The ultimate guitar related discussion thread.

Discussion in 'Guitar Lessons' started by Phil47uk, Sep 8, 2010.

  1. 3rdstone

    3rdstone Senior Member

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    A little History, different types of Improv sited, a few Artists mentioned for suggested listening, and a little lesson on how much experience...:hmm:

    This post is almost like free money I can pick up and stick in my billfold. :applause:

    Can't thank you enough Huw. I appreciate it, to say the least.

    Cheers
     
  2. huw

    huw V.I.P. Member

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    You're welcome.

    Can I have some of that free money? ;)
     
  3. 3rdstone

    3rdstone Senior Member

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    Check's in the mail, Brutha! :D And all that other Happy Horse-s#!t. :laugh2:

    I replied just before scurrying off to work, but I just re-read your post and you stated:
    That is the main problem I have with some modern guitar 'shredders', some do it justice (like Coltrane), but most sound like they are just riffin' the scales. Just as Phil has stated upthread, and many times before. That kind of playing to a listener like me is well... Uhgg...

    Thanks again, Wreck
     
  4. Sin Nombre

    Sin Nombre Senior Member

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    I finally had time to go back and read the early part of this thread. Great stuff, makes me think logging in to MLP can be more than just a nasty habit. I can't offer any useful and helpful knowledge from a life filled with musical experience due to my 35 year hiatus from guitar but I can try to pose some useful and helpful questions. :hmm:

    When creating simple leads I sometimes wonder how much am I following scales and how much am I picking notes just on knowing what they will sound like and choosing them for that reason? Of course most of the time it is a combination of both, but I still have the idea that the more experienced a player is, the more he can intuitively choose a note because he hears it in his head and knows where it is on the fretboard and does not have to rely on remembering a scale or mode etc.

    I guess my question is how much can a player expect that over time his improvisation will be based more on his familiarity and experience with the fretboard and what sounds will come from various fingerings and less with visualizing patterns on the fretboard? I'm curious to hear some thoughts about this from players who have played for a long time to see if they think there is some kind of transition over time.
     
  5. Phil47uk

    Phil47uk Senior Member

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    I'd like a thread on a subject like this in itself Sin.
    There are a hundred and one threads in all sorts of forums about scales, modes chords etc etc etc, but hardly ever will you find a topic that casts theory aside and explores just what it is that seperates the good from the great. Musically that is.
    And by this I don't mean how many scales and chords somebody knows, or for that matter how many thousand chord inversions either.

    Let's throw the lot out of the window for a minute.. Stomp boxes, boutique amps, theory, and simply leave the person and their instrument.
    What is it about some people that others go Wow!
    Now it's not theory, speed, ten minute guitar solos etc, although saying that I suppose there are a multitude of people who think it is and of course we all have our personal views what we think is good and what isn't.
    But one still can't take away the fact that certain people seem to move people musically more than others and what is more interesting is that they don't even have to be musical to appreciate them.
    Why is BB King so popular for instance and I'm not just talking about simply amongst the guitar playing fraternity either.
    My eldest son isn't musical, nor is my wife and both are not really into the blues yet they both like his playing. They don't know why they like his playing..They just do.

    This is a subject that has fascinated me for years.
    We could talk lots of people here.. Neil Young for instance, His tunes a great, but he can't hold a note to save his life and his guitar playing isn't anything to rave about, yet just watch him perform something like Cinnamon Girl and something magical starts happening.
    Eva Cassidy is another.
    There is something far deeper then technical prowess going on here. But what exactly is it?

    Let's forget about guitarists guitarists, because in the grand scheme of things they make up about half of one percent of the album buying public.

    I am begining to think it's all about persona. In other words you are not just buying in to a persons technical ability, but into the person as a whole entity.

    I noticed it again at a recent BB King concert I saw at Wembley.
    BB King just blew John Mayalls bluesbreakers into oblivion, even though the guitarist with Mayall was obviously a more technical player than old BB.
    BB just had a quality about him where you could relate the music to the man. In other words he was the music.

    I know what I'm saying may sound strange to some, but I'm sure many here will know what I am talking about, even though they may have similar feelings for an entirely different player.

    Yep, the more I think of things the more I put the whole thing down to personality and if one can relate to that personality, simply because I'm buggered if I can think what else it could be.:laugh2:

    Perhaps people should spend less time practising to be 'The Best' and getting to know every scale there is upside down and back to front and concentrate more on being themselves. Honing their communication skills with the world as a whole and telling their own personal story. Something I have noticed sadly lacking in many guitar players I have heard over the years.
    I have heard fancy scales..I have heard warp speed solos..I have heard almost impossible tricks.. But have I heard the man??
     
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  6. huw

    huw V.I.P. Member

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    I've seen the same thing, Phil. Also with Mayall & the Bluesbreakers:

    It was a few years ago when JM's 70th birthday gig (!!) was shown on TV. Buddy Whittington on guitar (and the rest of the band) had the "I could play anything at all" vibe - radiating total mastery of the instrument. The trouble was that they were doing this on what are basicaly simple blues numbers, and their air of being capable of so much "beyond" the music they were playing drew attention to the simplicity, and to me seemed to show distain for the simplicity. Maybe not, but that's how it looked to me...

    I'm not expressing this well, but it was like watching Roger Federer play tenis against a 10 year old, and having to play so much within himself that there is no real excitement in his playing, It was the same with the Bluesbreakers - their excessive displays of competence generated (for me at least) no excitement or connection to the music.

    Then came the guests - first Eric Clapton, later Mick Taylor. Neither played to display themselves, just to display the music.

    And they absolutely blew the Bluesbreakers off stage.

    Whittington stood there playing rhythm & smiled, but it looked like he knew he'd been outclassed. This may be fancy semantics, but that stands out to me as an example of the difference between mastering the instrument and mastering the music.

    This is one of those things that is absolutely clear, strightforward & obvious in my head, but I get into trouble trying to articulate it to other people... :rolleyes:
     
  7. Sin Nombre

    Sin Nombre Senior Member

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    Phil and huw, I understand what you are saying, but do not perceive it as well as you because as I said my life has not been devoted to music. But my visually oriented background exhibits perfect parallels. For instance a painter can have a deep understanding of color theory, values, composition, brushwork etc. and can produce a technical masterpiece but if he has no passion for what he is trying to convey he will not produce a memorable work.

    The same could be said for any creative endeavor including photography, writing or acting. And like you said Phil, personality plays a big part in any creative undertaking. Not everyone is going to relate to all of the personal creative approaches that are out there so creative people should not try to please everyone and compromise their work in the process.

    The character in this Tube that keeps popping up on MLP is a good example, he does his own thing, is passionate but is not particularly technically skilled. People seem to either love him or not, but you know he is into his music.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zi_0k3hzNS4&feature=player_embedded#!
     
  8. st.bede

    st.bede V.I.P. Member

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    I read once that hindus believe that to become a real musician it takes three lives. The first is spent playing for your teacher. The second is spent playing for the audience. The third is spent playing for the Gods.

    What can I say...you can feel it, when all the BS is put aside and I connect with my interment, my head is clear and I see the path...each note has a place and an emphasis...that does not happen often and it has not really happened since I got carpal 10 years ago but it is in me...and I believe it is in every one...what a person needs to learn to be able to hear that and play it is really based on that particular persons spirit...of course maybe I am full of s*** but I believe that....

    (and HUW what jazz players would be the ones that have not spent time caring about melody? the ones I listen to I think are all fantastic...they are not always great and sometimes they suck but that is what happen when you improvise...sometimes you hit it and sometimes you don't...now, I would have to dismiss the pop/new jazz/ adult contemporary stuff that some have put out but we all need money...I just can not think of a serious jazz musician that is just wanking scales (if you had said a metal guitarist it would be easy to come up with a very long list)...to become a serious jazz player you have to understand melody...I do not mean this as an attack, I respect you a lot...god knows you know a lot of stuff,,,I just think that jazz gets a bad name because you have to really develop your hearing to get it...take Coltrane's album live at Newport 1965... the first five years I listen to it I did not get it at all..then I spent time developing my ear and after a few years listened to it again...and it was like night and day..it just made sense...but I had to internalize a lot of jazz stuff...it is like classical music...mozart is pretty accessible but then Prokofiev is a bit more of a stretch...)
     
  9. Phil47uk

    Phil47uk Senior Member

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    Exactly Huw and I think for the simple reason that nobody really knows just what it is and ultimately it must be in the eye, (or ear in our case ) of the beholder .
    As Sin said in his above post, one man can look at an artists work and although appreciating it for technical perfection, leaves him cold emotionally.
    This obviously must be the case I suppose, or there wouldn't be so many people who could get ecstatic over listening to 'death metal' or burst into tears over a Hank Williams track. :laugh2:
     
  10. Phil47uk

    Phil47uk Senior Member

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    I don't know where that leaves me then?...Still entertaining snails I suspect.:laugh2:
    Seriously though I don't think it matters what genre of music one is playing or listening to.. You either connect with people or you don't.
    I have witnessed this time and time again over the years and have always tried to get my head round it, but to no avail I fear.
    This phenomenon transcends all theory and technique and though I always advocate knowing some theory in order to explore things for yourself, in the final analysis all boils down to the person, their personality and their abilty to communicate emotionally.
    You can have all the technique in the world and know all the theory there is to know, but ultimately, if you can't express yourself and communicate with your audience , it all goes out of the window.
    I have seen some great jazz players over the years who technically were whizz kids, but have left me cold and I have also sat there listening to an old Native American Indian guy just tapping out a rhythm on a drum and chanting to the setting sun who has left me open mouthed.

    Is it all in the mind? Does what the player is playing have to trigger responses and emotions within the individual and can ( In the cases of mega rock concerts ) a sort of mass hypnosis and being part of the mob mentality take hold in some primeval way?
    These are the aspects of music that really interest me these days and funnily enough, the only one that you can't write down and explain easily on a piece of paper.
     
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  11. mudfinger

    mudfinger Thanks for the memories. V.I.P. Member

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    I can only speak for myself; when I'm learning the chords, heads/motifs, and structure of a new tune, my puny intellect is indeed actively engaged in examining the sound of things and making critical assessments about it. I'm probably an odd duck on this, but I long ago came to the conclusion, based in part on something that Eddie Van Halen said about his own playing, that my path thru a song is going to loosely resemble the original artist's interpretation. Thank you, Eddie!

    What I'm saying is...take a tune like Mississippi Queen. It opens with a little riff down in the 5th position, and I play that spot on. Then it breaks out into 2 guitar parts on the studio recording; there's the chord work going on at the 5th and 7th position, and there's a lead going on up at the top of the fretboard. When played on one guitar, that large gap between the chords and lead just doesn't sound right to my ear, so...I play the lead down near the 9th position, and alter it so that it flows smoothly back into the rhythm part. this is a part of my playing style, which has been described by a few people who enjoy it as "impressionistic". I'm going for the spirit of the song, not the exact notes, except on those really "signature" bits of melody that just NEED to be there.

    That said, once those kinds of rational decisions have been made, the thought process comes to an end. When I play Mississippi Queen at rehearsals or onstage, I'm not thinking about the notes at all, and I never play a tune exactly the same way twice. It's as if my fingers have become directly wired to my subconscious mind, where the music flows from. I'd say it's been that way for many years now; but I play for several hours every day, even if some portion of that time is spent idly noodling while watching TV or talking to the gf.

    Come to think of it, perhaps that idle noodling was and is helpful in wiring my fingers to the source of the music in my brain, wherever it is. :hmm:

    Sometimes, however, even on stage, things go terribly wrong; the drummer flubs hard, the bassist goes to the 4 too soon, or my hand gets stuck for a moment too long in position and l lay out a really bum note. At that moment, my intellect does get involved a bit; my general policy is to repeat the mistake until it works itself back into the music, so I become very aware of how the notes are fitting into the fabric of the song, that sorta thing. Once the terror passes, I go back to ogling the girls dancing at the foot of the stage while my fingers take over again. :naughty:

    Even when I'm playing outside my comfort zone, say, on a country folk tune...I can feel the notes coming up from within me just a fraction of a moment before my fingers find 'em and play 'em. I don't have to think about any of it, it just happens.

    I'm a firm believer in the notion that music doesn't come from within our puny brains; we're picking it up like a radio transmission from someplace else, and simply channeling it. I'm not alone in that crazy idea; Keith Richards once said much the same thing. There's something going on that can't really be described in scientific, rational terms. Mebbe it's the Aether, or the Astral Plane, as Jimi believed, or mebbe it's some Jungian collective consciousness. I dunno. But there's no way I'm personally responsible for some of the stuff I play. I'm just not that smart or clever. :laugh2:
     
  12. st.bede

    st.bede V.I.P. Member

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    Phil, you are right it is an intensely strange phenomena is something I just sort of believe in and I am not sure what it is...

    I think some of the key aspects are..self integrity, being fearless and playing what you feel and hear inside your head...

    sometimes it is like a meditation, I have to dig down deep let go and feel it but it can not be overly emotional...even though it can feel really emotional..it is nuanced ...

    when I perform, and I do not connect with it, when I try, it makes me so angry....at one point I threw my tele on the ground and starting jumping on it in angry...it is like "Fuck I know I can do this...why the fuck is it not happening"

    ...and then even worse is when I get it, and it pours out and after the gig or rehearsal a fellow musician comes up and says "you messed up on x and does not even say but I like y (the part I really felt connected to)" I fell like F' you, did not you just hear me sacrificing myself you b******...

    then again, recently I have played stuff that I thought was connected but when I go back and listen to it, it sounds bad..this is very strange and I do not know what to make of it..maybe, my ears are changing and I am hearing new things and I have not yet come to understand what they are...

    when it comes to the whole Hindu thing...Phil if it makes you feel any better..i think I am still playing for my teacher...and I think EC is playing for the audience and Jimi was playing for the Gods...but, that all fits in with my world view so who really knows...
     
  13. st.bede

    st.bede V.I.P. Member

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    that is cool, thanks mud for sharing that...

    I have thought that too...to see what a strange place my mind is I will share where my thoughts went with that notion.......

    we are getting the music from aliens who are using us to channel their communications through dimensions and each time there is a significant change in music styles it is that the aliens have increased the technology they are using to channel the language (music) through us...:laugh2: my brain is a strange place...

    "I want to believe" thank you fox...

    (you are that smart, it is not a smart that connects to theory but a smart that connects to music...different smarts but I am sure you have plenty of both...:thumb: )
     
  14. huw

    huw V.I.P. Member

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    Ah, forgive me for not getting the writen word to match the ideas in my head...

    It wasn't just jazz players I meant, or even jazz players in particular. I was extending the concept out into the world at large & into other musical genres. I think that improvisation in most "modern western popular music" is in some way derived from or influenced by jazz/blues (and those two are so close geneticaly to almost make no difference in this context), even if it's not visible on the surface.

    It's audible in all styles of music, and not just on guitar.

    I do hear some jazz players "dialing it in", same as some rock players do. The trouble is I switch off when I hear that, so I'm having a real hard time naming any names. But jazz isn't immune...

    Hang on, thought of one: Frank Gambale. Bores me rigid, no emotion whatsoever (disclaimer - that I've heard...)

    I bought his 1st album when he first got talked about in the magazines as the new big thing, and it was elevator music.
     
  15. Sin Nombre

    Sin Nombre Senior Member

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    That's what I was thinking, and I guess I can do it too on a very limited scale (no pun).

    This is part of why I asked, it seems the mindless noodling one does while watching TV or the computer screen will help train the brain to know the fretboard in a "mindless" way, ie without having to think about it rationally so much. I don't count the noodling as practice time but I do think it can be useful.
     
  16. st.bede

    st.bede V.I.P. Member

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    Frank Gambale...that is not jazz..I say him play, and all I will say is, I did find it amazing his never ending souces of arps with out any limits to the speed at which they could be played....but, IMHO to call him a jazz player is a stretch...there a whole bunch of "fussion" players that yank around like that..I do think that I over reacted...please excuss me...isn't jazz now considered a religion?...I am thinking more of bad recordings for example, say freddie hubbard...sometimes he can be a bit lifeless...but, I think over all that is the exception...those post-bop guys did not throw away melodies...
     
  17. Rang Rang

    Rang Rang Member

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    Great point Phil. We're all looking for the wow factor. Jaco I think can give us some clues.

    [ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fgK5VygLxbc[/ame]
     
  18. Phil47uk

    Phil47uk Senior Member

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    I have even tried to analyze my own playing, as like you said, you suddenly hear something back you played and think.." Oh shit that's bloody boring, but why didn't I think it was at the time", or for that matter hear yourself and think.."Shit! did I do that..Hey! not bad".

    I once asked a bunch of people who came up and said they really liked my playing exactly what did they like about it. Was it the songs..Was it the tone of the guitar because I would really like to know as often us musicians aren't always over the moon about what we do.
    The answer came back as. You sound smooth and confident in what you play and you can hear your love for your instrument..:shock:
    That really got me thinking and I did a little survey with a few people after that and funnily enough they all said the same thing..

    Not once did anyone mention technical ability, theoretical knowledge, pickup tones..Gibson Les Pauls and long neck tenons etc, but only commented on my delivery and general personality in telling the story. At first I wasn't quite sure how to take that, but when I gave it some thought it made me realize that's what it was all about .. Trying to be a confident and interesting story teller and it really didn't matter what style of music it was as long as I managed to pull it off successfully. Confidence is definitely something people pick up on. The only problem being that there is a very thin dividing line between confidence and arrogance and you must make sure you stay on the right side, or peoples respect can all too easily turn to dislike.
    But then as the saying goes,'The ultimate technique is to have no technique', but to get there and beyond you have to have it in the first place.
    In other words, don't just use your theory and technique to try and bamboozle people, but simply use it to make things appear effortless, yet exciting and interesting...A bit like Vincent Price reading 'The Raven' I suppose :laugh2:
     
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  19. st.bede

    st.bede V.I.P. Member

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    I agree phil, but I think that all the different nuances can be used for different effects...so, there i9s always going to be a behind the screen type of thing going on..I think a lot of players internalize all the theory, history, sounds, and other stuff...and do it without think to much about it..however I believe that composer (Ellington to Mozart) are fully aware of all that stuff...I do not believe that one should necessarily shun that type of intellectual involvement or that relaying on that alone creates great music in the moment....
     
  20. Phil47uk

    Phil47uk Senior Member

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