I started with organ lessons sometime mid-primary school for perhaps 2-3 years. That did not really interest me so much and am pretty sure next in line was drums and percussion in early high school. I took the mandatory music class in first year and was strongly encouraged to continue as I did remarkably well but I didn't really feel then that I had found my way with an instrument that I wanted to devote the time to study in any depth. I was involved with the intermediate orchestra for a couple of years and our percussion section even won an award at an eisteddfod for the greater public schools (i.e. upper middle class "snobs") of the capital city in which I lived for most of life. I didn't realise then that my school's reputation for excellence in many fields (incl. music) may have been a missed opportunity for a professional career in music. Let's see what the future holds.
Since my musicianship was heading in a rhythmic direction, it was logical for me to acquire a bass. I immediately fell in love with it and may have paved the way for when I was introduced to guitar for the first time which was when a local guitar teacher began to hold lessons in one of the high school library conference rooms. I struggled with it but I knew that this was the instrument for me. I had lessons for about six months but from that point on I have been pretty much self-taught.
I began on a classical guitar and didn't pick up my first electric until quite a few years later. A preference which continues to this day is that I love classical-based guitar and related forms. It was probably only by my mid-twenties that I took electric guitar seriously as a medium for self-expression. I sometimes find it hard to correlate the two. Not a lot in common there I feel.
I was never one to be a bedroom player. I always had access to other musicians, so I either jammed with them, played gigs, hung out or whatever. I started out with a covers band as many tend to do. I didn't stick with them though as their music taste quite frankly did not gel well with me. I did make a guest appearance as lead at one of their gigs some years later though on a Foo Fighters song if I remember correctly? The next project was another covers band much more to my liking but once we auditioned a singer worth his salt that all changed for me. Both me and the drummer had not until that point really considered originals but this vocalist had some serious chops that we really dug and couldn't help ourselves by playing heavier and making the transition. In the space of a few weeks we composed about a dozen songs but unfortunately the vocalist couldn't continue as he had the usual relationship dilemmas. You know the drill. Girl wants me to spend more time with her.
Anyway. That for me was the turning point. Since then I only do originals. I don't remember hardly a note of any of the covers I used to know. I prefer to try and express my own vision. Easier said than done. I realise now that I should maybe rethink my motivations as there is a lot to be learned from playing and analysing the musical compositions of others providing a springboard for you to incorporate some of those ideas and make it your own. I have probably made things more difficult for myself than I needed to by insisting on going my own way entirely.
There is a lot more to the story but is not really relevant here. For example, my forays and deep love for flamenco guitar and song. I still endeavour to devote attention to it but since joining GMC pretty close to spot on 3 months ago, I can feel I am entering a new chapter in my musical journey. Poking about here has really renewed my appreciation for electric guitar and need to give my study of it more direction and focus.
For various reasons, I had not played guitar in any form for over four years. For instance, in that time I have moved continents and started postgraduate studies (almost done). GMC is maybe the best single thing to happen in my musical career for it helps to motivate and keep things interesting and therefore could not have happened at a better time. Now while I am reacquainting myself with my love after so many years estranged. Since I have a whole new attitude to not only guitar specifically but musicality in general, I feel I am being driven to pursue this ever recurring feature of my life with a passion and not only as a hobby. The MTP will be, and is, an important step in that vein. There is a lot more ground that can be covered and attention paid in this format than even with personal one-on-one guitar lessons. In other words, it has enormous potential to get me back on track and quick smart. I ain't getting any younger! Well, I am but I won't going into metaphysics here!
Favourite Bands: Meshuggah, Nevermore, Nine Inch Nails, Filter, Helmet, Soilwork, In Flames, (early) Incubus, Deftones, The Tea Party, Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots, Foo Fighters, White Zombie, Puya, Muse, Tool, A Perfect Circle, Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave, Prong, Living Colour, Fishbone, (anything with) Mike Patton e.g. Tomahawk, Faith No More, (anything with) Devin Townsend e.g. Strapping Young Lad, The Devin Townsend Band.
Plus a few Aussie bands which many will not have ever heard of but are especially close to my heart: Cog, The Mark of Cain, Grinspoon, Shihad (aka Pacifier – even if they are Kiwis).
There are countless more but these are some of the more guitar-oriented ones I enjoy or have been influenced by in some way. I have had the good fortune to see most of the above live and that only adds to my appreciation.
So I suppose my taste reflects my penchant for the edgy but not necessarily the extreme end of the scale.
Favourite Guitarists: Vernon Reid (Living Colour), Yngwie Malmsteen, Marty Friedman (Megadeth), Page Hamilton (Helmet), Jeff Loomis (Nevermore), Mattias Eklundh, Joe Satriani, Tomatito, Vicente Amigo.
All-Time Favourite Band or Musician: (anything with) Nick Cave e.g. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds.
All-Time Favourite Guitarist: Page Hamilton or Yngwie Malmsteen (simply for the fact that I got to meet them).
This last week or so I have devoted a ridiculously intense amount of time and effort to brush up on my understanding and knowledge of music theory. The notes written in my usual tiny scribble "madman" style are proof enough of this alone. In particular, that of scales, modes, arpeggios, harmonisation and the like as it applies to improvisation. I looked at this from the perspective of improvisation as I had always been of the school of thought that what you play has to stem from impulse and have not ever composed a piece in the pre-meditated carefully constructed sense as such my whole life. I prefer to jam and let the ideas flow of their own accord. If something sounds good, I give it some thought and only then would I elaborate upon the idea by fleshing it out. This may well explain why it is I find it hard to play the same piece the same way twice. Well, that may have been true before but I like to think I look at things from a whole new perspective now and venture that I may be more open to an alternative approach in the future.
I would like to break out of the tendency to play very linear scalar passages up-and-down. It has already been commented upon in my recent collaboration with you. In this vein, I recalled I still have one of the very first music books I ever bought which was some twenty years ago or so: "The Frank Gambale Technique Book (The Essential Soloing Theory Course for All Guitarists)". I had forgotten all about it and had not touched it for probably just as long for it really was on an intermediate/advanced level. A bit too much for me to grasp at the time but now I am in a better position to glean something from it. It packs a lot of punch at under a hundred pages in the first of two volumes. As such, the material is a very condensed reference work where the devil is in the details. You really need to understand the concepts and be able to work out for yourself on paper the reasoning behind the many formulas for soloing over specific chord types (his approach is to break these into six categories). In reality, probably very much of it is some subset of the ideas that a jazz guitarist would utilise in his playing but in a more rock context. So, a little less of the crazy, over-the-top, only a select few can hope to accomplish in this lifetime, kind-of-stuff. So what I am hoping to achieve is be able to utilise all the available tools and approaches outlined in the book. My initial feeble attempts at utilising some of the ideas contained in the book have already proved to be very rewarding and just plain make sense to my ears. It really opens up some doors I wasn't even aware of before looking at it again. The music examples on the accompanying tape (yes, you read that correctly) don't really do the book justice. Glad I was able to look past that.
The immediate result from this was that I was able to identify a particular area in which I would like to work on in the context of the MTP Program (this was the rationale behind the intense theoretical study period referred to earlier) and that is – arpeggios. Not only can they sound cool if done in the style of sweep picking, they also help identify the strong tones within a given scale on which it is being played over with less fumbling about. So, I am trying to shift my awareness to a more intervallic approach rather than a pattern-based one. I am only just starting to utilise this by picturing a scale in intervals first which allows you to "see" which arpeggios are available and potential ways of sequencing them for instance. So many other benefits are afforded by mapping out the fingerboard in this manner and arpeggio shapes would be an excellent tool to help organise this morass of information overload in a very musical way.
These are very much a consequence of and related to the theoretical goals already mentioned. Since Kris's superb video chat mini-lesson here at GMC a month or two ago, I have felt the desire to learn the sweep picking technique for the first time ever. Pretty much a constant feature in a lot of the heavier styles of music I get a kick out of listening to. It is well over due for me to get a piece of that action. In so doing, kill two birds with one stone – theoretical and technical goals are given equal measure. I get a picture of how to move up and down the fretboard for the underlying scale, mode or whatever as well as providing some further options for execution of any given passage in a technical sense. Positive reinforcement in action.
Most of the video lessons I have been studying lately (3 months post-GMC signup) have been to improve finger independence, alternate picking and hand synchronisation. I know. Not very exciting. So, I don't have anything really concrete to show for my efforts thus far. My intention was to lay a strong foundation down first to build upon in later studies. I am still working on those exercises and I guess will be doing exactly that forever or for however long I can still hold a guitar in my hands. I find myself using a lot of the focus and attention to details as I did for flamenco guitar not so long ago with regard to mechanics i.e. hand position, attack, release, posture etc. It has been quite a frustrating road but I think I am finally getting a handle on it and can move on now to something more musical and exciting.
Ideally, I want to get to that special place where I have the tools to recreate that which I hear in my head. I believe this to be the aim of any serious musician in their pursuit for excellence. On more than one occasion I have had the experience of watching a full-blown complete composition of mine own in a lucid dream. The way things are at present there is no way I would be able to reproduce this in the waking world. I often think I have rhythmic tunes swirling in my head as I play or just doing the day-to-day. It may very well be that these ideas are in fact melodic in nature only that I can't really perceive it as such with my current abilities. I hope to change that as I progress further. The rest would flow much more naturally as a consequence rather than thinking in purely technical, theoretical, mechanical terms which I have a predilection for.
"The guitar is my vehicle and music the road which leads me onward ..."
As any CV is not complete without a photo of the applicant, well not really, here we go! Also, as a small reward in case anyone had the wherewithal to read this entire (very long) thread ...
My heart goes out to you!
My fingernails are not nearly as long as this now but still longish enough for flamenco guitar
duties when required. Given that Daniel is quite the tapping specialist, I really don't see how
I would be able to benefit from that since I have a "slight" physical limitation???
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