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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,
Ive been reading through a few posts on here and am inspired to find both a very friendly atmosphere towards eachothers ideas and problems but also an extremely high level of knowledge and understanding. On considering this, I remember a problem that I encountered some years ago when writing and recording a piece of music.
In a certain section of the piece the harmony moved to a repetative two chord progression.

Amin7 - Abmin6 (this repeated one bar per chord for an 16 bar section at around 110bpm - clean guitar - jazzy feel)

This in itself presented no problem..... but.....

When I came to put a guitar melody part over the top I found myself playing A Aeolian over the Amin 7 but moved to Ab dorian for the Abmin6??

I played mainly around the top 3 strings with a triplety feel and constant scalic movement.

The problem is, when I played it, it sounded fine. But looking at it afterwards I realised that theoritically it shouldnt as the 6 in the second chord conflicts with the mode!!

I still cant figure out why this worked.

Can anyone shed any light on this?? Am I being slow here?? Have I missed something stupid???

Any thoughts??
 

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an Abm6 chord is spelt and played as

1,b3,5,6

not as you may think

1,b3,5,b6 (with a minor 6th) the semitone between the 5th an b6 wudnt work)

so all notes are present in the dorian mode

1,2,b3,4,5,6,b7

dorian should work over this chord
 

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Hi all,
Ive been reading through a few posts on here and am inspired to find both a very friendly atmosphere towards eachothers ideas and problems but also an extremely high level of knowledge and understanding. On considering this, I remember a problem that I encountered some years ago when writing and recording a piece of music.
In a certain section of the piece the harmony moved to a repetative two chord progression.

Amin7 - Abmin6 (this repeated one bar per chord for an 16 bar section at around 110bpm - clean guitar - jazzy feel)

This in itself presented no problem..... but.....

When I came to put a guitar melody part over the top I found myself playing A Aeolian over the Amin 7 but moved to Ab dorian for the Abmin6??

I played mainly around the top 3 strings with a triplety feel and constant scalic movement.

The problem is, when I played it, it sounded fine. But looking at it afterwards I realised that theoritically it shouldnt as the 6 in the second chord conflicts with the mode!!

I still cant figure out why this worked.

Can anyone shed any light on this?? Am I being slow here?? Have I missed something stupid???

Any thoughts??
What you have there is one of thise cool things jazz players know about but rock guitarist don't understand as they only see in black and white theory. Basically you don't necesarily have to play a particular scale over a progression (the essense of jazz) you play notes that create intervallic relationships which is the basic building block of all music.

Because of this you not even change scale when the chords change as both A Aeolian and A Harmonic Minor will work over both because of the way the individual notes will create pleasant interval relationships with the particular notes in each chord. A classic way to experience this is to the have the progression arpeggiated or findger picked, then play say perfect 4th intervals over the notes in each chord as they are played you will discover you can play notes not in the key of the piece, again this is a classic jazz standard thought they tend to use augemented or major 3rd intervals to create harmonic tension.

It is also why the best jazz players seems to play over any progression with very little position change, and if you build this into a piece along with classical pure theory based playing a whole new world or original music opens up :)
 

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What you have there is one of thise cool things jazz players know about but rock guitarist don't understand as they only see in black and white theory. Basically you don't necesarily have to play a particular scale over a progression (the essense of jazz) you play notes that create intervallic relationships which is the basic building block of all music.

Because of this you not even change scale when the chords change as both A Aeolian and A Harmonic Minor will work over both because of the way the individual notes will create pleasant interval relationships with the particular notes in each chord. A classic way to experience this is to the have the progression arpeggiated or findger picked, then play say perfect 4th intervals over the notes in each chord as they are played you will discover you can play notes not in the key of the piece, again this is a classic jazz standard thought they tend to use augemented or major 3rd intervals to create harmonic tension.

It is also why the best jazz players seems to play over any progression with very little position change, and if you build this into a piece along with classical pure theory based playing a whole new world or original music opens up :)


yikes! man, i know you are trying to help, but some of your info is very flawed. i think i see what you are trying to get across, but it gets lost in the lack of precise terms.

first of all, jazz soloing revolves around the harmonic (chord) content. you are correct that there are some intervalic relationships, chromatic movement and substitutions, but the basis of jazz soloing is playing the chord tones (or, when you become more advanced, alluding to them). jazz soloing is usually not very linear (like much rock soloing is) and playing scales verbatim over jazz progressions can sound very amateurish, if not just plain out (and not in a good way).

looking at the chord progression, missmisstreater summed it up correctly...if those are the chords the original poster meant to write out. if you meant to say Amin7 to Amin(b6), then the natural 6 in dorian would create minor 2nd dissonance with the flat 6 in the Amin(b6) chord. aeolian should be the correct mode, a harmonic minor will not work over the first chord because the flat 7 will clash (quite horribly) with the #7 in harmonic minor.

if you can post an mp3 of the progression, that would definitely clear up the confusion.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
OK,
firstly, thank you all for having responded. I am clearly going to have to recreate this musical situation and record it in isolation and then post it.

Just to clarify, as I may have listed the chord names incorrectly. I wrote the post without a guitar in my hands a few years after the recording without too much thought. There is some kind of anomoly here. But the actual chords used were....

1st chord - A G C E
2nd chord - Ab Gb B E

I then played over it in pure A minor (first chord) and moved to what we simple-minded rock guitarists know as the Phrygian mode but one step above the A pure minor - which if Im not being too simple is the Ab dorian Mode. So there is a clear clash in the second chord. I did use chormatic lines to smooth in from one to the other but there was a clear use of the Ab Dorian over the second chord.
This is the problem thats on my mind!! Why did this work?? Or, again, am I loosing it completely?!?!?
If there is no clear explanation then fine. But I just cant settle on (does it matter!) I feel that its important when we find these situations, to understand them and learn from them. I am still just confused about this.

OK. sorry for the confusion on the original chords posted. But any further thoughts would be appreciated.

cheers
 

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1st chord - A G C E
2nd chord - Ab Gb B E

I then played over it in pure A minor (first chord) and moved to what we simple-minded rock guitarists know as the Phrygian mode but one step above the A pure minor - which if Im not being too simple is the Ab dorian Mode. So there is a clear clash in the second chord. I did use chormatic lines to smooth in from one to the other but there was a clear use of the Ab Dorian over the second chord.
This is the problem thats on my mind!! Why did this work?? Or, again, am I loosing it completely?!?!?
If there is no clear explanation then fine. But I just cant settle on (does it matter!) I feel that its important when we find these situations, to understand them and learn from them. I am still just confused about this.

OK. sorry for the confusion on the original chords posted. But any further thoughts would be appreciated.

cheers
1st chord-Amin7
2nd chord-Spelled incorrectly. The B should technically be a Cb, but enharmonically is the same thing. The B is a b3 of the Ab chord, therefore should be a third away from the Ab, which must be a type of C, and in this case, Cb. Just thought I'd point that out, though it doesn't make much of a difference.
The chord is an Abmin add b13, or Abmin#5, which is what I would call it.
You say that you played phrygian scale one half step above A aeolian. That is Bb phyrgian, which has the same notes as Ab dorian.
Ab-Bb-Cb-Db-Eb-F-Gb-Ab.
One half step above A aeolian is Bb. Bb phrygian is as follows:
Bb-Cb-Db-Eb-F-Gb-Ab-Bb
You play an E natural in the disputed chord, which is b5 of A dorian, or the #4 of Bb phrygian. Totally fine. That same degree is found in the blues scale.
Smitty
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks Smitty.
Much of what you said makes sense to me. But there are some problems with this (in my mind at least!)

How can the b5 of an A scale be the #4 of a Bb scale?? I dont get this part. Surely if we consider the 4th and 5th to be perfect. And as such the #4 is the same note as the b5. What you are saying is that Bb is A?? Im lost!!

Also, as I work very visually with scales when playing, my mind cant compute how the interval thats causeing me the problem in the Bb Dorian Mode used over the second chord is within the Blues scale.

I would really appreciate your clarification here. I am gettin there with this. Just not quite enough to feel that Ive totally made sense of it!!

thanks again

Neil
 

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4ths and 5ths can come in three ways--perfect, augmented, and diminished. You already know perfect, as you said, and augmented is simply a perfect interval raised a half step, and diminished is a perfect interval lowered a half step. To help you further understand this, I'll go into why this happens.
I'm just going to use a major scale for this example, but it can be translated to any scale or mode. Let's just use C major, which is as follows:
C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C.
The pattern here in whole steps (W) and half steps (H) is W-W-H-W-W-W-H. It comes out to be 12 half steps total, which is why an octave is 12 frets on the guitar.
The first interval, C-D, is a major second, or a whole step, or two half steps. Flat it once, and it becomes a minor second, or one half step. Flat it again, and it becomes a diminished second, which in this case is pointless, because Dbb is the same as C. That's what I was talking about when I mentioned enharmonics--Dbb=C, Fb=E. You just have to remain in the scale.
You can keep on flatting it. Flat it again, it becomes doubly diminished, Dbbb, or enharmonically, B. Ridiculous and pointless, really. The same can happen with augmented intervals. D-E is a major second; sharp it, and it's augmented, or a double sharp. Sharp it again, and it's doubly augmented, and so on. This is all just side information, though. It's good to know.
So, 2nds, 3rds, 6ths, and 7ths, in normal music (meaning that I'm excluding doubly diminished/augmented and further) go from smallest to largest: diminished, minor, major, and augmented. There's no in between.
With 4ths, 5ths, octaves, and unisons, there IS one in between: perfect. With unisons and octaves, it makes sense. But with 4ths and 5ths, it can be more difficult to understand why it happens.
It happens simply because of the number of whole steps and half steps in a given scale. To stay in the key of C major, F is the perfect 4th, and G is the perfect 5th. If I flat the F, it becomes E enharmonically, or the major 3rd from C.
E-F is a half step. E is the major third of the scale, and sharping it makes it an augmented third, and augmented/diminished intervals can't happen in a major scale. The rule of enharmonics applies, and the next tone is an F, so the scale goes on.
On the other hand, if we sharp the 5th, G, it becomes a minor six, or Ab/G#. There is no major/minor 5th or 4th. Only perfect, diminished, and augmented.
Notice that I skipped F#/Gb. This is the tritone, "the diablos in musica." It is 3 whole steps up from the tonic (or root, C) and 3 whole steps down from the octave (the C above the root). This note is the exact center of the scale. It is the reason that 4ths and 5ths can't be major or minor. If there were 13 half steps in a scale, then it would work. But just think; if we sharp the F, a perfect 4th, it becomes F#, which is shared with the 5th, G, when it is flatted. The flatted 5th (diminished 5th) is the same as the sharped 4th (augmented 4th).
I hope you understand this. Experiment on a piano to further understand it; seeing it makes it much easier.

So. Now to the scale. You don't understand why E is the flatted 5th of Ab dorian and why E is the sharped 4th of Bb phrygian.
The answer is that they are two completely different scales. Though they have the same notes in them, they pass in a different order, just like how C major and A minor have the same notes, but one starts on C, and the other starts on A, meaning that G in the key of C is the 5th, while G in the key of A minor is the flatted 7th.

To address the whole "blues scale" thing, I was merely making a connection to a commonly used scale. The blues scale is simply the minor pentatonic with a b5/#4, right? Meaning it has the tritone in it (which is why people thought that blues was the devil's music.) In the key of A, the blues scale is A-C-D-Eb-E-G-A. The E is a perfect 5th above A, correct? Meaning that the Eb is a diminished 5th above A.
The allusion to the blues scale was used to make a parallel of how people commonly use any form of any minor scale, whether it be phrygian, the natural minor, melodic minor, or minor pentatonic, and add the flatted 5th. It's a commonly used passing tone.
When we apply this to the second chord you were playing, if I remember correctly, an Abmin7#5, then that's totally cool. This is getting into jazz theory: The #5 is one of the 4 altered tones--the # and b 5 and # and b 9. These are usually added to the dominant chord, but I guess it works here.
You were playing in Bb phrygian, which is the same as Ab dorian. Dorian is a very commonly used minor scale (I say minor because it has a b3) and minor scales often incorporate altered tones. The phrygian already has one of them--the b2, in this case a Cb, or B natural--and adding another that is part of a chord that you're playing over is totally cool.
All in all, you were actually playing in Bb locrian, which is a phyrgian scale with a b5 (the E from the Abmin7#5 chord).
I tried to make that as simple as possible, if you need more help, just ask. I teach guitar for a living, so question as much as you want. Just make sure to experiment on a keyboard if you can. Piano is the easiest instrument to learn theory on.
I may have made a mistake or two, so I invite someone to proofread this. Discussing this much theory can get confusing!
Have fun!
Smitty
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Hi Smitty,
thanks for submitting such a quality and lengthy post. The mechanics of your explanation make total sense to me. Much of what you said is familiar. I think that my style of writing very much by feel and ear, and then using theory to either understand,develope or embellish does, on occassion, leave flawes in ones own assessment of a musical situation.
So the answer to this anomoly is this, from what I can gather.....

I played a chord and a scale. Ones which, if done with presence of mind I wouldnt have chosen. But my ear said it worked so I went with it.
It just happens, in this case, that the chords conflicting notes with the scale merely imply another scale???!

Am I right here?? The specifics of it have almost become irrelevant. I am purely trying to rationalise this now.

If I am wrong then I need to go back and read this thread from the begining. My understanding of theory made this situation impossible. But my musical sensibility said it was fine. I think I may go buy some books on Music Psychology as this certainly seems to lean that way. And I aim to experiment with this angle further.

If I am compeltely off the mark here then please let me know as I just can not let something go unless I have milked it for any learning that may be possible.

Thanks Smitty for your help. And Im sure it wont be the last time I present oddities for you to bat out of the stadium.

regards

Neil
 

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You are very close. You merely played a scale over a chord and used a tone that doesn't normally belong to the scale, but did belong to the chord. Basically, you took a chord (which belongs in a scale) and modified it, and played that note that was modified.

I'll repeat this in simple terms in the key of A minor, which is the easiest minor scale to explain chord terms in because of its lack of accidentals (sharps and flats). The scale is A-B-C-D-E-F-G-A. Let's say that you're still in this key, and you take an Amin7 chord, which is spelled A-C-E-G. Now you want to make it an Amin7b5. All you have to do is lower the 5 one half step. Now the chord is spelled A-C-Eb-G. You are still in A minor, but you just modified it to get a slightly different sound. You aren't in a different key, you're just playing a messed up A minor chord :D. Now let's say that you are soloing in A minor pentatonic over this chord, the Amin7b5. The minor pentatonic scale is spelled A-C-D-E-G. This scale includes the notes A, C, and G from the Amin7b5 chord, but the E clashes with the b5, Eb. So now you play in the blues scale, which is spelled A-C-D-Eb-E-G, which is basically an A minor pentatonic with an added b5. Now it works! And your D and E natural have become sort of "passing tones," or notes that don't belong to the current chord belong to the overall key or scale, or in some cases don't even belong to the overall key (but not in this case) and are simply used to "connect the dots" between the "target notes," or "color tones" of the chord, usually the 3 and 7, and anything else that's added, like the 9, 11, or 13, or even better, a modified version of the said notes, like the b9, b11, and so on. But don't worry about that. That's just extra information.
I hope you get it now. Happy shredding.
Smitty
 

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...Those days have long since been gone...
Thank god that Nirvana's gone. But I still believe in the "if it sounds good, play it" idea. Music should have no rules, even though I'm a big theory nerd. Sometimes breaking the theory "rules" is the best way to go...or even better, complete disregard for them.
Smitty
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Smitty,
thank you yet again for taking the time and making the effort to convey your understanding on this. Im kinda there with this but feel uncomfortable with it.
I think the overall thing that I think I have learned here is that Ive been too strict with my theoretical application. I have always looked at scales, keys, chords as having to strictly adhere to eachother with no space for error.

I have explored in the past using different scales over a chord progression and have found some interesting things. But when I have taken the time to break them down, they still loosely stick to the rules.

Mainly simple ideas like.....

taking a power chord turnaround like B5 E5 F5 and repeating it as a recorded loop.

then practicing playing over the top in different B rooted scales like Phrygian Dominant, minor Blues, Dorian, Phrygian, Aeolian blah blah blah

Trying to exhaust the possibilities and paying attention to the texture of what I was doing. Also attepmting to creat line which blend these ideas and textures. Ive found this to be both interesting and also helpfull in seeing things in more than one dimension.

But throughout my time playing music, I have always seen the Major scale and its derived chords, modes, inversions etc etc as pretty sternly stuck to there root scale.
The concept which you appear to be conveying through this example is that it is perfectly ok for me to make chords that are loosely based on an 'in key' chord but alter it with 'out of key' notes. Is this what your saying???

If so, then my mind is blown because the potential of this in practice opens an amazing amount of doors. It would be possible to create subtelty and gentle insinuation to texture in a mind blowingly diverse number of ways.

Can you give me an example of a situation where this works and is used regularly?? I must say I havent really come accross this concept before and am excited about it. I am maybe a nerd too but I aint ashamed of it and want to grow as a player (and realise that the only way to do this is truly understand the mechanics of the art form which we aspire to master).

This concept, if Ive not completely missunderstood you, is remeniscent of some of the jazz ideas that were presented when I was studying music at uni and I have to say that much of that stuff was so complex that it switched me off. I just couldnt see the application for some of the things presented outside of the realms of wildly avente Guarde jazz genre. The thought of using these ideas to express the growing need in my own writing to be more subtle and carefull in the way I construct things is something which had you not described this concept would have evaded me completely I think. So thanks for helping and if nothing else, you have forced me to ask serious questions about me whole approach to music and my grasp of it.

my head is gone.


Are you saying that I can take (for simplifications sake) a C maj scale

C D E F G A B C

which would ordinarily give me the

C Maj 7
D min 7
E min 7
F Maj 7
G Dom 7
A min 7
B min7

and start to alter these chords with non-C scale notes???


What about the inversion potential??

Please get back to me on this. If I understand you correctly then my eyes have been opened and I can see things that I previously was never aware of. If Im wrong about what your saying then I am just not grasping how the originally discribed situation was possible as all..

thanks yet again.

Neil
 

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Haha. You are thinking a little bit too "inside the box."

Yes, you have your arpeggios in the Cmaj scale, and you named them correctly. You've got the right idea there. Meaning that over the ii chord, Dmin7, we play a D dorian scale. But don't think of it as a scale. Or mode, or whatever. Think of it as notes that belong to a chord.
Now, there are only 7 notes that you're using out of that scale, even though you're able to use all 7 modes over all those 7 arpeggios/chords in the key of Cmajor. But what about the other 5 notes?

This is where the ideas of jazz come in. These 5 other notes, C#, D#, F#, G#, and A# (I'll call them C#, Eb, F#, G#, and Bb mostly, because I like those names more. Right now, enharmonics don't matter.)
What scale is that? An Eb minor pentatonic. Woah. That's a trick I stole from Pat Martino.
So now you know that when you play in Cmaj, you've got an Eb minor pentatonic leftover. Now how do you USE it?

All this Eb minor pentatonic scale is used for, in this case, is to get from one target note to another, or atleast it's that way in jazz. The target notes, as I said earlier, are the 3, 7 and any other color note of a given chord.
So you can use a multitude of other scales to get from one play to another, most importantly over the dominant 7 chord, where the half/whole scale and melodic minor works great. Those notes belonging to this Eb minor pentatonic scale are also the altered tones plus a b7, which is quite common in a major scale. So basically, you can play any note you want, as long as you land on the right one ("right" is subjective here...it might not sound "right" to everyone) and you say what you want to say. Thinking of things in strictly scales is very limiting. They go in one direction: vertically. If you think of them in, first, terms of keys, then you can whip out chords, which can stand alone and be used to create melodies using voice leading, or broken up into arpeggios which in turn lead to different tones of different scales.
Scales don't have to belong to each other. The most important part of a solo is the melodic contour, ie how it moves up and down, and how it makes the listener feel. You can achieve this through "tension and release." Example? I can play in major pentatonic over a C7 chord. The Bb in the chord is also the third of F# major, the absolute most tense chord to be used over a C major of any sort. Why not, for a couple bars, add some tension and work my way from...hmm, let's work this out:
Major pentatonic over C7. Nice and melodic. Lots of space.
Change to G over the C7. This gives you a suspended tone when you use the G mixolydian scale over C, and a lydian tone when you use major.
These could lead to F# by taking advantage of that short lydian burst: the F# could lead you up to G#, an altered tone, and the Bb, a chord tone. Of course, you don't just want to run up this scale (which in this case, you could just play an E whole tone scale), you want to play around with the notes, jab weird ones in at fun times, and making the listener INTERESTED. You'll have a huge climax of tension, probably using some polyrythmic feel, like slow triplets or 5s that would be impossible to write out, speeed it up, and land on the note G! or C! There you go. You landed on the tonic or dominant; you either rest, or stop soloing.

Notes are notes. They are all interchangable. They just imply different feelings. Theory is just a way to express what you're saying without inputing the intended emotion.
Smitty
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Smitty,
you have now been given the name Obe Wan and I am going off to Peru to study your last post.
When I return I will let you know how I got on.

Thank you for the inspiring - life changeing - epiphony. I am aghast!!!!

Do you have any material posted anywhere? Myspace? Jemsite?

I am now a loyal Smitty (Obe Wan) disciple!!!

Jaw still on floor. Need time to study!!!
 

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Haha thanks man. I'm no Obe Wan, not even close, I'm just a theory nerd. In fact, I'm only 17, so I don't have much recorded material...only two Andy Timmons-style tunes on my myspace, myspace.com/alexsmithproject.

I'm going to be a senior in high school next year, and after that is hopefully Berklee College of Music, so I've been intensely studying jazz, but really I'm just scratching the surface. I have gained immense amounts of knowledge, but I'm really having a lot of trouble applying it. But then again, that's what makes it fun.

The best way to apply the stuff I was talking about is find any crappy backing track, probably just a two chord vamp, and figure out the most common scales/modes that work. And then find ones that a similar, and so on, until you figure out which ones cause extreme tension. Then figure out why. Why does this note cause so much tension over this chord? And so on. Take your time, be patient, and you'll figure out why music theory is what it is.

But always remember that music theory is just that: theory, not fact. That's the most important lesson. I forget who said it, but it went along the lines of "music theory is just an attempt to explain what we're doing." It is logical, and it really is the nuts and bolts of music; you can't understand music without studying music theory. It is the language of music and it allows you to communicate with other musicians. But all in all, sometimes, you just need to let it rip. If, according to music theory, it doesn't "work," but it sounds good, play it any ways. And then find out why it doesn't "work" but also what makes this "mistake" sound so appealing to you.

And trust me here, I'm on the same road as you. I have trouble following my own advice sometimes. It's all much easier said than done.
Actually, I'm off to practice right now. Have a good one!
Smitty

By the way, I found out another theory "shortcut" like that Pat Martino minor pentatonic thing I said in my last post. In a I-IV-V progression, all of the alt. tones are found in the minor scale a minor third above the I. So if you the progression is a I-IV-V in C, briefly moving to Eb minor will help you land on some alt. tone. The Eb minor will also help you ease in and out of the augmented, half/whole, and whole tone scales of all of the chords.

I love finding cool shortcuts that allow your mind to rest a little bit!
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Right then.
just before I set off to peru Im gonna go find your myspace, become your friend, and then pack my bags. Alex obe wan smith it is!!!!

Thanks for your thoughts man. Hopefully speak a lot more over the coming months. Im gonna post some stuff up on myspace to see what people think. You comments would be appreciated for sure. Ill get some bits posted over next few days. myspace.com/neilkellowmusic

Good luck with your studying man. At 17 you really know far too much. I think If you were here in the UK we would be kidnapping you and keeping you off the music scene.!!

Speak soon & thanks again

Neil
 
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