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Posts Tagged ‘Style’

Changing it Up

This post and its comments have been moved to the way more awesome guitarforworship.com website. Click here to read this post.

Splendid.
Karl.

 

Decided to play a few services pretending I was BB King this week. Normally I pretend I’m the Edge; but this past week I have been without my main amp head. Not because it broke down, but because the once apple red colored  tolex has faded into what looks like the Brady Bunch carpet. And I don’t mean that as a joke…that’s simply how ugly it is. So, while a very talented friend of mine is working on it, I’ve been having to use my backup amp. It’s also a Holland, but it’s the Brentwood model (yes, I admit…I bought it solely because it was named after a community in Hollywood…a community really, really near the Holiday Inn that Al Pacino stays at in Heat…shivers…sad). The Brentwood is 6L6-based, and much more bluesy and American sounding than my main EL84-based head. I usually use it for my pad live, or as my plug straight in amp for small gigs and such. And then whenever my main amp goes down or needs attention, I just buy another EL84-based amp I’ve been wanting to try out, give it a review, and then gig it until my Holland is ready, and then sell the one I just bought. And I always convince myself that I am actually making money when I buy and sell these ‘fill-in-the-gaps’ amps. But…uh…as money is really scarce right now, it’s not the time to risk the fact that I may in fact be lying to myself. ;)

And there’s no rule saying that you have to change styles when you switch it up gear-wise. But I thought it might be a kind of cool opportunity to stretch myself a bit…and to make sure I’m not boring the sweet goodness out of my listeners with my constant ‘that sounds like U2 but not as good’ riffage. So, for the couple gigs and services I’ve been without my main amp, I did bring my pedalboard for some of the songs that just have to have effects. But for the most part, I played effectless (I know…just typing that seems like heresy) with just strat into 6L6 amp. And I chose some songs that lended themselves a bit more to a Jeff Buckley ballad style or a BB King blues style. And the one service I played as the lead guitarist, I just told the worship leader, ‘Tough, bro. I’m copping jazz tonight. Deal with it.’ No, not really… It actually was great timing, and one of the reasons I took the amp in now…because at that church, the stage is getting re-constructed, so we had to have the night service in the coffee shop…perfect for BB King pretences.

bb-king1
(‘I’m horrible with chords.’ –BB King. So humble, yet so much soul. Talk about picking the absolute perfect note every time. BB King can rip your heart out with one bend, over the same chords that a lot of other guys use to play eighty-two double train-whistle bends that barely touch your heart.)

But it was a great experience to force me to change it up. See, you can do it by just telling yourself to change it up. But, I know at least for me, if there’s not some difference in the circumstances to force me to, I’ll usually forget that I was even trying. hehe But with this, it just made me look at each part of each song like…it was weird, it felt like I was playing out for the first time. You get into the habit of, even if it’s a new song, ‘Okay, the chords are going here…oh, that’s where I play this.’ And this past week, it allowed me to look at everything in a new way. And it was really, really fun. Which is a really important part that we don’t talk about very often.

So, maybe it’s a good thing to try every once in a while. Plug straight in for a bit, or force yourself to turn your amp up too loud so you have to nurse your volume knob as you play to help your dynamic mindset, or leave a delay on an untimed setting (low mix, of course) and force yourself to play with it, or change guitars to one you don’t use as much, or do all your lead work on acoustic one day, or whatever. Now, make sure the conditions are correct for you to experiment…if the worship leader has chosen ‘I am Free’, don’t say, ‘Oh, sorry bro. I’m not allowing myself to turn on my delay pedal today.’ Or if it’s a gig and a song you guys have written, you’ll literally kill (as in, they will die) your band if you decide today is the day for your flanger to be your ‘always on’ pedal. (Come to think of it, flange should just never be on. ;) ) But if the conditions lend themselves to it, it can really refresh your mindset to change it up.

And for the record, would BB King have been impressed with my stellar, seeping with emotion out of the riff’s pores if riffs had pores, blues riffs? Eh…probably not so much. I think I did the same bend like, 6 times. He’d probably say something akin to what Edge would say if he ever heard me play (sorry, letting my personal fantasies get in the way here again). I always get excited when I have this dream…but then, right at the best part when Edge opens his mouth to congratulate me on my ‘owning it’, he says something like, ‘You know, I really like my ‘Walk On’ riff. And you…uh…found a way to fit it into every song. Four times each. Good…uh…job.’

Yep.

Splendid.
Karl.

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This post and its comments have been moved to the way more awesome guitarforworship.com website. Click here to read this post.

Splendid.
Karl.

 

So many times we get caught up in what style we like, or play, or even are. (Well, maybe the ‘are’ part is just junior high. I didn’t listen to punk. No. I was punk. Like, punk like the Dead Kennedy’s literally believing that anarchy was a governmental option? No. Not real punk. I was ‘Blink-182 punk’. Which means you safety pin an MxPx patch to your pleather jacket and yell ‘You suck’ at traffic going 50 miles an hour. And it’s the traffic going 50 miles an hour, not me and my ‘punk’ friends. We’re walking…and trying oh so hard to look like the only reason we we don’t have a car is because we don’t want a car. And failing. Ah, my younger years.)

But it amazes me sometimes how into the ‘style’ of music I get. And then I try to listen to music around that style, and play music around that style, because I think I like it. And that’s partly true. But I’m blown away sometimes when I hear a song in a style that I normally can’t stand, but for some reason with this particular song, I love it. (And I’m pretty sure this ‘getting caught up in style’ goes for most people, too……not just me. Just turn on your local indie station. If I hear one more band trying to be The Shins…….)

I think it goes back to what Johann Sebastian Bach said in the 17th century. He said, ‘Music is melody.’ I love that. A good song, sound, and music will always trump a good style. Style is important, but it’s secondary. A good song will come through no matter what style. You might love it more if it was in a style you dig, but you’ll still be drawn to a good song even if it’s not ‘your style’. Whereas a bad song in your style will still be a bad song.

Here’s an example of a good song. And here’s five different ways it’s been done. And some of the styles aren’t really my deal. But the song, melody, sound, and music are so good that it transcends style.

Here’s the original version. Vintage Stones. (And for you toneheads, pay attention to the sound Keith can coax out of that acoustic. Really nice. That guy really does have tone in his hands.)

And then here it is, totally different, and sung wonderfully by Franco Battatio. This song just wrecks me every time I hear it. If you’re into film, this was one of the highlights of ‘Children of Men.’

And yet another version. Still beautiful. This is Melanie Safka.

And here’s the U2 cover. (You knew it was coming, right?) They go into it a bit at about 6:20. Gorgeously played; nice and simplistic. (And, as side notes, if you like U2, this is one of their best live performances right here. And yes, I am aware that Bono is half naked in overalls, and it does disturb me, too. Also, pay attention to the fact that Bono is roaming all over the stage with a wired mic. Watch the guys behind him scramble to keep the cord from getting tangled.)

So, a good song will always come through. Focus on your getting a good sound out of your instrument…melodically, tone-wise, and as it works with the music. Don’t worry so much about what style it is. Just sound good. Then add the style you’re looking for afterwards.

Style doesn’t matter at all when you’ve got a good song. Well……except for maybe this one:

Splendid. And sorry for that last arrangement. There are a few styles, I guess, that can kill good songs.
Karl.

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