in­stru­men­tal in­qui­si­tion!

In­stru­men­tals have sup­plied some of mu­sic’s most evoca­tive mo­ments. We asked some top gui­tarists for their take on this iconic move­ment. This month: gui­tarist with Cana­dian rock band Tri­umph, and solo in­stru­men­tal­ist Rik Em­mett

Guitar Techniques - - INTRO - Rik Em­mett And Res­o­lu­tion 9’s al­bum Res9 is out now. Go to www. rikEm­ for more info.

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

RE: The gui­tar tone, cou­pled with its range and flex­i­bil­ity to sing, or cry. It can work in ways like a hu­man voice, but also like a sax, or a vi­o­lin.

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

RE: They can tell sto­ries that are po­etic and lyri­cal, but that aren’t as ‘spe­cific’ as words. In­stru­men­tals re­main a bit more im­pres­sion­is­tic, metaphor­i­cal: they sug­gest and im­ply, but don’t dic­tate con­tent.

GT: Any ten­den­cies that you aim to em­brace or avoid?

RE: I want to em­brace the phras­ing of my gui­tar’s tone. I want to avoid play­ing that doesn’t ad­vance the qual­i­ties of the com­po­si­tion that sur­rounds the melody.

GT: Is a typ­i­cal song struc­ture al­ways ap­pli­ca­ble?

RE: No. Some­times ‘form’ has its own logic, its own sense of di­rec­tion. Sym­phonies are in­stru­men­tal, so some­times a ‘through’ com­po­si­tion is pro­vid­ing its own road map.

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

RE: To­tally. As is study­ing great sax play­ers - peo­ple that have to breathe to make mu­sic. Gui­tarists’ phras­ing of­ten lacks the hu­man­ity of breath­ing, to its own detri­ment.

GT: How do you start writ­ing one?

RE: Some­times a snip­pet of melody gets the process go­ing: some­times a longer theme. Some­times a chord pro­gres­sion sug­gests some­thing. I al­ways tell my song­writ­ing stu­dents: mu­sic is made up of melody, rhythm and har­mony. The thing that reigns supreme is rhythm. Good melody has good rhyth­mic bones: good har­mony com­ple­ments the rhyth­mic struc­ture. Time, feel, groove: get your lit­tle idea to ‘sit’ in the right pocket, and the en­gine will get you mov­ing, and keep you groov­ing.

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

RE: Ev­ery story has three parts: a be­gin­ning, a mid­dle, and an end. My aim is to tell a good story: de­velop what I’ve started and fin­ish prop­erly.

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

RE: It’s one way that can work. But there are all kinds of ways to skin cats. That’s only one nar­ra­tive arc.

GT: What gui­tar tone do you pre­fer?

RE: My ball­park is the one that started with Clap­ton in his Blues­break­ers pe­riod, or maybe Roy Buchanan in Mes­siah Will Come Again; evolved with Jimmy Page in Zep­pelin 1-4; evolved with Jeff Beck in Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers.

GT: Do you have favourite keys or tem­pos for in­stru­men­tals?

RE: I go with what the uni­verse deals me. Some keys ‘sit’ bet­ter on the neck, but al­ways the song leads me.

GT: Do you pre­fer Mi­nor or Ma­jor?

RE: Maybe it’s harder to make Ma­jor key stuff seem like it’s deep and and mean­ing­ful. Mi­nor key stuff starts out darker and deeper and mood­ier.

GT: Any favourite modes?

RE: Like most gui­tarists, my blues Pen­ta­ton­ics lead to Ae­o­lian and Do­rian. But I also have a ten­dency to­wards Mixoly­dian b9, b13.

GT: And mod­u­la­tions into new keys?

RE: Hard to beat mod­u­la­tions of a mi­nor 3rd - a re­ally bright lift.

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

RE: Nope. I fol­low what the song sug­gests it needs.

GT: And har­mon­is­ing melodies?

RE: Har­mony, to me, is land­scape, set­ting, mood. Some­times less is more: but some­times more is ex­actly what the doc­tor or­dered.

GT: What three gui­tar in­stru­men­tals have in­spired you?

RE: Europa, by San­tana. Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers, Jeff Beck. Two-way tie for third: Larry Carl­ton, Emo­tions Wound Us So, from Last Nite: Pat Metheny, If I Could, from First Cir­cle.

Rik Em­mett with his Beck-like Les Paul Stan­dard in Ebony fin­ish

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