What to learn after the basics?
Having gotten the basics down well enough, I feel I should branch out into new territories and really challenge myself. As many guitarists know, there is much satisfaction and fulfillment when a technique or song lies beyond one's ability, yet through focus and practice a breakthrough occurs. I can play most techniques, which has granted me access to many songs.
I've developing a musical foundation consisting of skills essential to playing the guitar. But I've come to understand this is only a single piece to music. I am now interested more in internalizing guitar and understanding the feelings and emotion behind it all. When a guitarist writes a song, I imagine they don't just add a bunch of techniques they know. The substance and aura that make a song flourish and come alive must come from the song writers' knowledge of emotion behind the chords, solos, rhythm, and timing.
I'd like to hear what others have to say on this, hopefully I can learn something.
Thanks for reading and any input is much appreciated!
Work on phrasing and spend time learning songs. Don't go for the ones with killer solos, basic stuff like nirvana, greenday, white stripes. When you learn songs its fun + you understand how everything is put together.
If you want to learn more about the feeling and structure of songs, I recommend meditative listening. Get in a neutral posture, put on some noise-canceling headphones, close your eyes and forget the world exists as you devote 100% of your attention to a song.
Another great thing to do while listening is to read the lyrics and tabs / sheet music. The lyrics will help pull you into the emotion, and the tabs will help you really understand the structure. Spending the time to really see how the harmonies function in each moment will give you serious insight into song structure.
Finally, the step after that is to learn multiple parts to songs you really love. Learn the lead, the rhythm, the harmony ... maybe even the bass. Really dive into the way the song is built.
I guarantee that doing that stuff will help you improve as a songwriter and guitarist. It also does a lot to help you appreciate a work in greater detail.
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I'd suggest that you also stretch out into various different genres of music, country, rock, blues, jazz, salsa, klezmer, soca, or whatever. The more the better.
The more experience you get with different styles of music, the larger your musical vocabulary will be. You will get different ideas in your head, and be able to transfer those ideas from your brain into your fingers.
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To be honest, I think that it's important that you really understand chord structures and how chords lead into each other. Also think about songs which you really have an emotional connection with, and try and work out what about the track does this to you. The more songs you play that really mean something to you the more you will connect with the instrument.
Find the style of music that you enjoy most, and learn the most difficult song you can think of =) If you spend your time learning basic easy songs you will not progress, we only progress when we push ourselves beyond what our abilities are. If you see something amazing, don't say wow I wish I could do that, say I can do that and go for it! Don't waste time on bland monotonous music, learn the classics (and avoid the 90's) Look into Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Yngwe Malmsteen, Eric Clapton these guys and many more can play and understand how to write good guitar music. I have been playing guitar for over twenty years, and wasted about 8 of them learning power chord blah from bands like green day and nirvana until I decided to really push myself into music that challenged my skill level, my understanding of music, modes, scales, progressions, and many other aspects other than a repeating four chord progression. If you want to be famous, write mind numbing repeating music for the masses, if you want to become a good guitarist and musician who will love and learn the guitar for life challenge yourself constantly and never give up =) Good luck!