Better Playing through Listening

Last night my wife and I went to the one (they did a few shows on the east coast) west coast reunion show of a great band: The Dismemberment Plan. It was a great show with The Globes and Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band opening. I’m sure I’ll write more about it here, but the key thing for this post is the discussion my wife and I had after the concert. We were talking about the different bands and she made some suggestions on how I play guitar versus how the guitarists in these bands play guitar. These comments were helpful and were given sincerely. I took them as such, but had a hard time understanding what she was saying and how I should actually be doing things differently. The key, she said, was to be more musical in my approach…not just solo or play individual notes. I just ended up trying to make a melody to a song that already had a melody. She suggested I keep things simple and not try to over complicate what I play.

I tried to take my wife’s advice on playing more musically. I had recorded our jam session/practice session with Her Lovely Trees, so I could play along with the songs (and hopefully learn them). I tried to play arpeggios. I tried to play chords. I tried to play simple background lines. None of it was really working today (or in the practice session).

Our friend came to us with complete songs. She plays acoustic guitar. She sings. She plays harmonica. She is able to play the bass part on guitar. She is able to play the chords. She is able to play little riffs that augment the chords. Her singing makes up the melody. Her harmonica is the solo. She is a one person band. And it sounds great!

So where does an electric guitar fit? I can play the chords alongside her, but that seems overkill. I could play the chords, but an octave or two up (different voicings). That would be interesting to figure out since I’ve really only done that with basic bar chords/power chords and open chords. But, again, it seems like overkill.

The only thing I can really think of is to figure out how to make some sort of droning sound that fits in the background of the song as another layer. That has possibility, but I think doing this on the bass would be better since all the different aspects her guitar, singing, and harmonica really fills up the sonic landscape where I would fit with my electric guitar drone.

With my wife on drums adding more rhythm in a very different way to our friend’s playing and me on bass, it would fill out the sound a lot more than me droning on electric guitar.  I may still try to add in some electric guitar drones since I’ve always wanted to try/experiment with it, but I’ll focus on what serves the songs better…then again, if really try to serve the song I probably won’t play anything at all.

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One thought on “Better Playing through Listening

  1. Pingback: Live Music Tonight « Confessions of a Wanna Be Guitar Player

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