#1
I know that this forum prefers brevity, so I'll get right to the point. I know my open chords, my scales (been really buckling down with all positions of the pentatonic)... most important to my question, though, I know who my influences are as a guitarist. Knowing what artists influence me- inspire me- to pick up a guitar every day, how can I start to discover my own creative voice on guitar?

Thanks for any advice!
#2
Quote by Jake P
I know that this forum prefers brevity, so I'll get right to the point. I know my open chords, my scales (been really buckling down with all positions of the pentatonic)... most important to my question, though, I know who my influences are as a guitarist. Knowing what artists influence me- inspire me- to pick up a guitar every day, how can I start to discover my own creative voice on guitar?

Thanks for any advice!


1) start learning your favorite guitarists solos and riffs by ear - no tab, no videos. There is a specific practical purpose for doing this - you'll develop your ear and develop the ability to play what you hear in your head on the instrument. At first it's copying, but that will later translate in you being able to play things that come through your imagination. Start with something slow tempo where you can hear the notes easilly.

2) start improvising and noodling now. Constantly try coming up with little riffs or solos - try to take one idea and change it. Writing is a skill that develops over time, but you need to work at it to get good at it. Even if you only know three chords, try to make a song with those three chords. As you learn more and more, you're compositions and improvisations will get better.

3) learn basic functional theory - chord naming in relation to the major scale, major and minor intervals, modes, progression naming (II, V, I etc.). Then analyze songs you like by using those concepts to see what is going on. This stuff really opens up your ability to be creative.

4) record yourself improvising and re-learn the parts that are "happy accidents" - these will eventually form your style. Also, don't spend too much time on one particular guitarist, learn from many, otherwise you will sound like a clone.

5) start paying attention to song structures - chorus, bridge etc. When writing music, this becomes very important.

6) learn some Hendrix.
#3
Quote by Jake P
I know that this forum prefers brevity, so I'll get right to the point. I know my open chords, my scales (been really buckling down with all positions of the pentatonic)... most important to my question, though, I know who my influences are as a guitarist. Knowing what artists influence me- inspire me- to pick up a guitar every day, how can I start to discover my own creative voice on guitar?

Thanks for any advice!



How long have you been playing for?

Best,

Sean
#4
Sean- I've been playing about 5 years.

Reverb- Thanks for the great advice- all great points. You mentioned Hendrix, which I think brings up a great point about my perspective as a guitarist. Might start a forum war, but Hendrix's style is something that I don't particularly enjoy. Aside from it being overly technical and "flashy" (coming from the perspective of a guy who grew up listening to Kurt and Billie Joe), what I dislike is that his style (according to a video featuring Govan) is that it blends rhythm and lead. I like playing that's very "black-and-white (here's the rhythm and there's the lead), and not particularly "riffy", such as that found in Black Dog- essentially five minutes of riffing. Probably something worth keeping in mind as I progress.

Also, is there any way of "multi-quoting" when replying?
#5
Quote by reverb66
1) start learning your favorite guitarists solos and riffs by ear - no tab, no videos. There is a specific practical purpose for doing this - you'll develop your ear and develop the ability to play what you hear in your head on the instrument.


The no tabs or video thing is a nice idea in theory, but isn't always the most practical idea, since there are some things that are probably impossible to learn to play by listening. For example, how would you know how to play Jerry's Breakdown just from listening? You can figure out the notes, but the fingerings and use of open strings and slides and such is probably not very intuitive for a guitarist that is unfamiliar with playing that sort of music, and probably even a bit tricky for someone that is. If you just end up learning to flat pick the whole song in close positions, what good is that?

While I do agree that ear training is important, it seems kind of silly to ignore available resources that can potentially allow you to progress more rapidly than just learning by ear.
There's no such thing; there never was. Where I am going you cannot follow me now.
#6
^This. I was never into transcribing for the reason of having some weird "ears only" elitism.

Use every tool at your disposal. Including Tabs.

Also, define "my scales"

Also, you should be able to play:

Major
Minor
Maj7
Min7
Dom7
m7b5
dim7

As barre chords/4 note voicings easily. That's kind of the bare minimum of harmonic knowledge you need.

Open "cowboy chords" are going to stop cutting it very rapidly.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#7
Quote by Jet Penguin
^This. I was never into transcribing for the reason of having some weird "ears only" elitism.

Use every tool at your disposal. Including Tabs.

Also, define "my scales"


For the most part, major and minor pentantonic. After getting all the positions down (and intervals) , I want to learn the major and minor scales. Since I've recently gotten into the blues, I also want to learn Mixolydian. Nothing too esoteric with scales- I think that it would be fruitless to learn concepts not used by my favorite guitarists, wouldn't it?

Quote by Jet Penguin
Also, you should be able to play:

Major
Minor
Maj7
Min7
Dom7
m7b5
dim7

As barre chords/4 note voicings easily. That's kind of the bare minimum of harmonic knowledge you need.


I know open majors and minors, Dominant 7ths, barre chords, and suspended 2nd and 4th chords... that about sums up my harmonic knowledge, I think... if there's more, I'll let you know. Again, I have to go back to the idea that the techniques that are relevant to me as a player are the ones found in the genres I enjoy.

Quote by Jet Penguin
Open "cowboy chords" are going to stop cutting it very rapidly.


Gotta disagree with you on that one, Jet. To my knowledge (note disclaimer), guys like Johnny Cash built careers spanning decades on open chords.

Also, Jet, I sent you a PM a couple of days ago. I'd really appreciate it if you could respond. Thanks.
Last edited by Jake P at May 25, 2015,
#8
Quote by Jake P
Gotta disagree with you on that one, Jet. To my knowledge (note disclaimer), guys like Johnny Cash built careers spanning decades on open chords.


Guys like Johnny Cash, George Jones, Ray Price, Hank Williams, etc built their careers on their songwriting and/or singing, not their guitar playing.
There's no such thing; there never was. Where I am going you cannot follow me now.
Last edited by theogonia777 at May 25, 2015,
#9
Quote by Jake P
For the most part, major and minor pentantonic. After getting all the positions down (and intervals) , I want to learn the major and minor scales. Since I've recently gotten into the blues, I also want to learn Mixolydian. Nothing too esoteric with scales- I think that it would be fruitless to learn concepts not used by my favorite guitarists, wouldn't it?


Just a heads up, you really can't simply "learn mixolydian" as you can with major or minor scales. If you approach modes the same way you approach keys, you'll find out that there's no difference. If you learn all the positions of the major scale, you might notice that one of them is the mixolydian. And if you start learning the positions of mixolydian, you'll notice that it's the same as the major, but in a different key. Let's just say that you shouldn't pay modes too much attention before you know how to play in a key.

And no, that is definitely the opposite of fruitless. Maybe not necessary for you right now, but still, learning a wide range of different styles, even ones you hate, will do you absoltely no harm. Quite the opposite.
#10
^Yeah Jake I took care of it, sorry, been a bit crazy here.

Like Kristen said, they built their careers on writing, not playing the hell out of the guitar. Not that that's invalid or anything.

At the end of the day, you just gotta learn the things you want to learn, I've just always been a fan of having a good enough 'survival' palette where you can get through any musical situation you'll run into without too much trouble, but that's just me.

And like Kevathuri said, you on't really learn modes like that. The way you (should) wind up learning it is through CST, chord-scale theory. You will see the scales with modal names as different 'colors' that you can apply to certain harmonies when playing melody.

It's not fruitless at all. No sense in denying yourself part of the musical experience. Learn how to play like your heroes sure, but don't be afraid to grow as a person and an artist!
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#11
Quote by Jet Penguin
^Yeah Jake I took care of it, sorry, been a bit crazy here.

Like Kristen said, they built their careers on writing, not playing the hell out of the guitar. Not that that's invalid or anything.

At the end of the day, you just gotta learn the things you want to learn, I've just always been a fan of having a good enough 'survival' palette where you can get through any musical situation you'll run into without too much trouble, but that's just me.

And like Kevathuri said, you on't really learn modes like that. The way you (should) wind up learning it is through CST, chord-scale theory. You will see the scales with modal names as different 'colors' that you can apply to certain harmonies when playing melody.

It's not fruitless at all. No sense in denying yourself part of the musical experience. Learn how to play like your heroes sure, but don't be afraid to grow as a person and an artist!


No worries, Jet, I totally understand how life can get.

This thread has made me have a significant revelation in discovering that I enjoy not only guitarists, but also guitarist songwriters (or maybe more accurately, songwriters who use a guitar as a way of channeling their songwriting. I suppose it makes sense given that I grew up listening to Cobain. This, along with our PMs has made me realize that I enjoy musicians who are really able to tell a story. Probably something to keep in mind as I progress.

Not sure what I was thinking there with modes- guess I'll have to study that a bit more.

I guess my big question in starting this thread was, and still is, how can I develop a cohesive form of musical expression when my interests range from gentle, melodic folk/country (the original style, not the pop infused drivel of today) to fast, aggressive punk? I suppose the overarching theme to all of it is harmonic simplicity- maybe I need to start there.
#12
Quote by theogonia777
The no tabs or video thing is a nice idea in theory, but isn't always the most practical idea, since there are some things that are probably impossible to learn to play by listening. For example, how would you know how to play Jerry's Breakdown just from listening? You can figure out the notes, but the fingerings and use of open strings and slides and such is probably not very intuitive for a guitarist that is unfamiliar with playing that sort of music, and probably even a bit tricky for someone that is. If you just end up learning to flat pick the whole song in close positions, what good is that?

While I do agree that ear training is important, it seems kind of silly to ignore available resources that can potentially allow you to progress more rapidly than just learning by ear.


I should clarify that I don't think he, or anyone else, needs to stop using tab or videos completely, but that he focus on learning some things purely by ear and that he prioritize that method for a while.

The point here is in relation to what he wants to achieve - learning by ear builds a specific skill set that helps you play what you hear in your head. Tab and videos are great for learning quickly and for learning things that are just unlearn-able by ear, but they don't help you much when it comes to quickly figuring out a riff that's playing in your head.
#13
Quote by Jake P
No worries, Jet, I totally understand how life can get.

This thread has made me have a significant revelation in discovering that I enjoy not only guitarists, but also guitarist songwriters (or maybe more accurately, songwriters who use a guitar as a way of channeling their songwriting. I suppose it makes sense given that I grew up listening to Cobain. This, along with our PMs has made me realize that I enjoy musicians who are really able to tell a story. Probably something to keep in mind as I progress.

Not sure what I was thinking there with modes- guess I'll have to study that a bit more.

I guess my big question in starting this thread was, and still is, how can I develop a cohesive form of musical expression when my interests range from gentle, melodic folk/country (the original style, not the pop infused drivel of today) to fast, aggressive punk? I suppose the overarching theme to all of it is harmonic simplicity- maybe I need to start there.


A study of Music Theory and applying that knowledge to the guitar as well as Harmonic Analysis and the prevailing insights you get from that, can go a long ways, there!

Best,

Sean
#14
Quote by Jake P
No worries, Jet, I totally understand how life can get.

This thread has made me have a significant revelation in discovering that I enjoy not only guitarists, but also guitarist songwriters (or maybe more accurately, songwriters who use a guitar as a way of channeling their songwriting. I suppose it makes sense given that I grew up listening to Cobain. This, along with our PMs has made me realize that I enjoy musicians who are really able to tell a story. Probably something to keep in mind as I progress.

Not sure what I was thinking there with modes- guess I'll have to study that a bit more.

I guess my big question in starting this thread was, and still is, how can I develop a cohesive form of musical expression when my interests range from gentle, melodic folk/country (the original style, not the pop infused drivel of today) to fast, aggressive punk? I suppose the overarching theme to all of it is harmonic simplicity- maybe I need to start there.


If you're into Cobain, check out the new documentary Montage of Heck - it really shines a light on his creative process and work ethic - the guy didn't just fart out songs, he constantly worked at his art, which came as a bit of a surprise to me. I gained a lot of respect for him after watching that.