Category Archives: art

More Than Just A Guitarist

When we are young musicians we often have our sites set on bright lights, touring, albums and all the other hoohaa that happens in the music industry.  But as we mature as musicians we start to see the other sides of music, the joy of playing, the challenge of playing different styles and the various other places where music is used in the world around us.  E.g. Commercially, in the Arts, short films and these days in multimedia projects. We don’t have to look too hard to find an application/use for music.

A few years ago I worked on a project, it ended up I had one evening to compose, record, edit and complete one such piece of music.  As I own the copyright on the piece I have decided to post the piece of music here.

Basically I am a guitarist foremost but like many musicians these days it is possible to use technology to create and complete a whole project in a small studio environment.  On the recording I played all parts, excluding the use of a drum machine, and I wil state I am not a keyboard player but my knowledge of chords through studying music, enables me to play what is required to have a complete piece of music.

Like most musicians I recorded the drum track first and built the song from there.  it was followed by the guitar part which is reasonably minimalistic.  Throughout the piece I double the guitar part with a harmony on keyboard to fatten up the sound of the guitar.  

As I play multiple styles of music, it has enabled me to work on some fascinating projects over the years.  No flashing lights and big PA’s here,  just a love of music and a challenge to meet an outcome.  It was commissioned for a small Arts film.

 It is very laid back and sort of chilly.  It’s called Walk Ins

 To hear it click on the link, it’s about 4 MB. http://www.the-acoustic-guitar.com/downloads/walk_ins.mp3

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The Greatness of Music

One of the wonderful things about music is its ability to be enjoyed by people across the world, regardless of any differences of any sort, whether they be cultural, religious, ideological, financial status or age group.  It’s very normal for human beings to disagree on things, even two people that care for each other dearly will often have polar opposite views on things. So when you’re with others that you may not even know it’s easier to disagree or be misunderstood. Many times I’ve thought that maybe if we could just all be quiet for a few moments, forget that we have opinions on anything at all and just listen to and feel the emotions coming from music, we’d all be a little happier and we’d be in greater harmony with each other.  I guess the other art form that has a similar effect is dance, but guess what we dance to. 

In many countries boys often don’t want to sing, or at least they think it’s not so cool to.  This is very unfortunate because we generally feel better after singing, at least I do.  So where this is leading is to remind you to sing more often and just for a moment forget that there are differences on anything, sit back and enjoy music and recognise that somebody somewhere that may not see the world the same as we do, is probably listening to and enjoying the exact same music as we are. Music has incredible power to bring us into harmony within ourselves and others.

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How to get through a musical slump

Every guitar player or artist goes through slumps.  Slumps are times when we’re not feeling creative, when we wonder why we are doing what we are doing, the creative juices are turned off and we think about giving it all away.  Like everything, we can approach it from a negative mindset or apositive.  Ultimately the creator within ourselves is screaming to get out, to make the most beautiful music possible and experience the emotions that come with that.  We humans are emotional beings, ‘feeling junkies’ that want to get the right sensations running through the neuronet in our brain, or sometimes we subconsciously go for sensations that are lesser than what we really want but we have developed patterns that seem to lock us into an endles loop.  And it’s also been said many times that we are creatures of habit. So here we have three major aspects of ourselves that are driving us. 1. We are creative beings 2. We are emotional beings and 3. We are creatures of habit. 

Where this article is leading to, is a place where we can look at the slumps and turn them around into something that is useful and not something that is undermining our desire to create and sabotages our music or artform.

I like to think of a musical slump as a time to look at what I’m doing, how I’m doing it and how I can do it differently. In a slump, we are often looking for or in need of inspiration.   If we are always listening to music, maybe it’s time to stand back, turn the music off, maybe our ears are on overload or have become numb and insensitive.  Or another choice is to listen to and explore other styles, it’s very easy to get caught in a style. I’m a firm believer that many musicians are not necessarily playing the music that really suits their nature and have arrived at the style they play by default, because it was fashion or what their peer group was listening to, they wanted to play and just ended up playing what was happening at that moment. 

In the slump, I will often put myself into what I call the ‘musical workshop’, I’ll look at what aspects of music I need to work on, maybe technique, harmony, open-tunings, different methods of improvisation, analysing other players, playing classical guitar pieces, arrangements by other players; there are numerous things that can be done to still be IN music even if we are feeling musically out of sorts. At other times it’s better to just stand back and have a break, but if you do this, the important thing to do is to make a plan of re-entering into music and some point in the near future.

And sure enough, like the cycle of seasons, before you know it you find yourself back creating again.

 If you need some resources I have a number of them at www.the-guitarplayer.com

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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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