Frederic Chopin is perhaps the most lyrical, melodic composer for piano ever. He was a genius at composing for the piano and had the ability to incorporate melodic songlike vocal qualities into his piano melodies.
His piano compositions always had a vocal quality associated to them. Chopin’s advice to fellow pianists and piano enthusiasts was that they should listen to Bellini (the Bel Canto syle).
He explained that the piano should be touched to create a song like quality!
His advice is spot on and you should listen to a little bit of Bellini in order to develop the MUCH-NEEDED vocal qualities in your playing. The best guitarists are able to make their guitar sing much like a great singer would sing a melody!
It’s certainly not an easy concept and it takes years dedicated practice and concentration to pull it off!
Initially you might only get mediocre results at best! (Not to worry – things will soon improve…)
Through dedicated practice, your guitar tone and singing qualities will improve massively.
Another important aspect of guitar playing often neglected is the concept of breathing before playing a phrase. (A phrases is basically a musical sentence – similar to saying: “hello, how are you today?”)
Wind instrumentalists including saxophonists, flutists, trumpet players as well as vocalists have to take a breath before they can play or sing a phrase. Even when we speak we need to take a breath. (And I’m sure that you take a breath between sentences and phrases when you communicate in your daily life!)
One of the issues with guitar playing is the fact that we do not physically need to take a breath before we play. This approach often creates monotonous phrases and lines that can exhaust the human ear. It is imperative to take a breath before you play each phrase. This will help you to create that vocal like quality that might be missing in your guitar playing.
Remember that without silence there is no music! (Silence and noise create the music that we hear)
Pros know that breathing is important! Your physical blood flow needs oxygen and your guitar licks NEED breaks!
Becoming an excellent singer on the guitar should be one of your primary objectives when playing guitar. (It’ll make you sound so much better, and your colleagues will speak about what great “feel” you’ve got!)
Just listen to BB King! – That man knows how to make his guitar sing – He even calls her “Lucille”!
Obtaining a song like quality in your guitar lines is something that doesn’t come easy. It cost a lot in terms of dedication, practising and listening.
Here is a worthwhile exercise for you to try:
Listen to the following artists:
- BB King
- Joe Satriani
- Stanley Jordan
- Steve Vai
- *** A MUST LISTEN ***: Shawn Lane (specifically “once upon a Time in the West”)
- John Williams
- Paco de Lucia
- Yngwie Malmsteen
- Eric Clapton
- John McLaughlin
1. Listen to how they make their guitar sing.
2. Imitate their tone (by imitating small excerpts of their playing)
3. Now go and sing with your guitar!
Seriously, keep in mind that great guitar playing requires great tonal qualities. The best guitarists are singers at heart! (Using their guitar as their voice)
Through dedicated practice, your tone and singing qualities will develop and you will develop a great “feel”!
NOW GO FOR IT!