Don't forget about songs
(02 Mar 05)
Disclaimer: This is not a 101 guide on songwriting. If such a guide would be possible, I'll leave it up to others to cover that. This is merely an addition to the articles I have written for ibreathemusic previously.
It is intended mainly for younger players, especially the ones who are working on their chops. Let me point out at first that everything in this article merely reflects my own opinion. It's tough to judge songwriting or talk about "stuff to avoid" etc. So bear with me, ok ? I'll try to explain my main thoughts on this subject…
Why did I choose this topic ?
Well, as I said, this article reflects my own opinions, which are based on some observations I've made throughout the years. I don't wanna offend ANYONE, although I probably will in some way.
OK, what got me started here ?
I often browse through some of the other forums to see what the guitar scene is talking (or complaining - but I don't even wanna go there this time) about. And sometimes, people share sound files of their playing, in some way documenting their development.
If you have browsed some of the rather popular guitar forums, you've probably seen threads like "Here is my take on the solo of *insert random song by popular metal band, instrumental rock guitarist…*" ... hope you know what I mean...
Well, and if you actually open the thread and check out the audio- or video-file, you get to see / hear someone attempt to play a solo or tough passage. Sometimes it's quite impressive, sometimes it's obvious that the player still needs a lot of work.
I can definitely understand the wish to learn some of those tough solos by your favorite players (I don't actually wanna mention too many names, but I have seen people post their takes on the "The Glass Prison" arpeggio passage by John Petrucci / Dream Theater in several forums, just to give you one example of a popular one... ).
I've done this myself. Some of them are great chop builders, and it's definitely a good learning experience to attempt playing tricky solos by other players.
I know how it feels to sit down with the TAB of a tough solo and to spend hours learning it. I did the same thing back when I was starting out, or when I got to the point where I was seriously working on my chops.
However, what occurred to me was that many of those young players post bunches of those "my take on solo x by player y" type threads, yet I never see them post "here is my song…" or "here is a solo I came up with" (I mean a solo in a song-context, not an unaccompanied "guitar shop jawdropper" type solo )
Then, just recently, I heard a recording by one of those guys… he had actually written a song, recorded it and wanted to share it with his fellow forum members (and no, I am not gonna post names of players or forums here).
Now, bear in mind that this article is supposed to be very constructive… that is my intention. So bear with me, cuz this next part is a bit hard to write...
Because this particular player had posted several recordings of himself playing some rather difficult solos by some of his favorite players, and since these were pretty good, I had some high expectations.
The song I got to hear was… well, not very impressive or convincing.
I know that this is rather subjective, and a matter of taste etc. However, I think I do have a point here anyway… the song I heard sounded extremely... well, choppy. There was no real structure, no melody to latch your ear on to, and the tone of the player was not very pleasant to the ear.
I don't mean to degrade anyone. I am trying to make a point, and that point is:
(turn the page and hold yer breath)