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> Advanced Vs Pro Playing #2, Still working on that extra bit of mojo which makes all the difference
Kristofer Dahl
post Nov 23 2014, 10:55 PM
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Here is a follow-up to this topic where I identified ‘problem areas’ in my playing. Namely:

* timing. I felt my playing was bit stiff and aiming to be 100% on the beat
* bending: bends were often quite a bit off

So to deal with those two issues, I wrote a new song - to serve as an ‘excuse’ to practice day and night to fix those problem areas.

After approx 8 months of practicing I felt things were getting absurd ( + I started to get really tired of the song). So I decided to record it and move on, here is the result:



8 months was not really enough to get full control of this song, though I feel my timing got better thanks to sseveral sections in the song which required playing ‘around’ the beat with precision.

Also - it seems to me that the more technical my music is, the less I can play with feel/emotion (because I am so focused on getting the runs right). This time around I kept the runs at a manageable level so I could really dig into the music - and I think this made my playing less robotic/sterile compared to my previous thread.

In this song there were mostly Yngwie inspired picking runs as far as shredding goes, and those are a bit loose timing wise, and you can more easily compensate for mistakes. The opposite would be Paul Gilbert style 16th note string skipping arpeggios, where a single mistake could easily ruin the feel of an entire take.

Btw - maybe writing a technical song but try to play it with lots of emotion could be a worthy challenge for Advanced VS Pro Playing #3 ?

Even though the song begins with lots of bends - and I must have played that intro section 10 000-20 000 times by now - the bends are not 100% spot on. However a good thing is that I felt I gradually got better at “masking” those incorrect bends: Subconsciously I started adding vibrato or returning to the original pitch when I messed up, this is also something I often hear singers do live. If they’re skilled it will sound more like a feature than a bug!

I retrospect I feel my focus this time was accuracy of bends rather than quality of vibrato - so the later is something I should probably focus more on, to get a more controlled and wider vibrato (at least when the song calls for it).

I have also recently got a taste for using hip-hop inspired beats - and I feel there is a lot of potential to further use this in instrumental music. They have a lot of qualities that can serve us guitarists, some of them are:

* They can make monotonous leads sound decent (!!) - just listen to rapping..!
* They provide opportunities for highly rhythmic and groovy playing, this is something I absolutely love. The principle is simple: once you have got a groove all you need is great harmony - and you have got the most important and basic musical elements.

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Do you have any thoughts about all of this? How have you progressed the last 8 months?

What do you think I should focus on the coming months? And what should you focus on?

Regardless of our current level, we’re all here to progress - so it would be very cool to get some discussion going about this.


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Chris S.
post Nov 24 2014, 12:29 AM
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Amazing work Kris!

I can only aspire to half as good as all of your talented guitarists here in GMC tongue.gif

You made some very good pointers in this video that I will definitely make a mental note of - and for what I am working on now that would have to be my vibrato.

Like I told Cosmin in my mentor thread, I thought I had the world's best vibrato before I came to GMC and he is currently helping me develop it. A long process it will be I'm sure, but the payoff will be pretty sweet!

Keep rocking, Kris - and I will try to do the same cool.gif
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Todd Simpson
post Nov 24 2014, 02:51 AM
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Some great stuff in this vid smile.gif I can you really worked on your bends and vibrato! Seems more like Eric Johnson maybe? But beauty is in the EAR of the beholder, as they say smile.gif

I'd like to see you harmonizing with yourself and playing more thematic melody bits to tie the main structure of the song together a bit more. But that's just me smile.gif A "Song" type of instrumental usually benefits from some song type structure with chorus/bridge/verse bits done on guitar using melodic themes. It seems you took the approach instead of playing more solo focused bits. This is just as valid of course smile.gif Just a bit harder for the non guitarists ear to process. I found that out the hard way over the years smile.gif

This seems like really 2 or three songs that come together as one long song. Did you ever think about breaking them up into parts being entire songs? E.g the first slow bit a blues/jazz song then the fast bit more of an Yngwie instrumental etc? I like all the variety in one place as it's a bold choice smile.gif But I could see regular ears struggling with the changes in vibe. But personally, it RAWKS!

Todd

This post has been edited by Todd Simpson: Nov 24 2014, 02:55 AM


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Kristofer Dahl
post Nov 24 2014, 10:57 PM
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QUOTE (Chris S. @ Nov 24 2014, 12:29 AM) *
Amazing work Kris!

I can only aspire to half as good as all of your talented guitarists here in GMC tongue.gif

You made some very good pointers in this video that I will definitely make a mental note of - and for what I am working on now that would have to be my vibrato.

Like I told Cosmin in my mentor thread, I thought I had the world's best vibrato before I came to GMC and he is currently helping me develop it. A long process it will be I'm sure, but the payoff will be pretty sweet!

Keep rocking, Kris - and I will try to do the same cool.gif


You already rock - with your devotion you are guaranteed to progress. And prioritizing vibrato is very wise, as it's probably the one and only technique which can make all your other techniques shine.(the opposite is also true - if you end that fantastic picking run with poor vibrato it won't be worth much..)

QUOTE (Todd Simpson @ Nov 24 2014, 02:51 AM) *
Some great stuff in this vid smile.gif I can you really worked on your bends and vibrato! Seems more like Eric Johnson maybe? But beauty is in the EAR of the beholder, as they say smile.gif

I'd like to see you harmonizing with yourself and playing more thematic melody bits to tie the main structure of the song together a bit more. But that's just me smile.gif A "Song" type of instrumental usually benefits from some song type structure with chorus/bridge/verse bits done on guitar using melodic themes. It seems you took the approach instead of playing more solo focused bits. This is just as valid of course smile.gif Just a bit harder for the non guitarists ear to process. I found that out the hard way over the years smile.gif

This seems like really 2 or three songs that come together as one long song. Did you ever think about breaking them up into parts being entire songs? E.g the first slow bit a blues/jazz song then the fast bit more of an Yngwie instrumental etc? I like all the variety in one place as it's a bold choice smile.gif But I could see regular ears struggling with the changes in vibe. But personally, it RAWKS!

Todd


Some very good points in here. Writing a pop-oriented instrumental would be a huge challenge for me - as I have never done anything like that. Also I have never really been proficient in harmonizing. So doing something like this could be a way for me to up a level. Thanks for the Eric Johnson parallel btw, he is a big influence for sure!

I have to admit squeezing in many different sections into one song is a must for me in order not to loose interest when practicing the song over and over. To me it is very rewarding to have a compact 'practice session song' such as this one - which is completely focused on the weaker aspects of my playing - and at the same time is musically stimulating going through various different moods.

You are right it probably would not be a wise thing to do in order to try and sell instrumental music to the masses - though this is not really on my to do list right now. But never say never!


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Monica Gheorghev...
post Nov 25 2014, 09:06 AM
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I really love this song and I liked from the first time when I listened at your Vchat. Anyway, after I heard you playing blues I became a fan of your playing smile.gif But this song it's definitely my favorite from yours. Has everything and for my personal taste I like very much the idea to use different sections in one song. Gives a very tasty feel and avoid the normality and classical structure of a song.

I can't find nothing wrong in this song. Maybe one humble opinion but this is more about personal taste. On that blues/jazzy section because of a little more gain in sound, the dynamics it's a little killed. But this is more about my personal taste wink.gif

As a conclusion, BIG congrats and the fact that you played with feeling make this song to shine. I hardly wait to see your next tune smile.gif

This post has been edited by Monica Gheorghevici: Nov 25 2014, 09:10 AM
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Kristofer Dahl
post Nov 25 2014, 11:52 AM
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Hehe wow Monica I don't know what to say, thanks! wub.gif

Btw what do you consider your strengths and weaknesses? We have seen you go through a steep progress curve, so your reasoning could be beneficial to many others.


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Monica Gheorghev...
post Nov 25 2014, 03:10 PM
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QUOTE (Kristofer Dahl @ Nov 25 2014, 10:52 AM) *
Hehe wow Monica I don't know what to say, thanks! wub.gif

Btw what do you consider your strengths and weaknesses? We have seen you go through a steep progress curve, so your reasoning could be beneficial to many others.

I will try to make an objective description because I'm very harshly with me and it's much easy to see my weaknesses. For my strong points I will make some explanations wink.gif

My strong points:
- good sense of melody - but to keep this and to grow up my level of composition, in my daily practice I warm up improvising things (1-3 hours/day and many hours in weekend). But I focus just to feel the music, not to think what technical details to put in composition (details are step 2 when I prepare a new video). When I improvise, I don't do this like a way to waste the time. Everytime I respect the basic rules to keep the continuity in melody, I try to build every phrase like a story and I prepare the space for the moment when I must increase the tension. I never play just in a single place on guitar and also I will never stop a phrase in the middle of nothing. That's why I record daily what I do and I listen very careful to be able to fix my issues.

- very much patience - if one single note it doesn't sound good I can play this for many hours, days or many weeks, without to became bored, until I will be satisfied with the sound. My instructor can confirm this wink.gif

- the ability to “show” what I want - I mean, I know exactly my technical level of playing and I know very well what can I play good and what I play bad. When I add technical details in my compositions I will do exactly only the things that I know I can play perfect at any hour. This will make me to focus just on playing with feeling. But I have an agreement with me and I must make a new technical thing (much harder) for every new video. So, behind the people eyes, I work to improve my technique but I will show this at the right moment when I will feel relaxation and safety in what I do.

- a lot of ambition – I try to learn all the things very fast and I'm never tired or bored to play at guitar

- obsession to find the perfect tone - as an example, for the lesson that I work at this moment with my instructor, I worked 1 week only to make a similar tone like in lesson. Was a week full of experiments but everyone which knows the sounds made by Darek, know how hard is to make similar things with all the plugins and settings that he use smile.gif But when I will post the lesson in REC I will be happy and proud of my tone smile.gif

My weaknesses (……those things that I practice daily wink.gif )
- vibrato - it look much better than last month but it's not how it should be. Still work every day for this
- timing - I want to be like a Swiss watch. Still a long way until then.
- sweep - even if is not a technique that I like, I would like to be able to do that
- speed - probably when my technique will be at a good level, I'm sure that the speed will be like a normal thing. I not hurry with this, because I want to do all the things step by step
- riffs - I can't compose riffs. Probably because I never played metal and this part doesn’t sound in my head. But it's in my schedule smile.gif
- and many others techniques biggrin.gif

This post has been edited by Monica Gheorghevici: Nov 25 2014, 03:58 PM
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Kristofer Dahl
post Nov 25 2014, 11:23 PM
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I must say I am extremely excited about seeing how you will progress the coming, it's obvious you are every determined!

QUOTE (Monica Gheorghevici @ Nov 25 2014, 03:10 PM) *
My strong points:
- good sense of melody - but to keep this and to grow up my level of composition, in my daily practice I warm up improvising things (1-3 hours/day and many hours in weekend). But I focus just to feel the music, not to think what technical details to put in composition (details are step 2 when I prepare a new video). When I improvise, I don't do this like a way to waste the time. Everytime I respect the basic rules to keep the continuity in melody, I try to build every phrase like a story and I prepare the space for the moment when I must increase the tension. I never play just in a single place on guitar and also I will never stop a phrase in the middle of nothing. That's why I record daily what I do and I listen very careful to be able to fix my issues.


This is a very good point. In combination with this...

QUOTE (Monica Gheorghevici @ Nov 25 2014, 03:10 PM) *
- speed - probably when my technique will be at a good level, I'm sure that the speed will be like a normal thing. I not hurry with this, because I want to do all the things step by step



... I think you're in for the win!

I believe that if technique comes before melody/musicality it's acts as a severe handicap. Best is if we let technique come with lots of time, and instead work hard on being as musical as possible.


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JamesT
post Nov 27 2014, 06:15 AM
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Kris, I've always liked your playing since the first time I heard your riffs when I first visited GMC several years ago now. And you've taken it so much further both musically and technically since then. Your progress is inspiring. Your analysis during the speaking section of this video is great and I like the way it points to again, the subtle and not subtle musical choices and options that we have as guitarists for expression in music. Great work on this vid, and great work on your latest tunes. Keep it up. Looking forward to hearing more.


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Kristofer Dahl
post Nov 27 2014, 09:55 AM
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QUOTE (JamesT @ Nov 27 2014, 06:15 AM) *
Your progress is inspiring.

Thanks a lot James, this is exactly what I am trying to accomplish. I know from when starting out that having an instructor/guitarist as an inspiration means everything!

But I also know that having people in your surrounding that play way over your head, can sometimes have the opposite effect...

Btw - would you like to give us a personal analysis like Monica did? I think your progress has been inspiring for many others as well.


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JamesT
post Nov 28 2014, 06:17 AM
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QUOTE (Kristofer Dahl @ Nov 27 2014, 12:55 AM) *
Btw - would you like to give us a personal analysis like Monica did? I think your progress has been inspiring for many others as well.


Ok. Here goes.
Monica, you're commitment and approach to practice and playing is inspiring as well.

I have been playing guitar for a long, long, ... long time now. Probably longer than some of you have been on the planet. Still nothing helps me more to escape the world if for just a while than playing guitar, or listening to music. Even after all this time, the guitar for me is a thing of beauty, something that's a very rich part of my life. During my guitar playing "career" (or so it seems), I've had many ups and downs, but only knowing that to quit during the "down" part was not the right thing to do. To get past these down times, I have sought to make guitar fun again instead of working so hard at it. After all, the fun it brings is the most important thing. At least to me, I have other things in life that are important to be serious about. So bringing back the fun into my guitar playing has always managed to get me back on track, and back into the game so to speak.

As for right now, I'm kind of on a "down" time with my playing. I don't recommend having a down time for anyone , but if it happens to you, and if you take that time to focus on the "fun", then you will turn it around. Because playing guitar is fun. It's such an expressive, powerful, instrument. So that's what I'm getting back to right now, the "fun" of it.

Discovering GMC a few years ago was a different story. At that time, I was ready for a commitment to play hard, and play long doing whatever it takes to improve. And for me, it was all about hours. It was about spending all the available hours that I had for practice, and doing it in a meaningful way to improve my technique, my ear, and my knowledge of the fret board. So I did just that. I bookmarked all the lessons I covered during that time (still have the bookmarks). I just checked, and here are the stats... I recorded 71 lessons and submitted most of them to the REC program. There were another 27 lessons that I spent a great deal of time with but that were probably just beyond my technical ability to record and submit to the REC. Whenever possible, I would submit takes to various collaborations. The collaborations are a good way to explore and improve your improvisational ability, and the REC is a great way to make sure that you are technically "on track". So I'm really glad that I pushed hard to get all that done. In addition to the REC and lessons, I'm sure I spent at least half of each night with a metronome and pure AP exercises.

Analyzing what I gained from that, I can say that my timing and control improved quite a bit as well as other areas of my playing. At the start of that time, I was using a different type of vibrato which was basically to shake my hand leaving my finger in place on the fret board. This produces a higher vibrato rate without much depth. So I completely reworked my vibrato and now have a much better handle on it. Vibrato adds tons of expression to your phrasing, so it's worth getting it right. I also learned all the modes and 3 note per string patterns that are a part of that. I was pretty good with the CAGED modes (knowledge wise) when I started, but for me the 3nps patterns are better suited to moving about the fret board. My string bending was good when I started at GMC but did improve during this time. If you want a pointer about string bending, you should take a note from what one of my friends pointed out a long time ago. That is to get more than one finger into the bend. If you're using your ring finger to fret the note, get the middle and index fingers to help out with the bend. You'll have un-believably more control and power. In my studies at GMC, I really just enjoyed learning the lessons too. I chose not only lessons that challenged me within reach of my technical limits, but also that suited my musical tastes. There are so many lessons to select from here on GMC that you'll never run out of good stuff to work on.

As for the "bad" or disappointing things that I haven't quite conquered and possibly never will, it's picking speed. I know they say that playing fast is not the most important thing, but to build intensity in a phrase, it really helps to be able to throw something fast at it. I worked diligently with a metronome over the last five years and barely made any gains with my right hand speed. By now, I have decided that my right hand just isn't connected to my brain. It has to re-learn to relax and to pick each time I warm up. And that can get depressing with week after week of metronome practice believe me. On the bright side, and what I have decided to do to deal with this is to focus on legato for speed. My left hand seems to have no problem remembering how to play fast, so hammer-on, pull-offs are the only way I'm going to achieve even the illusion of speed. For you players who have the ability to pick fast, I'm convinced that it is a gift. And this is after 30 plus years of playing. It takes work for everyone I'm sure to build mastery but if you can see progress, then you have a gift. So keep working at it. For me, I think that I have developed some speed without becoming a Petrucci or a Malmsteen so that is a start.

It's funny, I distinctly remember that when I started with GMC (at that time), I had originally intended to focus on riff creativity (rhythm & riffs) for the purpose of writing tunes. But instead I heard shredders like Muris and Emir and decided that I needed to go that direction. I should have really stuck with my initial goals. You know, I was browsing the web the other day and stumbled on some Eddie Van Halen very early recordings (like when he was 17 or something). Those recordings were not of him playing solos. Instead, he was playing riffs and rhythm parts (songs). They sounded so cool that I was again inspired to change my direction away from lead/solo playing and towards riffing and being creative. I think if I can get to that point where guitar is fun again, I will begin to explore riffs and I know that it will help with my song writing. On the plus side, this last five years I've spent working on my picking hand are going to pay off extremely when I get back into it. It's really been about five months since I've done much with guitar at all, but I know soon that I will at least be picking it up nightly.


So there you have it, a chronology of sorts. I hope that you all didn't get too bored when reading.
Happy Guitaring,
Jim.




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Kristofer Dahl
post Nov 28 2014, 10:09 AM
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Very inspiring post. Many of the things you mention here are my personal guiding principles as well:

* guitar must be fun above anything. You can break any rules as long as you are having fun.

* For quick progress - nothing beats gettin out there and playing in front of, or with, people. In our universe that means collabs and REC!

* Picking: I am also approaching the conclusion that a perfect picking technique is just too far away in amount of hours (or should I say decades?) - but that doesn't mean we can't use some picking to add killer sounds to our playing. I constantly find new approaches to picking that don't involve the difficult paul gilbert style (playing every note kind of picking).

Check out this run. You could say it uses at least 3 different approaches to fast picking, and none of those involve picking every note (although the ending part is close to it). Legato is definitely the key here and I would recommend anyone wanting to get into shred stuff to invest more time in hammer-ons and pull-offs.

I must say I find your devotion amazing. Btw is there any chance you could share those early Van Halen recordings? I have never heard him from that period.


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JamesT
post Nov 28 2014, 10:22 PM
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I think that this is the one I was referring to...

Raw, un-produced, and reveals Eddie exploring some rhythmic ideas. You can hear his style as it was emerging here (or at least that's what I hear).

It's funny how a lot of the commenters on this You Tube post don't think it's EVH. I think it's him for sure, but what do you all think?...
Eddie at 19

In that 1974 recording (above), you can hear the beginnings of his style. And then there's all those isolated guitar tracks of Eddie out there on youtube that are truly amazing. A little more produced (probably bounced tracks here and there), but these still really do a lot to reveal Eddies playing style, tone, and creativity. For me inspiring because it is songs and song writing that will make a musician famous or successful...

Jamie's Crying (1st Album)

Me, I'm a definite fan for sure so these tracks might work better to inspire me than they would other people. But if you can find some isolated or early recordings of any of your favorite guitarists, they will go far to get you thinking about what you want your style and sound to move towards, and about what you want to be working on.

This post has been edited by JamesT: Nov 28 2014, 10:37 PM


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Kristofer Dahl
post Nov 28 2014, 10:35 PM
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QUOTE (JamesT @ Nov 28 2014, 10:22 PM) *
Me, I'm a definite fan for sure so these tracks might work better to inspire me than they would other people. But if you can find some isolated or early recordings of any of your favorite guitarists, they will go far to get you thinking about what you want your style and sound to move towards, and about what you want to be working on.


For sure, this is a really smart strategy - to remind ourselves when practicing, that our heroes haven't always sounded like gods.

In this case it is very clear we have an embryo of the man himself. Very cool!


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