Spring Break at Wings of History

We are just now leaving the Wings of History compound heading for the Pacific Northwest for the summer. We spent 10 days camped inside our private gated community, so to speak. Here are some of the activities we enjoyed. Read More »

Bluegrass Festival Time in Arizona:

We have been cruising around southwest Arizona for the past four weeks attending three Bluegrass festivals and the Ajo fiddle contest. The past three days in Bullhead City have been the most awesome jamming opportunities of all. Here is a photo of the group we hosted last night at our campsite.
Tomorrow we will make our way to Lake Havasu City for the next festival in two weeks.
Left to right around the circle, Barbra and Joe Magie, a bass player and guitarist that I missed their names, Mick and Fria on mandolin and dobro guitar. That is me standing and a fellow named Steve with his back to the camera. Our campfire is a propane heater and a LED lantern on the table.
Please let me know if there are still recipients out there who do not wish to receive e-mail with photos attached. This photo is 600 kb. I always trim them.

Chord Progressions Spinner:

Have you been here? You are Jammin’ with a group and doing all right on a song that is familiar but not in your normal repertoire. You are just hitting your stride as the song transitions to the “B” part and the chord progression takes a sudden turn and you just can’t quite find the proper chord. You are checking out the other musicians’ fingerings and about then another chord change comes at you.
You can hang on for the next verse and hope to scope it out then. You can make a mental note to ask about the chords before starting the next time. Or… you can grin and fake it.
To help out in this situation I have developed a tool to visualize chord progressions. I call it the “Chord Progression Spinner.”
There are six basic elements to the “Chord Progression Spinner:” (Please refer to Figure 1.)
1. Each “Spinner” represents a single Diatonic Scale, and the chords built on the degrees or notes of that scale.
Figure _1
2. The degrees of the scale are represented in Roman Numerals. That is they are represented by the Roman Numerals I through VII. Upper case for Major Chords and lower case for Minor Chords.
3. The degrees are also represented by the letter names of the notes each chord is built upon. That is “F” is the “F” Major chord and it represents the F, A, C triad. Similarly “g” represents the G Minor chord, the G, Bb, D triad.
4. The “Spinner” part of the presentation is a series of arrows that represent the natural flow of each chord progression as it progresses toward the Tonic or “I” chord.
5. In addition there are chord fingering charts next to each of the spinner positions showing a common fingering for that chord including in some positions the seventh chord. This reduces the need to cross reference to a chord table.
6. Finally there are 16 boxes along the top edge of the Chord Progression Spinner. This Chord Sheet represents measures in the song. Many songs are built around an eight, 16 or 32 bar phrase. You may use them to show the chord progression of the A and B parts of the song you are working on, for example. By placing the “Spinner” in a clear sheet protector you can write out the chord progression, measure by measure, using a “Dry Erase” pen.
Using the “Chord Progression Spinner” is easy. While playing, have the sheet clearly visible for the key of the song you are playing. Practice tracking the chord progression around the “Spinner” tracks. Of course the basic I-IV-V chord progression songs are no challenge, they simply circulate around the three central elements. When a chord progression takes an unusual turn quickly scan the elements close to the point of departure for a likely candidate. Then watch to see if the progression follows one of the “spinner” paths back to the Tonic.
The basic rule is, most songs move from the “comfortable” position, i.e. the Tonic to an uncomfortable position such as a distant chord around the circle of fifths such as the II chord or to a minor chord like the vi chord to create tension then resolves back to the comfortable position to bring relief.
The second rule is a progression can go anywhere at any time, so don’t expect the arrows to be the absolute truth.
The third rule is a progression can move off to a distant chord and then resolve itself by returning directly to the point of departure.
Let’s look at a couple of songs.
“Five Foot Two” is a popular song from the 20’s. I use the progression:

|C |E |A |A7 |D7 |G7 |C |G7 |
|C |E |A |A |D |G7 |C |C |


Notice that the progression starts in the comfort zone on the Tonic, “C”. Leaps out four places on the circle of fifths to “E”, the “III” chord. It then moves steadily back through “A”, “D” and “G” to finally return to the “C” or Tonic chord. Notice also that the 7th form of the chord is intermingled almost randomly into the progression. The 7th chord creates a more urgent need to resolve to the next more comfortable step in the progression. Do not do that with the tonic, that is unless you are intentionally modulating to the Key of F.
Blackberry Blossom requires rote memorization to achieve a working speed. The chord progression is like this:

A part: |G D C G |C G A D |G D C G |C G D G |
B part: |Em | B |Em |C G D G |


I am the first to admit that this is just as complicated as the chord sheet layout. I am visually oriented and I have always preferred a graph to a table. (See if you can follow the chord progression on the Chord Progression Spinner.)
To use the Chord Progression Spinner this way I place it in a clear plastic sheet protector and enter the chord progression in the measures diagram and draw the pattern with a dry erase marker. Whether the spelled out chord progression or the diagram is more helpful to you depends on how you learn things.
If you wish to explore the chord map concept further I invite you to look up the link at Chordmaps.com. Steve Mugglin gave me permission to use concepts derived from this website. Steve’s work is very comprehensive.
I am releasing these forms under the GNU, General Public License which is a copyleft license which means the derived works can only be distributed under the same license terms. Feel free to distribute copies. I will be distributing full color copies of the forms in jpg format through my website, Dinsmore-enterprises.com. I hope you get some benefit from them.
Gary Dinsmore

Here is a link to 7-zip.org where you can pick up a zip file manager. 7 zip Open Source File Archiving Software

Download Guitar sheets for Keys C, D, E, F, G and A. Guitar Files
Download Mandolin sheets for Keys C, D, E, F, G and A. Mandolin Files
Download Banjo sheets for Keys C, D, E, F, G and A. Banjo Files

Once Bit, Twice Shy:

I am not sure how to present this. Either we are getting wimpy in our old age, or we are finally getting smart. We are in the midst of our fall migration to the southern states. Read More »

February 20, 1965: Fifty Years Together:

On June 20, 1964 I kind of kicked off a series of events that have brought Judy and I to this point in our life together. This is our Fiftieth Wedding Anniversary. To celebrate this event I polished up an old song by Hank Snow called “With this Ring I Thee Wed.” It was just the song I needed at the time. I was somewhat nervous and timid, but if I could sing it in a song, I could get my message across. At the time I was working for the Northern Pacific Railroad. To pass the time, I spent many hours hiking and playing my guitar. The main thing on my mind was this enchanting young lady, Judith Starr, who lived in Spokane, Washington. Read More »

We Never Drive in Snow:

Well almost never!
We spent the day relocating from Sisters Oregon on the East side of the Cascade Mountains to Detroit Lake near Salem on the west flank of the Cascade Mountains. We are meeting our daughter, Renee and Neil and their daughters Georgia and Mathilda. We drove over US 20 to Sweet Home. It crosses Santiam Pass at 4751 feet. It was raining hard as we approached the pass. Then suddenly it was snow. Read More »

New Oven

You never know how handy an appliance is until it quits. About two weeks ago our microwave/convection oven went on the fritz. We searched high and low for an oven that would fit the slot. Microwaves, by the way, come in a wide assortment of sizes and styles. Read More »

Something Different:

After spending the winter in the desert chasing Bluegrass Festivals, hiking and bird watching, we just finished a week of something completely different. We met with our son, Glen and Barb and Bryce in the white hot intensity of life in Los Angeles. We chose a park on the northern fringes of the LA metropolis, in Santa Clarita. Glen and his family were in a hotel in Studio City. With me as navigator and Judy driving we tackled the freeway system. Down I-5 and I-405 to the 101, we tried to leave three car lengths ahead. That was quickly occupied by another car. That was nothing compared to the drive back to our coach at eight or so in the evening with headlights and taillights everywhere and not really seeing the exits until you are right on them.
Read More »

A New Goal Is Reached:

I have been working on a new bicycle design for three and a half years now. Today with the help of my Grandson, Patrick, we have created a mount for the auxiliary motor drive. The drive systems are all complete. It is now time to take everything back apart and paint the frame.
I recognize that there has been a long silence from our end here on our blog. With all of the rain this fall there has been very few good opportunities to progress on the new bicycle and we have been spending our time with the family here in Gilroy, California. Read More »

Kentucky Bluegrass:

Here we are in Kentucky, home of Bluegrass and Thoroughbreds. We will go looking for the Thoroughbreds tomorrow in Lexington. Today we are in Renfro Valley Kentucky. It is claimed to be the central point of Bluegrass Music. It is beautiful country all right and in this park with the Renfro Valley Bluegrass Festival in full swing the Bluegrass music permeates the air. Read More »