IN­TRO

In­stru­men­tals have sup­plied some of mu­sic’s most evoca­tive and ex­cit­ing mo­ments. We asked some top gui­tarists for their take on this iconic move­ment. This month we meet the bril­liant Aussie ax­e­man, Brett Garsed

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60 Sec­onds, Ses­sion Shenani­gans, One-Minute Lick, That Was The Year, Jam Tracks and more.

GT: What ap­peals to you about a gui­tar in­stru­men­tal?

BG: It al­lows lis­ten­ers to come up with their own in­ter­pre­ta­tion of what the song means emo­tion­ally, with­out a lyric guid­ing them in any par­tic­u­lar di­rec­tion. It doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily have to be a gui­tar in­stru­men­tal but I sup­pose I’m drawn to them see­ing as I am a gui­tar player. Well, gui­tar owner on some days!

GT: What ten­den­cies do you aim to em­brace or avoid?

BG: As long as I can come up with a strong melody with­out be­ing too pre­dictable, I’ll pur­sue the idea and try to make a song out of it.

GT: Is a typ­i­cal struc­ture still in­tro, verse, cho­rus, verse?

BG: See­ing as I’m not lim­ited to any par­tic­u­lar genre I try to ex­ploit that and have the song go wher­ever it wants with­out con­form­ing to any stan­dard model of song­writ­ing struc­ture. It can be 10 min­utes or three min­utes long and go any­where it wants. I try to en­joy the cre­ative free­dom that a rel­a­tively un­known in­die artist can have.

GT: How use­ful is study­ing a vo­cal­ist’s ap­proach?

BG: I’ve been lucky to have worked with John Farn­ham for the past 30 years, whom I con­sider to be one of the great­est vo­cal­ists of all time. I’m sure his phras­ing and un­canny im­pro­vi­sa­tional abil­i­ties have sunk into my brain. Jeff Beck and Derek Trucks are two great ex­am­ples of a gui­tar be­ing used as a vo­cal in­stru­ment. It’s a good thing to re­mind some play­ers of if they get a bit stuck fo­cus­ing only on ‘gui­tarisms’.

GT: How do you start writ­ing one?

BG: I’ll try any­thing to be hon­est. Some­times it’s just an acous­tic do­ing the chords and melody and then other times I’ll im­pro­vise for half an hour and lis­ten back to see if there’s any ideas in there that get me go­ing. I try to not write too many songs that sound the same – at least that’s the goal any­way.

GT: Does be­ing cen­tre stage for the whole num­ber af­fect you?

BG: I don’t like to be the cen­tre of at­ten­tion, to be hon­est. I like be­ing in a large band and be­ing part of the big­ger pic­ture, but if I have to lead the whole thing then I give it ev­ery­thing I’ve got, try to play my best and not screw up!

GT: Many gui­tar so­los start low and slow then fin­ish high and fast. Do you think this struc­ture is a use­ful way to go?

BG: It’s one pos­si­ble struc­ture. It’d prob­a­bly be a good idea to vary the dy­namic of solo sec­tions from song to song any­way.

GT: What type of gui­tar tone do you pre­fer for in­stru­men­tals?

BG: I be­lieve that what­ever suits the song is right. My per­sonal tone is quite a dark sound but I’ll search for a tone that I feel is ap­pro­pri­ate for the sec­tion I’m try­ing to play.

GT: Any favourite keys or tem­pos?

BG: No. I try to vary all of that as well so that I don’t end up writ­ing songs that all sound the same.

GT: Do you find mi­nor or ma­jor keys eas­ier to write in?

BG: It doesn’t mat­ter re­ally. I find song­writ­ing dif­fi­cult but I think this is be­cause I try as hard as I can to be orig­i­nal, which is re­ally tough for me. I’m not as pro­lific as I should be but that’s prob­a­bly be­cause I’ll throw out an idea if it sounds too de­riv­a­tive.

GT: Do you have any modes that you nat­u­rally favour?

BG: TJ Helmerich said I re­ally liked the Mixoly­dian mode, which is prob­a­bly due to my be­ing a mas­sive Larry Carl­ton fan. I didn’t no­tice it un­til TJ brought it up but if I’m try­ing out a gui­tar or just noodling then it’ll prob­a­bly be that Mixoly­dian sound.

GT: What about mod­u­la­tions into other keys?

BG: Yeah, I en­joy that stuff. I re­ally like try­ing to play over changes writ­ten by some­one other than my­self.

GT: Do you view the back­ing band in a dif­fer­ent way than you would on a vo­cal song?

BG: No, the mu­sos I play with sound great play­ing any­thing. I’m lucky that they put up with me!

GT: What are your views on har­mon­is­ing melodies?

BG: I don’t do too much of it my­self but I en­joy hear­ing how other peo­ple use it.

GT: What three gui­tar in­stru­men­tals would you con­sider iconic or have in­spired you?

BG: Al­lan Holdsworth is the mas­ter of tex­ture as far as I’m con­cerned. He could have never played a solo and had a great ca­reer as an am­bi­ent artist. I re­ally love an al­bum by Michael Brook called Live At The Aquar­ium. Michael Lan­dau or Scott Hen­der­son would have to be in­cluded too but I’m al­ready up to four so it’s im­pos­si­ble for me to just have three! Ask me about how many mu­si­cians I think are great and we’ll be here for years!

Fan­tas­tic reg­u­lar and slide gui­tarist Brett Garsed

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