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> Artemus Introduction Thread, Your goals for following 3 months
Pedja Simovic
post May 28 2010, 01:34 PM
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Art,

Feel free to tell me as many things as possible about your playing and knowledge. Audio and/or video of your playing could also help. I am looking for specific goals (short and long term) so that I could create proper plan for you smile.gif

Pedja


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Artemus
post May 31 2010, 01:40 PM
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So, here we are, finally!
Now that I have the opportunity to divulge all that I can think about regarding my musical experience, my hopes and dreams, and expectations, I seem to be slightly at a loss because I do not know what is most relevant. Nevertheless, I shall attempt a little biography and some thoughts on how I would like to proceed.

Musical History and Influence

First and foremost: I do not consider myself a guitarist! Sure, I can fake my way across the fretboard, but I have never felt that I possess an intuitive feeling for the instrument. Let me explain, since most people become annoyed with me when I say such things because they think I am being falsely modest.. I assure you, I am not.
I began learning the piano at the age of 5 and rigorously went up through all of the grades (The UK music board, ABRSM); piano was my life and I had serious thoughts of going pro but instead opted to pursue a career in science when I went to college, especially when I realised the competition and stress of such a path. So, around this time music was always put to the side. I started teaching music privately when I was 15, which began when my teacher back then gave me the privilege of being his deputy teacher, taking over his students when he couldn't teach, even preparing students for exams.
Anyhow, I didn't touch a guitar until I was a young teenager, and even then, it didn't really interest me.. until I started listening to something other than classical music.. blues guitar! My older sister brought back a banged-up, sorry looking classical guitar and showed me how to play a 12-bar blues rhythm that someone had taught her. That and a few chords I picked up were the sum total of what I could do and all I bothered doing for many years; strum happy! tongue.gif
That changed when a new guy moved into the neighbourhood - he had an electric guitar ohmy.gif
Furthermore, he showed me something called a minor pentatonic scale and this other thing that just seemed so cool - it was called rock music?! Music made by rocks eh. Guys called Hendrix and such, all creating these wonderful fuzzy sounds on an electric guitar that I was liking more and more every time I listened. Then I realised when I tried to play with them using notes from that pentatonic wotsit that I could play some of it. So that's what I did for the years to follow, on this banged up classical guitar, which eventually broke (cues the tears) but my parents, bless them, bought me another - this time an electro-acoustic steel strung beauty (I still have it). Yes, I wanted an electric but my parents couldn't afford it and my mum had reservations. My mum's quite religious and conservative and didn't approve of me listening to this rock music smile.gif I'm not even going to tell you about when I started listening to metal! For a few years I had to listen to bands I was getting into in secret - I had to hide my albums that I borrowed and listen to them on headphones in bed when everyone was asleep. Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Metallica and the likes - they were my dark little secret for a time. Anyhow, as you can imagine, I was loving these bands and tried picking up the riffs by ear. I never got that far, until a friend donated his electric guitar to me; one of those no-frills guitars with one pithy humbucker you can buy from the supermarket, which I played right up until about 5 years ago!
Still, I didn't do much other than pentatonic stuff, a few licks I'd heard and creating some riffs/songs, especially as I got into the heavier side of rock. I was more into writing/singing and maintaining my piano practice. As I started playing in and forming bands I tried my hand at bass, drums and keyboards, and singing. Mostly singing in fact, the bass playing resulted from having a band and never having a "reliable" bass player. Drums I taught myself out of necessity so that I could show the drummer types of beats/ideas that I wanted for particularly riffs etc.
So that was that for over a decade.
Things changed when I had a bit of a harsh end to a band I formed with some old school friends. We ended up falling out over a big misunderstanding and I realised I didn't enjoy that and, after a couple more attempts at playing in bands I gave up. I didn't much enjoy singing and I knew I wasn't very good so I thought of taking up the guitar properly - something I could enjoy and use to write tunes with needing to play with other people. For the first time ever I took lessons. A hold new world of technique and playing styles opened up for me. Since my teacher was a professional session musician I got to learn all sorts of different styles and techniques; improving on the rock/blues and classical I already knew, and expanding my horizons with tapping, modes, whammy bar use, volume swells, different levels of vibrato, alternate picking, economy picking, legato, sweep picking, different varieties of harmonics. I soaked it all up with a hunger I'd never felt before and I practised like a demon, hardly stopping for breath.
It would seem, as a consequence that my music tastes developed and expanded hugely. This didn't do me any good when it came to playing with others again – my ideas and influences were always becoming more and more progressive, too extreme, too complex, too varied, too “free”. This was not for the sake of itself – I just heard it differently in my head - then I play it as I wanted to, without restriction. I listen to a range of music including technical metal, avant garde, doom, atmospheric/experimental, industrial, funk, folk, jazz trios, jazz metal, latin jazz, latin metal, klezmer, klezmer metal, mathcore, post-rock, rap metal, dubstep, dub metal, some trip-hop and electronica, various things that come under “world” music, classic blues, blues-rock, rock-blues, thrash metal, cheesy 80's hair metal, alternative/indie of the 80's and 90's (aka “goth” but I, like Andrew Eldritch, don't like the G-work), and a variety of classical genres of course, especially French Impressionism and late 19th/early 20th century romantics, and some minimalism and modern classical. I'm sure I've missed stuff out but you get the picture.

So, why have I bored you with my life story? Well, I think it should give you an idea of where I come from in relation to guitar and why, as I stated in at the beginning, I don't consider myself a guitarist, or at least a good one. Although I've played guitar for half my life, until 5 years ago, I didn't take any interest in it as an instrument that I could use as a musical voice for my expression – it was merely a riff-creating device. It's only when I heard artists such as Mattias IA Eklundh, Christophe Godin, Guthrie Govan, Ron Thal, Greg Howe, Jeff Kollman, Dave Martone, Paul Gilbert, Mr. Fastfinger, and Ron Jarzombek, make really interesting music with guitars – sounds I'd never have dreamed (or rather would have only dreamed) were possible.. this, as well as appreciating more those I'd already loved like Gary Moore, Alan Morse, Steve Vai, John Petrucci, and Joe Satriani, and the other big names.

Guitar knowledge and ability

Well *ahem* yes this a little tricky. In short, I know a lot of techniques on the guitar; I understand them in detail even, but I don't think I'm proficient in any of them. I can alternate pick, yes, but I can't shred up and down a scale at speed comfortably. I can sweep, yes. I can sweep big. I can sweep small. Again, though I couldn't do a Jeff Loomis cleanly. Tapping, yes, I can tap. Two fingers, eight fingers? Sure. Just as long I don't go outside of my comfort scale and you let me figure out where to tap first. Speed licks? Hmm. Give me time to practice then yes I'll get there someday, but off-the-cuff - definitely no! Extend scales beyond the 3nps patterns – give me the time to take in the shift in position(s) then no problem, but I haven't internalised the positions in a holistic sense. Huh? What's that you say? play over a progression with a change in key? um.. where's the exit?..

You get the picture – I know a lot – I just can't do a lot!

The same goes with theory when it comes to guitar. Of course I'm fairly theory literature thanks to my piano experience, but I can hold my hands up and say that I probably haven't applied any of my knowledge to the fretboard.
I know. Shame on me. “BAD ARTEMUS!”

I know you've seen my REC videos, so you're aware that I can play a bit when I apply myself, and as someone that's actively taught for many years, I know how to practice effectively. However, when it comes to improvisation, it's a bit of a joke. I can widdle. I'm a pretty mean widdler! Enough to impress the kiddies, but I'm no jazzer. It's easy enough to make me breakdown in failure – tell me improvise over shifts in key, tonality, or target key scale notes of the modes for the changes, or start playing around with the harmonic minor modes – and target the key notes with each change.. Any form of intelligent playing required and I'll crumble.

My ear isn't so bad but it could be better I guess. It would be more beneficial to me to be able to use my interval recognition to be able to sing play anything. I could use some pushing to get better at recognising 9ths, 11ths, 13ths harmonically and melodically – hearing, and somehow, feeling the character of chords and progressions – anything and everything that will make playing and improvising a much more intuitive endeavour and one that I don't have to limited to or prepared for in any way. I'm sure you understand what I mean – it is the dream of all guitarists to be able to just “pick up and play” to anything, in any way. Well, even if that's not the case, that's been my pursuit these past few years.

This would be perhaps my greatest set back though:
I'm never happy with my technique and I'll prioritise improvement of my technique over applying theory and “discovering” the guitar. As a result, I feel like I improve as much as a dehydrated man running to the summit of a sand hill. If I ever I conquer a technical difficulty, a momentary euphoria does not distract for long that the real challenge and desires of playing how I described above are so far away - they are lost in the haze and at times almost appear as an unobtainable mirage that vanishes as soon as I'm brave enough to touch the glistening dream.

I think I shall leave you with those honest thoughts. Hopefully you can steer me back onto the righteous path biggrin.gif

This post has been edited by Artemus: May 31 2010, 02:09 PM


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Pedja Simovic
post May 31 2010, 04:07 PM
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Art,

My jaw dropped after I read your whole story man smile.gif Really great story with lots of ideas for new guitar players to come. I strongly believe that your talent lies in MUSIC! Not everybody can do Piano, Guitar, Bass, Drums and Sing smile.gif So I think from that point of you it shows me that you got talent for instruments. I don't doubt your working habit or your organization skills, but I do believe that we need to focus your playing time into something more constructive.
You mentioned that you tend to never be satisfied with your technique. I think there lies the key to your sucess and improvement. I will be assigning you transcribing assignments as well as composition based work (writing sections or whole songs even). I basically need to get you out of technique box and put you in the box where it says "making music". Along this path we shall be working on theory and harmony as well as ear training (which really is closely related to transcribing). I will check your improvising through some other assignments but I think you will be fine with all the assignments.

Would you mind if I assigned you transcription for your 1st assignment?

Pedja


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Artemus
post May 31 2010, 09:19 PM
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Absolutely. That sounds great - I know I'm going to really enjoy these assignments. I'm positively buzzing with excitement biggrin.gif


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Pedja Simovic
post May 31 2010, 09:26 PM
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Great, that makes it also easier for me when I know you are in agreement and will follow the work !
smile.gif


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