DENNIS ROBERTS - AUTHOR
Tell your readers a little about yourself, where you grew up, where you live now, where you went to school etc. Let them get to know the personal you.
I was born in the little Bohemian city-town of Northampton, MA, and have lived most of my life in semi-rural Western Massachusetts, with a couple of short stints on the West Coast. Essentially, I’m a New Englander at heart, and I’m most at home in the wooded hills of the Northeast where I can hike, bike, kayak, and camp.
For the most part, I attended school in Franklin County, MA, until I was 16, after which I obtained my GED. In my 30s I returned to college to study music and made the Dean’s List multiple times, won a scholarship with my essay writing, and graduated with honors, quite an accomplishment for the wild child I was in my teens.
I’ve always been artistic, whether drawing, writing, crafts, or any other pursuit. My musical journey began late, in my mid-teens, and has been the number one artistic passion in my life. I was a self-taught guitarist, playing rock and metal, until studying music formally in college, when I moved into jazz.
What inspired you to author your book?
My book was born in a flash of inspiration on a summer day in August 2018 when I was in bed and sick with a 102° fever. My eyes sprung open and I thought, “It can’t be that easy.” But it is! I came up with an entirely new, unique, and innovative method for teaching and learning the complex art of jazz improvisation, distilling the advanced concepts into a system that’s easy to learn and apply so that guitarists can improvise sophisticated jazz lines on the fly.
Where did you get the inspiration for your book’s cover?
My method is so distinct that I wanted a cover that distinguishes the book from the typical books in the genre, which usually feature a standard jazz guitar and way too much print.
The cover concept developed very quickly and I knew what I wanted within the first week. I moved from an initial concept of a white cover with line art against splashes of watercolor in the background to an undistinguishable “anyone” jazz guitarist in the heat of performance done in watercolor with a much more intense background placed in contrast against a field of white.
I went with the Broadway font for the cover title and author and that became a theme for the logo I created and some of the internal print.
Who has been the most significant influence on you personally and as a writer?
I’d always dreamed of being an author in my youth, writing short stories and plotting full-length novels in fantasy, Western, sci-fi, and historical fiction right into my 20s. In time, I set those aspirations aside. Then inspiration hit. “The Master Arpeggio System for Jazz Inspiration” is written entirely in my own voice, with my oddball humor and instructional tone.
What were your struggles or obstacles you had to overcome to get this book written?
This entire project has been a work of sheer inspiration. The book practically wrote itself. I took some significant breaks, but the writing itself took under six months. I’ve actually run into more problems with formatting and publishing. I’m still having the manuscript reformatted so I can release the book with several other distributors.
Tell your readers about your book.
MAS4JI, as I call it, is a remarkably new approach to improvising jazz lines on guitar. I use only 10 “master” arpeggios and 10 steps on how to develop them to help guitarists create melodic jazz phases in the moment. It goes against all the conventional ways of teaching this complicated subject and presents the information in a very simple way that is easy to learn and apply and avoids most of the academic vernacular and jazz jargon. It puts the sounds of jazz and fusion under guitarists’ fingers without endless boring exercises and mounds of music theory.
Who is your target audience, and why?
MAS4JI is not for beginner guitarists. It’s for guitarists who’ve been playing for at least a couple years or more and are interested either exploring jazz sounds or adding those textures and ideas into their own playing style. It’s also for beginning jazz students who want to move into improvising great lines for upcoming recitals.
Unlike many other instruments, most renowned guitarists who play jazz came to it from other musical genres, often blues, rock, funk, or metal. This is geared toward all those self-taught, self-motivated guitarists who want to move into playing jazz-style lines quickly with a system that they can apply to everything they learn and incorporate into their existing style.
It’s also an excellent tool for teachers who want a method that will produce quality results in their students. Because it’s intervallic instead of scalar and it’s very visual and based on how guitarist learn, it will give them a new lens through which they can see everything they learn from that point forward. It’s a new way to see and navigate the fretboard.
If you were going to give one reason for anyone looking at your book to read, why should they buy it?
It’s a very huge claim to make, but the Master Arpeggio System for Jazz Improvisation is quite likely the easiest jazz improvisation method there is . . . anywhere. Time will tell, but I don’t know of an easier system out there. If you’re a guitarist who wants dramatic results within six months, this is the book for you!
What do you consider your greatest success in life?
There are a number of great successes I’ve experienced throughout the peaks and valleys of life. However, in this context, MAS4JI is the culmination of everything I’ve ever done musically in that it’s the most inspired and unique thing I’ve ever created.
What one unique thing sets you apart from other writers in your genre?
I’m not a famous guitarist. I don’t have an illustrious background with a history of musical successes. However, this method is so unique that I believe, in time, it will become recognized as a game changer, maybe even the new standard. It turns the traditional approach to teaching this subject on its head and puts it in a new context. It’s a niche that no one else occupies in this field of study.
How do you overcome writer’s block?
I don’t experience that. MAS4JI was one book that has been divided into three, with the other two already partially written. They’re very progressive and follow a remarkably clear vision I have that will take guitarists from a very basic, strong foundation and build on that until they can play at a highly advanced level using the most modern advanced concepts, all learned through the remarkable master arpeggio system. It just flows for me.
What one piece of advice do you have for new authors.
Formatting is crazy. I’ve hired freelancers to do it so I can focus on other things. Also, learn everything you can about marketing and promotion. You need to be targeted and focused or you can waste a lot of time and money. Don’t be afraid to hire competent help when you need it so you can do your thing, but also learn as you go. There’s a long learning curve, but it’s navigable.
Tell your readers anything else you want to share.
Follow your dream(s). “The Master Arpeggio System for Jazz Improvisation” is the first of three books (initially), shortly followed by a YouTube channel, website, blog, an online store featuring many supplements, backing tracks, and more, even an eventual online academy teaching the books as video courses, online workshops, private lessons, a merchandise store, and much more. My business plan extends well into 2023 right now. I’m following my passion.
- The Master Arpeggio System for Jazz Improvisation (MAS4JI) teaches you just 10 master arpeggios and how to use them in 10 simple steps to help you generate endless jazz lines for massive gains with minimal effort.
- Learn how to improvise using triads and arpeggios, target tones and voice leading, quartal arpeggios, pentatonic scales, superimposition, chromaticism, side-slipping, tri-tone substitution and more without all the endless exercises and complex music theory using an innovative method that’s easy to learn and apply.
- Play with your intuition without paying the high costs of tuition; MAS4JI is designed to fast-track guitarists to playing and improvising sophisticated jazz lines as fast as possible using simplicity to generate complexity.
- So much time and effort can be invested in the intensive learning process with relatively little results. MAS4JI is the shortcut through the forest that you can take without wandering down the wrong path and getting lost.
- MAS4JI is versatile and can be easily applied to blues, rock, metal, progressive, fusion, and jam band playing styles to bring new dimensions of expression to your solos!