When it doesn't fit anywhere else
 #154181  by OrganicJukebox
 Wed Oct 12, 2016 1:04 pm
Haha! I thought that might get some attention...

The topic here is other influences, specifically as it relates to what you work on with your personal practice...I'm not concerned about other folks tones, a lot of musical information is bypassed just due to tone. Where I've heard some Van Halen acoustic that reminded me of some licks Jerry would play. Seems like past a certain point of proficiency, it's all just personal expression...anyway

I'm addicted to all kinds of guitar info, Shawn Lane, Vinnie Moore, just ran across an insane Barney Kessel video

The other day I was watching a Steve Vai video where he was talking through the different parameters he puts on himself, in order to grow and develop his personal thing.
In this one video he was saying he'll sometimes play just three notes for an hour, all the different ways of expressing those three notes, in whatever order
Well it reminded me of those old Garcia interviews where he talks about just playing quarter notes for a while, then when that gets stale, doing some string skipping or chord tone kinda things.

So, I guess I'm wondering what some of the more far out influences are, that folks might have, Paul Simon, Zulu music, what has actually made its way into your approach?
 #154190  by Lephty
 Thu Oct 13, 2016 8:57 am
Good topic for this board, IMO. Whether or not you dig his music (and I personally don't, necessarily), Steve Vai is a Jedi master on the guitar and seems like a cool dude in general (hair and wardrobe choices notwithstanding).

For me, Bill Frisell has been a big influence in recent years--I really love the way he lets his notes ring out, and isn't afraid to keep it sparse and simple even though he's quite capable of jazz-level complexity. While I wouldn't directly compare his style to Garcia's, I have always thought that Dead/Garcia fans would dig the way he plays. Julian Lage is a younger guitar player who is a bit more of a technical wiz than Frisell, but who has some similarities to my ears. I think the main thing that I take away from both of these guys is the way they seem to play every single note with emotion and intention. They don't seem to have any interest in showing off their chops (even though they have chops up the wazoo)--it's all about musical expression.

Another thing that has been massively influential for me, and not always in ways that I have expected, is bluegrass flatpicking. Studying this style has gotten me closer to Garcia's style than any study of theory, modes, etc., because it's really based more on melody. There's not much time for noodling around in a bluegrass break--you have your 16 bars, and you have to say your piece and get it done in the allotted space. And let's face it, as Dead/Garcia fans, many of us are prone to fall into the land of noodles. So again, bluegrass forces you to play every note with intention. And as that aspect starts to seep into your overall approach to the guitar, when you do stretch out on a longer jam, you (hopefully, anyway) start to find that your lines have more direction and melody to them, and don't seem as aimless. And of course, more obviously, flatpicking is great for your chops--just trying to keep up with the speed forces you to improve your chops in a hurry.

One other thing that was huge for my guitar playing was, ironically enough, studying the flute. Studying any non-fretted instrument like piano etc. would probably get you to the same goal. The guitar is, or can be, a very geometrical instrument. We tend to think in terms of patterns on the fretboard. In the early stages this can be helpful as we learn to get around the neck in different keys & modes. But at some point this pattern-based thinking becomes more of a hindrance than a help, because we can tend to play patterns over melodies. So when learning to improvise on the flute, I no longer had those patterns to fall back on, and I was forced to start hearing melodies in my head and playing them, instead of just letting my fingers run through familiar patterns.

Looking forward to hearing what others have to say on this topic.
 #154191  by tcsned
 Thu Oct 13, 2016 11:17 am
Agreed, Steve Vai is a monster. I just missed his tenure with Frank Zappa by a year or so. Speaking of Zappa, he is one of my non-Dead influences. As a teenager it was inappropriate song topics, as I got older his ability to improvise within a structure . . . albeit insane structure is spot on. Richard Thompson is another - quirky and cool. Always has something interesting to say. I've got lots of influences outside the Dead and Dead-ish music. Steve Howe of Yes - composition. Kieth Richards - king of the guitar hook. Pete Townshend - it doesn't have to be all flash. Angus Young - well, maybe some flash is ok :cool: Chet Atkins - smooooooth. Doc Watson . . . I could go on and on :D
 #154195  by OrganicJukebox
 Thu Oct 13, 2016 2:19 pm
These are some goods...

Bill Frisell! Zappa! Richard Thompson! All excellent and all not generally mentioned in terms of inspiring or informing people's approach... That's what I'm talking about. I'll look into Julian Lage.

I'm 40, so the general pantheon I'm into. We all grew into it dabbling in Doc Watson, and Freddie King.
Keep 'em coming! I'm in a listening mode. I don't care how far removed from Jerr-dom!
 #154196  by kurt eye
 Fri Oct 14, 2016 3:57 am
Lephty wrote: Another thing that has been massively influential for me, and not always in ways that I have expected, is bluegrass flatpicking. Studying this style has gotten me closer to Garcia's style than any study of theory, modes, etc., because it's really based more on melody. There's not much time for noodling around in a bluegrass break--you have your 16 bars, and you have to say your piece and get it done in the allotted space. And let's face it, as Dead/Garcia fans, many of us are prone to fall into the land of noodles. So again, bluegrass forces you to play every note with intention. And as that aspect starts to seep into your overall approach to the guitar, when you do stretch out on a longer jam, you (hopefully, anyway) start to find that your lines have more direction and melody to them, and don't seem as aimless. And of course, more obviously, flatpicking is great for your chops--just trying to keep up with the speed forces you to improve your chops in a hurry.
Good advise. I'll have to explore flat picking technique. I struggle with leads on the up tempo country/bluegrass tunes. I can't seem to get the timing down where I resolve a lead on a good note in time with the song.

Interesting that you bring up the flute. My first foray into music many years ago was on the harmonica. I used to jam dead tunes and do open mics with buddies in college. Anyway, I had a great instructional book by John Gindick who described the song as a river in a particular key, the melody rises out of the river as it builds tension and then falls back to river to resolve. Unlike guitar it was easy to become one with the instrument without being bogged down by thinking about scale patterns. The more I play guitar, the more I find the notes without thinking, but its a long work in process. I love that river analogy when playing leads.
 #154208  by Lephty
 Sun Oct 16, 2016 8:34 pm
kurt eye wrote: Good advise. I'll have to explore flat picking technique. I struggle with leads on the up tempo country/bluegrass tunes. I can't seem to get the timing down where I resolve a lead on a good note in time with the song.
YES...that's what it's all about w/ bluegrass--you really have to stick the landing, and do it at high speed. Of course, it's one of those styles, like jazz, where the people who are really good at it have pretty much devoted their whole lives to it. But practicing it, whether or not you ever really get good at it, can still help your skills in general.
 #154209  by tcsned
 Mon Oct 17, 2016 6:58 am
Lephty wrote:
kurt eye wrote: Good advise. I'll have to explore flat picking technique. I struggle with leads on the up tempo country/bluegrass tunes. I can't seem to get the timing down where I resolve a lead on a good note in time with the song.
YES...that's what it's all about w/ bluegrass--you really have to stick the landing, and do it at high speed. Of course, it's one of those styles, like jazz, where the people who are really good at it have pretty much devoted their whole lives to it. But practicing it, whether or not you ever really get good at it, can still help your skills in general.
I've been playing in a bluegrass band for about 25 years. I'm a hack at it but it's great for keeping sharp or as sharp as possible. There's a bunch of great bluegrass players around here. My buddy Scott Fore is one worth checking out. He's a two-time Winfield National Flatpicking champion. I played in a gypsy jazz band with him for a couple of years. He's got ridiculous chops. Wayne Henderson is another one around here that's worth checking out. Not only is he one helluva player (plays mostly with a thumbpick) but he's an equally good builder and his guitars have become pretty collectible. I've been working on this cool video project at my university where we do video interviews of regional notable banjo players - we've done Butch Robbins, a Radford local who played with Bill Monroe for about 10 years, Sammy Shelor from the Lonesome River Band, Jens Kruger from the Kruger Brothers, and I'm on my way to shoot Rex McGee right now.
 #154210  by TI4-1009
 Mon Oct 17, 2016 9:34 am
Lephty wrote:Another thing that has been massively influential for me, and not always in ways that I have expected, is bluegrass flatpicking. Studying this style has gotten me closer to Garcia's style than any study of theory, modes, etc., because it's really based more on melody.
+1

http://www.flatpick.com/
 #154231  by kurt eye
 Tue Oct 18, 2016 2:43 pm
Lephty wrote:
kurt eye wrote: Good advise. I'll have to explore flat picking technique. I struggle with leads on the up tempo country/bluegrass tunes. I can't seem to get the timing down where I resolve a lead on a good note in time with the song.
YES...that's what it's all about w/ bluegrass--you really have to stick the landing, and do it at high speed. Of course, it's one of those styles, like jazz, where the people who are really good at it have pretty much devoted their whole lives to it. But practicing it, whether or not you ever really get good at it, can still help your skills in general.
As Doc would say, time for me to "jump on it, son."