Digging in the archives

Or, “I knew I was hanging on to this crap for some reason.”

I recently got the urge to don my faux journalist hat again. Since the discontinuation of activity over at Heavy Frequency, where I’d been contributing the Grace & Fury column, I haven’t done much in the way of guitar writing. In that former capacity I’d outlined a six-part series of super evil etudes to be presented in great detail. While I only got around to completing four before the HF crew closed up shop, I found the process to be an excellent exercise; forcing myself to go over every note, every picking instruction, every comment with a fine tooth comb was good for the brain and the fingers.

When I learned that my buddy Aaron had launched a new site, Hardened Magazine, and was accepting content submissions, my wheels started turning. I wanted to resume the act of detailed, technical musical babbling, but to go in a different, slightly less labor intensive direction. And so I hatched the idea of a new column, Black Ops Guitar, which would contain exercises in a very pure sense. Whereas Grace & Fury spent a fair number of words delving into music theory and topics of diatonic ramification, Black Ops would be about making the fingers do twisted things and damn what it sounds like.

Great. Now what to put in the column? I’d had in mind a few warm ups I use and that have been standard handouts in my recent return to limited teaching. But in the back of my mind I knew I had dozens of such pieces completed in the dim and distant past. So I went digging for folders of yore and found a treasure trove for future exploitation.

Old school.

Old school.

It was in a box under a box in the basement, dusty and damp. (Geez, sounds like the introduction to a Lovecraft story …) I’d unearthed the prototype of Exercises in Focus. Here in a purple folder was a taped-together, hand-written, typed-on-a-fucking-typewriter mockup of my first attempt at a book. (My second attempt, Meditations for the Modern Guitarist, made it a wee bit further than a forgotten folder. More on that another time. Maybe.) Back in 1995 I devoted a lot of time to crafting this set of exercises organized around specific aspects of technique. I believed very much in the thing and was hoping to self-publish it. Man, was I ambitious. Looking back, the idea is still pretty good, but much of the execution sucks. At any rate, there is plenty of material worth plundering.

Welcome back to daylight, baby.

See Black Ops Guitar and other ruminations in the Radiation section of Hardened.


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