Andy Saphir signs off the Session series with a cool 70s-style jazz movie theme-inspired piece.
I don’t know about you, but I’m a huge fan of film and TV soundtracks, regardless of whether there’s a guitar element to them or not. Growing up in a household where the music that was listened to was predominantly classical (my brother is a classical pianist), I was always hearing different types of solo piano pieces, concertos and the like. And although I might not be greatly knowledgeable about the vastly varied amount of music under the umbrella of ‘classical’, and indeed, I’m not classically trained myself, I feel confident in my belief that some of these amazing movie soundtracks must be placed ‘up there’ alongside some of the great classical pieces, with all due credit going to the composers and musicians whose incredible talent brings them into being.
Now the purpose of this month’s lesson isn’t to teach you how to be a classical or movie-soundtrack composer (though it might hopefully inspire you!). I’m not a composer or arranger, but it’s a slightly different angle to the predominantly stylistic approach of previous lessons in this series, in that I’ve contrived an imaginary session situation where a TV or movie theme has been written, and a versatile guitarist is needed to realise the composer’s or the producer’s vision (fortunately in this case, the composer, producer and guitarist are one and the same!).
What I’ve come up with is a mini retrostyle track which I’ve attempted to write to fit the movie or TV show for which I’ve fictitiously been commissioned; in this case, I’m pretending it’s a 70s-style LA-based cop show or movie. The tune is in C minor, and has a cool jazz feel with a funky bass and drum groove. It has an eight-bar intro, a 16-bar main theme (A section), a 10-bar secondary theme (B section) and then a 16-bar solo over the main theme (C section). The 70s vibe is helped along by a consistent wah-wah ‘scratch’ guitar part that continues throughout, with the chordal element of the piece being played by the rhythm guitar using some nice jazz voicings.
After a 70s-style, funky single-note ‘popping’ intro, the melody (A section) is simple and singable (as a melody should be in a track such as this), and I’ve interpreted it by going for an ‘octaves’ approach to give it depth, and played it with my thumb, Wes Montgomery-style, to help give it a more authentic ‘jazzy’ feel. It’s interesting that we have Wes’ song Sunny in this issue, too, so perhaps one will help you with the other.
Although the double-stop-style B section
I’ve contrived an imaginary situation where a TV or movie theme has been written, and a guitarist is needed to realise the composer’s vision.
theme can be seen as a melody in its own right, I’ve arranged it as a complementary, counter-melody part to the longer-note melody that you can hear the trumpet playing during this section. Again, I’ve used fingerstyle/thumb for this. Finally, the solo (C section) isn’t designed to be flash. I’ve deliberately gone with the vibe of the tune, purposely keeping most of the phrases straightforward C Minor Pentatonic-based in order to make it catchy and familiar. This is mainly an improvised solo, as I wanted a spontaneous, uncontrived feel, but above all, simple, musical, and hopefully, cool.
If you’d like to contact me, go to www.andysaphir.com where you can also check out a video of me playing my country guitar extravaganza, What The Cluck!
Vic Flick played ‘Bond’ on this Clifford Essex Paragon guitar