Be Creative !
(30 Oct 02)
OK, so we had a huge bunch of licks so far. Licks played with all alternate picking, licks based on the stretch pentatonic, legato stuff...
Now, here is the big question: How to use that stuff?!?
Frankly, one of my biggest problems when I started out, or when I made the step from a beginner to an intermediate player, getting into soloing a bit more, was that my guitar solos usually were compilations of all the licks I worked on.
And they sounded like it too. Just me playing as fast as possible (I was lucky if I was in time with the backing), playing like "Lick A-Lick B-Tapping Lick C".
Or, the other extreme: Slow, uninspired solos which sounded as if I was just playing SOMETHING just to have a solo. I wasn't able to merge melodic stuff (if I ever came up with a nice melody) and the licks I had been working on.
Now, that was simply frustrating. It either sounded uninspired, or it wasn't good technically. I had to get out of that rut, out of those cliches.
Sure, attending the GIT a bit later sure helped me, cuz I learned so much, heard so much music there, and played pretty much 24/7, which was quite inspiring.
But even before that, I found different ways, solutions and concepts that helped me to get out of the rut and move a bit more into the direction I was heading to as a soloist.
Of course you know by now that I am mainly a rock-guitarist, but in the studio and as a "hired gun" I played other styles too, and since I am talking about general approaches here, this article applies to players from every style, at least in my opinion...
Some ways to avoid ruts, or to get out of them...
Now this seems to be very very obvious. But let's take a closer look here. One of my finest comparison is to compare learning how to play, developing as a player to learning how to speak when you are a child.
First, you hear people communicate by speaking, which makes you wanna learn it. You usually start out by copying what you hear, just trying to make a few sounds that sound like the words you hear around you all day long. Easy, frequently used words, such as "Daddy" etc.
Now, when you start out and pick up the guitar for the very first time, you try to get a sound of it, you have to get used to the mechanics, and you try to i.e. play something you heard on one of your CDs, or a melody you're very familiar with.
If the people around you use certain words a lot, or if there are not a lot of different people coming for a visit, there's a limit to the vocabulary that "surrounds" you. If you i.e. meet someone who uses a lot of long, complicated words, or simply words your parents don't use as much, they seem to be strange at first.
If you listen to a certain style of music exclusively, like let's say blues, you tend to know the phrases, chord progressions and melodies quite well. If you happen to listen to your first fusion- or even free jazz album, it might sound very strange to you, like new words and phrases you hadn't heard before.
Once you learn the words, you learn how to phrase them differently, you learn how to use them in combination with timbre, facial and body expressions etc.
Once you get familiar with your first licks, melodies and chords, you play them often, and you learn how to play them different ways, developing some phrasing... using dynamics, slurs, vibrato etc.
See a tendency here? Well, I could go on, but I think I brought the point across, and I guess you're bored out of your mind by now, so I better continue...