Using other Instruments as Inspiration for Guitar

by on April 14, 2009

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I’ve been reading recently about the influences of John Coltrane on Duane Allman. Specifically Duane using pull offs to recreate some of the sounds Coltrane made with his sax. In fact Duane grabbed a lot of ideas from Coltrane and Miles Davis. From 10 Things You Gotta Do to Play Like Duane Allman:

“Whether it’s a ten-minute solo during “Elizabeth Reed,” or one of the Brothers’ trademark extended cadenzas, you’ve gotta get fluent with the kind of extended modal jamming that permeated the band’s live performances. The emphasis on Am7’s upper extensions—the 9 (B), 11 (D), and 13 (F#)—played over the Im7-IV Dorian-based vamp in Ex. 5a reveals Allman’s professed admiration for the modal jazz of Miles Davis and John Coltrane. Ex. 5b is derived from three successive motifs that Allman regularly reprised during his extended closing improvisations in the Allman Brothers staple “You Don’t Love Me”: sliding parallel fifths reminiscent of his work on Clapton’s arrangement of “Little Wing,” a legato reading of the melody to “Joy to the World,” and a flashy display of upper-register A major-based thirty-second-note triplets.”

Then I also stumbled across this Premier Guitar article with Ten Miles Davis Tips for Guitarists. These ideas are adapted from a panel of Miles’ friends discussing Kind of Blue’s 50th anniversary.

“No one utilized non-notes for musical effect like Miles did. For some reason, when we play guitar we are conditioned to put 99.9% of our focus on the notes we’re playing. The spaces without notes in Kind of Blue are a big part of that record. It gives listeners time to absorb and process, both between passages and within phrases.

“The powerful thing with Kind of Blue is the space and information. There’s a lot of air in that record in the sense you don’t feel overloaded and you can take in each note. You don’t feel confronted with the music. You feel as if you’ve been invited into something very special.”
-David Fricke”

I’ve heard Dave Matthews mention that he feels like a drummer who plays guitar and he focuses more on the percussion of the instrument. Dave Rawlings at times seems to produce a mandolin like tone from his archtop acoustic. We all know about Jimmy Page’s experiments with bowing a guitar. It’s not always an easy thing to do, but looking to other instruments as an influence for your playing can help you create a unique sound. Whether it’s technique, rhythm, or note choices.

In Memory of Elizabeth Reed – Live from the Fillmore East 1970

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