes, I realize I’m not making sense, that’s ok. It makes perfect sense to a guy named Andy down in Georgia.Idiotic terms can be applied to technique also. If you are playing distorted rock guitar and you slide your hand down the neck making a whooshing noise, you are doing the “John Sykes”. This is not to be confused with a pick scrape, mind you. There are rules here bud. Another such example is “Taking a piss”. This expression describes most Allan Holdsworth solos.So, as I toy with the idea of getting back into playing I am reassured that there are many online references to help. My biggest challenge will be adapting to correct terminology to find what I am looking for. It’s hard to do a web search for “the cool part” of “that one song by the guy from Badlands”.

Posted In: