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Thread: Popular Guitar Instrumentals

  1. #1
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    Popular Guitar Instrumentals

    I love the popular side of guitar instrumentals, too. I still play a limited number of classical pieces but it is the popular side I am focused on more and enjoy personally now.

    Of course this has two sides as well. There are unaccompanied popular solos for guitar, and accomapnied solos.

    Sometimes the challenge is for the unaccompanied soloist to find an entertaining rendition of a piece normally requiring accompaniment.

    Certain pieces lend themselves to the Chet Atkins style of unaccompanied solo with the Merle Travis thumping bass part, and Chet found and developed hundreds of these.

    A highly stylized and evocative accompanied solo like Apache by the great Jurgen Ingman presents a great challenge for the unaccompanied soloist, so far undertaken by no greats I know of. Danny Gatton did perform the piece in a mere trio setting on his telecaster. I saw one guy on youtube who tackled the piece unaccompanied, and he did a pretty good job. Just how well this particular job can be done, remains to be seen. With some pieces the unaccompanied version works for a ways, but then lapses into redundancy in order to keep the peice going with all its harmonicity.

    Lately, Apache has received a lot of attention from me. I have played the piece for years in combo settings, coming up with a few innovations here and there. What I have been attempting is a Chet Atkins style version. For this it is necessary to move the melody line to the top so the bass strings can thump. Kind of to my surprise, I was able to play the echoed response after each line of melody without too much trouble while keeping up the thump.

    Another piece from my teenage years I have recently devoted attention to is the old surf classic Pipeline. Again, by moving the melody line to the top I am able to keep the famous repetitive four-note bass part of the piece going.

    If I have trouble finding a full two or three entertaining minutes with these pieces (there are a few more unlikely suspects from this era I am working on such as Walk Don't Run and Perfidia), I figure I can string them together into a medley and avoid sacrifices in quality.

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    This was an interesting post, a side of your interest I never knew much about. Good luck, desiresjab!

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    Hey, you big Swede, I am not through with you yet. You must be familiar with Jurgen Ingman. He was a truly fine stylist. One of his hallmarks was rapid syncopated double picking on the bass strings. He is the best in my experience at this, for he sort of made a thing of it. A taste of it is available in the galloping part of Apache. For a more extended experience with the same technique try his version of Bonanza (for which his is really the definitive version) and his rendition of Anna which often goes by a Spanish name something like El Zumban Negro, or something close to that. He is nice and tricky on those bass strings with this one too.

    Sweden can be proud that the best instrumental piece of music evocative of American injuns was written by a countryman.
    Last edited by desiresjab; 04-12-2017 at 04:10 AM.

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    Yes, I know of Jurgen Ingman, though he was Danish, not Swedish: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jørgen_Ingmann. But you left me behind with your knowledge of guitar history.

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    I didn't mean to leave anyone. My desire is to get people involved. There must be a lot of guitarists out there on this forum.

    Playing unaccompanied is something I have gotten used to. I do not always prefer it but I know how to do it. I know how to search out pieces that can be arranged for my quasi-classical-pop-jazz style. I still play a handful of classical pieces, but my main interest is in finding popular songs that have not been arranged for unaccompanied guitar and in performing my original instrumentals.

    I have a suite of original pieces with the melodies played in harmomnics. Dang, I almost hate to say it, but these I believe to be good enough to enter the guitar repetoire permanently. There were four or five of these. Currently, I have reconstructed two of them.

    Searching for contemporary songs (up to 20 years old, actually) to make unaccompanied guitar intrumentals out of, is a frustrating experience. One problem is that radio songs often do not have actual chord progressions anymore, instead relying on repeated figures that may be looped a la U-2. A song can have a decent melody without having a chord progression to latch onto. If anyone can think of such songs I would considert them and try them out. Sometimes surprising songs make it onto the list. I have a version of (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction that is quite playable unaccompanied.

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    I'm not a guitarist, and though there may be hundreds of people online its rare that more than 2 members are online. Check "currently active users" there are 850 online at the moment, of which 2 are registered and active users - Dreamwoven and JonathanManley.

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    Most of the unaccompanied solos I play are in the quasi-classical style, i.e., highly melodic with a large emphasis on sweet harmonies like classical music itself, and employs classical fingerstyle. I throw in jazz substitutions for variety and interest. It is not quite classical, it is not quite jazz, it is mainly a treatment of popular songs using ideas and techniques from both mediums. On some pieces I use a thumb pick a la Chet Atkins and Tommy Emmanuel.

    A shortcoming of this style (and of classical guitar in general) is the need for open strings which are not available in some keys. I call it keybound. Even the best classical guitar repetorie is heavily weighted toward the keys CAGED. Outside of these keys the need for constant barring with the left mitt can be a wrist and hand killer. Most of the major classical pieces whether written for guitar or transcribed from another instrument, could not be played at all in a different key. No one could play Recuerdos de la Alhambra passably in a key other than Am (A minor). Not possible. The modulated version would be rather rough I imagine. Of course one could slip on a capo, use the same fingerings, but tonally be in a different key, but that is not what we are talking about, and is cheating, so it does not count as far as how many keys one plays in. Aurally it does, but intellectually there is no difference in the way one plays the piece.

    Like the classical guitar repetoire itself, my list is heavily weighted to CAGED. I make it a matter of honor to get as many keys in as I can. I consider it a performance weakness to play back to back selections in the same key, for the most part, that is. I want to mix the keys up.

    So many arrangements fall almost naturally into one of CAGED that I have to make a conscious effort to include other keys. Now one would be stupid to eschew a beautiful arrangement that falls naturally right out of the guitar hole.

    Believe me, many an arrangement of old standards that were mostly in flat keys back in their orchestral dance band heydays, shake right out the guitar somewhere in CAGED. There is a shortage of flat keys in classical guitar literature. In general, it is much more difficult to make a good quasi-classical guitar arrangement of a standard piece in flat keys where the open string options are more limited to practically non-existent. The common exception in the literature is Dm, which is the relative minor of F, whose key signature of one flat it often shares. It also functions as a ii (minor 2) chord in the Dorian mode, which would put it in the key signature of C, which is even more useful. Of course, when it is in the Dorian mode one has not really left CAGED, either. The Dm could also function as a iii chord out of the Phrygian mode, putting it in the key signature of Bb, which has only two flats and is not too deep into the flats yet. But even in that context (as a iii chord) one finds it occurring far less often in classical guitar literature, and hence, in quasi-classical guitar arrangements as well.
    Last edited by desiresjab; 04-27-2017 at 02:31 AM.

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    You are obviously well-into this subject, I know what a Rickenbacker is and how it sounds, but that's about my limit...

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    I learned to play the violin as a child. It is a favourite of Hungarians, which is what my parent were...I can still play it, squeezing the vibrato out of it. It is a very emotional instrument.

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    I should have mentioned this ages ago, check out the website here called Genealogical Research: http://www.online-literature.com/for...Research/page6. Your background in the west of the USA and your Red Indian background would be ideal for this.

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    No serious guitarists around here? I knew there was something wrong with this place.

    Try Batacuda by Lenny Breau and Chet Atkins. Breau wrote it. A batacuda I believe to be some kind of dance form from down South America way. Danik may know something about that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dreamwoven View Post
    I should have mentioned this ages ago, check out the website here called Genealogical Research: http://www.online-literature.com/for...Research/page6. Your background in the west of the USA and your Red Indian background would be ideal for this.
    My daughter already did all that. I am a registered injun, so not much doubt about it. I am only about an eighth altogether, however. Half of that is undocumented from my mother's side. My father's side of California injun is well documented.

    Folks might be surprised to learn how fast the California injuns succumbed. The slaughter was unprecedented. Whitey had his killing chops down by then, and he was not wasting any time grabbing this land which made Missouri look like a desert..

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    Last edited by Danik 2016; 06-03-2017 at 09:46 PM.
    "You can always find something better than death."
    Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, The Bremen Town Musicians

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    I misread it. Batucada is right. I could play it before I could pronounce it.

    My arrangement might catch real flak from purists. As the name implies, the piece is what it is. The rhythm used by Chet and Lenny represents its name. I can play it their way. But I happen to think that unaccompanied it sounds better in a straight Chet Atkins thumping style. What is surprising is how much of its original flavor the piece does not lose with this treatment. It sure does not sound country--not with those chords and melody line!

    Some pieces are just sitting there waiting to be found. Such pieces reflect the basic nature of the guitar's standard tuning. They are available in a particular key because of the tuning. This piece, which runs through the altered notes above an Am, would never be played in any other key. The idea is even a little absurd to those who understand the instrument.

    I have written several artificial harmoncs pieces that came right out of the guitar, not out of me. I believe they are so integral to guitar that they already existed, I merely found them for the first time. I am more a discoverer on guitar than anything else.
    Last edited by desiresjab; 06-05-2017 at 09:39 PM.

  15. #15
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    I was surprised to find it in guitar version. The samba rythm (batucada do samba) is a percussive rythm, people play it even on a box of matches.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batucada

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V43_3WSljlA
    "You can always find something better than death."
    Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, The Bremen Town Musicians

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