About Me

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Atlanta, GA, United States
When I suffered a lip injury that ended my career as a classical trombonist, I thought my life as a musician was finished, but I fell in love with music all over again when Santa gave me a guitar for Christmas in 2003. Even as I was struggling with my first chords, I was planning a new performance career. As a trombonist, I performed with the Heritage of America Band at Langley Air Force Base, the Ohio Light Opera, and in pick-up bands for touring acts that included Rosemary Clooney, George Burns, and the Manhattan Transfer. Reborn as a jazz guitarist, I sing and play my own solo arrangements of jazz classics, am half of the Godfrey and Guy duo, and hold the guitar chair in the Sentimental Journey Orchestra. I have been a freelance music copyist since 1995, served as Director of Music at Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation from 2011 to 2017, and currently serve as Contemporary Band Director at the same congregation.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Seven String Transfer

Tonight, I began the slow process of learning to play my Godfrey and Guy duo material on the 7-string guitar. I came up with a great sounding accompaniment for Take Five. I patted myself on the back before reminding myself that I have well over one hundred more songs to relearn! I also spent time working up Black Coffee and I'm Beginning to See the Light, and I'll start in on Girl from Ipanema tomorrow.

Funny how just one more string can change the landscape. I love the extended bass notes that the low A string offers, but taking advantage of those notes often requires rethinking a chord voicing or comping in a different area of the neck than I have been using for a particular song. The new chord voicings that I'm learning aren't that difficult, but the little changes start to add up, and my brain eventually overloads.

When I play the traditional 6-string guitar, there are certain devices that are burned into my muscle memory so completely that I can play them without a second thought. Those devices transfer to the 7-string, but I have to think about them again as I learn to incorporate the 7th string into the mix.

With this first set of songs, I'm starting the process of reprogramming my muscle memory. As I work through a mix of swing, blues, and bossa songs, I'll gradually get comfortable with the 7th string and the possibilities it opens up. The process won't take quite as long with the next set of songs. By the time I've worked my way through a couple dozen songs, I'll have worked up a handful of useful licks and tricks, and things will get easier and easier…or at least that's what I keep telling myself.

Comping is one thing. Then there is solo playing. I've worked up a lot of solo arrangements. I'm going to have to totally relearn those solos. That'll be interesting.

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