In­stru­men­tal in­qui­si­tion!

Gui­tar in­stru­men­tals have sup­plied some of mu­sic’s most evoca­tive mo­ments. We asked some top gui­tarists for their take on this iconic move­ment. This month: Ex-Dokken, Lynch Mob and Ul­tra­phonix gui­tarist, the great Ge­orge Lynch.

Guitar Techniques - - INTRO - The Ul­tra­phonix al­bum Orig­i­nal Hu­man Mu­sic is out now.

GT: What is it about gui­tar in­stru­men­tals that most ap­peals to you as a writer?

GL: Two things ; I like to hear gui­tar phras­ing that em­u­lates or takes the place of a melodic vo­cal line and two, it’s a chance to hear a gui­tarist stretch out in a way that they can’t in the con­text of a tra­di­tional vo­cal based ar­range­ment.

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

GL: The gui­tar is so flex­i­ble by de­sign that in the cre­ative hands of a Beck or Hen­drix the sonic op­tions be­come al­most end­less. Even the best vo­cal­ists have to work within the phys­i­cal con­straints of the hu­man phys­i­ol­ogy. But still noth­ing com­pares to the emo­tive ca­pac­ity of the hu­man voice. I think the best other in­stru­ments can do is try and rein­ter­pret or em­u­late it.

GT: What are the ten­den­cies with in­stru­men­tals that you aim to em­brace or avoid (rhythms, har­mony, ap­proach, tones)?

GL: In­stru­men­tal mu­sic af­fords you the op­por­tu­nity and free­dom to em­brace ev­ery con­ceiv­able av­enue of ex­pres­sion . But with all that free­dom comes ‘op­tion anx­i­ety’ which re­quires a strong vi­sion of what it is you’re try­ing to say to make sense of all the op­tions.

GT: Is a typ­i­cal song struc­ture of in­tro, verse, cho­rus, verse, cho­rus, mid­dle, outro cho­rus al­ways rel­e­vant for an in­stru­men­tal?

GL: I think cer­tain ar­range­ment for­mu­las are sat­is­fy­ing to western ears and make a song eas­ier to di­gest . If I’m work­ing on a body of in­stru­men­tals I would prob­a­bly con­form to the ‘safe’ ar­range­ment for­mula on 50% of the record us­ing the gui­tar to mimic the vo­cal­ist ; then throw the rule book out for the other half of the record

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

GL: I’m not sure how you would ‘study’ that. I think it’s im­por­tant and help­ful to be aware and ap­pre­ci­ate great his­toric vo­cal­ists; Aretha, Al Green, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Otis Red­ding etc. Per­son­ally, I’m a lousy singer but I do hear the vo­cal sound­track in my head so es­sen­tially I’ve spent my life ‘singing’ through my gui­tar!

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

GL: I think the first or­der of busi­ness is to de­cide on a theme. When I wrote Mr. Scary I wanted to cre­ate a heavy metal ‘car­a­van’. That in­spi­ra­tion can come from lis­ten­ing to other mu­sic to spark an idea (oth­er­wise known as pla­gia­rism), smok­ing a joint, go­ing for a long ride on your mo­tor­cy­cle or a hike in the woods. Weirdly I’ve got­ten some of best ideas while tak­ing a

in­stru­men­tal mu­sic aff ords you the op­por­tu­nity to bust out all the toys and cre­ate sonic land­scapes

shower . I think I need to take more show­ers!

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

GL: Va­ri­ety. Keep it in­ter­est­ing avoid­ing rep­e­ti­tion.

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, de­vel­op­ing pace and dy­nam­ics over the in­stru­men­tal’s du­ra­tion?

It’s a won­der­ful for­mula but chal­leng­ing to achieve. This kind of song­writ­ing re­quires a lot of fo­cus and dis­ci­pline.

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

GL: I think in­stru­men­tal mu­sic af­fords you the op­por­tu­nity to bust out all the toys and cre­ate sonic land­scapes . In­stru­men­tal records can take a lot more time be­cause you have all th­ese tonal op­tions which re­quire a lot of tone quest­ing and trial and er­ror.

GT: Do you have favourite keys or tem­pos to play or write in?

GL: Like most gui­tarists I gen­er­ally pre­fer to play in open keys that work with the gui­tar’s stan­dard tun­ing ; E, A , G or D. Be­cause of the way the in­stru­ment is de­signed there are a lot more op­tions when you can utilise the open strings in th­ese keys.

GT: Do you find mi­nor or ma­jor keys eas­ier to write in?

GL: I ac­tu­ally like writ­ing ar­range­ments or solo pas­sages that weave in and out of ma­jor and mi­nor mo­tifs to cre­ate a sort of ten­sion and re­lease

GT: Sim­i­larly, do you have any favourite modes?

GL: Lixomy­dian!

GT: What about mod­u­la­tions into new keys?

GL: To me, it sounds con­trived to mod­u­late a whole step or step and a half al­though I still use that de­vice out of habit. Find­ing those un­ex­pected mod­u­la­tion points that sound out­side the box are a chal­lenge but often the most sat­is­fy­ing.

GT: Do you view the back­ing band in a dif­fer­ent way you would on a vo­cal song?

GL: I usu­ally write from the per­spec­tive of the in­stru­men­tal track which will then dic­tate the vo­cal (or other in­stru­ment’s) melody.

GT: What are your views on har­mon­is­ing melodies? Do you like it or steer clear of it?

GL: I’m a fan of un­ortho­dox har­monies but at the same time I try and not over use that ef­fect. I usu­ally play in one gui­tar bands so gui­tar har­monies would be tough to pull off live.

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

GL: ‘Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers, Jeff Beck; Car­a­van, Dizzy Gille­spie; Race With The Devil On Span­ish High­way, Al Di Me­ola.

Ul­tra­phonix: Ge­orge Lynch on gui­tar and Corey Glover on vo­cals

Ge­orge Lynch in Lynch Mob days

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