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SoundGround >> Lesson- Prince's "Kiss" on solo classical guitar


6/9/12 4:41 AM
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Ali
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This is a pretty sick (informal) performance, followed by an explanation of techniques/tricks. As usual I have too much to say about it, but rather than keep typing...
6/11/12 9:29 AM
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DasBeaver
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Great arrangement, that bent string trick is wicked!
6/12/12 12:18 AM
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Ali
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Edited: 06/12/12 12:20 AM
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He's not talking about it here. But performing his arrangement of Hendrix' "Ezy Ryder".





And a slightly more distant and incomplete recording of his Purple Haze arrangment:

6/12/12 12:25 AM
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Ali
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... and lest I give the impression this guy does rock or pop tunes as a career... he doesn't. He just transcribes things he loves. The vast majority of his livelihood is "legit" classical guitar.

Here's the best arrangement of Couperin's "Mysterious Barricades" ever done for guitar... (and forgive the vaguely Vai-like mugging. It comes naturally to him):

6/27/12 3:20 AM
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jman
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That effect with the strings wrapping was AWESOME.

I first heard of him when he started doing the classical guitar column in Guitar Player magazine back in the late 80's. Some cool "different" articles for a classical guitarist for sure.

I love Couperin's "Mysterious Barricades" on the harpsichord...started to learn in on the classical guitar...but decided I couldn't do it justice and just left it alone. Hell I can't do anything justice on the classical guitar, lol.
6/29/12 11:02 PM
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Ali
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Edited: 06/29/12 11:06 PM
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jman - That effect with the strings wrapping was AWESOME.

I first heard of him when he started doing the classical guitar column in Guitar Player magazine back in the late 80's. Some cool "different" articles for a classical guitarist for sure.

I love Couperin's "Mysterious Barricades" on the harpsichord...started to learn in on the classical guitar...but decided I couldn't do it justice and just left it alone. Hell I can't do anything justice on the classical guitar, lol.


I agree about the string-wrapping! And that was the point, really. (Though I think he does particularly well with this rather simple/trivial technique of muting the harmonics, which sounds something like a steel drum.... When Chris Poland does that it takes a very strict sequence of pedal-board maneuvers!)

I'm not wild about Verdery's composing -- I haven't heard some that I'm interested in, but I've heard the majority. I like a few pieces a lot, but the majority is just new-age noodle. But his arrangements of Hendrix or other rock tunes are great. And his straight-up classical playing... well... it's just about peerless in some regards that I care most about. His variations of tone color are like no one else, closest maybe to Julian Bream at his peak. So listening to his Bach Chaconne... for example... is just one of those experiences. EVERY major guitar player has recorded that thing, and no recording comes close, to my ear. (which is not to say I'd still rather not listen to it on a violin. That depends on mood). Or his arrangement of Strauss' Blue Danube Waltz. Non-pareil, really. A piece I never liked before hearing the solo guitar arrangement.

Of course there are also people like Kazuhito Yamashita. (VERY few people like that, but... a couple or few maybe) who can play orchestral music on solo guitar and sound other than ridiculous, and have really original "invented" techniques on the acoustic, nylon string instrument to pull it off. Yamashita invented a variety of techniques that very few people can reporoduce. But he *still* doesn't have the sort of tonal control and variety of a younger Julian Bream, or a Benjamin Verdery. The fact that the dude really *gets* and respects Hendrix, Beatles, Prince, is just a beautiful and relatively rare thing among classical players on that level.

I last saw him probably 16 years ago or something. And his comment to me was "Hey... I owe you an apology... I really had no idea what I was doing when I was teaching you, man..."

He knew it was funny, and he also meant it. Fucker.

For those who care to look further, he did a cd called Branches, on which he plays the mentioned Bach and Strauss (and some other Bach), and some Mozart, and a medley of three Hendrix tunes, and "Amazing Grace".... it's really one of the great classical guitar recordings. The notes talk about what's a real transcription, what's more an arrangement, and what involved -- in some measure -- some original composition along the way. The straight transcription stuff (a la the Bach) is still better than anyone else's, to my ear.

There's a pretty cool "Walking on the Moon" he recorded with Andy Summers, too -- on a duet record that it sometimes good, sometimes merely interesting, called First You Build a Cloud. He wrote a piece for John Williams (the guitarist, not the conductor) and John Etheridge, too. I am very curious about that -- loving both of those guys -- but also not sure I'm going to be into the composition.
6/30/12 12:25 AM
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Ali
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Edited: 06/30/12 12:32 AM
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OK,another master classical player -- one I've never met, in this instance -- but another classical player who does non-classical things, and often writes his own stuff. (His own compositions are freaking great, from what I've heard -- most famously, perhaps, "Tango en Skai" and "Hommage a Frank Zappa"). In fact I first took notice because of some of his compositions that another player (Elena Papandreou) recorded. (Love her, too, but now I'm just all over the place).

Here is guitarist/composer/wanna-be-drummer Roland Dyens, playing his own arrangement of Dizzy Gillespie's "A Night in Tunisia".

6/30/12 5:33 AM
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jman
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Cool stories (bra). Above video is a bit strange to me, probably cool to see live though.

As far as Kazuhito Yamashita, he is like one of 10 people I remember hearing/seeing for the first time and just thinking FUCK!!!!!! His transcription of Mussorgky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" (I guess orchestrated from piano to orchestra by Ravel) still blows my mind. Those single finger tremelos, the color and sounds he gets from the guitar is just unreal.

That 10 list of WHO THE FUCK IS THIS: Kazuhito Yamashita, Yngwie Malmsteen, Eddie Van Halen, Django Reinhart, Tuck Andress probably 5 others I can't think of.

And John Williams...does that guitar ever even come close to making a mistake? Dude is like the Rainman of guitar, unreal.

Any other cool YouTube vids by Benjamin?
6/30/12 5:47 AM
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Ali
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That's a truly underwhelmed response to Msr. Dyens... I'll pimp some of that later again, maybe. Only because I enjoy forcing my tastes down people's throats, y'knokw? (Sorry!)

I don't knkow of other Ben videos that are cool in the sense of showing that "sring wrap bend" that's cool... but there are a whole lot of videos that are more or less cool for various reasons. One I didn't know about at all till a few minutes ago... here's a rather frustrating (because only samples) for a good while) video of a duo concert with Andy Summers:



An original piece of his which I do like (one of a few), is his programmatic thing inspired by a documentary about Philippe Petite -- classical guitar and digital delay:



The capo, a "spider capo", is one that has separate dampers for each string, which can flipped on or off individually. So along with the digital delay, and the brace which raises the guitar to a classical position without having to twist your spine, those are the nods to "high tech"!

I love your response to Yamashita, jman! That's perfectly said. Hardly anyone has followed him. I've heard some people who play his transcriptions -- so astounding technicians, because that chit is impossible. (Jorge Caballero is one such player). But no one who blazed more trail in that direction.

Still, even he doesn't pay as much attention to right hand attack for controlling tone quality as Verdery or Bream. (Or maybe Leo Brouwer -- recordings of Brouwer playing are hard to come by these days, even if everyone else plays his compositions).
6/30/12 6:11 AM
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Ali
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And if you have patience for the whole durn suite, 12 or so minutes of it ... and if you have good volume on your computer or whatever listening device, here's both a favorite piece of music and a good demo of the right hand stuff I think he's got over most anyone. This is his own transcription of Bach's 6th cello suite:

6/30/12 1:16 PM
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jman
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I can't imagine getting onstage and jamming with him like Andy Summers...how fucking humbling. I like that Benjamin is willing to take some chances and do some "out there things"

Well I guess I kind of understand. When I was in Paris last year my wife and I stayed there because of her artist residency. So I hooked up with as many musicians as I could and did an impromptu concert with a conservatory trained classical violinist...OH MY...did I learn how shitty my technique was. I learned very quickly that I am a "rock" guitarist...which is fine, but as far as playing acoustic...I'm just a noob.

Here's one song from the short show we did:

6/30/12 1:22 PM
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jman
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Edited: 06/30/12 1:30 PM
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As far as "contemporary" classical guitarists, there's nobody out there better at composing IMO than Andrew York:





He's technically not the greatest (perhaps Scott Tennant is up there) but his compositions and arrangements are unreal.
6/30/12 1:43 PM
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Ali
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I think you sound really, really good, Jimmy -- and that's not even "what you do". Anyway, I won't stroke you too much, but every post of yours, and every bit of playing I've heard you do (starting from Testament days) made me recognize you're a real musician. (Even if you do like Yngwie). (J/K).

York is great -- I've listened a lot to him and Tennant in L.A.G.Q., less solo. But the quartet doing York pieces I always dug.

I'm still a committed Dyens fan, I'll post some of his own writing later. One of Verdery's pieces, "Prelude and Wedding Dance", I really like, too -- though the youtube video of him playing it is recorded very badly. There are some other players who do it and the video sounds better.

What you're saying about playing with a classical violinist.... made me think about watching (if you've ever seen the video...) Rolling Stones' "Rock 'n Circus". Where the thrown-together group with John Lennon and Clapton and Keith Richards (playing bass) and... was it Charlie Watts? -- they did "Yer Blues". Sounded great. Then they had Ivry Gitlis, who was really at the top of the heap as violinists go, in that era, come out and jam. He was out of his element completely, and looked a bit lost but game. So that sort of thing goes both ways.... clearly by far the most refined technician (by several orders of magnitude) on the stage, but ... well... it turned out nobody could save it anyway, even in theory, once the Ono vocals took over.

Usually those rock-classical things are a bust. I think very highly of Andy Summers.

I also like the duo records with Verdery and William Coulter, who is a steel string folkie kind of guy. (They did a slow, hymnlike version of Cream's "White Room"!)

I'm going to check out plenty more York, now. That's a great reminder. And I'm going to stop typing!
6/30/12 1:49 PM
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jman
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Edited: 06/30/12 1:53 PM
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Yamashita for you guys that have never seen him:



And the guy carry the flame for him, Jorge Caballero (is this dude like 7 feet tall or is it a tiny guitar?):

6/30/12 3:04 PM
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Ali
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wow... of course to Yamashita-san. I wish that was in better quality; the Caballero I had no idea existed. 36 minutes of Caballero concert??? Wow. Youtube is cool.

There are bunches of Dyens audio-only things that I think are great, more obviously "classical" than the Gillespie above or what I'm about to post; but just because it's fun to see what he's doing, too -- here's a good performance of "Tango en Skai". This is a piece a lot of others have recorded as well.
6/30/12 3:10 PM
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Ali
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And here the sound is a bit distant on what is already largely a quiet piece, so you have to turn it up to hear. But this is Elena Papandreou, playing the first movement of Dyens' Triaella. I think this gives a better sense of Dyens as a composer. I love Papandreou's playing, too, always.

7/1/12 1:02 AM
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jman
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Wow those last two Dyens pieces I really enjoyed. His use of dynamics, rhythm, new techniques and "blue" notes are very different, but very nicely balanced in his compositions and arrangments.

Found this (again how awesome is YouTube) with Su Meng. I have read about "speed bursts" in Scott Tennant's book/video "Pumping Nylon". Basically not just playing fast but actually the transition from playing medium or slow to fast is the key...say playing the repeated pattern of "tweleve 1/8 notes, then eight 1/16 notes".

This Su Meng video shows an actual "way" to play speed bursts in any piece to increase speed. Starting off with 1/8 notes, then "swung" 1/8th notes (1/8 note triplets - playing the first and last of the triplet grouping), then finally 1/16 notes...VERY COOL!!! The "swung" 1/8 notes is basically forcing you to practice speed bursts every other note.



I'm going to try to apply this to "Flight of the Bumblebee" when my left hand tendonitis heals up. I've been trying to play that piece up to tempo and never seem to get the entire peice up to speed. This technique may be able to help me get there, lol.
7/2/12 2:31 AM
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Ali
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I haven't been practicing seriously since before "Pumping Nylon" was published -- wish I had it back in the day. And now... after some spinal fusion surgery, my left hand isn't really up to "speed bursts" (sadly); but this is a really cool focused practice routine, and I like that we can hear the mentronome. Su Meng is showing something really important here -- having a goal when sitting down to practice for a set time, whether speed bursts or some other goal. She's pretty damn impressive, here -- is she "just" a master-class student? Haven't ever heard of her before. (Mind you, I'm out of the loop enough that there are lots of people I hear about very late in the game!)
7/2/12 4:51 AM
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jman
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Edited: 07/02/12 4:57 AM
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She is one of the girls from China in the group "Four Angels", pretty amazing. It would bug the shit out of me to have a girlfriend that was better at guitar than me, lol.



Sorry about the spinal fusion surgery thing, wow. I've had some numbness and loss of feeling in both hands periodically, but luckily it's gone back to normal. Last year I've been fighting tendonitis in both my left and wrists. I know it's only a matter of time though over the few years as I get older that I won't be able to play. Getting old is a bitch!
7/2/12 9:41 AM
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Ali
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The tendinitis sucks --my case is less recoverable maybe but I wasn't playing professionally and seriously wasn't at your kind of level to begin with. But as far as playing while getting old -- isn't there something, like... you know, they correct pitcher's motion and stuff. Is there some postural/left hand technique adjustment? (Sorry if that's just an annoying question, I'm sure you've thought that through without my worrying for you.... I hope that clears up, mostly!)

OK on the "Four Angels" -- I think I remember seeing a video of them, when they were even younger. At that time they were so annoyingly cute (not that they still aren't) in addition to playing their asses off.

As far as a girlfriend that plays better... I dunno... I wanted to date Ana Vidovic. Shredder girls need love, too, y'know?
7/2/12 10:48 AM
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jman
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The funny thing about getting older and injuries, is that it is really focusing me on using as proper techinique as I can both physically as well as relaxing as much as I can.

Right now I can't play with my left hand, so I tied a sock around the neck and have been only playing with my right hand. It has been amazing because I can just focus on my technique, hand position, relaxation, etc and not worry about the left hand "distracting" me. Hopefully (after 2 weeks total) I'll start to play using my left hand a week from today.

The last year or so I've been studying some other styles of music: African, Latin, Middle Eastern, etc. While there are a few differences in harmony, the differences in Rhythm is mindblowing. This is just a simple explanation, but kind of opens the door for discussion/exploration:



Do you have any advice or suggestions on working on Latin/African/World music rhythms and how they can be applied the guitar?

videos, books, articles, etc?

Thanks!
7/2/12 9:25 PM
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Ali
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Oh boy.... we're getting out of anything like what I'm truly knowledgeable about. (I love Christopher Parkening's "Afro-Cuban Lullaby".... which I sort of could play at one time... but that's really classical/classical; and Leo Brouwer is a Cuban composer who uses a lot of that rhythmic stuff in his music. Still, this is not what you're looking for in terms of learning. I've also read essays that sort of break down some of the rhythm concepts, just in a more academic way (not applied to guitar) in books such as "Salsiology", but that's not dedicated to practicing music, more a musicology approach and probably not practical for your purposes.

So where angels fear to tread -- or, in other words, I don't really know anything about anything helpful; I'll just tell you where I would think to first look were I going to dedicate some time to this.


I bought a Conga book for my ex, when she was wanting to learn hand drums: http://www.amazon.com/Conga-Drumming-Beginners-Guide-Playing/dp/0963880101/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1341277889&sr=8-3&keywords=How+to+play+Conga

It's really good, but maybe too basic for what you want? And not for guitar, obviously. I think applying that to just "rhythm guitar playing" (with a pick, especially) wouldn't be a stretch at all. What you have with Anthony Ybarra, though, is somebody with classical chops, (playing with a classical right-hand technique).


I just saw Scott Henderson in a trio setting playing like a freaking alien, so ... I'm biased right now, by association, to Musicians Institute publications when looking for this sort of thing. Which is a way of saying I really don't "know" know, but were I to start searching, I'd probably try to get my eyes on a copy of Bruce Buckingham's "Latin Guitar". I think this is a pretty detailed and hopefully helpful review: http://alaskanwaymusic.com/2010/07/27/musicians-institute-press-latin-guitar/

MI books, if you haven't looked at them, tend to be pretty concentrated. (Henderson's chord book is crazy dense, but.... that's a tangent).

Buckham's book has sections on Brazilian and on Afro-Cuban rhythms. But honestly, I haven't used the thing so don't really know how in compares to other books you might find on Amazon.

Sorry I'm not real good at this!
7/5/12 4:27 AM
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sreiter
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jman

ever consider pedal steel?

theres not that much movement in your left hand...

and randolph rudoph rocks his ass off
7/5/12 5:00 AM
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jman
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hey man,

Nah not my thing (cool stuff though). I have a good friend that plays it pretty well. He a southern boy from Arkansas so it's kind of in his blood I think.

There was no "tramatic injury" that happened to my wrist, so I'm hoping it is just a tendon strain thing. I'll tell you what, my alternate picking is getting a lot better...it's just getting a bit boring now with today being my 11th straight day of only playing with my right hand, lol.

I think like a lot of us are mentioning...it's just part of getting older as well. Injuries from the past come back to haunt us, and it is also a lot easier to get injured now, and it takes a hell of a lot longer to heal.

how are you doing, playing still?
7/5/12 5:26 AM
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sreiter
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still playing.... i go from just finger picking acoustic blues, to electric, to dobro, to lap steel.

my head is all over, so i focus one thing thing, just long enough to suck at it, then my focus changes.. i want to be good at so many different things, i never will - lol

oh well, at 50, dont think i'm gonna be a rock star anyway :o)

just suggested the pedal steel as a alternate way to still get the music out.

dont have to play country stuff...

funk
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4zpzEIdoPc

all along the watchtower
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_Ghn-gshyc&feature=related

voodoo child
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxdQzurJxSo

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