IN­TRO

Ev­ery month, Justin Sander­coe of justin­gui­tar.com lends GT his in­sight as one of the world’s most suc­cess­ful gui­tar teach­ers. In his third col­umn, Justin asks: “Do you feel it?”

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS - Check out www.justin­gui­tar.com/ gt­mag for some ex­am­ple rou­tines and links to ex­er­cises you might like to try out for each sec­tion!

Justin Sander­coe’s new col­umn; plus Ses­sion Shenani­gans, Jam Tracks and more.

Be­ing a first-hand pur­veyor of on­line ‘de­bate’ (and trolling!) one of the more com­mon ar­gu­ments I see is over ‘feel’ and ‘soul’ of cer­tain gui­tarists – do those who play fewer notes, have more ‘feel’ than those who play a lot of notes? Does it mat­ter?

Please note that this is just food for thought (not con­crete) and there are many ar­eas in be­tween and be­yond. There are a few in­ter­est­ing thought streams to ex­plore here though – and a good one to start with is what ‘ex­pres­sion’ means in a mu­si­cal sense. When you ‘hear’ a mu­si­cal idea in your head (or heart, or wher­ever it is you feel it) and can make those sounds come out of your in­stru­ment, then you are ex­press­ing your­self in a pure form (and we’ll be ex­plor­ing this con­cept in much more depth in a fu­ture ar­ti­cle).

How­ever, it is equally valid to ex­press your­self us­ing the phys­i­cal mo­tions of play­ing gui­tar to re­lease your en­ergy, anger or feel­ing. For some peo­ple the phys­i­cal thrash­ing out of some chords (in a punk rock band) might have a sim­i­larly sat­is­fy­ing re­lease as bang­ing your fist on a ta­ble in frus­tra­tion, and it would be ar­ro­gant to think that a blues or jazz gui­tar player that ‘hears’ his licks is any ‘more an artist’ than some­one who gives it all they’ve got in a dif­fer­ent way.

It’s also valid to ex­press ‘in­tel­lec­tual stim­u­la­tion’ of com­plex ideas, some kind of con­cept that has been prac­tised and re­fined and is then brought for­ward in a mu­si­cal com­po­si­tion to be ad­mired and ‘un­der­stood’ by those that ‘get it’ – maybe this idea could be con­sid­ered a bit elit­ist but is again equally valid ex­pres­sion.

And then there’s in­ter­pret­ing writ­ten mu­sic (such as clas­si­cal gui­tar), which can be tech­ni­cally sim­ple or in­cred­i­bly dif­fi­cult, and it is the job of the per­former to breathe life into the dots on the page. I found study­ing and per­form­ing clas­si­cal gui­tar to be one of the most ef­fec­tive ways of ‘learn­ing to ex­press my­self’ which I found had a pos­i­tive im­pact on ev­ery­thing else I played. What I found was that, when you have set (writ­ten) notes to play you have to find other ways to project your ex­pres­sion through the mu­sic (dy­nam­ics, time, touch and tone, just to start with) which can en­hance your play­ing in any style. To pick some pop­u­lar favourites, I think that we should ap­pre­ci­ate Neil Young’s pas­sion­ate raw so­los as much as BB King’s taste­ful melodies; John Scofield’s com­plex, an­gu­lar jazz lines or Joe Sa­tri­ani’s tech­ni­cal mas­tery. They are all ‘ex­pres­sive artists’ with vastly dif­fer­ent tech­ni­cal abil­i­ties, but what mat­ters is that they say some­thing and mean it, which makes for mu­sic that con­nects with many peo­ple.

We all feel mu­sic dif­fer­ently, and that is what makes us unique and beau­ti­ful – there are no right or wrong ‘an­swers’ here, just lots of ques­tions. Some­times think­ing and de­bat­ing such things with your­self or your friends can lead to pro­found per­sonal in­sights. So how do you ex­press your­self? Are you aware of what meth­ods you use? How they make you feel? Is it worth ex­plor­ing oth­ers? Of course it is!

Safe trav­els. J.

when you have writ­ten notes to play you have to find other ways to project your ex­pres­sion

Justin asks us: “What is ex­pres­sion?”

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