Riffs, Recs, Charts, & Smarts
Building A Second Brain is the most buzzed-about course on the internet.
Its key idea is PARA: Projects, Areas, Resources, Archives.
If you don’t have clarity on the difference between Projects and Areas, productivity will always be an uphill battle.
“Fitness” is an Area. “Run a 5k” is a Project.
You maintain Areas, but you ship Projects.
Usually they’re related:
- Your family is an Area.
- The vacation you’re planning with them is a Project.
Ship the Project to Maintain the Area.
If you want to put cool shit into the world, you need to master the art of Projectizing your Areas.
Yes, you want to learn the guitar. But that’s an Area.
What’s a Project you can make out of that Area?
No. Something smaller.
Something you can ship today.
Something you can ship on your worst day.
Great. Now ship something everyday.
Ship with heroic consistency, and the quality will mostly take care of itself.
In fact, you’ll never achieve Quality without Quantity.
Don’t just spend time maintaining your Areas.
Projectize your Areas.
I’m terrible at singing harmony. It’s an Area that I’m working to Projectize.
So everyday in March I’m going to ship a tiny harmony “project.”
I’ve hired my buddy to coach me, and downloaded the Acapella app so I can record myself.
Something that really helped me break through the mental barrier of “I can’t sing harmony” is this video from Aimee Nolte.
In it, she brilliantly lays out a harmony for Hey Jude:
- Start with the note Paul McCartney sings on the word Hey.
- Keep singing that note until it stops working.
- Then go up to this other note.
- Keep that note until it stops working, then go back.
Why does this work? Because of “common tones”—notes that are in more than one chord in a progression.
Eventually, the progression will change to a chord that doesn’t have that common tone, but… a new note that does work will never be far away. (In this case a whole step up—D instead of C).
The whole video is 12 minutes long, but check out the 3 minutes that start here at 4:18.
(There’s a PDF, a .sib file you can open in Sibelius, and a .MusicXML file you can open in any notation software. I’ve also tabbed out the melody & harmony part for you & included those as PDFs.)
Let’s take a quick look at the harmony Aimee has laid out for us.
Both parts start with C. (First fret, 2nd string.)
That note (C) is in the F chord and the C chord.
But when we get to the Bb chord, that C note no longer “works”—it clashes.
So we go up to the note D. (Third fret, 2nd string.)
When we go back to the F chord, that D stops working and we return to the note C (First fret of the second string).
Staying on one note like this is called “pedaling” or “pedal tones.” (It’s something church organists do by holding down a pedal).
Today we kicked off the Solo 30 Challenge. There are twenty of us learning the fretboard, recording ourselves, and posting our solos online.
It feels amazing to do hard things with the help of our tribe.
If we did a 30-day harmony challenge, would you join?