Play With Me [Solo Transciption]

Photo by Craig Yule

Dunkan Robertson and Fraser De Banzie

As I recollected in an earlier blog, I found myself late one winters night in 2014 recording with buddies Dunkan and Fraser in Napier’s Studio A. The final recording was to be included as part of a portfolio assignment in my final year at Edinburgh Napier University.
Having played with both of these musicians for years now there is a natural dialogue and chemistry that unfolds whenever we play together. I was keen to capture this performance entirely live in a single complete take without a click track. I always feel incredibly comfortable playing with these guys, which shows in how “loose” and uninhibited I play in the solo section:

Shortly afterwards I transcribed this solo with the intention of presenting it with some commentary here. As is apparent from the frequency of my posts, however, this blog fell by the wayside.
For me, it’s always a little uncomfortable listening back to something you’ve played, especially in an analytical manner like this. As said above, this was recorded in my final year at Edinburgh Napier University where I feel I was playing good, but not great. In the year since my graduation in July ’14 – free of the distractions of coursework, performance diaries, PRS essays and undergraduate politics – I’ve been able to make composing, playing and listening to music my singular focus. The result is substantial gains in my musicianship and guitar playing, which makes analysis of my former, “lesser” self a touch awkward. That’s a very good thing though and I hope that in July ’16 I’ll be able to look back and cringe at how I’m playing right now!

On a side note, this reminds me of the words of the great Ron Carter when he said (and I’m paraphrasing) that his greatest difficulty in listening to his old recordings is hearing all the paths he could have taken with a line, then hearing himself not take them.

With this solo I hear that I went for muscle and grit with perhaps not enough melodic intent, but there’s a lot of swagger there with some really clean chops (a by-product of having been preparing for my final performance exams around this time, I remember my fingertips were shredded for months) on display. Do I like what I played? Sure. Would I have played the same thing again? I doubt it.

Play With Me – Guitar Solo – click here for the free PDF transcription of the solo.

Without getting too much into it – and without pretending that I’m in any position to hand out advice – some things to look out for are the use of different minor sounds over a dominant seventh chord (for example, C minor pentatonic in Bars 1-2, Dm pentatonic in Bars 3, G minor on bears 1 and 2 of Bar 5); sidestepping (Bar 13 and 16) the Dorian mode (Bar 8-9). Of course – hopefully! – I wasn’t “thinking” any of this when I was playing. That’s for the practise room. Always aim to play what you hear and feel.

Anyway, I hope this is all of interest to someone and I’ll see you all soon.