Interview with M.A.M.I. Music Scale Atlases creator:

Richard "Spock" Armstrong

Richard Armstrong "Spock" Guitar

Born: 1962
Lives: Philadelphia, PA
Primary Instrument: Lefty Guitar and Guitar Synthesizer
Secondary Instruments: Keyboards, Drums and Vibes
Q: So where did you get the idea for M.A.M.I. Music Scale Atlases?
A: I am basically self-taught on guitar, however when I was much younger 
I studied drums and vibes formally in school.  
By the time I reached my late teens, I began to listen to a lot of great 
and creative music especially jazz and jazz-fusion.  
The improvisational nature of this music really peaked my interest and I began 
to wonder where the original players of the day found their ideas. 
Players like Hendrix, Monk, Scofield, Holdsworth, Beck, Khan, many!
Anyway, the question in my mind became how do I find all of these hip ideas? 
How do I take one chord, or melody, or arpeggio, or scale and turn it into 
a number of interesting musical ideas of my own? 
Since the common thread between all of my influences was originality
 I started to think more about theory and the nature of music itself. 
Studying engineering in school helped me to analyze music "quantitatively". 
Being a lefty guitarist always forced me to chart or diagram my ideas on the fingerboard. 
One night I was thinking about improvisation and the idea of a "Matrix" popped into my head. 
By arranging notes into a 12 x 12 cube matrix, I would be able to analyze
and quantify any scale for its musical content. Thus the "Matrix Approach" was born.
Q: Where are you performing again these days?
A: Unfortunately I'm not performing publicly yet after my accident. 
It has been a long time, but the nature of my injuries has affected the nerves in my 
extremities and causes me to lose sensation in my arms and fingers to varying degrees.
This has been an extremely frustrating ordeal, but Faith, Family and some great Friends 
have helped me to cope with my circumstances.
Special thanks to Mom, my sister Monica and brother Len, for believing in me. 
My old band mates (and lifelong friends) guitarist Rick Harris, bassist Lee Patterson 
and also radio personality J. Mike Harrison (of WRTI FM 90.1 in Phila.) for keeping me 
involved in music and from selling all of my equipment out of frustration. 
Also trombonist / keyboardist Mark Johnson and keyboardist Glenn Bryan 
for forgiving me for some particularly bad moments... :-(  
Hopefully I will be able to release some stuff and perform again 
at some point, I haven't quit!
Q: Your book is huge, did you do it by yourself?
A: Yes, it took years! I started charting lefty fingerboards and using the Matrix Approach for myself. 
One day a friend happened to see my work in progress spread out on my dining room table 
and suggested that I share the idea with other musicians. 
It took more years to do all of the other versions, but the feedback has been well worth it. 
Although one of my very best friends at first glance called my draft version "garbage" 
(he later recanted after spending some time with it), so many players both known 
and unknown have both favored and adopted M.A.M.I.
This includes many players that had helped to inspire it in the first place! 
It is a nice feeling to have players such as Pierre Bensusan, Allan Holdsworth, Joe Beck
 Pat Martino, Mark Johnson, Steve Vattimo, Geno White, and countless others find 
benefit in my concept. Hopefully it is inspiring some creativity and great music out there.
Q: How did you get the nickname "Spock"?
A: Years ago some friends...actually original band members awarded me this "handle" 
due to my logical and methodical ways. It was funny then, and I still it find it humorous since 
there are probably few more accurate nicknames awarded throughout history!
Q: What's next?
A: Hopefully I'll continue to develop versions of M.A.M.I. and eventually perform once again.
It would be great to play again in a group dedicated to creating original music!
 I definitely have some ideas, and at some point this will be a goal.
Q: What musician would you most like to meet?
A: I enjoy talking about music with just about everyone, but forced to pick now it would 
probably be Pat Metheny. I enjoy his ideas, playing and especially his approach to band leading. 
His group is awesome in that they take very well composed, diverse, original musical 
ideas and perform them intelligently...on such a high level. 
Sort of like the Duke Ellington Band meets the 21st century! 
With his group, it is easy to tell that the musical idea always comes first. 
Every single detail related to the idea is performed thoughtfully.
They have been my absolute favorites and a great influence for years.

Links to Musical Scales Audio Samples, Lessons, Free Downloads and more...

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M.A.M.I. and the M.A.M.I. Logo are trademarks of MAMI - Matrix Publishing LLC.  
Copyright 1997 -  Richard Armstrong -  all rights reserved.