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Thread: The best guitar lesson I ever had.

  1. #1
    Registered User ragasaraswati's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008

    The best guitar lesson I ever had.

    Is this:


    I visited it mainly because of Michael Jackson's demise and along my journey to get to know his work, but for no reason I took of my guitar and started playing along, then when I heard the SHIVERING enter of The Boss I went "Wow!", those descenting 6 notes he sang, and the way he sang them, made me say "What the heck was that?!' and went to apply it as faithfully as I could on my guitar.

    I spent the last 4 hours copying what each and every one of these all-star singers sings.

    Just by learning almost all of these GREAT singers breaks on the guitar (in my case but of course it applies to any instrument, plus voice) I feel I instantly climbed 10 steps of my ability to improvise over a set progression.

    Want to learn how to make your guitar to sing? Literally. Copy great singers, that's it!
    All the little nuances and the natural way to harmonise of the voice trasfered to the muscle memory of the hand under the control of an experienced brain. Or something like that!

    I hate myself for not doing this for so long. Does anyone copy singers? Share experiences. For the rest I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT. And its fun!

  2. #2
    I wish I could play the guitar! Its a sexy instrument.

  3. #3
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Twickenham, UK
    Quote Originally Posted by ragasaraswati
    Does anyone copy singers?
    Of course - always have. That's what you learn by listening to blues. Blues guitarists use their instruments as vocal responses.
    It's an old jazz saying that you should make your instrument "talk" - which is a recognition that improvisation is speech (or singing) by other means. So obviously copying singers is the way to improve your improvisation skills.
    And the first thing any jazz musician does with a new tune is learn the melody - the vocal tune.
    Guitarists - who tend not to learn notation - are imprisoned by tab into only learning parts written for guitar. This is a huge impoverishment. We should all attempt to play every part of a song, the vocal being only the most important part. Of course, those who can read notation can learn vocal melodies from sheet music (which is what I always did, right from the start); but if you can't, you need to do it by ear, because vocals are rarely tabbed.

    The power of Bruce's phrase (G#-F#-E-C#-B-A), btw, is largely down to the underlying B7sus4 harmony, resolving to an A chord.
    He overcooks his gravelly vocal timbre (cringe at that facial expression!), which is not something you can easily emulate on an instrument - and that's really the challenge of copying vocalists: the human voice is capable of a wide range of subtle tonal qualities not available to most instruments, with the possible exception of saxophones (and guitars struggle with distortion to get close to that).
    But we can still get plenty from vocal phrasing. Not the choice of notes necessarily, but how those notes are grouped, shaped and timed. A notated vocal melody is all very well, but no one ever sings a tune exactly as written (even when classically trained) - singers always push and pull the timing a little, or swoop up to pitch, etc.

  4. #4
    Registered User ragasaraswati's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Quote Originally Posted by JonR
    But we can still get plenty from vocal phrasing. Not the choice of notes necessarily, but how those notes are grouped, shaped and timed.
    That's what I really am fascinated about. There's so much you can do with un-vocal playing in guitar like tapping and string skipping before it turns into a yawn from the casual listener and most importantly yourself when you want more substance and less flash.

    For a start obviously you would want to incorporate mostly legato centered on slides and bends and a large vocabulary of vibrato. On a clean sound I have found a very convincing "hickup", like Jackson briliiantly did, by sharply up-picking the two bottom strings. The crybaby could also prove extremely usefull with care to not use it excessively but to use it as a filter.

  5. #5
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Quote Originally Posted by ragasaraswati
    Does anyone copy singers?
    YES! I copy entire Aretha Franklin cd's and try and copy alot of motown singers. I still find a large chunk of it a challenge, because I try and get it as close as possible.

    Michael Jackson is another idol of mine, but as people have mentioned the voice is very nuanced, and I feel especially for Michael, his voice can't really be picked apart one part from another. It's the combination of everything. VERY hard to emulate, but I still try from time to time. Also, I think Michael's voice is the closest to a distorted guitar ever.

    Yes there are many small things that you learn to do that add alot to your playing. Like the wind up on a singers voice, dynamics, many odd vibratos. I think the slide-and-bend is one of the best things I've learned.

    I find I like to pick alot less, but using too much legato makes it sound stale to me after a while, so I choose which notes I play with a pick very carefully.

    Also a mistake I made at the start was bending too much; I used to try and bend almost everything, and that sounded stale too.

    I use my tone controls alot, sometimes in swells, but not as to match the affect of a wah. To me the tone up sounds more like a vowell.

    Things like swelling the volume mid-note can be hard during phrases, but it certainly adds alot. Everyone knows of the violin swells where you bring the guitar volume from nothing for it to fade in, and while it does sound good, to me it sounds cheesy if used excessively. What I do is to never play with my volume at maximum; turn it down abit.

    Yes, it's all pretty complicated the more you want to do. Sometimes I just want to give up and play slide

    Derek Trucks (or any slide player for that matter) is amazingly vocal. Srinivas is phenominal at singing with his mandolin in the style of indian singers. And who could forget Jeff Beck!
    Last edited by NG7; 07-09-2009 at 04:20 AM.

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