Monthly Archives: November 2007

C open tuning for guitar

Over a 25 years years I’ve experimented with a lot of open tunings.  originally I was inspired to do this after hearing John Martyn, John Renbourn, Stefan Grossman and then a few years after that, Michael Hedges, Pierre Bensusan, Alex de Grassi and of course Nick Drake. 

Finding material to play in normal tuning is easy these days, but getting a good range of tunes is not so easy in some of the other tunings.  what I’ve had to do over the years is create my tunes or rejig other tunes to suit.

A few weeks back , I was listening to an album by Anouar Brahem, the Oud player from Tunisia and the Norwegian sax player and I decided to arrange a piece of music in a version of  C tuning, it’s C G C G C F  from bass to treble. you’ll finfd the TAB and music notation at http://the-guitarplayer.com/?p=72 it’s very simple and short but a great piece to work with.

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A beautiful guitar piece

If you like classical / nylon string guitar and are interested in hearing a beautiful, delicate piece of music, check out the link below it’s by a guitar player called Per Olov Kindgren.

The site belongs to a British Classical Guitar Player Mark Antony and is a great website that has videos of some exceptional nylon string guitar players.  

http://digital-newworld.com/blog/2007/11/24/before-the-silence/

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What makes a great guitarist?

How to be a great guitarist, not just a good one.  

What is it that makes guitarists stand out from the rest?

I think the music that I find most meaningless is music that sounds like everyone else.   My approach has always been unusual; I’ve tried over the years not to copy other players, to the point of avoiding working out their tunes , I’d rather have a brief listen, get an overview of what they are saying and interpret it my own way.  It is a bit difficult but it has helped me define my own style(s).  What I found was that if I listened too much to another player it was really easy to sound like them, so it has always been important to listen to lots of genres.  To a lot of people music from particular genres sound the same, all music falls into some musical style category but obviously, it is possible to have your own musical signature in a particular style.  e.g. Hendrix sounds like Hendrix and Steve Vai sounds like Steve Vai,  and with one note Carlos Santana will be immediately be recognizable.

I don’t particularly like cover bands, but I admit that for many people it is a valid way of making an income and we need to eat, and there is a market. 

The thing that separates players from players is the uniqueness of what they do. If there’s one thing in music worth doing it has to be finding your own musical voice. It’s great to admire other players but very important to find your own style that is not a carbon copy of another player.  It’s the way to get the greatest satisfaction from music.

Good players play well, great players are themselves

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Blues and Country Guitar Scales

Blues and Country Guitar Scales are easy to play.  I have written a  number of them in normal tuning.  You will find them at http://www.the-guitarplayer.com they are in a printable format Acrobat Reader .pdf and are free to download. There are also simple instructions on how to use them e.g. which chords to play them over 

PLEASE NOTE:  I have recently done a TAB and Music Notation at this site

https://acousticguitarist.wordpress.com/2008/06/15/country-guitar-scales-for-acoustic-guitar/

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Who is greatest guitarist?

If you ask most guitar players, ‘who is the greatest guitarist ever’, most will bring up the names of people like Django, Wes Montgomery, Segovia, Hendrix, Hedges, Atkins, Satriani, Martino, Yepes….the list goes on and on.  An argument could go for days on this issue and never be resolved.

Because I’ve played for so long,  people  often ask me questions like ‘who is the best’ ‘your favorite’ etc.  I have a long list of who I like and could go into a long discourse on the intricacies of the different players virtues and strengths. 

If anyone was to answer the question saying that they themselves were the best, people would probably think that the person had a severe ego problem.  Well I’m going to put forward a very different way of answering that question, and it’s an answer that comes from a player not a listener. Usually when we talk about music we talk from a listeners point of view and yes music is about listening but there is another side to it.

I was talking to a friend of mine a few days back and she said that she got a shock when she first saw me play guitar.  My first thought was, oh no, did I have one of those funny guitar faces or something.  But after a bit of prompting, she said that she had never ever seen anyone play the guitar the way I do.  I said ‘what do you mean?’ she said,   ‘it looked like the guitar was an extension of your body, that there was no difference between you and your guitar’.   At first I thought, hey nice compliment, but it got me thinking.

From a players perspective playing guitar can be a very powerful experience. For me music is about feelings, it is the foremost thing that counts,  and yes there is a need to develop a technique that can be a vehicle to express the feelings, but in the end we are ‘feeling beings’  and that is what we seek most, to expess our emotions.   There have been times over the years that I have played in groups and line ups that were not really suitable for me, not because I couldn’t play the music but because I couldn’t feel the emotions that the particular style required.  Durng these times I felt very empty and uncomfortable.

Music comes in waves, it’s not constant, it’s not something that is on tap whenever you want it.  It’s possible to always play well and emotively but I could honestly say that music is not always there.  Sometimes when I play guitar it’s like standing in a gateway between two worlds and talking from one to the other. There is a very weird release of something that creates a feeling of euphoria, at times it’s so strong that I could almost weep and as if my heart was bleeding, not in a bad way but in a manner that my body wants to explode, even in the gaps between the notes.   I once saw Carlos Santana play live about 30 years ago, he played Europa, it was the first time I’d heard it, my eyes filled with tears.  I have only had that a few times with western music, once with YoYo Ma playing cello and another time when I saw Andreas Bocelli sing for the first time, apart from that, the only other times have been when I play. 

So, for the player it is or can be a very profound, more than just music experience. It can be a total experience that cannot really be expressed in words, and somehow as a musician I wish that I could share with you what I actually experience.  It’s like vacating your body and hiring it out to some musical experience.

So I’d like to give a response to the question ‘Who is the greatest guitar player?’  And my response is said in all sincerity, I’d have to say that anyone that also experiences that feeling that I experience would no doubt be the greatest guitarist, because at the moment when a player is experiencing what I am talking about they are totally in the heart of music.  And music is about feelings, not about anything else.

Anyone that has been to this blog before may know about the song that I recorded for my beautiful son after he moved on to his next life.  It was recorded in the dark and there are a few audio glitches but maybe the emotion I am talking of may come through.

 http://www.the-acoustic-guitar.com/sound/the_bardo.mp3

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How to be a good guitarist

How to be a good guitarist?

A HELPFUL TIP

There are a lot of pieces to that puzzle.  This is a major one.   What I’ve noticed over the years is that the players that have played with a lot of other players eventually develop a good sense of time.  Some players that only ever play solo can often end up a bit wobbly with their time.  So the bottom line is  DEVELOP a GOOD SENSE OF TIME, it doesn’t need to RIGID, but it does need to be solid but with a little flexibility.  A lot of players speed up, try to avoid this.  Practice with a drum machine or rhythm track, the more musical the drum machine is, the better.  Or use some sort of drum loop. Start working at a very slow tempo and gradually over a period of times learn to play faster.

If you really want to hear some great guitar accompaniment, listen to what Tony Rice did on Hot Dawg with David Grisman.  In fact one of the all time great acoustic solos is on a song called 16/16.

If you can keep good time, musicians will want to play with you, if you’re real clever, very flash and showy but can’t keep time, other musicians won’t bother working with you, there are a lot of good guitar players out there.  Timing is everything.

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Acoustic guitar albums collection

Every acoustic guitar player has albums that really impacted on them.  I thought I’d list a few of mine.  These are my personal, INSTRUMENTAL from my ‘can’t live without them’ collection.  I haven’t included my favourites with vocals or albums with bands. 

Michael Hedges – Breakfast in the Field

Michael Hedges – Aerial Boundaries

Alex De Grassi – Turning: Turning back

Pierre Bensusan – Intuite

Pierre Bensusan – Solilai

Pat Metheny – One Quiet Night

Pat Metheny   Charle Haden – Missouri Sky

Bill Connors – Swimming with a hole in my body

Ansgar Daelken – Llanezza

John Renbourn and Stefan Grossman – self titled

Stefan Grossman – Thunder on the run

Tim Sparks – One string leads to another

Sargasso Sea – Ralph Towner and John Abercrombie

Ralph Towner – Batik

Egberto Gismonti – Dancas das cabacas (unusual but Egberto is brilliant)

tomorrow…I’ll list the ones that I should have listed as well

   

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