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: Madonna’s long-term gui­tarist, Monte Pittman

Guitar Techniques - - INTRO - Monte’s new al­bum, In­verted Grasp of Balance is out now on Me­tal Blade Records. For more on Monte, go to mon­tepittman.com

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

MP: Steve Vai and Joe Sa­tri­ani were blow­ing up when I first started. So I think as a gui­tar player it was some­thing that came nat­u­rally. As a teenager, I would make in­stru­men­tal tapes for my friends.

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

MP: Well, lyrics can give a song a def­i­nite mean­ing, but an in­stru­men­tal can carry the song with just the melody.

GT: Are there any mu­si­cal fac­tors or styles you aim to em­brace or avoid with in­stru­men­tals?

MP: I’m up for what­ever. I don’t think like that. I will hope­fully touch on just about ev­ery type of mu­sic at some point in my ca­reer.

GT: Is a typ­i­cal song struc­ture - verse, cho­rus, mid­dle 8, verse, cho­rus etc, al­ways rel­e­vant for an in­stru­men­tal?

MP: Usu­ally that’s what works best. You can sub­sti­tute one part for another and still con­sider it the pre-cho­rus. Maybe you have pre-cho­rus ‘a’ and pre-cho­rus ‘b’. I kind of look at ev­ery song like that. I have to learn a lot of songs for Ul­ti­mate Jam Night at The Whisky A Go Go and I also play in the LA KISS House Band. Look­ing at where the struc­tures lie helps me re­mem­ber them quickly.

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

MP: It’s good to try dif­fer­ent things. Some­times you just play and some­thing comes to you. Some­times you play the rhythm and a melody pops up in your head.

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

MP: Just from play­ing my gui­tar. I al­ways record my­self so if I come up with some­thing I’ll know what I did. There are sev­eral times I’ve played some­thing and come up with a riff, then I didn’t re­mem­ber what I did and the song was lost.

GT: What do you aim for when your per­for­mance is cen­tre stage for the du­ra­tion of the in­stru­men­tal?

MP: Just putting on the best per­for­mance I can.

GT: Many vo­cal songs fea­ture a gui­tar solo that starts low and slow then fin­ishes high and fast. Is this struc­ture a use­ful re­flec­tion for in­stru­men­tal writ­ing?

MP: I don’t know.

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

MP: What­ever sounds good.

GT: Do you have favourite keys or tem­pos?

MP: No

GT: Do you find Mi­nor or Ma­jor keys eas­ier to write in?

MP: Manor and Mi­nor are both the same. A Mi­nor and C Ma­jor are the same keys. I don’t look at them as be­ing dif­fer­ent.

GT: Do you have favourite modes?

MP: I like ma­nip­u­lat­ing one for another.

GT: What about mod­u­la­tions into new keys?

MP: Some­times

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

GT: No

GT: What are your views on har­mon­is­ing melodies?

MP: What­ever sounds good.

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

MP: They would be: For The Love Of God (Steve Vai), Europa (Car­los San­tana), and Far Be­yond The Sun (Yng­wie Malm­steen).

Monte Pittman: aims to touch on ev­ery style of mu­sic

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