My wife and I made our May trip to Maryland to see my parents and family. I had an epiphany on the way. First things first, for my loyal, wonderful readers, the miracle of modern medicine makes me speechless, my dad is doing very well for a 91 year old guy with a bunch of conditions. I appreciate everyone who shows concern for him. He was half of the team that started the whole ‘Danny’ business.

As we hit the highway we were listening to NPR news. After the news, they went back to classical music, which is the brand of music this particular NPR station played. The first piece of music was an orchestra who had a gentleman who is a classical guitar player leading the them. Sorry to say I missed his name and the orchestra’s name.

He was a guest to the orchestra, but seemed to be the leader of the pack on the piece we heard. Anyway it really caught my attention, so much so, that I did not even hear my old lady talking to me. Oops! I mean I became zoned listening to this classical guitar virtuoso vibing out.

By and large, everyone who reads my blogs knows that Mozart and Beethoven don’t vibe like Jimi Hendrix, in my opinion..However in the process of listening I had an epiphany about this whole ‘classical guitar’ playing compared to ‘rock and roll’ or the ‘blues’. You simply cannot compare the two styles in any way, shape or form.

One style is predicated on following and playing by the established rules of musical theory. In fact it is considered a sin to break these rules. I took classical guitar lessons for four years from 11 years old from two of the greatest teachers of classical guitar ever, Aaron Shearer and George Yeatman. Both have passed away.

Classical guitar may not be my favorite type of guitar music, but it captivates me in a different way than the blues or the unorthodox ‘out of box’ playing techniques I use. The music is relaxing and enjoyable, but what kills me is the speed and accuracy with which they use their strumming hand. The way they play a bass line is played at the same time using the thumb and playing the song with the fingers. Unbelievable and disciplined talent and practice time.

BTW: I am also undertaking on my own accord the learning of how to sight read music. FYI, this is one of my greater challenges of all. I’m pretty much a self learner or autodidact, if you will. But I may take the class at our local four year degree college that teaches sight reading music, it is actually a classical guitar and music theory course. So maybe I’ll have to break out and dust off my 1954 Gibson Classical guitar that was bought new for me. Or use my Boss Acoustic guitar effects pedal!!

The ‘blues’ style of guitar playing, (my style) in particular is predicated on breaking all of the rules consistent to music theory. I don’t think ‘rock and roll covers‘ break the rules as much as the blues. Anyway, there are not very many rules I have not broken in the first place, ask my parents or wife. So, realistically, breaking the rules’ out of box’ method of playing the guitar suits me better.

Considering all of the above, even though we can’t really compare the styles of music, as said earlier, we can appreciate them for the discipline it takes to get there. You got to respect these musicians for knowing how to sight read music, perhaps having perfect pitch and playing with perfect form. Perfect form and practice are the ingredients that makes all guitar players special, nothing can replace that. Add some emotion and the recipe is complete.

Playing ‘out of the box’ takes equal discipline and practice time. In fact, since in many cases the music is not formally written down in sight-readable music, we can pick our own notes. When we can pick our own notes, I believe our creativity shows better. Take for example the Stevie Ray Vaughan lick. As you listen, you will hear the instructor say “this is a the only time Stevie Ray was caught in the public playing this part of the song that way”. That tells me he does a lot of his own note picking.

Instinctual and improvisational. Did you know the song Jimi Hendrix made famous “Hey Joe” was written by a country music dude named Billy Roberts? Hendrix made it famous picking his own notes and then playing them using his unorthodox style and techniques.

I guess you get the point. Guitar Players Center wanted to share this thought with you. What do you think? Enjoy

2 Responses to Play the guitar with ‘in the box’ thinking takes lots of discipline…

  1. Cool epiphany, Danny. I guess i would add (or respond) that, true, classical and rock can be divided along the lines of in and our of the box. But, that division goes the other way, too. A rock player can play in the box and be no good. And classical musicians, the great ones, play outside their box–you gotta learn the rules before you know when to break them (same in athletes, art, dance, writing). Glen Gould, pianist, is an example of a very classical musician who was way outside of the box (and amazing), and David Russell on classical guitar and maria Callas in opera……

  2. thanks for your valuable input

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