Acous­tic

Be­fore Noel was a High Fly­ing Bird he honed his skills with in­die leg­ends Oa­sis. Stu­art Ryan shows you how to nail the swing­ing in­die strum.

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS - NEXT MONTH Stu­art dis­sects the style of the trag­i­cally short-lived ge­nius, Jeff Buck­ley

Stu­art Ryan nails Noel Gal­lagher’s in­die strum.

This month we are look­ing at the acous­tic gui­tar style of one of the singer­song­writ­ers that de­fined the sound of the 90s dur­ing the UK’s Brit­pop hey­day. It’s hard to es­cape the im­pact Noel Gal­lagher has had on pop­u­lar mu­sic over the last 20 years and his melodic, per­fectly-crafted rock sits equally well on elec­tric or acous­tic gui­tar.

The erst­while Oa­sis back­bone and now front­man of High Fly­ing Birds was born in Bur­nage, Manch­ester in 1967. Gal­lagher took up gui­tar at age 13 in­spired by the play­ing of The Smiths’ ax­e­man Johnny Marr. Com­ing of age dur­ing the ‘Mad­ch­ester’ boom of the late 80s he gained his first pro­fes­sional ex­pe­ri­ence within the mu­sic in­dus­try through tour­ing with the In­spi­ral Car­pets as a roadie and tech­ni­cian. He joined his brother Liam’s band Rain in 1991, quickly be­com­ing the band’s sole song­writer. Cue a name change to Oa­sis and an in­spir­ing per­for­mance in front of Cre­ation Records’ boss Alan McGee and the band’s course was set. Oa­sis’ de­but al­bum Def­i­nitely Maybe was re­leased in 1994 and was met with both crit­i­cal and com­mer­cial ac­claim. This al­bum her­alded the ar­rival of a dy­namic new song­writ­ing tal­ent, with none other than Ge­orge Martin pro­claim­ing him, “The finest song­writer of his gen­er­a­tion.”

Al­though ‘se­ri­ous’ play­ers will de­cry Gal­lagher’s lack of chops or mu­si­cal education, it’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that he is a song­writer and the gui­tar is a tool used in ser­vice of the song. How­ever, play a sim­ple open Em7 chord and watch your lis­ten­ers’ eyes light up as they think you are about to fire into that ul­ti­mate pub sing-along, Won­der­wall! When you delve into Gal­lagher’s play­ing you dis­cover that he has un­cov­ered a sim­ple style that gives him a mu­si­cal voice. Typ­i­cally a song will be com­posed of a stan­dard chord pro­gres­sion (some­times with a swing feel redo­lent of early Brit-rock icons like The Kinks), hinged to­gether by com­mon tones: notes that ap­pear in all the chords within the pro­gres­sion. Won­der­wall is a case in point with the top two strings be­ing sus­tained at the 3rd fret through­out. This sur­pris­ingly sim­ple de­vice yields some in­ter­est­ing chord voic­ings – for ex­am­ple, try play­ing Won­der­wall with stan­dard open ma­jor and mi­nor chords and see how much of the track’s ap­peal dis­ap­pears. Se­condly, it al­lows Gal­lagher to keep fin­gers in place on the frets and use them as an­chors as he plays through a chord se­quence.

play won­der­wall with stan­dard open ma­jor and mi­nor chords and see how much of the track’s ap­peal dis­ap­pears

Noel Gal­lagher: one of Brit­pop’s best writ­ers and fun­ni­est com­men­ta­tors

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