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The art of simplicity

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(@clazon)
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Joined: 18 years ago
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Having noticed a bit of improvement in my lead playing lately I thought I'd stick this up here in an attempt to help people who are searching for those amazing lead parts and solos.

KEEP IT SIMPLE!

Seriously, since I decided to think more about tones and bends and double stops and how one longer note fills a space better than a hundred or so notes ever could, I've noticed significant improvements in my "phrasing". On top of this, it's better to just play 5 notes with flawless clarity than 25 rather muffled notes.

Maybe this has come about through concentrating more on the blues lately, but the blues is renound for an opening root note to the chord lasting up to half a measure of a bar and then a sudden "explosion" of notes at the end of the bar.

It's almost become formulaic for me to play a phrase using only 3 notes (+1 note for sparkle), a hammer on and a bend lasting 7-12 notes long. On top of this, when I do push further up the neck, I find it easier to create some nice melodic but cool solos.

If there was ever a shout for keeping part-making simple and having a good rounding of skills, this is it. :D

"Today is what it means to be young..."

(Radiohead, RHCP, Jimi Hendrix - the big 3)


   
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(@wes-inman)
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Joined: 21 years ago
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Clazon

Sounds like you're finding your style. :D

I personally like guitar players like David Gilmore who play with feeling, dynamics, and great note selection than these super noodlers that play a million notes. That said, it is good to be able to play some super fast licks when you hear that in your head. Gives the music motion.

But too much super noodling is plain boring and one dimensional.

It is good to hear that your soloing is progressing.

Keep Rockin'

If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis


   
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(@clazon)
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Of course I'd love to have the ability to blitz out those hundreds of notes, but there's a time and a place and it's a lot less common than a need for a nice melodious part- to my ears anyway. :D

"Today is what it means to be young..."

(Radiohead, RHCP, Jimi Hendrix - the big 3)


   
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(@vic-lewis-vl)
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None of my favourite guitarists are what you'd call shredders....Harrison, Fogerty, Keith Richards....probably the only one who'd qualify is Jimmy Page....I think it's more important to play with feeling.....

Yeah, it would be nice to be able to play those lightning fast licks, but (and I'm not sure who said this) it's better to play one note with passion than a hundred without.....

:D :D :D

Vic

"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)


   
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(@boogie)
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Clazon, you are so right. One of my 2007 goals is to improve my blues-based improvisation. At one of my recent lessons, my instructor pointed out I was playing an awful lot of notes and it was sounding a lot like scales. He has me doing the following:

1) focusing on 3 or 4 notes based around the root.
2) improving bends, pull-offs and vibrato.
2) playing on one string.
3) playing out of one pentatonic or minor scale shape.

I am definitely more focused on getting those few notes to sound good and I do think I am hearing improvement. I'll see what my instructor says after the holidays.


   
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(@clazon)
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At one of my recent lessons, my instructor pointed out I was playing an awful lot of notes and it was sounding a lot like scales. He has me doing the following:

2) playing on one string.

I think that has helped in making some good riffs for me.

"Today is what it means to be young..."

(Radiohead, RHCP, Jimi Hendrix - the big 3)


   
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(@ignar-hillstrom)
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Joined: 21 years ago
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To me it depends on what I'm doing. As a general rule, if you slow a fast part down it should still sound good, if it doesn't you're replacing quality with speed. Example: take a random YouTube shredder and slow it down to 50%. Listen to the emptiness. Now pick a random fast Chopin piece and slow it down to 50%. It still sounds beautifull. So from this it is obvious that improvising very fast parts is very hard: either you'll be playing boring stuff or you'll need to think twice as fast, not just regarding which notes to play but also how to play them. I personally find that impossible to do. So when I improvise I play slowly and when I compose I write in whatever tempo I feel like and there is no pressure or time limit.


   
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(@clazon)
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I've started to do that too.

I'll layer down a really simple bass on Power Tab then I'll play my chord and lead over the top, whilst making extra bits or changes.

"Today is what it means to be young..."

(Radiohead, RHCP, Jimi Hendrix - the big 3)


   
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(@wes-inman)
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Arjen, you are brilliant. :D

I have never been a fast player, because I simply cannot think that fast when improvising. Like Clazon and Boogie, I have always wanted to play meaningful solos. To do that on the spot improvising, you have to really be listening and feeling the music you play, each phrase will lead you to a new idea.

When I said you have to be able to play fast before, that was not a criticism Clazon. Sometimes when I improvise I hear a super fast run in my head. But I am not physically able to play it. So I do work on speed all the time. This is just so hopefully I can play that super fast run when it occurs to me to do so. I think playing fast can be very good if it is tasteful.

I really think shredders have everything memorized. No way you can think that fast. Perhaps they have hundreds of licks down pat they can pull out of their bag of tricks. This is ok I guess, but not really improvising in my opinion.

If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis


   
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(@clazon)
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When I said you have to be able to play fast before, that was not a criticism Clazon. Sometimes when I improvise I hear a super fast run in my head. But I am not physically able to play it. So I do work on speed all the time. This is just so hopefully I can play that super fast run when it occurs to me to do so. I think playing fast can be very good if it is tasteful.

It certainly wasn't a criticism cos I can't even see what you're refering to! :D

I too hear those incredibly fast runs, but it's not my lack of speed that's stopping me playing them, rather the fgact that I can't play what I hear in my head.

"Today is what it means to be young..."

(Radiohead, RHCP, Jimi Hendrix - the big 3)


   
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(@wes-inman)
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I too hear those incredibly fast runs, but it's not my lack of speed that's stopping me playing them, rather the fgact that I can't play what I hear in my head.

I can usually play what I hear in my head, but there's a catch to this. :wink:

I really only play 3 scales, the Major, Major Pentatonic, and Minor Pentatonic. I know a few other scales, but wouldn't say I am proficient at them at all. But I have these scales down from many years of practice, especially the Minor Pentatonic.

So, I can't quite help this, I am conditioned to hear ideas in the Pentatonic scale. I hope you know what I mean. These are the notes I hear in my head. They may be in any order, but they are in that one scale. And for the most part I can go to the very note I hear (not always). So for me, it is only a matter of being physically able to play it. So I work on speed all the time. But I work on other techniques as well like skipping over strings. Whatever I have to do to hit the note I hear at the right time.

If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis


   
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(@ignar-hillstrom)
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I really think shredders have everything memorized. No way you can think that fast. Perhaps they have hundreds of licks down pat they can pull out of their bag of tricks. This is ok I guess, but not really improvising in my opinion.

That seems to be the case, most players who 'improvise' very fast go into a different mindset where they connect all kinds of licks and appergios together, kinda like a prefab song. And I guess it is precisely this why most fast improvs seem hollow and empty in a way, even while it can be impressive from a technical perspective. Besides that most shredders are into hi-gain sounds which by their very nature results in very limited dynamics. New technologies, like Boss' 'dynamic mode' slowly starts to adress that by increasing the dynamics while still allowing for very heavy sounds. Maybe I'm too optimistic but it's only a matter of time before someone steps up and combines the freeform playing of the 60s and 70s guitarists and combines that with the modern day virtuosity and technology and the electric guitar will finally have it's own genius, like the organ had Bach and the piano had Chopin and Mozart. We haven't even begun to reach our instrument's full potential.

Bah, I'm rambling again. Sorry.


   
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(@clazon)
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In some ways, technology has restricted guitar. The best out and out guitar stuff for me comes from Hendrix and that era.

Modern guitarists get caught up in all the fiddle faddling around and dont actually get out those crunchy tones.

"Today is what it means to be young..."

(Radiohead, RHCP, Jimi Hendrix - the big 3)


   
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(@ignar-hillstrom)
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Modern guitarists still play with the same technology, just different settings...


   
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(@clazon)
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My point was more to do with all the cleaning up and pitch correction software used.

Together with an endless array of needless effects, it takes away from the actual playing of the guitar itself. I mean look at The Edge from U2.

"Today is what it means to be young..."

(Radiohead, RHCP, Jimi Hendrix - the big 3)


   
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