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Music Articles

Playing Guitar - How to Move Forward

By Thomas Wilhelm

You have maybe reached a certain level when it comes to playing guitar. You have learned all the basic open chords and started managing the barré chord technique. And you can play the popular sing along tunes from Bob Dylan, Eagles and maybe some Beatles tunes. So how to move forward from here..

Many will continue on this path, learning more tunes, and learning to sing along maybe.Some others will try to look for other with the common interests and maybe try to put together a band. Some will continue to play chords primarily and play the rhythm guitar. Some other want to learn improvisation techniques and create guitar solos and become lead guitarist of the band.

When playing solos my experience is that the some of the best guitar lessons is to start of learning the common rules or clichés for solos. With cliché I mean there are some special tone sequences that is widely used by many established artists, and which sounds good and recognizable in the listener ear. Most important at this stage is that you follow some common rules of improvisation, that you choose tones or scale sequences that fits the accompaniment by the other instruments, whether you choose to play a solo based on blues scale or various major or minor scales. At this level You should know the frets quite well, and at least know how to play maybe a scale in at least a couple of positions at the fretboard.

Throughout history of popular music we have had some great pioneer that were able to shock their audience by new revolutionary sound, like Mozart did in his time. From the guitar world you can imagine Chuck Berry BB King, and later Jimi Hendrix who shocked not only audience but also his musical colleagues by his crazy distortion wah wah sound, rhythm, and his ability to use feedback effects or his ability to get maximal effect from the amplifier.

Later on we had the fast Van Halen tapping style and Yngwie Malmsteens inclusion of classical aspects into hard rock, which made him become the pioneer of neoclassical hard rock.

You also find great personalities in other genrés, like Mark Knopfler, Santana, Mike Oldfield all of which managed to ad their own spice and personality to the guitar. Or jazz fusion guitarists like John McLaughlin and Allan Holdsworth.

The common for all those artists is that they had to learn the basics and improvisational clichés first, and from there experiment to find the sound of their own, some by inclusion of aspects from other not western like music, like classical or ethnic folk, or by finding new sequences and use of intervals like for example Eric Johnson. There´s a lot of inspiration to find out there, so what will be the next....