It’s about time to make another post and also to make a sort-of inventory of this year’s achievements.
In the previous 4 months, I used my electric guitars in about 90% of my playing time as I got more interested in transcribing various melodies and chord progressions, and I find it’s easier on an electric than on an acoustic (the original recordings also feature electric guitars). I think I’m getting better at recognizing the various intervals in context and figuring out (or at least making an educated guess at) faster passages as well.
The most recent additions to my transcriptions-in-progress and play-along list of songs are (YouTube links included):
Deep Purple - Mistreated: I’ve known this song since I was a kid as one of my dad’s cassettes was Burn. I chose this song in order to utilize the pentatonic scale and also because I managed to stumble on the first 3 notes by chance. Of course, the solo at the end is pretty difficult, but sometimes my playing sounds kind of like a complement to the original part.
Isaac Hayes - Do Your Thing: 33 minutes of pure funk and wah-wah jamming. When I play along, it’s usually with the horn figures and the wah-wah guitar solo, either individually or switching between the two. Playing along to it feels like being in Stax studios, pretty cool. This also gives me opportunity to experiment with the wah-wah pedal itself and how the place where the strings are picked affects the tone.
Isaac Hayes - Pursuit of the Pimpmobile: You may have guessed by now that I’m a sucker for long funk jams, and Hayes was a master in that field. This song sounded deceptively simple to me so I gave it a try, and was I surprised. The main riff is quite tricky and it took a few days until I figured out how to approach it with using hammer-ons and flick-offs instead of only down/upstrokes for each note. It’s coming along nice, but it’ll definitely take some time to get really flowing. The other riff (starting at 7:21 and prefigured by the hi-hat) sounds even simpler but it’s even trickier. This song will probably be my go-to choice for practicing hammer-ons and flick-offs for quite some time.
Isaac Hayes - Ike’s Rap I & Ike’s Mood / You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’: Both are from his album To Be Continued. The first one features a simple riff starting around 2:30 and it has a kind of serious mood that gives a nice contrast to the piano in the first half of the song. The second is another long one, plenty of things going on so that there’s always something to be discovered. One of my greatest feelings of success was when I managed to find out the motif first played at 0:32 and repeated again from 9:09, and to play it at the original tempo. The melody played by the oboe from 2:09 (taken up by the flute and strings afterwards) sounds so cinematic that it’s difficult not to be affected by it; and it’s another opportunity to practice hammer-ons. So yes, this song is full of little pieces of “food for ears”.
Idris Muhammad - Power of Soul: This is a jazzed/funked-up cover of the Hendrix original. I managed to transcribe the main riff (played by the horns) and I was thrilled to find out that it can be “tied together” with the riff from Ike’s Rap I (see above) as they have the same notes. Btw, Muhammad (under his real name Leo Morris) was the drummer on Blueberry Hill by Fats Domino.
Ten Years After - As the Sun Still Burns Away: I actually managed to get this one down around my 1st guitar anniversary, but was not on my regular playlist. It’s pretty handy to practice the (E) minor pentatonic scale at various positions. Pretty fun to play along with the original.
The Doors - L’America: L.A. Woman was probably the first cassette I bought for myself a long long time ago. This song is not very difficult but the small variations on the main riff can be tricky.
The Doors - Riders on the Storm: I know Justin has a lesson on this song but I wanted to give it a try alone at first. It felt so good when I managed to transcribe the main motif appearing around 1:10. Sometime next year I’ll try to do the guitar solo. The electric piano solo is also tempting but I’ve got a feeling that I should get familiar with modes beforehand. The final descending part of that solo (from 4:27) is also something to be looked at.
Some other things:
My sitar journey stopped after 5 lessons. I realized how true Justin’s saying that “practice makes permanent” is. At the sitar course, everyone else seemed to have been participating for years or so, so they weren’t total beginners like me. This in itself wouldn’t have been a problem, but I really missed that the basics were not covered. I’ve been probably spoiled by Justin’s sort of spoonfed style, but I would have expected something similar, at least for the picking technique. Also, most things were played at a fast tempo right away which just made me confused. Like, if I went to a piano teacher, I wouldn’t expect him/her to start with some rhapsodies by Liszt at full speed right away.
Also, I didn’t always know what we were playing and why. I mean, I know we played a thing called Bihag raga, but whether we played the beginning, middle or the ending, I haven’t got the slightest cue. And I realized I’m just not interested in the intricacies of Indian music - it’s not something I regularly listen to, in any case, and I’ll never be an Indian musician anyway. I still think the sitar is an interesting instrument and I’m glad I gave it a try. One item less on my bucket list.
My vinyl collection has recently passed 50 titles and I started to buy used ones as well.
GAS: I’ve been thinking about getting another electric guitar, but I haven’t settled on anything yet. I don’t know if I should continue saving some money for a decent 12-string (Gretsch and Rickenbacker models look gorgeous) or go for a Player Stratocaster or a Player Telecaster. Both of the latter seem to have their particular advantages. (Telecasters by default look great in my eyes no matter what colour, and the Player Plus Strat in tequila sunrise is just pure eye candy.) Next year I’ll try to visit the guitar stores I know and try as many guitars as I can before making any decisions.