of the Mind: Part 1
Self Expression - Playing with feeling
has been a long-standing debate regarding whether a so-called
“shredder” is just showing off, or actually expressing
something of him/herself. Personally, I love fast and flashy playing
and I believe it to be as legitimate a form of self-expression
as a standard blues lick. This article will explain why.
has been said that shredding or technical playing has no “feeling”.
If you believe that, let me remind you that there is more than
one kind of emotion. I personally, am a hyperactive guy, so I
tend to play accordingly. That’s not to say that I don’t
ever play “slowly”, but, for the most part, I like
lots of notes!
ago, I heard Michael Angelo Batio say in an interview regarding
shredding that (I’m paraphrasing here) it is like the difference
between driving an ordinary car or jumping in a Ferrari. He prefers
the Ferrari. I actually got to meet him a few years ago at a guitar
clinic in Calgary, and let me tell you, he is one of the most
hyperactive individuals I have ever met. This, in a sense, didn’t
surprise me because that’s the impression I get from his
music. (DISCLAIMER: Not everybody who is intense has to be hyper.
I’m just using him as an example of putting your personality
into your music.)
considering self-expression, or when you are sitting down to write
a song, do you listen to how others have expressed the feeling
or situation you are writing about? Or do you listen inside to
what wants to come out? Musical meditation, if you will.
is good to learn from others, but in the end, it’s about
what is in your heart that is asking to be heard. How often have
you heard songs on the radio that sound the same? In fact, sometimes
one band can sound exactly like another. Are bands like this just
following trends, or are they honestly expressing themselves.
It’s not for me to decide. Only they know.
play with “feeling” is to be honest and true to yourself
and the song. Too often, I have encountered people and situations
where the only ones credited with “playing with feeling”
were the ones playing standard cliché blues/rock licks.
(Don’t get me wrong here. I like those licks. In fact, those
are what I first learned on my guitar.) However, the argument
that a player is playing with “no feel” can be applied
to all music genres. A typical statement about shredders is that,
“they have no feel because all they are doing is playing
a bunch of notes as fast as they can.” However, a shredder
could respond to a blues player with the statement, “he
has no feel because he’s just playing the same standard
cliché licks all the time.” There is no difference.
Blues/rock players have standard licks, as do jazz, funk, or metal
players. The list goes on.
any of us steps up to criticize another person’s playing,
and say it has no feeling, remember these points:
Every style has its standard cliché licks.
2) Many criticize a style when, in fact, they are not able to
play, or are not willing to learn that style themselves, before
giving their two cents.
3) There are many, many difficult emotions to express in this
world. Learn to express more than the one you are most familiar
4) We don’t know exactly what a player is trying to express.
To act like the authority on “feeling” is arrogant.
Just try to appreciate the “personality” in the music.
5) Be honest with your playing, regardless of style, and don’t
let others influence you negatively. If you have expressed yourself
the way you intended to, that’s the end of the story.
There will always be critics. Don’t try to change them.
Opinions about whether a song is good or not is totally subjective.
Be true and honest with your self-expression, and even though
many may not like it, there will be many who do!
& raised on Vancouver Island, Lee received his first guitar
for Christmas at the age of 12. He started learning to actually
play a year later, taking private lessons and playing in the school
band. Soon after, he discovered the music of Steve Vai. Other
influences were Joe Satriani, John Petrucci, Frank Zappa, and
anything that seemed like a challenge to play. After graduating,
Lee attended Malaspina College for one year where he studied Jazz
Theory and Composition. He moved to Vancouver after college and
studied composition with music producer David Malecot of Malecot
about a year in Vancouver, he moved back to Vancouver Island,
and within a few months, started teaching guitar lessons at a
local music store. The store shut down shortly after. A few months
later, a new music store opened up and Lee again found himself
teaching. It was at this music store that a previous student approached
Lee with the opportunity to join a metal band. The band Acropolis
was born. Acropolis was a great musical outlet, but unfortunately,
it ended far too soon with only a few shows to their credit and
a couple of low-budget recordings. After Acropolis, Lee joined
a band called Friday's Cry, touring Western Canada and recording
several albums. Soon after, he joined Da Capo a jazz quartet and
recorded one live CD. After a year, Lee moved on to form a heavy
rock band called Critical Day. With this band, Lee enjoyed a host
of great shows and recording a couple of demos. Lee is currently
recording his solo album.