Thursday, October 3, 2013

Guitar is Like ... Movable blues

Guitar is like a box of chocolates, no wait its like pool no its like painting. This is leading into nothing, well actually that isn't true. That modified line from "Forrest Gump" just popped into my head and I felt compelled to use it no matter how stupid or nonsensical many people will find it. I used it because I liked it and thought it was funny. Yesterday I was listening to a podcast with Joe Satriani and Steve Morse and Steve was discussing how you have to pursue and make the kind of music that is in you no matter what other peoples opinions or how popular that style may be at the moment. This is not to say you shouldn't practice and strive for becoming a better musician. But you shouldn't let the flavor of the month dictate what you are playing or restrict you from expressing yourself on your instrument.

Today were going to talk about Stevie Ray Vaughan. It is his birthday today. RIP Stevie. SRV epitomized pouring feeling into your playing and playing from the heart. He didn't change his style to play with Bowie he just went into the studio and played his own way and it worked because it was genuine. As I get older I may just be more cynical but it seems to me that many guitarists today lack their own voice. Now it is not an easy task to establish your own style on any instrument but I believe that should be a primary goal. In my opinion, which is the only one I've got, you have to strive to be fearless when playing. You can't be hung up on making a mistake or restrict yourself. You've got to be free and open yourself up to people. Ironically I am the exact opposite of this in every other aspect of my life except music.

One way to get self confidence to play without fear is to know your instrument. The more command you have over your playing the freer you will be. One really useful piece of knowledge for guitarists is to know the notes on the neck. A great practice exercise in a musical context is learning guitar licks in several different places on the neck - the same notes but a different position and/or a different octave.

Today we are going to look at a guitar lick played in a few different positions and octaves. As a tip of the hat to SRV we're going to focus on a bluesy guitar lick using the minor pentatonic scale. The easiest transition is moving the shape up an octave. Here we are tuned down a half step to play along. We're using a lick based around the G Minor Pentatonic scale. Played first at the third fret then up an octave at the 15th fret then a variation on the lick starting on the G note at the 8th fret of the B string. To fit in with the progression I play some different licks between the octave licks. I added a few variations on at the end of the video.
So at the very least if you take anything out of this learn the 4 positions of the G note that we used. First fret 3 and 15th string. Eighth fret second string and fifth fret fourth string.