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Insights Into THE ADVANCING GUITARIST by Mick Goodrick, Part 3.

Wearily I open my prayer book,


Sepia photograph of sage on amber page,
Flaming raven Sanskrit, strange syllables,
Intone, chant, repeat.
Number vows with beads:
Every resolution is inspiration petrified.

First Things First: Homework! (Robert Fripp Sets The AGENDA.)


"Your ability to play music on the guitar depends to a large extent
on how well you know the instrument. Most guitarists have never had
a chance to learn the instrument in an intelligent, logical and
complete manner." (TAG: AGCT, pg. 9.) Begin to acquire this
understanding of the guitar by conducting a survey of the
instrument's historical development, from its evolution as vihuela
and lute during Medieval and Renaissance times to its refinement in
the Baroque era and perfection in the 19th Century. Believe it or
not, having this knowledge will give you psychological mastery over
the guitar at the outset since you'll come to understand the
instrument's limitations in terms of design, construction, and
musical range, and, also, as a result of knowing what a guitar is
made to do and why, its advantages over its cousin, the piano.
Knowing how a guitar is built will add volumes to your understanding
of the instrument. (Take my word for it, and consult Ralph Denyer's
THE GUITAR HANDBOOK and Chapman's THE COMPLETE GUITARIST for an
intense historical discussion of the guitar's evolution.)

Our AGENDA.
"We begin the possible and gradually move towards the impossible.
This implies knowing where we are, knowing where we are going (that
is, being clear of our aim), knowing what we have to do to get there,
and knowing what resources we may draw upon.

*"Do one small thing superbly, then move to the next. In a


relatively short time, all of these small things will become the body
of our playing.

*"Find a teacher, or instructor. This will save time. A good player


is self-taught, with the help of a teacher. The real value of a
qualified instructor is a personal and direct connection to a school
or tradition.

*"Our practice may usefully be divided into four:


1. Calisthenics. This is the efficiency and sense of grace within
effortless physical movement.
2. Fingerboard knowledge.
3. Musical knowledge and repertoire.
4. Play. Abandon personal judgement and have fun.

*"Learn to trust the inexpressible benevolence of the creative


impulse." -Robert Fripp, 1992. (From the Foreword of the GUITAR
HANDBOOK.)

The sage whose words are ambiguous you call great.


Those who advocate discipline you shun.
With one, you treat words the way you want.
With the other, you resent having no quarter.
On Carcassi's Method: The Open Position.
"The fact is that the vast majority of guitar method books don't
really explain very much at all, and the vast majority of guitar
teachers are the products of these methods. As a general rule,
guitar methods don't concern themselves with helping you to increase
your overall comprehension of the instrument. Guitar methods get you
to do a lot of things (which certainly can be useful). They show you
a method of how to do something. But these methods seldom, if ever,
lead to a growth of your understanding of how things work on the
instrument. If anything, they lead to a narrowing of possibilities
because you don't have to figure out very much by yourself. You just
have to follow instructions. When you know the method, you are the
result of the method. If you teach, you tend to teach the method
(perhaps with a few modifications -- a few improvements). The method
can actually become more important than the music it is supposed to
help facilitate. This is not so good." (TAG: AGCT, pg. 9.) For
this reason, Carcassi's Method for Classical Guitar will not be of
real value to us until we arrive at a study of the Open Position:
When I say "First Things First," I am suggesting that the guitarist
begin where the guitar began in its musical evolution: Playing Up
and Down a Single String (The Science of the Unitar).

"In most guitar method books, no mention is ever made of playing up


and down one string. This omission is a huge oversight, because
playing on a single string is absolutely the most logical place to
begin on a guitar. Consider the following observations:
*"The simplest way to see notes is in a straight line.
*"A string is a straight line.
*"On a single string, there is a direct relationship between interval
distance and movement in space.
*"Playing on a single string helps to eliminate two potential
problems: "paralysis" (fear of movement) and "acrophobia" (fear of
higher frets), since the entire length of the fingerboard is utilized
from the very beginning.
*"This approach is conducive to learning note locations because you
can't rely on a fingering pattern (as in position playing).
*"The problem of changing strings is eliminated. This simplifies the
right hand function and displays the principles of left hand function
in their purest form.
*"Different types of phrasing and articulations can be played very
consistently.
*"Elements of fundamental theory can be shown to a beginner in clear
and simple visual and aural terms: Intervals, scale construction,
chords, arpeggios, etc. The same could be said for dynamics,
articulations, and timbre.
*"Someone probably invented a one-stringed instrument (let's call it
a unitar!) long before anyone ever thought of two strings, let alone
six of them. So it would seem sesible to learn in the same way that
the instrument developed chronologically.
*"Many stringed instruments in Eastern countries are played in a much
more "up and down the neck" fashion (most notably, the sitar). Do
you have any idea how long the music of India has been around?"
(TAG: AGCT, pg. 10.)

The second installment (actually, Pt.3) of INSIGHTS INTO THE


ADVANCING GUITARIST by Mick Goodrick will be posted to this group
within the next month. At that time, I will methodically dissect THE
APPROACH, concretize "Activities & Applications", and give real
meaning to "Applying Advanced Guitar Concepts and Techniques" as I
demonstrate practical uses for THE APPROACH. Also, I will delve
further into Robert Fripp's AGENDA and explain why it is central to
our mastery of the guitar. In the meantime, here are a few good
tidbits to ponder or take under advisement:
*The only difference between the amatuer and the professional
guitarist is the number of musical compositions he has mastered. A
perfected knowledge of at least 100 songs, classical jazz standards,
and popular musical pieces will, indeed, put you in league with
today's guitar hero.
*Initially, you should make it your top priority to put together a
coherent 30 to 45 minute set of performance material ("audition
pieces") to play for people to enjoy. Building a good, solid
repertoire is extremely important, especially in the beginning, since
having a command of musical pieces will boost confidence in critical
situations. i.e. Auditioning for a gig!!
*"Study music much more than the guitar." -Andreas Segovia

"The master has no EGO;


A Negro has no name."
-- W.S. Duncan-Binns, explaining the origin of his last name to U.S.
Homeland Security (U.S. Border Patrol) Agents at Hebbronville, TX,
May 2003. "It's not an alias!"