When I first started playing guitar almost 40 years ago, it was very much a male thing. Generally if females played guitar it would be classical guitar – read dots play Bach ( by the way I love Bach) or work through a Carcassi Method or the alternative was do the folk strummy thing (without a plectrum), lots of C chords and a cheap capo.
Well, while you were sleeping some great things happened.
- Joni Mitchell transformed from being a folkie to a superbly innovative open tuner and spawned generations of open tuners…David Wilcox, (the “how did you find me here” David Wilcox and not the other Canadian Blues player) cites Joni Mitchell as a major inspiration. And if you think Joni Mitchell is about “Both sides Now”, don’t kid yourself. http://jonimitchell.com/
- Ani diFranco http://www.righteousbabe.com/ threw away the manual on how to play and emerged with a very interesting array of guitars. I still haven’t recovered from hearing “I’m not angry anymore” about 5 years ago”.
One video of a live performane I saw, she was using a 4 string Tenor guitarBelow are a few of the tunings she uses“Studying Stones” C, F, A#, D#, G, C.
“Manhole” C, F, A#, D#, G, C
“Sunday Morning” C, F, A#, D#, G, A#
“Seeing Eye Dog” D, A, D, F#, G, D
“Lag Time” D, A, D, F#, G, D
“Parameters” C, F, A#, D#, G, G#
- The first time I heard of Kaki King, it was on the cover of a Frets magazine. It said something like “The new Michael Hedges”. To me, comments like thast are a bit scarry, especially if you are familiar with his playing.
Check out Kaki King on youTube
- And just when you think it’s safe to go back into the guitar store. There’s Muriel Anderson http://www.murielanderson.com/
- And if you are currently working on the virtue ‘humility’, check out Badi Assad ..have a listen to her “Solo” album http://www.badiassad.com/I think I better go practice.
Over the years I’ve met hundreds and hundreds of guitar players that are trying to make music but are not really happy with what they do. There is a natural desire for many guitarists to be successful. Watching the Idol series will give you an idea what many people consider to be important. Ok, to be fair they are not necessarily guitarists and not everyone has exactly the same desires, nor do we all think the same about music, or have the same attitudes and goals. But the Idol approach is an interesting approach to explore and it is fine if that’s what you want out of music, note I’ve said ‘out of music’. But some of us have a desire to make music and hold that goal much higher than the offshoots of playing music. E.g:
- Being on television is not about music, it’s about being on television.
- Signing CD’s is not about making music, it’s about people worship.
- Making a music video, is not about music, it’s about expressing through a visual media format
- Winning a competition is not about music, it’s about popularity and commercial product
All of the above are valid…but I have difficulty locating music amongst it. And for me music is about emotions, something expression from the core of us.
Ok, so the years roll by, your playing’s got smarter, smoother and maybe more relaxed in the way it sits against the beat. But here’s what I’ve noticed. A lot of players are playing songs in what I’d consider to be an inappropriate key (I won’t say wrong). By inappropriate I mean, the song doesn’t sit right. Often you’ll find there are songs that you wanted to play but they never really worked for you but there’s something in it you wanted to express. Whether the problem is the way your voice sits against the chord changes, or it might be that the chords are technically correct but it doesn’t quite do it for you, it may lack depth, there’ll be something that prevents the song from being a channel for self expression.
I’ve met many players who want to play carbon copies of the original tune. Can anyone see a problem with this? It seems obvious to me but what I’ve noticed for years is that a lot of players are frightened to rip a song a part and rebuild it completely.
Why not try playing the song in another key? For me, other people’s songs are just a basic idea to work from. Songs are crying out to be interpreted in a different way, and chances are that at some point in your life a song that you like is expressing an emotion that you felt.
To be creative with a piece of music:
- you only need a ‘rough idea’ of the melody – it only needs to be implied in some way
- a basic set of chords…and really all chord patterns are sreaming out to be reharmonised
- and an understanding of what you want to say with the song
There’s nothing Sacred in music apart from being yourself.
It’s very easy to get over serious sometimes. So as a type of music therapy I was considering the idea of air guitar for acoustic guitarists. For anyone that is not up to speed on air guitar, think guitar performance minus one thing – the guitar itself. A lot of us are familiar with the wonderful antics of virtual electric guitar but how deeply has air acoustic guitar been explored.
I’ll make a few suggestions on a particular style. We’ll call it the air ballad.
So how to play the air ballad?
- Sit quietly on the edge of stage.
- Start with …”this is a song about a woman I once loved, anyone that has ever loved will know what I’m talking about ..”
- It’s got to be a very mournful expression
- I think fingerstyle is the go
- I guess it’s ok to sing along …yes?…or do we do the air vocals as well
- Expression…maybe meaningful in the chorus
- A virtual tear in the bridge
Or…maybe there’s people out there already doing it. Do old air guitarists eventually do an acoustic set or do they just do a reunion tour?
Every now and then we do some daring things. And this is one of them
This is about music that comes from another place or part of ourselves. In 1999 my teenage son suicided. A short time after I decided to express my emotions through music and I locked myself in a room for an hour with a guitar, an ADAT and a mixer. I recorded what at the time was to be a solo guitar piece called ‘the bardo’. The bardo is a Tibetan Buddhist term that I call the ‘gap between the worlds’. The piece is rather loose in structure and it is in DADGAD tuning. I felt the piece wasn’t quite finished so I recorded the second track. It was hard to follow the first track because it is quite loose because I had never considered adding any other parts.. I happened to have a synth module on hand, so I recorded a few effects that represent the sounds floating around in the Bardo.
I built the guitar at a guitar making workshop in 1994, it has a Dana Bougeois pickup system and it plugged straight into the desk. There is a bit of distortion here and there because at the time I was more interested in quickly capturing the emotion that wanted to come out and not overly interested in audio fidelity at that moment.
I have uploaded the audio file. It’s a musical poem of the heart and I’ve only ever played it to a couple of people because of the fragility of the situation.
There is a gentle eeriness to it but that’s fine I guess.
It can be downloaded from this address http://www.the-acoustic-guitar.com/sound/the_bardo.mp3
The best option on a windows machine is Right Click> save Target As> decide where you want to save it > save >
or If SNAP Shots (which works in conjunction with Adobe Flash player) is runing on your computer, when you mouse over the player an option to play the file will pop up .
A quick post to let you know I’ve given the acoustic guitar player Blogspot Blog a make over. …clear eyes for the musical guy
I have uploaded a guitar fretboard tutorial. It is to help guitar self learners understand the notes on the fretboard. It is in MS word. I will make the pdf version available over the next 24 hours
Click on the Acoustic guitar fretboard to download > Select save > choose a location to save and remember the location > always scan for virues when downloading from the web
I’ve been looking around at a lot of the other guitar blogs to see what people are writing/ blogging about. There’s a lot of people trying to sell their lessons, I guess ‘why not’ because guitar players need to make a living, but I guess the question arises about whether they can play or teach, that’s not a criticism but more a curiousity. A bit of the theory I’m seeing is a bit skewiff, but it’s a bit rude for one guitar player to comment that some the theory they are teaching is incorrect and has errors in it. Typos are forgivable but incorrect information is a worry.
But after digging through a lot of articles, i’m finding it really hard to find any really good inspirational blogs, and they are out there somewhere, I’m sure of this. So please, if you find any, don’t hesitate to recommend them, even after 38 years on guitar I’m open to learning, I guess that’s a good sign.
The approach that I’ve taken in this blog relates a lot to the headspace / mindset of guitar players. I guess this has come about by playing in so many different musical combinations and styles, and also from studying with exceptional players.
I’ll be blogging soon about studying with the guitar master Ike Isaacs, the former Stephane Grappelli guitarist and the Indian Sarod player Ashok Roy, the student of Ustad Ali Akbar Khan. The fascinating thing about Ashok was he knew nothing about the guitar and we ended up with the tuning (bass up) B F# B F# B F (natural), yes an odd tuning but I think it’s important to discuss what I learnt, it was only recently that I heard that Ashok had passed away and I’m not sure if any other players were studying Indian music on the guitar with him. There are other ways of learning that I think could help players open up a bit. Neither of these players specialized in acoustic guitar, that’s why i think it’s important to discuss their approach to music.
So drop in with some guitar blog links if you think they are inspiring in some way, and let me know why you think they are good.
Oh yeah, is there any acoustic air guitar happening out there?
p.s Also I have been wanting to update my simple guitar theory blog at blogspot but there’s been some techy issues.