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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Michael K. Tablature vs. Defining Your Own Style (18) Tablature vs. Defining Your Own Style 19 Oct 99


While I do understand the importance of taking an arrangement and learning it note for note from tab (and from instructional videos) in order to acquire ''the intellectual hearts of tunes'', how does one eventually move beyond the point of playing others' great arrangments and developing one's own style?

There is a very good (IMHO) guitar player I am friends with who's been playing for many many years, and he is totally ''anti tab''. He feels, that learning tunes over an extended period of time soley through tablature ultimately restricts and binds the player to that particular arrangement, so much so that one loses the ability to think on one's feet, improvise and even recover from a mistake when playing a tune learned from a tab arrangement. He's not entirely wrong.

It's funny, but when I have learned an arrangment from tab, it never occurrs to me to take a given riff that might be over a bar or two bars, out of that context, and plug it into another tune in the same key over the same duration...that was, until this was pointed out to me. I guess I was becoming guilty of getting locked into a total tab mentality.

Perhaps the idea of developing one's own style, is taking all the knowledge, skill and licks you've acquired through study and improvisation, and finding or reinventing ways to combine these ingredients in such a way that defines your unique style...sometimes by intention; sometimes by total fluke.

Lately, I seem to have gained more insight by spending more time improvising than studying fixed arrangements via tab. I can take a standard blues progression (say in E for example) and intertwine a little bit of John Hurt, Sam McGee, Chet Atkins, Stefan Grossman, RGD, Blind Blake and have it all come out sounding almost original, eventhough I don't think anything I'm doing IS....but I guess it's in the order and the way I do it (a.k.a. interpretation?)

I know I'm sort of answering my own question a bit here, but I would be interested in others' opinions and their takes, on developing one's own style.

Another thing that hangs me up (and maybe I just think too damn much about it) is that there is almost nothing original left. (Is this insane?)

The reason why there are so few, true innovators today, is that pretty well everything in finger-style/thumb style has been done....and we are totally overexposed and bombarded with outside conscious and subliminal music being thrown at us. Commericals, soundtracks, theme songs, radio, tv/MTV, mp3. Makes it hard to have an original musical thought - especially if you're striving for a certain sound.

Seems like all the great innovators existed before our time, because they had fewer distractions and much less exposure to outside musical influences.

Every lick I play, every fingerstyle pattern I can ''dream up'', syncopate the hell out of while maintaining an alternating bass -- I can't help but feel that it's all been done before and better.


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