Guitar Techniques - - Welcome - Neville Marten, Edi­tor

do you ever look at a great mu­si­cian and marvel? Does ev­ery­thing seem to come from some spon­ta­neous well? Per­haps naked ge­nius is at work, or they are pos­sessed of the spirit of Sparky’s Magic Piano? I’ve cer­tainly watched a few play­ers and pon­dered the same thing.

But you know, while ge­nius cer­tainly does hap­pen in mu­sic, the re­al­ity is of­ten very dif­fer­ent. In most cases a de­gree of learn­ing has to take place be­fore spon­tane­ity can hap­pen. It’s no dif­fer­ent to be­ing taught A mi­nor pen­ta­tonic - pretty ba­sic in it­self - and then play­ing a cool blues solo us­ing it. The aver­age lis­tener won’t sus­pect you have a se­cret code (that lit­tle scale and its five fret­board shapes); they’ll as­sume mu­sic is burst­ing forth from your very soul. Of course, af­ter a while it sort of does; but ini­tially you’re sim­ply putting knowl­edge gained into prac­tice.

Okay, that’s licks: how about chords? Imag­ine beef­ing up the chords you al­ready know, then be­ing able to in­tu­itively use them - even im­pro­vise with them - in real life. Does that seem like a holy grail? Well, if you’ve ever watched masters like Joe Pass, Herb El­lis or Ike Isaacs ef­fort­lessly mov­ing through a stream of amaz­ing chords that seem­ingly flow out of nowhere; that’s not quite how it hap­pens. These guys knew the build­ing blocks to chords, the arith­metic be­hind pro­gres­sions; they’d learnt the sub­sti­tu­tions they could make and what rules to break in or­der to sound mu­si­cally ‘free’. A smat­ter­ing of in­nate bril­liance, a born ear and a healthy dose of ded­i­ca­tion surely helped; but the truth is we can all get closer to that holy grail with good old knowl­edge and, yes, prac­tice. This month Ja­cob Quist­gaard takes a new look at chords in an ef­fort to start you on your path to this goal. While terms like in­ver­sions, ex­ten­sions and sub­sti­tu­tions might sound scary, re­ally they’re not. And once you’ve got the bones of Quist’s ideas into your head, you’ll soon be on the road to poly­phonic nir­vana. If you get dis­cour­aged, just think of that lit­tle old mi­nor pen­ta­tonic scale and the power it can wield.

Have fun, see you next month!

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