How to play a song your way

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.

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2 Comments

Filed under acoustic, Acoustic Guitar, MUSIC

2 responses to “How to play a song your way

  1. Pingback: Guitar Blog Feeds » Blog Archive » How to play a song your way

  2. What a fascinating blog post.

    I recently read an article that was saying exactly the same thing about “ripping a song apart” and putting it back together again except this article was aimed at producers, in that they should encourage the band, vocalist, instrumentalist or whatever, to do this in an effort to find a new and original “sound”.

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