ANTONIO FORCIONE Masterclass: Part 1 of 2
This incredible acoustic guitarist divulges some of his playing secrets in the first of this two-part video masterclass series.
With a relentless international touring schedule, multiple awards under his belt and being hailed by the music press as the ‘Jimi Hendrix of acoustic guitar’, Antonio Forcione is certainly a force to be reckoned with. But for all his virtuosity on the instrument, what sets Antonio apart from so many others is the diversity of his playing and compositions. Everything from West-African Kora melodies, Italian folk dances, Piazzollainspired Argentinian tangos and Cuban songs have appeared in his performances and recordings. By immersing himself in the countries where he finds musical inspiration and surrounding himself with musicians from around the globe, Antonio has gathered a vast palette from which to draw inspiration. Antonio started his musical life not on guitar, but on drums. You’ll see from the following examples how important rhythm and groove is to Antonio’s playing. He describes his internal pulse as being like a musical compass – so no matter how fast he’s playing, or indeed how slow – he always knows where to land.
The first example Antonio talks about in this lesson comes from his African influences – particularly that of the Kora and the playing of Seckou Keita (Antonio is in a group called AKA Trio with Seckou). The idiomatic decorative elements to Kora playing are taken onto the guitar via bursts of slurs while maintaining a solid 6/8 groove. As the example continues the importance of the bassline becomes ever more apparent as it provides precisely the “musical compass” that Antonio talks about. You’ll also see and hear how relaxed and laid-back the piece sounds. As you work your way through the lesson, keep things slow to begin with, and maintain that relaxed and laid-back feel (easier said than done, I know!).
When discussing his approach when in accompaniment-mode, Antonio gives some examples of how to move away from some of the more common textures and chord shapes. Breaking away from comfort zones is always a challenge on the guitar, so this will be a perfect excuse to think a little outside the box. Natural harmonics feature heavily here and, as you’ll see, Antonio can swap effortlessly between these and a more conventional chordal accompaniment. A little slow and steady practice jumping between the harmonics on 12th and 7th frets and chord shapes back down the neck will certainly be helpful. These ideas would be perfect for accompanying a singer or providing the rhythm guitar backdrop for a solo.
And to conclude the first part of this two-part video series, Antonio talks a little about some of his improvisation techniques – again thinking about how to approach things slightly differently. Everything from fingerstyle licks, plectrum licks and even thumb-scratching basslines (which is tremendous fun!) gets covered on a whistlestop tour of Antonio’s unique improvisation methodology. I really hope you have some fun with these examples and I’ll see you next month for the second instalment in this special masterclass.
breaking away from comfort zones is always a challenge, so here’s the perfect excuse to think a little outside the box
Exclusive lesson with guitar master Antonio Forcione
Antonio Forcione: one of the finest acoustic players on the planet