A Poor Man's 2 5 1

Dec 28, 2022

I love the 2 5 1 jazz progression. It’s just such a great sound. But I’m not a great jazz player. I have this one progression that I like to noodle around with in the key of C. Dm G7 Cmaj7 with some other things mixed in.

I built a pretty short track. Just an A section and B section and played some melody over it. I break down the music theory at the 5:40 mark

Line Cliche and Using One Chord to Create Color

Dec 23, 2022

I’m a huge fan of a good old line cliche. There is just something about using one chord and adding some movement around it that just sounds great. I created a progression around a D chord and broke down the music theory behind what it’s doing and how it works.

Silent Night

Nov 26, 2022

My version of Silent Night

The First Thing I Ever Recorded

Sep 11, 2022

Recently, I was cleaning out the hard drive on my laptop and moving some old files to an external hard drive. I kept coming across some cool things that I had forgotten about. One of those things was the first composition I ever wrote and recorded. Later, I would share it with a friend and he would add some lyrics, vocals, keyboard/synth, and some drums. But in the beginning, all I had was what I recorded.

For some unknown reason I thought my first recorded comp should be in 6/8 time. The most likely reason is that 6/8 is a superior time signature. I just love that swing. Nearly every song I fall in love with has a 6/8 feel. The other reason could be that I wanted to do something a little different, but not too different.

Here is the track as background music to a video

How I Recorded It

A bit of background of how I recorded it.

For recording I laid down the basic rhythm guitar track all the way through the track. Then I doubled that and panned them left and right. Then I started to lay down some color to the guitar parts. Color as in either small parts that didn’t last long, or parts that had a bit of a different tone.

After all this was done, I went ahead and exported it and sent it out for some feedback. After the feedback, I had to redo the whole thing because I got off tempo and any drums (DAW plugin) that were added were a mess.

So the second time through, with drums added, I recorded the parts and got something closer to what you hear now.

The final version was mixed by me. Admittedly, I was pretty bad at mixing during this time. I’m much better now, but still have a long way to go.

I can’t remember if I knew about cuts and filters at this point. I imagine I just used something like “classic guitar cleanup” or something. My main mixing strategy was to control levels of the different tracks and add some reverb and chorus.

And this was V1. But I kinda like it.

Gear used:

  • Fender Stratocaster
  • Shure SM57
  • Orange Micro Dark
  • Custom 2x12 cab with Celestion G12’s

If you liked this, I’d love to hear from you! I can be reached at the typical places on the internet or you can just email me.


Recording With a Faster Tempo

Jun 22, 2022

Whenever I write and record music, it always seems to fall into a familiar place. About 70bpm, kinda slow and somewhat melodic. To switch it up, I decided to increase the temp and see what happens.

I played on everything except the drums.

The bass guitar was fun. I hadn’t touched a bass in about three years. I really like the movement of the bass line. Not too much, but still adds some flavor.

I kinda hated the drums I created inside Logic. I did some editing, and this feels better.

There is also a little lead guitar section at the end that I left out when I bounced the track. I didn’t really like.

I learned a bit about levels. Usually I try to record, just short of clipping. In the yellow mostly. But my guitar tone is usually pretty mellow. I did the same thing this time, but I really needed to reduce the volume on the guitar tracks. Not sure why. Maybe mic placement or the new amp. This is the first recording with the Vox AC15.

Scott Radcliff · rock-110bpm-bnc.mp3

You Should be Listening to Maggie Rose

Jun 21, 2022

A couple of weeks ago while gushing over my love of Derek Trucks and the Tedeschi Trucks Band, a friend suggested Maggie Rose to me. So I found her latest release, and almost instantly fell in love with her voice for one, but it’s really her band. They are top notch. The guitars are dynamic and subtle in the best ways. Often you can’t even hear certain parts of the keys or bass, but they are there. I know that sounds kinda bad, but it’s not. Everything blends so well together.

Here is a YouTube video of Saint. It’s wonderful. Seriously worth checking out.

Two Great Guitar Players Just Jammin

May 22, 2022

Two of the greatest guitar players in Nashville, Tom Bukovac and Guthrie Trapp, just sitting in a room and jamming.

If you like guitar even a little, check this out.

Some Sort of 2021 Review

Dec 24, 2021

As 2021 starts to come to a close, and I take the week of Christmas off, I have plenty of time to reflect. All things considered, 2021 was a good year. I celebrated my 25th wedding anniversary (I could probably stop there. That’s a feat that can’t be topped), I watched my kids continue to grow and succeed, and I had a ton of fun making and playing music.

2022 is already shaping up to be awesome. There is some stuff in the works as far as my job is concerned (I can’t talk about that yet, but hopefully soon). And I think I can take my music hobby up to the next level, and that’s super exciting for me.

This year one of my main goals was that I wanted to play guitar on someone’s record. I didn’t get that done. But I did grow in the area of recording and composing. I record somewhat regularly. I’ve learned how to use a DAW fairly well. My mixing skills need work, but I can record something and mix it so it sounds decent. I also write music a fair amount, but I don’t finish much. The flip side of that is that I’ve become pretty good at creating parts and layering parts for music.

If you know me, you know I love analyzing things. After years of studying the theory behind music, I’m now able to analyze a piece of music, determine it’s purpose, and hopefully add something to it that helps it communicate that message a little better. And I LOVE it.

This year I also considered starting something in music. I don’t know what that is. A YouTube channel, a music site, or maybe something else. I did create a not so secret Instagram account for guitar stuff (scottradcliffguitar). It’s fun when I put stuff there, and I’ve slowly become better, but it’s temporary.I imagine 2022 will be more of that. But I think there is a sweet spot in skills of software engineering and musician that could be really interesting.

But overall what I really want is more recording. My goal for 2022 remains the same. Playing on someone’s record. But it also includes releasing some stuff. I don’t sing, so it’ll be instrumental, but still fun for me.

I’m grateful and looking forward to what is next. Here is to a great 2022!

Layering Guitar Parts on Existing Songs

Dec 13, 2021

Lately I have been having fun layering parts over top of progressions of songs that exist already. A solo of sorts.

The following was written over a middle section in the key of D with the progression D A Bm G.

Here is the theory behind this. The progression four beats for each chord in the progression at about 70BPM. So the thought process is targeting chord tones at the right time, while supplying some flavor in between. It’s all D major pentatonic.

I start on the root (D) of the first chord, hit the third (F#) of that chord, and target the root (A) of the next chord. I play around a bit with A and B (the next chord in the progression), but instead of the root, I hit the 3rd (D) which also brings us back to our original tonality of D

I slide up to the fifth of the Bm (F#), pull of F# to E and land on D again. This time D is the fifth of the next chord (G).

Then I just walk that back down, playing in pentatonic and land on the D again. But an octave up this time. I run that same pattern again of D - F# - A, but this time I use a dyad (2 notes of the chord) for some flavor. I repeat the A - B thing again, but with a little more space. And go up and hit the third, for basically the crescendo of the part, and just gradually walk back down to D chord.

A Song Everyday

Feb 26, 2021

I’ve been learning and studying music theory for about three years. I’ve played instruments for years, dating back to the clarinet in fourth grade. But have concentrated on guitar since about thirteen years old. I took lessons for a few years, but didn’t really get into the theory of it until recently.

I love it. It sort of reminds me of the early days of programming for me. Lots to learn, lots to play with, and with each new thing I want to learn even more.

I plan on writing about guitar and music theory a bunch, but wanted to drop one thing here. I’ve decided to start each day with writing music. Doesn’t have to be long, and arguably won’t be very good for a while. But I want to work on getting something recorded, mixed, and mastered.

Here is day one (Sort of. I’ve written some other things, but this is the first day of the new thing.)

Scott Radcliff · 918