Technique is part of Musical Expression

April 23rd, 2009 Posted in Uncategorized

I have been teaching private guitar lessons in the Dallas Ft Worth area as well as Houston since I was 16 years of age.

I never consciously decided to do it, I just love the damn thing so much that I used to live, eat, and sleep with a guitar in my hands. After a while so many of my neighbors were coming over for guitar lessons my Mom started cussing me to charge them. She always has been the entrepreneurial type.

My first student was this kid named Robert and he would bring over $15 and stay an hour for lessons.

I have been doing this so many years now it amazes me the “graduates” I have and what they are doing. One of my favorite “rights of passage” is the tune “Crazy Train”

I love that song and the way the opening riff is just so “killer”

“Killer” is a white kid growing up in the suburbs listening to heavy metal term, but it rocks!

Another one is “badass”

Regardless of your style of music; if you play guitar and you don’t think Randy Rhoads, Ozzy’s first guitar player is “killer” or “badass” you are out of the loop.

For my students that want to learn Rock and Roll guitar, “Crazy Train” is a standard. Everything about the tune is great. It starts out in f# minor and modulates to the relative Major (A Major).

The tune utilizes chord inversions, harmonics, right hand tapping, whammy bar simulation techniques without the bar and very clever rhythmic syncopation’s unorthodox in metal until Randy’s emergence. One of the first things that I read about Randy was how when he joined Ozzy he noticed all the Black Sabbath tunes were in E or A.

You see those are the first two open bass strings on the guitar so without thinking most knucklehead guitarist just start riffing there. That’s fine and dandy until you have 2 or 3 albums with all the songs in E or A and redundancy sets in big time.

Just like in the 90’s when all the grunge wave hit and everybody had to tune to “Drop D”
We see how long that lasted, I had a roommate in college that did that with every song. It like going out to dinner for a five course meal and every entree being the same.

It get’s old.

Music is a spectrum and every musical instrument falls somewhere within the range of that spectrum. Learn the range and utilize it to the fullest. Your listeners will appreciate it.

Look what Randy did.

Crazy Train- f# minor modulates to A Major
Over The Mountain- Ab
Steal Away the Night- B

He explored the range of his guitar and all the possibilities.

I purposely did that on my first solo release “Wake Up”

OK, back to lessons;

Once one of my students can play the tune perfectly with the “drum machine” at 120 bpm. They have graduated to a whole new level. I then recommend the parents buy them a real guitar.

I am partial to the Fender Strat or Les Paul. In the last couple of weeks I had three graduates step up their game.

Slader Ammons, Skylar Niederer and Morgan Sutherland.

Slader is an awesome guitarist and is only 14 and burning on guitar.

Here he is with his new Axe an awesome Strat:

Here is a shot after we got through learning “Holy Diver”


I think “Guitar Hero” is brilliant for bringing the best guitar playing to a new generation.

Vivian Campbell from Dio was definitely one of my guitar hero’s growing up.

Here is Skylar with his new badass strat from Sky Guitars in Denton. I was there with Morgan Sutherland helping him pick an SG when Skylar’s Dad walked in after leaving me a message at home.

Perfect timing, we got him this mean machine.

When some one sticks to lessons 4 years plus going on five they are going to be dangerous.

This is key, people who never reach their goals on guitar generally just quit, that’s it.

I have had several dozen guys that have been with me 5 years plus and are monsters.
Most are in bands and touring and many professionally. This cat here is a shining example.

His name is Jonny Riley and he has a new CD that me and Eric Delegard produced that is on the horizon.

It is the best local debut CD I have ever heard due to the sheer amount of catchy good songs.

I am very selective as to what I will work with as far as production as to the time involved and the expense to do it correctly. One of my strategies is to get the act together before you walk into the studio to record. Once you are in the studio cost are high so it is key to walk in ready to “print”

Not sit around in the studio trying to figure out what works and doesn’t work. We took all of Jonny’s songs and made demo’s. Then I took the ones that we all thought were the best and put them away. We then spent the next few months molding the tunes that we felt were not as strong.

This kind of turns the problem on itself and a few months later when it was time to get ready to go to the studio we had kind of forgot about the original tunes we thought were great and then messed with those a bit. This is an old trick I learned from the legendary producer Quincy Jones.

This is why I think they are an exceptional amount of tracks on this CD that are very good.

His band is called Osage and watch for them. I will keep you tuned in as things develop.

Not only is he a killer guitar player, but a singer and songwriter as well and he has a cool car.

My friend Edgar Cruz was here at my home tearing it up on his classical guitar so much last Friday he blew the electrical circuits out in my backyard and started a fire. It’s OK, we just moved the show inside.

In honor of all this “guitar greatness” I thought I would throw something fun and free in the mix for all of you. This is a recording of me playing guitar along with my friend Eric Delegard on Bass and Matt Thompson on Drums.

We recorded this awhile back at Reeltime Audio (Eric’s studio) Matt plays a killer drum track and he is a mofo on the drums. Matt plays in King Diamond as well as Shaolin Death Squad.

I used my Black Gibson Les Paul and my Mesa Boogie old school “dual rectifier”

The tune is in 6/8 and has a “neo-classical” feel ala “Yngwie Malmsteen and Vinnie Moore.

Two cool guitar cats, I grew up listening to. A friend in high school Byron wrote the harmony guitar part and I played it just as he wrote it. Can’t believe I still remember it.

Here it is for your listening enjoyment. Make sure you have your computer hooked up to a system that will do this justice. Eric’s bass is booming and Matt’s drums are kicking so stand back.

A lot of my students and fans are razzing me about why I don’t play more guitar solos and do more shredding. I will address that in a minute as I am not particularly fond of the word as you will see. I know it is just a word but I don’t care for the word “Shred.” It implies that you are trying to hide something. Think about it, why do people shred documents? Because they don’t want anybody to see it. I think a lot of guitar players “Shred” to hide the fact they are not really playing anything of substance. However, I do believe in a high level of technical proficiency on the guitar. I find most of the guitarists who are calling someone out for just being known for their technique to be lacking just that. Technique is just another level of expression. If you cannot play an advanced concept you hear in your minds eye then it is holding you back.

A lot of these shredders have taken beautiful classical music and butchered it with way too cute sweeps and false harmonics and other noodlings. I find it interesting some more feel based guitarists scoff and roll their eyes when I ask them if they can play The Flight of the Bumblebee by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov or Moto Perpetuo by Nicolo Paganini. Why not? They are two masterpieces from the classical repertoire and are wonderful compositions. I played both of them and teach them to my students as a beautiful piece of music to be carefully mastered and played with dynamics and emotion. Wynton Marsalis the great Jazz trumpet player plays both pieces in an extremely virtuosic manner and he in no way is shredding them.

This one is for you guys. I grew up doing this stuff and I enjoy it as much as I ever did.
I had a lot of fun on the guitar solo and even managed to throw a jazz line Clint Strong showed me in the middle of a metal solo? Hell why not!

Here goes, remember to be sure and crank it! I am not kidding your computers tiny speaker cannot do this justice.

Eric “Shreds”

Let me know what you think of the track.

Rock On,

Eric

  1. 6 Responses to “Technique is part of Musical Expression”

  2. By Jerrod Flusche on Apr 23, 2009

    Eric, i still play this song today when i’m jamming out from time to time. I remember playing this with you in your backyard that time. Those were some great times and it’s good to see some young musicians like i was jamming out with a great teacher. Thanks for the post!

    JERROD

  3. By fade on Apr 23, 2009

    I don’t know if you remember but you and I used to jam this out after you taught it to me in a lesson back in like 97. I never thought you were going to record it. NICE!! Didn’t you make this up when you were like 14.

  4. By Peter "Metal Pete" Elsner on Apr 23, 2009

    Eric,

    As always, you never cease to amaze me. That is an exceptional song and I can see you have not lost your touch.

    Keep up the good work.

    Pete

  5. By James Redlin on Apr 23, 2009

    I think that this was the first tune that we jammed on back in 86-87.It was alot of fun to play, after hours of practice on the bass guitar! It is an killer tune and I am glad to hear it again bro!

  6. By damascus on Apr 26, 2009

    Nice.

    You are indeed a mad scientist, sir.
    A crash creator aided by mean unseen seraphim.
    As an emcee I ride rhythms like debbie does Denton.
    But your riffs, rises and falls
    All force me to see beyond
    The bs we be on in the world.
    My words wish to wail as such.
    Much to my pleasure, God grants me the
    Unmeasureable treasure of knowing you.
    You, who can stratocast spells
    And speak in spirals of acoustic alchemy.
    You are he who trains champions in changing worlds with wild-eyed artwork,
    Sparking stars in firelike
    Fretless layers of letting go
    Over the abstract stretches of one’s imagination.
    Professa, you are part of my emancipation.

    Innaminnit,

    d

    ps love that sh*t you do at like 2:25

  7. By Slader Ammons on May 3, 2009

    Crazy Train rocks!! My guitar is the bomb! Thanks Eric for 2 almost 3 great years of guitar lessons!!! I am absolutely in love with electric guitar and I give you most of the credit! Learning from you is more like a jam session with a little philosophy on the side. Look forward to lessons on Tuesday!

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