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Lead Guitar – Required Guitar Playing Techniques, Making The Guitar Sing, and The Key To Musical Success

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by Feggy Art

Article by Bob Beal

Lead Guitar – Required Guitar Playing Techniques, Making The Guitar Sing, and The Key To Musical Success – Entertainment – Music

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A lead guitarist in these modern times is expected to be proficient at a lot of guitar playing techniques, be capable of playing ultra-fast (shred), and have a basic understanding of Music Theory. The advanced lead guitarist must know the Church Modes and “modal” playing, know what a Natural minor and a Natural Major scale is, know about all the other “modes,” the Church Modes: Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian, and Locrian; he or she must be able to play crisp staccato using Alternate-Picking or smooth and flowing legato using Hammer-On’s and Pull-Off’s; the virtuoso knows sequencing, what my guitar teacher called, and now I call, “Digital-Picking” and Pedal-Point, and understand these ideas well enough to extend them and make up original sequences; you’ve got to be able to play Arpeggios like Ingwie Malmsteen, Trills like Tony Iommi, Octaves like Jimi Hendrix, and Finger-Tap like Eddie Van Halen; you’ve got to know about Double-Stops, Neighbor Tones, and be good at String-Bending and Vibrato; you’ve got to know the Church Modes, The Pentatonic Scale, The Augmented, Diminished, and Chromatic Scales, and The Harmonic Minor Scale over the entire fretboard; and you’ve got to be able to mix and connect all of these things and move from technique to technique to technique in a musical, flowing manner; and then, just when you thought you knew it all, there’s the rather obscure, elusive concept of Melody.

Melody adds emotion to your playing. The first Melody concept is that of tension and resolution. Ascending riffs generally create tension which is resolved or released with a descending riff. Another similar Melody concept is that of “Call and Response.” A lead part can be split into two musical phrases where the first phrase, the “Call,” sort of asks a question, which is resolved, or answered, by the second phrase, the “Response.” Listen to the first few measures of Foghat’s “I Just Want To Make Love To You,” for an example of Call and Response.

The key to making a lead part emotionally moving is that you have to make it sing. The lead part has to literally sing. BB King’s playing style is an example of this; you will notice something that he does is he will sing along with what he’s playing, and the guitar will be hitting the exact same notes that he’s singing. A similar example is Peter Frampton, famous for playing through a talk-box. A third example is the playing style of Carlos Santana; even though he’s strictly adhering to well defined-scales, his guitar seems to be singing to you. For more examples of emotional guitar playing, listen to Robin Trower’s “Bridge of Sighs” or David Gilmore’s solo in Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb.” The guitar acts as a voice. The guitar literally sings. In your mind, as you play lead, think of words, lyrics, or just the pure emotion of what the lead part is trying to express, and have your guitar find matching tones. In this way you can break away from strictly scale-based playing and enter the world of Melody.

OK, so here it is: The Key to musical success, The Secret that will unlock your true musical potential, the profound breakthrough concept that could make you a star and that you will never, ever forget – there are two primary aspects to playing guitar solos and music in general; they are Technique and Melody. In all things, there is a Masculine side and a Feminine side, Yin and Yang, or Intellect and Emotion. In lead guitar, this is expressed as Technique and Melody. Technique is the Masculine Side, the Yang, the scientific, intellectual, technical side of playing which involves gaining knowledge, understanding, and competence in all of the Scales and the guitar playing techniques mentioned above: Hammer-Ons, Pull-Off’s, Digital-Picking, Pedal-Point, Arpeggios, Finger-Tapping, etc; the Feminine Side, the Yin, the Emotional side of playing lead is Melody. Melody adds emotion and breathes life into your lead. In the same way that it takes both a man and a woman to create life, a lead guitar solo requires both aspects – Technique and Melody – to come to life. You can be the fastest, most amazing technical shredder in the world, but what will people remember of your performance? They will have a vague sense that you were incredibly fast and an excellent guitar player, but nothing specific of the thousands of notes you’ve played. On the other hand, do you know, “Home, Home On The Range?” How about, “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star?” Why? Because they both have an emotionally memorable Melody line. There are two ways you can add Melody to your lead Technique – sequentially or simultaneously. Combining sequentially, you can do a little of one and then the other; play a fast, flashy, technical riff, then fall into a slower, more emotional line. Combining simultaneously, you play your guitar techniques while at the same time being sure to add lots of feeling and emotion as does Carlos Santana. An outstanding lead includes both Technique and Melody; an outstanding lead is a blending of science and art. Bob Beal

About the Author

Bob Beal started playing guitar as a teenager, took guitar lessons while in college at Texas A&M University, has played in several garage bands, then played Classic Rock in paying gigs. He has built a free website to archive and share his lead guitar knowledge. http://www.LeadGuitarWorkshop.ws

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Bob Beal started playing guitar as a teenager, took guitar lessons while in college at Texas A&M University, has played in several garage bands, then played Classic Rock in paying gigs. He has built a free website to archive and share his lead guitar knowledge. http://www.LeadGuitarWorkshop.ws












Use and distribution of this article is subject to our Publisher Guidelines

whereby the original author’s information and copyright must be included.

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