After 30 years as a professional musician and a decade as a music teacher, Duke Sharp was inspired to write Garage Band Theory (GBT).
GBT is the definitive D-I-Y guide to learning music theory and was created to be a comprehensive guide for beginning and experienced players alike.
It's an ideal gift for that special musical someone!
Sharp plays and teaches several instruments so he wanted to create a book that covered multiple instruments, and that would be useful to teachers, students and musicians of all stripes.
Playing piano as soon as he could reach the keys, Sharp was in his first band at 16, playing guitar by ear.
"My buddies and I listened to our favorite bands, trying to play along and learn the riffs, digging divots in vinyl albums," he recalls. "We memorized patterns, shapes and sounds, and then kept doing them without learning the names. While trying very hard not to, we learned the mechanics of basic music theory, but without the associated vocabulary.
You might say that each of us reinvented the wheel -- and then couldn't talk to each other about what we learned."
Imagine a group of people who are going to build a house together. They can describe their tools, talk about general features of their favorite structures, and have a shared vocabulary for the boards and fasteners. Everyone on the job knows exactly what 2 x 4's are. Joists, 16 penny nails, drywall screws and sheets of plywood are no mystery.
Every field has a shared jargon, yet this process of learning basic vocabulary associated with a craft is often skipped in music lessons.
Music theory is a vast topic, but there are only a few definitions and concepts that are required to understand a process for playing by ear.
In GBT, he succinctly conveys 'music speak' -- and inspires confidence.
"Anyone who has learned to speak has a proven ability to recognize subtle differences in sounds, learn a meaning for these sounds, and reproduce them with all their subtleties in an appropriate context. We all have an enormous 'vocabulary' of sounds we hear and identify every day. Close your eyes for a moment and think about that. I'm certain that your ability to recognize, identify and reproduce different sounds is exactly the same ability I use (in conjunction with a couple of other skills) to play music by ear.
I've learned to associate names with musical sounds, along with the most common ways these sounds are used, and I've developed the coordination to reproduce these sounds.
If you can speak, and can distinguish between a barking dog and a crowing rooster, I believe you have the required hearing skills to play by ear."
Every musical genre, from bluegrass to jazz to classical, use predictable, symmetrical structures. Once you become familiar with the layout of one, it's easy to figure out the others.
When you can add knowledge of the structure to your natural ability to recognize sounds, you're two-thirds of the way to playing by ear. The remaining third is coordination.
In my mind, it's the most difficult, especially on stringed instruments. For most people it literally takes hundreds of hours for guitar coordination to become second nature.
Check out Sharp's coordination and creativity on his CDs, which feature original material as well as some innovative takes on popular standards.
'Yucca Pie, Duke Sharp and Friends' was described by one reviewer as "a unique blend of western, Latin and jazz sounds.' Two Grass Crew, Gavotte in A Minor' is a collection of duets with Mike Parsons, an outstanding mandolin and violin player. The Big Lost is Two Grass Crew's second release, some traditional favorites with unique arrangements, some covers and several of Montana's outstanding acoustic musicians joining in the fun. 'Pickin After Midnight In The Moonlight' is a solo project, and 'Bozeman All-Stars, Contrafactually Yours' is a jazz-lite CD that features some of Bozeman's finest jazz players. 'Matkatamiba' was inspired by Grand Canyon rafting trips.
When he s not gigging or teaching, you can find the author hiking backcountry trails, white-water rafting the rivers of the west, riding his bicycle or jamming at one of the legendary Miller family reunions. He lives in Montana among guitars, mandolins, rivers and mountains. Learn more about the music, the book and the artist at www.dukesharp.com.
(from an interview by Cynthia Logan)