EXTREME GUITAR Stretch your boundaries
Are you tired of playing middle-of-the-road blues, rock or pop? Then let’s get adventurous and take things to extremes, says Milton Mermikides.
Take your guitar playing beyond the realms of standard solos, licks and chord progressions. Milton Mermikides shows you how.
All music development happens through the assimilation of new ideas, and what might have been radical in the past can become part of the accepted musical landscape.
In this article we’ll explore a range of ‘extreme’ musical ideas some distance from the beaten path of ‘conventional’ guitar playing. The ideas presented here are influenced by some of the more radical and ‘left-field’ guitarists such as Bill Frisell, Frank Zappa, Tom Morello, Steve Vai, Derek Bailey, Robert Fripp, Marty Friedman, Buckethead, Ron Thal, Eddie Van Halen, Paul Gilbert, Wayne Krantz, Adrian Belew and Joe Satriani, as well as ideas and concepts drawn from ‘classical’ modernism, contemporary harmony and various music cultures around the world.
We’ll be looking at ideas which - rather than relying on extraordinary effects or super-human technical proficiency – use novel, imaginative and versatile concepts to create musical interest, and may be achieved without a huge array of effects or technique-based practice time.
All music development happens through the assimilation of new ideas, and what might have felt radical in the past (the use of distortion, tapping, dive-bombs, non-Western scales, wide intervals) can become just part of the accepted musical landscape. So it’s important to be open to new ideas and sounds, as what might seem like an oddity today may well become an important part of your musical identity (and that of the whole culture) in the future.
This article is laid out in three sections that deal with ‘extreme’ concepts in the categories of rhythm, pitch and noise. Finally we’ll show how some of these concepts might come together in the context of an actuals piece. Remember that the ideas presented here represent just the tiniest fraction of what’s possible, and I’ve selected small ideas that have unlimited applications which you should get into and explore with your own unique musical aims and imagination.