About the book

PREFACE:

Why I wrote this book:
While writing, my goal was to produce something to inspire beginners, train intermediate students, and organize information for more advanced players. The approach is heavily visual, because Iʼve often found images to be more efficient and inviting than long verbal descriptions. The content is based on performance experience, using techniques that have led to positive results for myself and other students. There is a good amount of theory, but the focus is on application. The topic is the study of fundamentals, which are useful to revisit at every stage of development, applicable to any style, and infinite in scope.

Who itʼs for:
This book is meant to serve a multiplicity of personalities and skill levels – the reader is invited to skip around and explore it at any point, according to what seems interesting. There is no reference to the correctness of any particular approach – a primary goal here is to recognize and enjoy that the creative process is different for every individual. We choose the tools that best fit our needs. Think of this book as a creative toolbox – no two people will use it the same way. There is no preferred system for representing musical concepts on the page – I’ve used or invented whatever notation seems most effective for any particular purpose. This includes Western staff notation, fretboard diagrams, pitch and rhythm circles, graphs, and geometric visualizations. This decreases the cultural and intellectual biases inherent to various notation systems, reduces language barriers, and provides a point of entry for a wider variety of people. There are a fair number of advanced concepts here, but Iʼve made an effort to avoid academic language and theoretical jargon, explaining things the way I understand them using plain language. The overall aim is to present the maximum amount of information in as clear and efficient a manner as possible.

Whatʼs in it:
The book is divided into two parts: Pitch (Part I) and Rhythm (Part II). Part I is concerned primarily with the positions and movements of the fretting hand, and Part II with the possibilities of sound production with the picking hand. Part I begins the study of pitch locations and formations the fretboard, from natural harmonics to sets of 1, 2, 3 and 4 pitches. Part II addresses the often neglected topic of rhythm, beginning with a complete course in my approach to symmetrical picking and continuing with studies of multiple notes per stroke on one string (slurs, slides, and ornaments) and playing on multiple strings (rhythmic counterpoint).

How to use it:
The level of difficulty depends entirely on the approach of the reader. The main idea is that thorough study of fundamentals is necessary for freedom on the instrument, which in turn is necessary for creative work. It’s very difficult to invent new things without a sense of what is possible and a solid foundation to stand on. This is not the same as accumulating information or having a lot of technical facility. It means being able to decide what information or techniques are useful for your particular creative direction and knowing how to use the tools you have selected. In the world of instructional books there are plenty of encyclopedic listings of chord voicings, compendiums of scales, and exhaustive lists of rhythmic patterns. This is not such a book. Itʼs designed to be practical and achieve results. When a comprehensive list is required, it is given. The focus is on clear language, intuitive illustrations, and avoidance of redundancies. The amount of material may seem overwhelming, but the student is encouraged to treat this book like a creative sketchpad, marking up and customizing its pages. Take what is useful and discard the rest. Add your own improvements. A deep, personal knowledge of a few chosen things will serve creativity better than superficial knowledge of a huge amount of material.

Miles Okazaki
Brooklyn, New York
December, 2014