While My Guitar Gently Weeps
What Made Me Want To Learn Guitar
Five years before they recorded 'While my guitar gently weeps' The Beatles performed at The Royal variety show at the prince of wales theatre, coventry street, London. This was on November 4th, 1963. Before they played 'Twist & shout' John Lennon made his famous remark:- 'For our last number I'd like to ask your help- will the people in the cheaper seats clap your hands, & the rest of you if you'll just rattle your jewelry!' Seeing their performance that night & the guitars they were using, the 5 year old edition of me decided that I just had to get a guitar! mum & Dad duly obliged & bought me a plastic Beatles guitar which I still have, though somewhat battle scarred!
I was 12 when I got my first proper instrument, a nylon strung spanish guitar. I never had any formal lessons but there was a family friend called Dave Smith that lived down the road. Mainly a folk singer, Dave showed me some chords along with plenty of advice & encouragement. He played songs such as 'where have all the flowers gone' & 'Norwegian wood' all of which helped with the learning process. Book wise, I had Dan Morgan's 'Guitar' (from which I used to practice chord shapes on a piece of wood before I got a guitar!) , Roger Evans 'Beginners guitar book', & later on a good chord book. I also was very fortunate to have a good ear, & the more songs I listened to & the more chords I learnt helped me to work songs out, although I sometimes bought sheet music or songbooks. The only frustration there is that they're not always in the same key as the record, which isn't helpful when you're young,learning an instrument, trying to play along with the record & it doesn't sound right!
In about 1974 New musical Express published a 10 part pull out section about learning the guitar, which showed a range of songs, techniques, chords & guitar patterns. There was a memorable quote from Lol Creme of 10cc who said that they used to slow a record down from 45 to 33 to work out the solo! ( Even though it put it in the wrong key)
Making your guitar 'gently weep' today is a totally different proposition. There is an absolute wealth of information available on the net. Youtube is very helpful.You can watch the original versions of songs which helps you to see where on the neck the chords or guitar patterns are being played or if a capo is being used.If you want to learn a particular style there are plenty of examples available. Just tap in what you want, play it back as much as you want, learn at your own pace- 'walk, don't Run' as The Ventures said!
A good chord book is essential to your learning & development too. It's an invaluable reference tool particularly in your early days of playing when you encounter a chord you don't know. You'll also learn how to play the same chords in different positions, which give it a different sound or voicing, which is vital to reproduce what you hear on a record when performing it in the same key. For example, The Beatles' 'Here comes the sun' is in the key of A major. Your guitar should have a capo on the 7th fret. On the 9th fret you play a 'D' shape which will now sound as 'A', & will give you the guitar figure you hear on Abbey Road. I would highly recommend 'The Beatles complete chord book', specially arranged by Ricky Rooksby in the keys heard on the record.
Playing with other people speeds up & helps your development too. Don't worry whether they're better than you or not. Put your ego aside.You can help each other, swapping techniques,ideas,influences. Also, why not record yourself & play along with it. It's so encouraging to hear the sound you're making & sparks off ideas for other parts or songs. A cassette player is always handy, though these days home recording is far more affordable, whether you want to use a pc based program such as cubase or reason, or you fancy a portastudio such as Tascam,Fostex or Korg.
The Boss BR800 Digital multitracker comes with glowing reviews. It's portable & easy to use, with plenty of on board effects. You can record up to 4 tracks simultaneously,& with integral microphones you can record gigs or rehearsals. It has an EZ record function, song sketch to quickly put your idea down, or build a track from scratch.
Above all else, practice,practice,practice! Listen to a wide variety of styles even if you don't like some of them because you can always learn a new chord, idea or something from it, & everything you learn becomes part of your own individual style. In fact, once you start playing guitar you never really stop learning, as you make your guitar gently weep in the way you want it to!
Helpful learning DVDs
- StudyBass - Free Online Bass Lessons
Learn how to play the bass guitar. Free online bass lessons by an experienced teacher. Interactive content - bass exercises - bass songs - music theory and tons more...
- Guitar Habits
A Wide Range Of Advice; Really Helpful Finger style Techniques
songster.com This Site Has Excellent Blues Exercises & Tabs
- Free guitar lessons - justinguitar.com - Learn how to play Guitar free here!
Completely free guitar lessons from Justin Sandercoe. A huge range of video, audio and text lessons on many topics including a complete beginners course, blues, jazz, rock, techniques and equipment. Payment by voluntary donation only :) all free.
- Guitar Chords 247 - Free Chord Charts and Printable Chord Sheets
Browse our guitar chords database of over 38,000 guitar chord charts. Create custom printable chord sheets of your favorite chord combinations.
George Harrison's guitar gently weeps!
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