I could never overstate the importance of a musician’s need to develop his or her ear. Actually, I believe that developing a good “inner ear” — the art of being able to decipher musical components solely through listening — is the most important element in becoming a good musician.
Clarence White was a genuine double threat. His brilliant, Doc Watson-inspired acoustic flatpicking, which incorporated lightning-fast fiddle lines played on an already-vintage Martin D-28 guitar, helped the bluegrass world recognize the guitar as a lead instrument. Several masters of the genre, including Tony Rice and Norman Blake, list him as a key influence.
For some of the really fast passages, I could hear that they were using a legato approach—incorporating an abundance of hammer-ons, pull-offs and finger slides—but I had absolutely no idea how to play the guitar in that way or achieve anywhere near their speed and precision. It sounded like nothing I’d ever heard before, so I always referred to it as “alien guitar.”
For everyone who has followed me throughout this series, I hope you found it rewarding and challenging. Hopefully this piece has helped you improve as a player in terms of technique and theory. When I began learning the piece, I was looking for something easier technique-wise than my previous Paganini series.
Playing the part is only half of the equation. The other half is deciding on the type of guitar, choosing the strings, selecting the hand technique (fingerstyle or using a pick or "plectrum," as they like to call it here in the U.K. — maybe because it sounds more complicated that way) ... and, if fingerstyle, which finger, and which part of the finger? The flesh, the nail, a bit of both?
Some of my favorite musical sounds are those that consist of long, flowing arpeggios, whether they are present in rock, classical, electronic music or metal. The manner by which most guitar players execute lengthy arpeggiated lines is by using sweep picking, wherein the pick is dragged in a single motion across two or more adjacent strings using either a downstroke or an upstroke.
In this lesson, I’ll be taking one of the most common sweep picking patterns (EXAMPLE 1) and showing you how to slightly alter it, creating several different arpeggios. It’s a cool way to take something ordinary and give it a more unique sound and vibe.
I start this lick by ascending a two-octave Bm(add9) arpeggio [B Cs D F#]. This short run is performed legato style, in which all the notes are sounded by the fret hand alone. I don’t use the pick again until the next beat, when I begin down-picking across the D and G strings.
Some of you might remember an ad that appeared in guitar magazines in the late '80s or early '90s. It showed a photo of the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Hearts Club Band LP propped up against a shiny new four-track recorder (possibly a Tascam, but who knows at this point?). The slogan above the photo was something along the lines of "A Couple of Four-Track Masterpieces."
“Boutique tones for guitarists on a fast food budget” is the catch phrase for Tone Bakery’s new line of pedals. With a Klon Centaur going for nearly $3,000 these days, I can understand what Tone Bakery is going for by releasing the Creme Brulee — its take on the iconic Centaur boost/overdrive pedal — for less than $100.