Saturday, 21 February 2009

Marshall Harrison: clinical elation, a post diagnosis

Being based in the UK, I knew I would not be making the clinic date, but I was fortunate enough to be in contact with an attendee of the recent show. So a very large amount of Kudos goes to Greg Wakefield who took a five hour drive to get to the recent Marshall Harrison guitar clinic held in Texas City... and no small amount of Kudos to Marshall for delivering a stunning show.

Greg Wakefield says:
A brief review of the Marshall Harrison clinic at the College of the Mainland in Texas City, Texas.

I've been quite a fan of Marshall's playing for the last 5 years or so, after I stumbled across his stellar version of Paganini's Moto Perpetuo. I was hooked immediately. I then checked out his Wieniawski etudes, and there was no turning back. I'd heard some neoclassical shredders imitate some classical material, but I'd never heard someone actually play such demanding pieces at tempo, and really do the music justice the way Marshall did. His playing is equal parts inspiration and instruction to me, and when I found out that he was going to be giving a clinic, there was no way I was going to miss it - I had to witness his playing in a live setting.

As I entered the Arts building, it wasn't hard to figure out where the clinic was held - I just followed the barrage of rippling arpeggios and rapid-fire sequenced scales to the recital hall where Marshall was warming up on his Vigier, as the audience slowly filled the room. For the next 15 minutes or so, I just basked in the sheets of sound of Marshall warming up on his Vigier through a Vox Valvetronix, as his videographer set up the video equipment and the crowd continued to stream in. Shortly after 7pm, John Kiefer - teacher at the college and the organizer of the clinic (as well as author of Mel Bay's J.S. Bach for Electric Guitar - a book that helped my technique a fair bit back in the day) began the event by introducing Marshall.

Marshall started off by mentioning that he’s assuming everyone in the audience had the basics of guitar down – he is not someone to go to for basic instruction – all his techniques depend on the player having a reasonably developed technique and a fair grasp of theory. At that point, he began to go into his approach to economy picking, and described how he came up with his economy-picked ‘1-3-1’ major 6 arps (root note on one string, sweep to the next string and play the 3, 5, and 6, shift positions and play the root on the next string, then play 3,5,6 on the next, etc). When done correctly, this results in three subsequent swept notes on adjacent strings (the 6, root, and 3), and is extremely fast. Marshall showed a variation on this theme, an E major arp from the low open E to the 24th fret high e – extremely quick and fluid, and this particular arp really floored Brett Garsed, Marshall’s tutor at GIT. Marshall described various permutations of this concept, and then talked about economy picking in general – the odd/even idea, ways to blaze through 2 note per string ideas on adjacent strings, how to speed up the chromatic scale by adding a first-finger slide, making the scale a 5 note per string scale and thus sweepable, and how to allow gravity to do the work when sweep picking.

He then touched on legato, and how it sounds best to do all hammerons as opposed to hammering on and pulling off, with the pulloff’s subsequent loss of tone. He mentioned Holdsworth as being the foremost legato player, and showed a few melodic snippets reminiscent of Holdsworth’s playing. He also stressed that if you’re interested in focusing on legato, it’s important to make sure your tone has a good deal of midrange – an interesting tip I hadn’t heard before. He mentioned that the Carvin Holdsworth guitar was a good choice for legato players, as its pickups have a pronounced midrange spike and it has big frets, among other things.

He then went into hybrid picking, and showed how he used this technique to ‘rescue the pick’ as shown in his instructional video, how it can change the odd/even principle for economy picking (the finger pluck replaces one pick, so you can get a sweepable 4 notes per string without changing sweep direction if you hybrid pick one of the notes). He showed how he uses hybrid picking in sequences – he typically plucks a single note on a string with hybrid picking and uses the pick on the notes on the other string. He also showed how to play an octave-displaced chromatic scale using hybrid picking. Pick the first note – 5th fret A on the low E, for example - then pluck the A# an octave up on the 8th fret of the D string. From there, pick the B on the 7th fret low E, and using the middle finger, pluck the C on the 10th fret of the D string.

He mentioned integrating all these techniques – mix them up, don’t just lean on one… combine the techniques, and he demonstrated some melodic passages that used various combinations of the techniques he’d discussed. He also mentioned Horowitz’ approach to technique – don’t fight the body’s natural inclinations, but use them to make music. In other words, if a certain technique falls easily and effortlessly under the fingers, use it to your advantage – don’t discard it just because it’s unconventional.

From there, it went to a question and answer session, which was pretty wide-ranging and went on for an additional 30 minutes or so. When there were no more questions, John Kiefer thanked Marshall for his clinic and the crowd gave him a warm round of applause.

I got the chance to chat with Marshall briefly as he was packing up – he was surprised and pleased at the size of the turnout… there were probably 70 or so people there to see him, and people kept coming in throughout his clinic. I asked him if he was planning on doing more clinics and he was open to the idea – I’ve got my fingers crossed.

I noticed that throughout the clinic, the crowd sat in stunned silence as Marshall’s fingers effortlessly flew across the fingerboard. As I was walking out to the parking lot, I overheard several of the audience describe how their world was just rocked by seeing what Marshall could do on the instrument… it sounded like they weren’t familiar with Marshall’s playing previously, but Marshall undoubtedly gained some new fans.

It was a great evening – many thanks to John Kiefer for setting it up, and to Marshall for giving us all insights into his technical wizardry.

As I mentioned, the event was recorded on video, so keep your eyes peeled for it.

Ciro Manna: guitar9 interview

Guglielmo Malusardi interviews Ciro Manna for guitar9

Ciro Manna says:
Listening to guitar-oriented records I have noticed that a lot of them are mainly focused on the guitar, and less on the groove, neglecting the sound of the band. What I tried to do on my CD was to create a huge sound with the bass and drums, giving just the right groove to every riff of the song. "Feel" is related to my feeling about the guitar, and the continual search for my own sound.

full interview

David T Chastain: shredding lessons

David T Chastain delivers some of chromatic shred licks in these three videos.

Guitar Lesson David T Chastain aeolian minor shredding scales and sweeps

Guitar Lesson David T Chastain very fast chromatic improvisation

Guitar Lesson David T Chastain full board dorian scale and triplets

Faraz Anwar: clinic demos

A casual workshop in which Faraz Anwar answered questions related to guitar playing.

Faraz Anwar - Guitar Workshop at LUMS (Part 1)

Faraz Anwar - Guitar Workshop at LUMS (Part 2)

Faraz Anwar - Insaan Guitar Solo

Paul Gilbert: metalichicka updates

Mogar Music Interview with Paul Gilbert - November 7, 2006, plus some great photos too... plus Italian clinic updates

Marshall Harrison: atavachron for all our yesterdays

'80s rockers Black Sheep released their debut album, "Trouble In The Streets" in 1985 on Enigma Records featuring Paul Gilbert... however this features Marshall Harrison!!!

Black Sheep - Someone Like U featuring James Kottak (Scorpions)

Greg Howe: twitter ye not!


OK twitter folk... listen to the chirps:

Jason Becker: shred neck!

Shred Necks add the Jason Becker model:

Robert Conti: 8 string jazz

Robert Conti performs Mr. Lucky on his original 8 string jazz guitar, during a 1999 performance. Listen as he plays both the chord melody as well as the bass line to the tune!

Robert Conti - 8 String Jazz Guitar

Exquisite 8 string chord melody jazz guitar work performed by Robert Conti in 1999.

1999 - Shadow Of Your Smile

Jeff Beck: live at ronnie scotts dvd


March 31st, Eagle Rock Entertainment, through it’s Eagle Vision subsidiary, will release JEFF BECK Performing This Week… Live at Ronnie Scott’s on DVD and Blu-Ray.

Filmed over the course of several gigs at the famed Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in 2007, Performing This Week… (CD released November 25th) features a compilation of material spanning Beck’s genre-jumping career. From Rock to Jazz to Blues, with some Boogie and Beatles to boot, this was a week that positively rocked the intimate London club. His band includes Tal Wilkenfeld (bass), Vinnie Colaiuta (drums), and Jason Rebello (keyboards). Joss Stone, Imogen Heap, and Eric Clapton also made special appearances, complementing Beck’s wild guitar work with their diverse vocal approaches.

"This was a great week. Playing in such an intimate club with my friends and my amazing band…. What more could a musician want." - Jeff Beck

Tracklisting: 'Beck’s Bolero', 'Eternity’s Breath', 'Stratus', 'Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers', 'Behind The Veil', 'You Never Know', 'Nadia', 'Blast From The East', 'Led Boots', 'Angel (Footsteps)', 'People Get Ready' - with Joss Stone, 'Scatterbrain', 'Goodbye Pork Pie Hat' / 'Brush With The Blues', 'Space Boogie', 'Blanket' - with Imogen Heap, 'Big Block', 'A Day In The Life', 'Little Brown Bird' - with Eric Clapton, 'You Need Love' - with Eric Clapton, 'Rollin’ And Tumblin’' - with Imogen Heap, 'Where Were You'.

Blu-Ray Bonus Tracks: 'Race With The Devil', 'Crazy Legs', 'Train Kept A Rollin’', 'My Baby Left Me', 'Matchbox', 'Baby Blue', 'Honky Tonk' / Beck Interview on Rockabilly set.