#1
This is sort of two questions but they're connected. My first question is to do with fusion guitar, I've been listen to Guthrie Govan for a year now and more recently been getting into players like Alex Hutchings, Martin Miller, Tom Quayle, Rick Graham, Feodor Dusomov, etc. So what I want to know basically is how do these players have practiced their techniques, licks, etc. I know they're all different but is it mostly coming off a jazz perspective or...? My second question is: how should I practice and what should be on my daily practice schedule, I know this is more of a personal thing, but I'm struggling maintaing a practice schedule, there is always stuff I seem to be adding and it gets to the point where it seems to be too much. I have a basic grasp of pentatonic and the 5 major scale shapes. I know a lot of teachers put emphasis on improvising as well, but I don't understand how much time I should spend on that vs technique, ear training, learning songs, practicing scales, fretboard knowledge and so on. Thanks for reading.
#2
Guthrie Govan Himself said on interviews that He's not the kind of guy that locks up himself into a room playing the same lick for 2 hours everyday, his "practice" sessions were/are jamming to his favourite records, and so is Greg Howe's AFAIK by other interviews; Under my own experience it's been like that too, actually jamming over music helps with a lot of things: Improvising skills, Ear training (by listening to the tonality of the song and playing over it you discover how scales/phrases and it's notes are related between each other and to the song) and of course knowing the tonal center of what you're playing to is going to be important to train this effectively, I've been doing this for the last years and it has helped me a LOT on improvising and technique, and in the end you are practicing to know how to play Music instead of just licks, as a plus for it you start knowing your way through the fretboard by relating what you hear with what you play, wich just skyrockets everything.

I'm too the kind of guy that doesn't practice by a schedule, I just sit with my guitar, get some backing tracks/records on different styles and play over them improvising, if I want to learn a song I either learn it by 'ear' (after good ear training this becomes easy), or if I find something just too hard Then I get a Tab to look at that hard part, after I have a grasp of it I start playing it over the track and listen to myself to know where I have to change things so I get it to sound the way I want, and again in this case I never do the one-lick-metronomed-2-hour-thing, doing it over the track has worked for me all the time.

For this style a good pair of ears is essential, transcribing songs by ear is a phenomenal way for training them and in the end makes you better at making phrases when improvising, as you get to 'listen' to those phrases on your head and then you can get to play them on the guitar.

Practice Technique the common way (metronome and playing it over and over) if you feel like it, but if you don't then jamming and improvising is another good way (and, IMO, Better 'cause you're actually playing music while doing so, wich makes everything feel/sound/become better, and is always good fun ).

Hope it helps, and Have fun playing! .
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#3
The best thing you can do to get good at fusion and jazz is using your ears.

I used to be this guy that would analyze everything in a theoretical manner and then try to put it into practice, so i would read about these jazz changes or these "outside" fusion runs and then try to apply them. And that was the thing that held me back most. As Guthrie himself said in an interview, he did the sound first and then found the theoretical term for it. Fusion and Jazz is all about the ears and getting comfortable with these "not so ordinary" note choices over chords.

As a fusion and jazz player myself i can just say, learn a lot of songs by ear, it's by far the best way i've found. Another thing that helps a lot that is very hard at first is to play a chord, then hum a line (doesn't matter if you hum it out loud or just in your head, just so you can hear it) and then play it. George Benson is a great example of this, even though he's more of a jazz guy then a fusion guy. If you hear recordings of him, he is singing and playing the same thing. Is he playing what he's singing? Or is he singing what he's playing?

My advice would be to focus most of your time on learning songs by ear (I mostly develop my technique from learning songs), practicing improv (as said, the chord/humming idea is great), theory if you want to be able to describe what you are doing (many people may not need this, you don't need to learn theory, but if you want to play with other people it's great to be able to tell them what you are doing) and also technique practice if you feel that learning songs isen't enough.

Also, PLAY WITH OTHER PEOPLE. Even if you are just two, that is great to help each other develop, especially on improv level, conversation "back and fourth" improv is a great way to improve.

Also, discover as much players as you can and see which ones you like. In the beginning i only listened to Guthrie, now i listen to over 30 fusion players (some don't even have guitars, then i learn the bass/keyboard/sax solos) and A LOT of jazz players. Inspiration from many musicians is always good.

Hope that helped, i wish you good luck!
Cheers!

Sickz
Fusion and jazz musician, a fan of most music.

Quote by Guthrie Govan
“If you steal from one person it's theft, and if you steal from lots of people it's research”


Quote by Chick Corea
"Only play what you hear. If you don't hear anything, don't play anything."
#4
Thank you ADOLF1612 and Sickz for the detailed response, great advice from both of you and the type of answer I was looking for.
#5
Practice classic jazz stuff to get the basics of jazz phrasing and harmony. Really just sit down and learn how to play jazz if you like fusion. I'm also into fusion, and it's impossible to play with a solid foundation in jazz (not to mention good technique).

I think you really have to come at the music from all angles: diligent practice, jamming, ensemble time, composition... it's a challenging style.
#6
With fusion styles, 'licks' and technique are actually the least of your concerns, the first thing to do is to learn about the chords that are used and what and why you can play over them, not to mention learning the modes. Having a 'basic grasp of pentatonics' it's nearly useless. Even in blues playing there's more than that, e.g. 'blue notes'.

It's like thinking 'can I write a good book? I know the alphabet'. As for what to practice, here's a simple rule: choose 3 things that you feel are the most important right now. When you are done with these after hours, days or weeks, choose another 3.

It's normal to feel overwhelmed, the trick is to not care and to start working on the 3 things you have chosen.
Last edited by harmony_melody_ at Jun 22, 2013,
#7
I've been writing fusion music for the past few months after two years of training myself. I was the kid that used to sit around and practice licks to get better. The truth is, licks don't do squat to help you develop Jazz skills. I attempted writing a Fusion album two years ago and failed miserably. I'm enjoying success now. During the last two years, I stopped trying to learn theory and I just focused on playing the sounds that are in my head. Eventually, I started learning theory by feeling and emotion, rather than learning it by book. I made sure I could play with other musicians every chance I got. I took every chance I could to solo in my school Jazz band and I endured a lot of shitty solos. I wasn't playing by any shapes that I had learned and I wasn't paying attention to what notes I was playing, I was just trying to translate what I heard to my playing. It's almost like speaking a new language. You're going to make slip ups here and there when you start out, but in a while, everything will start to come out smoother and you'll be able to express yourself well in no time.