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Shred Academy - Free Guitar Lesson by Tim Douglas
can understand music of one sort or another. When you talk to
someone, you’re talking in a certain pitch and in a certain
rhythm that helps to get your message across just as much as the
words that you are saying. If you see someone shouting ‘I
like you very much!’ angrily at their friend, something
doesn’t quite add up. It seems then that we have an inbuilt
understanding for ‘sounds’ and what certain sounds
Everyone then, can to some extent make and understand sounds –
this is why music itself is such a respected form of communication,
as it only demands an understanding that we seem to possess naturally
as humans rather than having to understand the further meaning
and linguistic rules of lyrics or even novels.
From this then – it can be said that everybody has the potential
to make ‘music’ of one sort or another. A person who
has never touched a musical instrument may be able to hum a made-up
tune (whether it be beautiful or unlistenable!) and given further
knowledge, that person could quite easily put chords to that tune
and make a song that is entirely their own. So how does a person
take that step from humming their own tune, to composing a concerto?!
underestimate the influence that the music you listen to has on
your sense of musicality. Would you play neo-classical shred if
you had never heard Malmsteen or Macalpine? Would you write 3
minute pop-punk songs if you had never heard Blink 182? Of course
the artists I mention are just examples, but look at the music
you make and it should be clear to see where your influences lie.
Musical intake then, is a key factor in developing your musicality.
If you want to write 3 minute punk songs, listen to Blink 182,
if you want to write experimental or groundbreaking music, listen
to Dream Theater or Frank Zappa. Then, really listen to what they
are doing melodically, rhythmically, and structurally. Listen
to the music for long enough and these ideas will soon become
just how ‘a song’ goes. It will no longer be a source
of confusion or aspiration – as you have assimilated their
song writing ideas into your own musical sensibilities.
you now have more of a musical spectrum of influence to draw from
bands than such as Dream Theater or Blink 182 ever did, especially
with downloadable mp3’s. We all have unlimited access to
all kinds of music from around the world – so once in a
while, listen to music you don’t enjoy, purely for the purposes
of expanding your own musicality. You may be surprised at how
easy it is for a song you once found unbearable to sneak its way
onto your iPod after just a few (perhaps painful!) listening sessions.
The key is understanding that all real music sounds as it should.
All music is nothing more than an artists (or in pop…a record
company’s!) expression of what they think music should sound
like. It could be devoid of melody, devoid of technique, and have
no redeeming features – but it should be clear that this
is how this music is SUPPOSED to sound. The music was written
to make you go ‘eeuurrggh!’ (I’d like to mention
certain Frank Zappa tunes around this point!) and so this music
is functioning perfectly. Sometimes however, music can be poorly
made and poorly written. Learn to recognise the difference between
good/bad music, and bad/bad music – and you have taken a
large step in achieving the freedom of mind that understanding
music can bring.
denying your sense of awe, and instead develop admiration. Most
musicians find what they do very easy because they have been playing/writing
for years upon years. They may be light years ahead in terms of
technique and songwriting ability, but do not become dumbstruck
or demoralised by their talents. Develop an admiration for the
dedication and musical ideas presented in the song, and you may
remember that they are simply another human being, sitting in
a room, humming a melody or just letting their fingers fly around
their instrument seeing what tunes will come. Break their songwriting
processes down rather than being dumbstruck at the end product,
and you will understand their music that much better. (The end
product however, is still there to be enjoyed!)
you have been inspired by other musicians to write your own music,
and perhaps try and make it in the music industry, the work has
just begun. Music, essentially, is the sound that one person wants
to hear. Yngwie Malmsteen has been criticised often in his career
for showing little artistic development, however he claims that
he has been making the music he loves for 20 years and has been
very successful. He has been making the music that he wants to
hear, and not doing what anyone else wants him to do. It just
so happens, that many people enjoy his music.
The key to great music is a sense of influence but at the same
time a strong sense of individuality. Why make music that anybody
else can make? The true greats have obvious influences (Frank
Zappa – doo wop and rock and roll along with jazz, Malmsteen
– Paganini and to some extent Bach) and have learnt the
rules – but they have also attempted to re-write the rulebook.
The old adage ‘Learn the rules so you may break them’
is applicable here.
when playing an instrument in a style that demands technique,
at what point do tune and technique come together? The tune should
always be what is inside your head, and then transferred onto
the instrument through your technique – as it is in the
mind where true originality may be found, and musicality developed.
It could be a template for a 45 minute long jazz improvisation
that you heard in your ‘mind’s ear’, or it could
be a concerto written down on a stave – whatever music you
make, try writing music away from your instrument, and then developing
it to be performed. While writing music on the instrument itself
is a perfectly valid way of creating music (again re-iterating
the freedom of music – nothing is incorrect to a human ear!)
it can sometimes be a restrictive canvas. Away from the instrument
you are not bound by the shapes you know or the licks that you
can play – your music is coming completely from within yourself.
This songwriting technique does demand dedication and true talent,
but when patience is applied, the sense of achievement can be
fantastic. Don’t forget that at one point you barely knew
how to play your instrument – but you learnt it nonetheless.
Now that you can play the instrument, do not become lazy in what
you write and play.
the idea that nothing is necessarily ‘wrong’ to the
human ear, and that music is an expression of the self –
it is still a means of communication. In this sense, people still
need to understand and to some extent enjoy it. Just as with speaking,
it is the highly articulate speakers who use the most colourful
language that get their message across more clearly and retain
people’s attention, as they are the speakers who people
may find rewarding to listen to. One may find a message in the
ramblings of an incoherent old man, however it soon becomes tiresome
searching for that message when someone else may be able to put
it into a few well placed words. In this sense then, your music
does not have to be complex or simple, or even melodic, it does
not HAVE to be anything – but if you want your message to
be heard, the most entertaining and articulate man will win.
the point where individuality, influence, purpose, and entertainment
collide – and make it yours!