Archive for October, 2010
There isn’t a good YouTube link to the whole studio version, but this live version is as close as it gets. Here is just the solo in case you don’t want to sit through a 13-minute song: Shine On You Crazy Diamond Solo
I heard my first Pink Floyd song sitting on the red carpet of my family room in Madison, Wisconsin, when I was about 9 or 10 years old. I wasn’t a fan at first — my Dad played Dark Side of the Moon for me and my brother and I thought it was long and boring, and some parts were downright creepy — the ticking clocks, and heartbeats and screaming maniacs and all that. But my Dad was a huge Pink Floyd fan, and he bought each new album and played them for us as they came out.
The next Pink Floyd album my Dad played caught my attention, though. The opening song on Wish You Were Here began with a slow, methodical build with subtle organ tones, with sparse bluesy guitar licks layered over. The first nine minutes of the song were all solo, alternating guitar and keyboard, and David Gilmour’s clean, poetic style made a huge impression on me. His solos were like verses unto themselves, and when the vocals did come in, his interspersed guitar work played like a counter-melody that was haunting and brilliant.
Over the years, I’ve grown to love Pink Floyd, and David Gilmour has become my favorite guitarist. Others might have faster licks, but his brutally clean tone and silky smooth playing makes each solo a story. I can’t even hope to match his style, but I hope to get close enough to do the song justice, and I’m very excited to be learning some of his techniques.
David is known for this signature black Fender Stratocaster. I no longer own a Strat. I have been playing a Gibson Les Paul Studio for all the previous solos, but there’s just no way to get the same tone out of my Les Paul, especially since a tremolo bar is required to match the solo. My good friend George graciously let me borrow his reissue ’57 Strat, so I can come closer to the Gilmour sound. It’s been a joy noodling around on the Strat so far, and I can’t wait to dive more fully into the solo.
Instructional Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_sZpeOG8EzU
Pink Floyd performing the song live, sans Roger Waters: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5G5pIta5CNU
I loved learning this solo. It’s such a classic song, that everyone knows, and it’s hard enough that I feel like I’ve really accomplished something. Because this solo has a harmony part, I recorded it twice and have included both parts through the magic of “picture in picture”, which thankfully iMovie makes ridiculously easy.
I think I got pretty close to Tom Sholz signature “Boston Sound” using the Ampkit+ app on my iPad. It really makes practicing and recording these solos a breeze. Let me know how it sounds. I’ll be announcing solo #7 in the next few days.
Just a quick post to let you know what I’ve been up to. I’ll try not to go more than a week between posts again.
Since my last progress report, I’ve been practicing as much as I can, but some days I’ve missed practice due to a work deadline. I also had to borrow a guitar (thanks George) since I broke one of the machine heads on my Gibson. I’ve ordered replacement Grovers, but they haven’t come in yet.
I’m pretty much ready to record “More Than a Feeling” but I want to wait until I get the new machine head installed before recording it. So look for that in a couple of days. Thanks for hanging in there and following along.
I’ve been working on this solo for about four days, and I’m loving it. This is why I started this project!
Here’s an audio mix of where I am on the solo currently. It’s in pretty good shape, but I really need to get it cleaner and more polished. This also shows how I am able to record the harmony parts and mix the solo together so that it sounds closer to what’s on the album.
I’m not sure what I’m going to do when I record the video — I guess I could split screen it if I can figure out how to do that in iMovie, but either way I think it’s going to turn out very nice. Take a listen:
This project just got a whole lot easier.
I have always been a huge iPhone fan, and I’ve had an iPad for a few months now, so I’m always looking for new useful apps. I found one last week that is an utterly indispensable tool for guitarists. It’s made learning and recording these solos much, much easier.
The program is called AmpKit and it’s made by AgilePartners, the developers who created Guitar Toolkit, which I’ve had for a couple of years. It’s an amp and effects simulator that models real-world amplifiers, effects pedals, speaker cabinets and microphones, giving you a wide range of latitude in creating different guitar sounds, from simple and clean to raunchy and hard. I’ve only been playing with it for a short time, but it’s already made a huge difference in how I approach my practice.
In addition to the amp simulation, it has full recording capabilities, and I can upload audio files as backing tracks that I can play over. When I record a track, I can tweak the amp settings as much as I want after I’ve recorded it (it keeps the dry guitar signal). When I have the recording exactly how I want it, I can pull the file off via a web browser or upload it to SoundCloud. Then I can mix it in Audacity with the backing track (which synchronizes perfectly) and drop the mixed audio into iMovie to get a much better sound than I’d been getting with my camera’s crappy mic.
You can see the results on my last performance of Take It on the Run.
I purchased the AmpKit LiNK adapter ($29.99 from Amazon) that allows me to plug my guitar directly into my iPad and connect a headphone or external amplifier to monitor the output. I like to stand my iPad up in the dock connector and use the dock’s audio out to run to my amp or headphones. It’s a sweet setup that makes me much more efficient while practicing and recording.
They are supposedly coming out with a universal app that’s built for iPad in addition to the iPhone, and I can’t wait to see how they use the additional screen real-estate. The iPhone version looks a bit pixellated and cramped on the iPad. I hope they also consider adding the ability to share set-ups between users and moving pedals and amps between different installations of the program (ie, on my iPhone).
Note: There are two versions of the program, the free version (AmpKit) and the paid version (AmpKit+ for $19.99) — they are exactly the same except that the paid version is bundled with a good collection of amps and pedals, while the free version has only a couple. Both allow in-app purchases to add to your collection. Note that if you purchase an amp or effect in the free version it does not transfer over to AmpKit+. (I was able to get a refund from Apple, but it’s still kind of a hassle).
Boston’s 1976 debut album was already 4 years old when I first heard it as a high-school freshman. It was an album built for a turntable, with the epic “Foreplay/Long Time” capping off the first side. I was already a big fan of other arena-rock icons like Styx, Journey and Foreigner, but Boston had a sound that was unique and mesmerizing. No other song typifies that sound better than More Than a Feeling.
The main reason for that unique sound was guitarist Tom Sholz, who pulled an amazing tone out of his 1957 Gibson Goldtop and the “Rockman” preamps and equalizers that he invented. The signature “Boston” sound is maddeningly hard to recreate, especially in the solos, where Tom layered harmony leads over the main lead to give the guitar a full, rich sound that is literally impossible to create with one guitar.
I’m going to go ahead and learn the harmony parts and play and record the solo twice to try to match the sound as close as possible. The vibrato during the bends is going to be the hardest for me, but that’s a technique that I need to master for some of the more challenging solos that are coming up.
I find it interesting and ironic that “More Than a Feeling” has become self-referential. It has become that “old song they used to play” that makes me nostalgic and instantly brings me back to my teenage years. It’s songs like this that planted the seed in me to become a guitarist, and playing the solo is going to be like living out a fantasy. I sincerely hope to do it justice.
Harmony lesson: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZTI88P3GrY
More tabs: http://www.songsterr.com/a/wa/song?id=311
The original music video. I firmly believe Boston’s drummer Sib Hashian was the inspiration for “Animal” from the Muppets.
Rare video of Boston performing “More Than a Feeling” live in 1979: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5AlzsP4jN1E
A demonstration of the “Rockman” sound: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jPcvUBD5vE
Gary Richrath, REO’s lead guitarist, is the king of string bending. The hardest part for me in this solo was getting the bends to the proper pitch, plus the very difficult 2 step bend at the very end of the solo, which was necessary because my guitar only has 22 frets, and Gary’s has 24.
I’ve very pleased with the pace that I’m learning these solos. It’s a side-effect of practicing every day — it’s accelerating for each solo, even though they are getting more difficult. Originally, when I planned this project, I gave myself an average of 1 month per solo, which would have taken me a little over 2 years for the whole project. I think it’s going to go faster, and that’s exciting to me.