All your thoughts and suggestions.
Post Guitar Techniques, Future Publishing, Ivo Peters Road, Bath, BA2 3QS. Email email@example.com using the header ‘Talkback’.
CHORD MELODY SOLO?
I’d really appreciate some help with a problem of arrangement that I can’t seem to solve. For years I’ve been learning solo jazz pieces. I started with Guitar Techniques transcriptions and have acquired material through tab, songsheets and good old-fashioned listening, as well as re-learning my playing technique. The result is a good repertoire of jazz standards which have been well received by everyone I’ve played them to.
So what’s the problem? Well, whenever I hear a professional guitarist playing a chord melody solo it’s just different from what I do - it has a structure and style that goes far beyond the original song. My versions are welldeveloped with extended chord voicings, but they often sound more like ‘easy listening’ music than jazz.
It would be brilliant if GT could do a feature showing some options for changing a straight song version to a jazz idiom. Geoffrey Mallett We really like the idea of this, Geoffrey. Whenever I hear someone playing chord melodies I’m always staggered how they can think in such complex ways, pretty much instantaneously. Of course there are always rules and roadmaps covering anything to do with harmony, and the truth is that much of it can be learnt – although that mustn’t take away from the talent and creativity of those impressive individuals that do more than play ‘exercises’. It sounds like a job for Professor Wheaty to me, so I’ve passed your letter onto Jason and he will be discussing how to take such a feature forward. Thanks for the idea!
GEAR IN GT?
I was intrigued to read your mention that you might be dribbling some gear into the pages of GT. I find this slightly odd, since I’m sure I’ve heard you say stuff like, “Guitar Techniques – it does what it says on the tin!” Now, I’m not saying that it’s a wholly bad idea to include equipment in one way, shape or form, but you’d have to be pretty canny about how you did it. I do seem to remember a time when there were mini reviews in the magazine, and it didn’t bother me too much then, but GT is about helping us to improve our playing, not addressing our GAS cravings. Good luck – I can’t wait to see what you do and how you do it. Art Thomas We’re still not decided on it yet, Art. The original thinking was that, since all the other magazines cover every aspect of the guitar – the people who play them, the gear itself, and the techniques employed to make the music – it would be no different us doing it. The secret, of course, is making sure that we did it proportionately. The other, perhaps more appropriate approach, might be to show how to use, say, effects ‘musically’. For instance, we could help with how to set the stuff for the best results, and offer musical ideas as to where and how the effect would sound best. Dario Cortese did a great series on effects a few years back, which was very well received. But with the success of Mick Taylor and Dan Steinhardt’s That Pedal Show on YouTube, the pedal market has exploded so now could be the perfect moment. Any further thoughts from readers would be much appreciated.
Although I’ve been buying GT for many years and thoroughly enjoying it – as well as learning a lot from it – I don’t read notation but work solely from the tab. I do of course listen to the music – I have the digital edition as well as the print version with disc. So my question is: are you wasting your time by adhering to a system that some other guitar magazines have abandoned? I’d suspect that many GT readers are like me; can’t read music and so the notation is pretty much a waste of space. I can understand it in the classical pieces, but surely for rock and blues it’s all but redundant? Jacob Rice I really don’t know where to begin with your question, Jacob. We use
Guitar Techniques always has and always will use notation plus tab Would a series on effects and how to use them musically, be good in GT?
notation as well as tab (in fact the truth is we use tab as well as notation) in all our lessons because it’s the universal written language of music. It’s been around hundreds of years in one form or another, but tablature is a relatively recent ‘shorthand’ for guitarists. Ask any of our tutors how useful it is for them to read: many of these guys do a variety of gigs and sessions in a host of different styles - sometimes at the shortest notice. Jason Sidwell, for instance, will often be called for a gig at, say, Claridges or the London Hilton, to play an evening of music he’s never heard before. The ability to read allows him to accept such gigs and makes him a very hireable musician. And what about our Session Shenanigans hero, Mitch Dalton? Mitch has made a brilliant career as a first-call session musician, playing the world’s biggest venues for huge acts and orchestras, and for TV and radio; he simply couldn’t do that by just reading tab – there’s simply not enough information there. Tab is great, but it’s a clever quick fix that lets us get our fingers on the right frets and strings, but it’s far from the whole story. As a non-reader I really struggle these days to do dep gigs, as I no longer have the mental capacity (or the time!) to commit a whole set’s worth of songs to memory. And while I understand and respect that some people don’t bother with the notation, we will always treat our music with the respect it deserves. And to that end we’ll always use notation in Guitar Techniques.
Martin Taylor: a master of jazz chord soloing