Speed vs. Speed
In my experience, most guitarists tend to fight against the difficulty of new chops, phrases, licks, riffs, etc. for a simple reason – they want to play them with speed as soon as possible (perhaps in the same moment in which they are reading them for the first time).
The problem is, if you don’t understand why those licks, phrases, etc. exist in a contextual manner you’ll be losing the starting point to develop speed on those chops, licks, etc.
Why? Because sometimes the writer of those chops, licks, phrases, etc. is thinking of several different things at the same time that will affect in the speed or your speed to play such music.
-The tone of a certain string
-The facility to play certain notes
-The picking hand
These points influence the writers of phrases to play in certain ways, and sometimes these ways are “obstacles”. I’m referring to “obstacles” as those things playable in a different way, being unnecessarily complicated just for the fun of the writer of such music.
So you have to understand and separate these points in the chops, phrases, licks, etc. as obstacles or as a necessary matter of expression; after doing this you’ll reach a better visualization of the speed and your speed will be developed in a faster way, because those “obstacles” could be played in a different way while you keep the expression or feeling.
Here I give you some points to bear in mind:
It seems that many guitar players forget the value of the notes of a lick, phrase, etc. and just play the notes as fast as they can and just kill the original feeling, so when a band covers a song and for example the timing of the solo changes, most of the time the result is a bad version of the original. So, if you’re planning to cover a song and you’re changing the timing of a portion of the song, you have to really improve or keep the feeling.
The tone of a certain string
If you have noticed, only the 1st with the 6th string (in a guitar with at least 23 frets) include all the notes possible in the range of a guitar with 6 strings in standard tuning, so, why are there those other 4 strings?
Well, the reason is tone, if you play the same note in a different string you’ll get a thinner or a thicker note (this means in physics terms that the frequencies of the waves are the same but the amplitude of the waves are different).
Ok now, why is it important to choose a certain tone? Well, when you play a certain note on one of the strings, this string gives you certain feelings. For example play the 19th fret of the 6th string and at the same time the 19th fret of the 1st string. Now play the 2nd string open and at the same time the 19th fret of the 1st string. You’ve played the same notes but the feeling is different, and the difference of feeling will be more subtle while you choose closer strings to play the same notes.
The facility to play certain notes
Let’s take the last example again, play the 19th fret of the 6th string and at the same time the 19th fret of the 1st string. Now play the 2nd string open and at the same time the 19th fret of the 1st string. You’ve played the same notes but the facility to play them has changed.
So here is why some writers choose certain strings to play certain notes, and you must understand if you are going to play the same notes but in different strings, you are changing the feeling, perhaps subtly but there’s a change that many people can hear.
Ok, now I’ve given you a very basic introduction to know why a chop, lick, phrase, riff, etc. is written in certain manner, with this you can start learning new chops faster, because you know some important points to keep in mind and you’ll reach your goal with confidence just changing what is not important. And remember always begin learning something new slowly.
See you next time!
– Angel Zamora
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