in­stru­men­tal in­qui­si­tion!

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: speed rock phe­nom­e­non, Rusty Coo­ley.

Guitar Techniques - - INTRO - Rusty Coo­ley’s new EP, Day Of Reck­on­ing – Into The Fire Part 1, is out now.

GT: What is it about gui­tar in­stru­men­tals that ap­peals to you?

RC: The first in­stru­men­tal stuff I heard was Yng­wie, and the in­ten­sity just blew me away. But it’s not al­ways about that. I lis­ten to cer­tain gui­tarists for cer­tain things based on my mood. Sa­tri­ani writes some of the best modal pro­gres­sions that I’ve ever heard – he re­ally knows how to put the chords to­gether to pull the most from each mode’s tonal­i­ties. I’m also a huge fan of in­stru­men­tal mu­sic in gen­eral; (coun­try fid­dle player) Mark O’Con­nor’s Mid­night On The Wa­ter is some of the great­est play­ing I have ever heard.

GT: What can an in­stru­men­tal pro­vide that a vo­cal song can’t?

RC: Van Halen said it best when he said: “If you told Beethoven a song wasn’t a song without a singer, he would have punched you in the mouth.” So it’s all about the mood; there’s cer­tain mu­sic that can help you med­i­tate, drive 100 miles per hour, or pro­vide in­spi­ra­tion. I think they both can be equally ful­fill­ing.

GT: What do you em­brace or avoid (rhythms, har­mony, etc?)

RC: I avoid writ­ing around a gui­tar lick. I start with the foun­da­tion; if the struc­ture and chords can’t stand on their own I scratch it. I usu­ally write as if some­one were go­ing to sing over it, or I ask my­self, ‘Would I be bored play­ing just the rhythm gui­tar parts?’.

GT: Is a typ­i­cal song struc­ture al­ways rel­e­vant?

RC: The thing I kept re­mind­ing my­self when writ­ing my al­bum was that this is my mu­sic, do what­ever you want. As the com­poser there are no rules. Some­thing I have wanted to do is write a tune where no part is ever re­peated; it’s a con­stant for­ward mo­tion.

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

RC: That’s some­thing I’ve been very in­ter­ested in lately. I think it’s very ben­e­fi­cial. I re­cently dis­cov­ered that Na­dia wasn’t writ­ten by Jeff Beck (writ­ten by Nitin Sawney) and when I heard the orig­i­nal ver­sion with the fe­male singer (Niki Wells) I was blown away and then again at how well Jeff was able to em­u­late her vi­brato and melodies on the gui­tar.

GT: How do you start writ­ing one; is there a typ­i­cal ap­proach?

RC: It all starts with the chord pro­gres­sion or riff, which can be in­spired from hear­ing some­thing new, to learn­ing a new chord or scale and ex­plor­ing the tonal­ity.

GT: What do you aim for when your per­for­mance is cen­tre stage?

RC: Most im­por­tantly, I want to do my best to nail it. But at the same time I like to put on a show. I’m not one usu­ally to just stand there and play in one spot un­less I have a hor­ri­ble sound­man and not a good mix in my mon­i­tors.

GT: Many songs have a solo that starts low and slow but fin­ishes high and fast. Is this struc­ture use­ful for in­stru­men­tal writ­ing?

RC: No, I let the mu­sic dic­tate where I go; I try not to use for­mu­las.

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

RC: I like my tone to be very tight and track well on the low end, so it doesn’t get muddy. Good sus­tain helps, and some de­lay for the leads.

GT: Any favourite keys or tem­pos?

RC: I usu­ally write in the lower end of the seven-string so things tend to be in B, C, C#, D or even E and that could be in any mode. Tem­pos are usu­ally pretty quick.

GT: Mi­nor or ma­jor keys?

RC: I have spent years ex­plor­ing the vast sounds you can get out of both.

GT: Any favourite modes?

RC: I love the Phry­gian tonal­ity; Phry­gian Mi­nor, Ma­jor, Dom­i­nant and Span­ish Phry­gian, as well as Pen­ta­ton­ics based around that mode and Di­min­ished Half-Whole, Ly­dian Ma­jor and Dom­i­nant. But I love so many dif­fer­ent sounds.

GT: Mo­du­la­tions into new keys?

RC: Sure, I think that’s cool as it keeps things in­ter­est­ing; and I like to utilise dif­fer­ent modes or par­al­lel modes or modal in­ter­change.

GT: Do you view the back­ing band dif­fer­ently than on a vo­cal song?

RC: Sim­ple: if the song can’t stand on its own without gui­tar melodies or vo­cals, it’s not good enough.

GT: What are your views on har­mon­is­ing melodies?

RC: I think it’s great as long as you can play it live, but that might mean you have to have a sec­ond gui­tarist, key­boardist or a har­moniser.

GT: What three gui­tar in­stru­men­tals have in­spired you?

RC: Black Star by Yng­wie; YRO by Racer X; and Ma­bel’s Fa­tal Fable by Ja­son Becker. My three big­gest in­flu­ences when I was grow­ing up.

sa­tri­ani Knows how to put the chords to­gether to pull the most from each mode’s tonal­i­ties

Rusty Coo­ley and his sev­en­string as­sault

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