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Hold it!

Guitar Technique Sessions... Your Weekly Strength, Stamina and Dexterity Exercise

Week Number Forty One

Hold That Note, that is....

You know, one can learn quite a bit by teaching. There is an old Italian axiom that identifies this concept quite succinctly: When you teach, you learn. I was in the midst of a lesson a few days back and the student was having difficulty planting. You know about planting -- it's when you have a bunch of melody or chord and melody notes that do not interfere with each other so that you can just grab a whole bunch of notes -- like a chord -- and hang onto it for a portion of a measure, a whole measure, or even longer. Of course, you could play each note/chord form separately and work up a sweat, but your left hand actually needn't move to successfully play what you need to play.

Here's a small sample of what I mean. In these measures, the notes could all be fretted separately and released -- and you'd get a workout for your left hand. A very small amount of analysis shows that all the notes from beat two of the first measure through to the end of the second can be covered (and played) with the traditional D7 chord played at the third fret.









This comes from a piece that I hadn't played before and had to sight-read at a public performance. (Faure's Berceuse.) On a quick run-through, I first played it as all individual notes -- you'd think I'd be smarter by now! Listening and looking made me say "D'oh" and I quickly penciled the D7 you see so that during the heat of the real performance, I'd just grab the chord form and work from there. Okay, that's planting. [Note: the Fis # in the key signature.]

Often in a piece we find a note, chord or melody, that is held for a longer duration than the rest of the notes around it. In other words, you might have a C and an E being held for a whole note's duration while four quarter notes plunk out a bass line below them. If the bass notes require the fingers to move WHILE the C and E remain planted, well, players like my student way back in paragraph one will often let go of the whole notes prematurely. And, as I always say, "If the composer wanted those notes to be quarter notes instead of whole notes, that's what you'd see written on the page!"

In my guitar method, I have a brief exercise called "Hold That Note!" I have reproduced a truncated version here. The intended skill to gain is to hold the whole notes while walking the other fingers in quarter noted on an adjacent string. Although these examples have no musical value whatsoever -- play 'em and listen, you'll agree -- the technique (and classical guitarists will need good right hand execution to keep from damping the whole notes) gained is a must.









Please observe that although the left hand fingering does not change, the fretted whole note pitches do. This is intentional. We're stretching as well as planting -- and it is often t he stretch that keeps the student from wanting to plant. Play slowly and make sure those whole notes ring for their intended count. [Please note the fingering explanation within the image.]


What's New? The Two New Albums!





Hey, the new albums are out! That's right, finally a follow-up to the reissue of my old album from the late 1980's and its sequel as well.

Reflecting Pools is a departure for me as it is totally keyboard. Well, the guitar did show up on one track... Reflecting Pools is an ethereal journey into the realm of relaxation. In That Zone is a more classically structured exploration of mood and personality.

Available through

...And containing nine tracks that are relaxing, inspirational -- sounds like a snooze. Not really, this is great stuff to listen to on a rainy afternoon, while with your significant other (nudge, nudge, know what I mean?) Please visit the Reflecting Pools page on this site or

LOW END What's new with the book that came out over a year ago? After being on back-order at for what seemed like a century, it is my understanding that copies are once again shipping. Barnes and Noble's website stocks new coipies of LOW END in an on again/off again mode.

DEEP END, the exciting sequel, is being shopped by my literary agent even as we speak.

The Guitar Sessions:Weekly tech tips and exercises to help the guitarist improve. This feature has really taken off. Each week a new page is posted with either an exercizes to get the left and right hands moving more efficiently and effectively or an interesting piece from the standard repertoire , demonstrating a necessary technical ability. Judging by the hits these pages receive, you guitar players love this feature!

The page is updated every Thursday. Visit the 2004 Archive as well!


My Mission, My Policy

In my opinion, the murder mystery genre reached its zenith in the 1930's and 1940's. The novels penned in those decades were taut, no nonsense stories of people in life and death crises, people who did not flinch when confronted with overwhelming odds or overwhelming emotion. Some of these tales could be hard-edged and hard-boiled, but the heroes invariably had a soft side as well.

I believe that over the years, in an attempt to mimic real life, the writers of murder mysteries--and most other literature, for that matter--have lowered the standards of excellence set by such authors as the gritty Raymond Chandler and the sophisticated Dorothy Sayers. Many authors misinterpret smut for romance and brutality for strength.

My novels aspire to the standards set by the 1940's mystery writers. My tales are as real and grimey as the mean streets that spawned them. Even so, and though they deal with modern issues, you will not find gratuitous sex in my characters' relationships. Sex may be alluded to, but it is never allowed out from behind closed doors. You will find that my books are entertaining to a broad audience--I have had positive comments from teens to grandmothers. One reader was surprised when I told him that there were no obscenities in the book he'd just finished. He hadn't missed them! A good story doesn't need such unnecessary 'embellishment.'

I have conducted book signings at churches, country clubs, libraries and even a street corner (don't ask!) and I've never been called to task for, or ashamed of, my work. Pick up a copy of my latest novel and see if it isn't a good read!

Harry Pellegrin


As a native New Yorker and an American, I am still angered by the cowardly attacks of 9/11. Unless we restore New York City's skyline to its condition prior to September 11th, 2001, the miserable scum who attacked us will have won! Visit and rebuild America!


Bronx Bar Band Telepathe Reunites under the guise of AIR RAID at eleven...

See John Podesta, Scott Francisco (of ONTHEAM) and Harry Pellegrin perform Rory Gallagher's "The Continental Op" at an open-air festival in Princetown, New York July 16, 2005

In 1975, there was a band in the North Bronx. Yeah, there were quite a few bands in that part of the world in those days , come to think of it, but this one was a curious blend of former Mount and former Cardinal Spellman students. The lion shall lay down with the lamb... Music can solve the world's problems.



About My Site:

This site is a way for me to commemorate and celebrate a life and lifestyle that is now extinct. Why extinct? Is it that Thomas Wolfe " You-can't-go-home-again " thing? Is it because life is so much different now that what we experienced in the Bronx in the 60's and 70's is no longer relevant? Yes. No. Yes and no? Definitely maybe ! Why do I always start these little essays with questions?

At first, the main thrust of this site was to promote my book. It is a worthy goal; the book tells a good tale and everyone who has read it finds it entertaining and thought-provoking. With that sole goal, I went live with this site back in August of 2003. What happened next is what makes this site truly valuable.

There are people I grew up with, attended school and with whom I played in bands -- neighbors, friends, good family -- who I hadn't seen since I moved from the Bronx in 1986. Divorce had forced me into exile, time and distance conspired to seemingly turn this into a life sentence. Thank the muses for the internet! This site wasn't live for more than two months before I was reunited with Paul Silvestro , a childhood friend whom I hadn't seen in seventeen years. His brother Larry , the guy who had turned me on to playing guitar and taught me the things about music that matter the most, now with him I had no contact since 1983. Twenty years! Too long. I felt as if a part of my soul had been restored -- a part that had been missing for ages and had long ago been written off. But more was to come.

Anthony Pernice, Art Clement , Mike Moretti -- all reunited to me.

The 1960's weren't good to a number of us -- many of us had our personal demons to exorcise, be it substance abuse or the insidious hedonism of the times. but through it all, we were instilled with a vibe, cast in an artistic mold--call it what you will--but unless these same environmental stimuli are exactly reproduced, there will never be another crop of people quite the same.

This page delves into what we experienced and how we incorporated these experiences into art, music, literature and life . I've paid tribute to my neighborhood, the Wakefield section of the Bronx. The Discords -- Larry Silvestro and Artie Clemente's first band in the early mid-sixties-- they're here with their matching outfits, Fender, Hagstrom and Gretsch guitars plus those impeccably precise five part harmonies.

Of course, there is an homage to Leo Fender and his magnificent designs, the Telecaster © and the Stratocaster ©. I officially declare C.L. Fender an honorary Bronxite. These instruments have literally changed my life and the way we all hear music. Check out this page on my site.

Rory Gallagher, whom I saw play in 1973 and who has influenced me ever since--he has a page here as well. He has gone on now, but the impact he made is still rippling outwards, changing how we interpret the blues.

Untermyer Park in Yonkers and Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx are included on this site. We were kids interested in a good ghost story and both these places were terrific for providing a few innocent and fun goosebumps. Of course this was during the same period of time that Son of Sam was using Untermyer and Pine Street in Yonkers for his own uses... And we didn't know!!!

...and of course, my book!

Please enjoy this site. Nose around. Anyone can find something here to read and get a chuckle.





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