The Ge­nius of David Gil­mour

Jon Bishop looks at the rhythm and lead guitar style of Pink Floyd’s great blues-rock vir­tu­oso David Gil­mour, one of the UK’s most in­flu­en­tial and best-loved guitar play­ers.

Guitar Techniques - - PLAY: ROCK -

DaviD Gil­mour was born in 1946 and is best known for his work with prog rock­ers Pink Floyd. David has also had a suc­cess­ful solo ca­reer and is a multi in­stru­men­tal­ist. He is a fa­mous user of Fen­der stra­to­cast­ers and his iconic Black strat forms the ba­sis of his sig­na­ture Fen­der guitar. He also owns a first year of is­sue 1954 stra­to­caster with the se­rial num­ber 0001!

The pur­pose of any ar­ti­cle like this is to iden­tify an artist’s key tech­niques with a view to in­cor­po­rat­ing them into your own trick back. The Gil­mour lead style fea­tures tech­niques such as string bending, ham­mer-ons, pull-offs, fin­ger slides and vi­brato, which are all used taste­fully and are clearly inspired by the lan­guage of blues guitar.

string bending is a great way to add ex­pres­sion and feel­ing to lead play­ing. By bending a string (pulling down or push­ing up while fin­ger­ing a note), you in­crease its ten­sion and there­fore the pitch rises. once his string is bent to pitch, Gil­mour of­ten adds vi­brato to help with the in­to­na­tion and this also adds in­ter­est and feel.

one of the key as­pects of his lead style is the use of space and pac­ing. Gil­mour never gets car­ried away by play­ing long phrases or lots of fast notes. Ev­ery­thing is placed in a con­sid­ered fash­ion and the em­pha­sis is on the melody.

To keep things in a fa­mil­iar set­ting the chord pro­gres­sion used for the back­ing track is in the key of E mi­nor. The chord pro­gres­sion uses the chords E mi­nor, B mi­nor and C ma­jor. sev­eral scales are used to con­struct the Gil­mour style licks and phrases. The first is E mi­nor Pen­ta­tonic (E-G-A-B-D) and this very much forms the foun­da­tion of the ideas. it will be well worth re­view­ing the E mi­nor Pen­ta­tonic fin­ger­ing pat­terns, as learn­ing them will help you to un­lock the neck and ap­pre­ci­ate the nuts and bolts of the phrases (see Fig­ure 1). These fret box di­a­grams stack on top of each other and the fret num­bers show the two places on the fret­board these shapes oc­cur. Know­ing where all the E mi­nor Pen­ta­tonic notes are will also help you to work out where and when you can add in the ex­tra flavour tones - for this fea­ture they are ei­ther ma­jor 2nd (F#) or mi­nor 6th (C). Adding these notes to E mi­nor Pen­ta­tonic cre­ates the E Nat­u­ral mi­nor scale (E-F#-G-A-B-C-D) which can also be re­ferred to as the ae­o­lian mode.

To give you a chance to try out some Gil­mour style licks and ideas there are three back­ing tracks com­plete with 10 ex­am­ples and one fully tran­scribed mega jam. The play­ing tip con­tain all the fin­ger­ings, ar­tic­u­la­tions and phras­ing from the au­dio per­for­mances. Please don’t be in­tim­i­dated by the look of the no­ta­tion, it looks com­pli­cated due to the slow tempo of 74bpm, but the ideas are all rel­a­tively straight­for­ward to play. re­mem­ber, Gil­mour is about feel, not pace!

Hope­fully there will be a new tech­nique, lick or phrase in here some­where for you to per­fect. If you find one you like then me­morise it and use it in fu­ture so­los. The fi­nal step will be to con­struct your own so­los in­cor­po­rat­ing some of the ideas, tech­niques and con­cepts in this ar­ti­cle - just as David will have done with his own he­roes.

I don’t even think whether I play the blues or not. I just play what­ever feels right in the mo­ment. David Gil­mour

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