Lessons In­tro­duc­tion

Guitar Techniques - - Contents -

Our mu­sic edi­tor Ja­son Sid well in­tro­duces this month’s bulging Lessons sec­tion.

FOR MANY GUI­TARISTS, progress can seem to be about count­less hours of tech­nique based ex­er­cises, learn­ing full songs and a full gamut of scale and chord know-how. And yes, there’s much to com­mend this. How­ever, it takes a lot of time to get to ad­mirable play­ing lev­els, so we also be­lieve in the ‘learn-use-ex­pand’ cy­cle when ap­plied to smaller seg­ments of mu­sic, such as chord ideas or licks.

The smaller the seg­ment the quicker it is to learn (good), use in your play­ing (bet­ter) and ex­plore fur­ther (ul­ti­mate). Small com­po­nents be­come part of your play­ing much quicker than the hard slog of learn­ing a whole song or solo. This also proves more flex­i­ble for your play­ing; nu­mer­ous gui­tarists love to morph a favourite lick so it will work in dif­fer­ent con­texts and re­ally earn its keep. For ex­am­ple, af­ter you’ve learnt a dom­i­nant 7th based lick, look where the 3rds and 7ths are to con­vert it to a mi­nor 7th or ma­jor 7th lick. This is a favourite ap­proach of LA stu­dio gui­tarist Carl Ver­heyen, who has nu­mer­ous no­ta­tion books fu­elled by this means of lick gen­er­a­tion.

Of course, if you’re not savvy to ba­sic mu­sic the­ory this could be a tough call (high­light­ing an­other area of mu­si­cal de­vel­op­ment for you?). Cer­tainly hav­ing some the­ory knowl­edge will pro­vide sub­stan­tially big­ger pay­offs for your mu­sic mak­ing than, say, rack­ing up an­other 20bpm on a lead lick. Per­haps you’d like to delve into a song like Layla for fresh solo­ing vo­cab­u­lary? You may (like I) find much fun in re-har­mon­is­ing the lead riff by chang­ing the chords un­der­neath it. Or per­haps take the riff and change a note or three, maybe switch the key, tweak the rhythm or al­ter the time sig­na­ture; all are valid and fruit­ful ar­eas to be ex­plored. The process will both stir your cre­ativ­ity and fuel your lick bag.

I’ll leave you with some­thing that a well-known rock gui­tarist told me years ago: while work­ing on a track that be­came one of his band’s most pop­u­lar, he de­cided the chords were too close to an­other song. To cre­ate ‘dis­tance’, he worked up a unique gui­tar in­tro that was both ear catch­ing and sub­stan­tially re­moved from the ‘source’ song. These days he of­ten du­pli­cates this sit­u­a­tion (pre­tend­ing to be too close to an­other track) to push his cre­ativ­ity fur­ther. So look through this is­sue for a few great licks and ex­plore how you can make them more flex­i­ble. You may end up sound­ing more unique and im­pres­sive than you al­ready are!

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