Monday, November 28, 2011

Playing guitar in a trio

For the first time tonight I tried playing in a trio with electric bass and drums. Yikes, is it hard!

The classic jazz trio is piano/bass drums. A piano player has ten fingers with the same basic function - to hit notes - and the nature of the instrument means they can play rich harmonic accompaniment while also playing lines. But even the most amazing adept guitar players are limited by the nature of the instrument to six notes and the separate and different function of the hands (five fingers of one hand fretting notes and the five fingers on the other hand striking them to make them sound).(Of course I'm referring to standard 6-string guitars played in more-or-less standard ways.) So a guitarist in a trio has to kind of pretend a bit to suggest musically what a piano player can do pretty readily. The best ones are adept at breaking parts down in such as way as to give the impression that there is harmony going on all the time while in fact they are alternating between playing lines and playing chords. It's a kind of aural sleight of hand.

I am not even in the Little Leagues when it comes to his sort of playing and I was pretty chastened by the experience, but it wasn't a total failure, and I think it will be fun challenge to continue to try to play like this. Conclusion: I must be more than a little insane.

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