Category Archives: Guitar

New Music Review: Dave “Knife” Fabris

Artist: Dave “Knife” Fabris (feat. Ran Blake)
Album: “Lettuce Prey”

Reviewed by Rob Ward
New York Studio of Music and Art

Lettuce Prey CoverGuitarist Dave “Knife” Fabris’s new release “Lettuce Prey” (with cover artwork emblazoned with a head of Iceberg) could leave people unfamiliar with his music wondering if they are about to listen to a vegan audio cookbook.  However, perhaps keeping people guessing about the album’s content is the point because even if one is familiar with the music of Piazzolla, Mingus, Coleman, Hendrix, Prokofiev, or Ives… any preconceived notions about how the interpretations on this disc might sound would most likely turn out to be wrong anyway.

Utilizing a formidable lineup of musicians to help him see his vision through, Fabris has delivered a well-crafted effort which unifies a triptych of styles (jazz, classical, rock), and does so in a way that is uniquely his own.  Whether it’s the 20th century classical pieces that were rearranged to sound like they were originally composed by a prog rock group, the jazzing up of a rock tune, or the “out” blues interpretation of a jazz standard with longtime collaborator Ran Blake; Fabris’s voice as a guitarist and arranger is present throughout.

Depending on how adventurous you are as a listener, some pieces may jump out as highlights… and others may jump out at you like a deer in headlights.  Seemingly keeping everybody in mind, the track order gracefully intertwines beautiful ballads with edgier avant-garde tunes; allowing the diversity of the music contained on the CD to flow evenly and naturally.  The end result is an amalgamation of heady material which blends well together.

For an album with a green title, “Lettuce Prey” is deceptively filled with a whole lotta meat.  There’s plenty of music to explore here, so for those looking for a feast… open your musical palate and dig in.

Highlights: “Sadness” (Coleman), “Angel” (Hendrix), “Down Here Below” (Lincoln), “Haitian Fight Song/Merci Bon Dieu” (Mingus/Casseus), “Michelangelo” (Piazzolla), “Nightcrawler” (Fabris), “Scythian Suite” (Prokofiev)

For more info on this artist and/or album, visit


Battle of Rhythmic Notation: Dotted vs Tied Notes

Ever start writing down a piece of music and get to a point when you can’t figure out if you should use a dotted note or a tie?  Even though we learn about these notation devices early on in our music education, deciding which one to use can be trickier than it seems… especially when the music we are writing becomes more layered and rhythmically advanced.

Rule of thumb:  Notate in a way that the rhythm is clear and easy to read.

Unfortunately, doing so can be easier said than done.  Depending on the meter and the beat in which the note lands on, different ways of notating can be called for… and sometimes there is more than one right answer.

Examples 1 & 2:  The same melody written two different ways.  (Notated for guitar + TAB)  Both are correct.  Example 1 looks cleaner, and example 2 shows the rhythm more clearly during beat 3 (you can visually see beats 3 & 4).  The melody is simple enough to be read either way.

Battle of the Rhythm

Example 3:  Notice that adding a bass line makes the dotted rhythm a little harder to read.  The dotted quarter note is kind of just floating there on its own between beats 3 and 4.  It’s still not wrong to notate it like this, but now that there is a second voice… the reader might get thrown off at first.

Battle of the Rhythm

 Example 4: Now take a look at the same excerpt with the & of 3 tied to the 4th beat.  The rhythm is now clearer… therefore, a better choice for noting these measures.

Battle of the Rhythm

There are countless different combinations of notes, rhythms, and meters, so to really discuss this topic in detail would require writing a book instead of a short blog.  Though, if you keep the rule of thumb in mind, it will probably get you out of most of your notating tough spots regarding dots and ties.