Chuck Schuldiner Project

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Adam Satur Author of Playing Guitar Musically

So my lovely readers, today we have a special treat! An exclusive interview with Adam Satur author of Playing Guitar Musically! In the interview we talk about his book, theory and bandhappy. In other news there's going to be a lot of good interview material up in the next few weeks so keep coming back!

The Audio to the full interview is HERE

Before we start make sure to like the Playing Guitar Musically Facebook page found at the link below;

And now, to the interview

TGMR: So, let's get started then.

Adam Satur: Yup

TGMR: So why don't you introduce yourself and tell us a little about your book?

Adam: My name is Adam Satur, I;m a guitar teacher musiciany type from the East part of Scotland. My book is called Playing Guitar Musically a guide to creativity on guitar and bass. It's my first book, that I intend to make a part of a series. It looks at learning music through guitar. With guitar not just being your goal. The guitar is a tool to learn music, how to be creative how to understand music, how to write your own music. And their will be future books on the sort of approaches I use on other instruments. Collaborate with people who are skilled with those instruments, be them Piano, Keys, Drums, Trumpet, I play clarinet myself and would like to do some stuff on that. Then some more advanced stuff as well, so how to use guitar mechanics in musical ways how to apply them to music. And further compositional ideas which will apply to all different sorts of instruments.

TGMR: Okay, cool, what motivated you to write Playing Guitar Musically?

Adam: It started off as my honors project at university I studied popular music at Napier University in Edinborough. In the 4th year of that course you do a major music project. Where other courses would do a dissertation we do a major music project, it could be anything an album an EP, starting your own record label, building some sort of new innovation for guitar, or whatever instrument you play, or a book, or some sort of deeper project studying things within music. I put a lot of thought into what I was going to do. I hadn't been studying guitar as my main focus I had been studying composition. I weas pretty underwhelmed by the fact that a lot of people play an instrument these days but have very little experience applying music to their instrument. They can copy things but actually interpreting music themselves. Whereas a couple of hundred years ago most people would play an instrument and compose for that music as well, maybe not to any great degree. degrees. If you say you write music these days its a big thing whereas a couple hundred years ago it really wasn't that amazing. So I also thought that applying music theory makes learning it much easier. Applying it through analyzing music and writing your own music. So I decided my major music project should be writing a book to kind of put the things that I've learned about music through studying composition applying that directly to guitar. So that it might be useful for guitar players so that they could learn those sorts of things for themselves.

TGMR: I definitely found it useful.

Adam: Really?

TGMR: Yeah It was... awesome.

Adam: Great.

TGMR: So what was your main goal with the book we touched on this a little. Is it just to give someone a grounding in theory, or to take them further?

Adam: It's to allow people to be self directed I guess, so you're not just subject to whatever song you're learning and whatever harmonic or melodic choices that makes. You can look at it objectively and go hmm.. that doesn't fit with my style or Ooo I like that I'm going to take it for myself, and not need to be spoon fed something to advance and to learn something, but be able to take the basics of what you know and reframe them slightly to bring something new out of it. For instance with the book, as you will have seen yourself it starts with the chromatic scales side of things, that lays all the potential 12 notes right in front of you. Then with introducing major scales its, lets take these alphabetically and change one note at a time, suddenly giving you a wealth of different scales. Then let's take one of those scales and start on a different note of it, let's start on the second note of it then we have a mode of it that has a massively different harmonic feel to it. These sort of things seem like this sort of dark art that you need to be a jazz musician for 40 years to understand. But it's really not, it just needs to be thought out well enough to be explained in the simple terms which it becomes after a while of using it and realizing that sort of thing rather than it being something you just know in your head.

TGMR: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense, yeah. A lot of the lessons I find online... don't do that.

Adam: Yeah, exactly, I don't think it's anything malicious by the people who create the lessons. They're not going “I''m going to try to leave other people in the dark and keep them guessing” it's just that it can be difficult to describe these sort of things. When I was testing the book I had a lot of guinea pigs, for lack of a better word, who I was teaching, and one of them... a lot of these people were complete beginners to guitar and music. And one of them when I was teaching the major scale stuff said; “So what are scales used for, why do we use them?”, and it's the sort of thing you don't think about scales once you're used to them, and I had to sit their for 5-10 minutes, and I didn't just want to say, “You just use them, that is what they're for”. I wanted to give an accurate description of that and I went on to put the description into the book. And I went with the description that they help you to know what notes will fit with the song or tune you're playing and what notes will be less likely to clash with the notes that other people are playing. When it's said like that it seems so simple but unless you've sat and thought about it like that before it's actually rally difficult to put into words.

TGMR: Yeah, I've had that problem. I noticed in the book there are few diagrams, theres a few but not a lot. There's a lot of text but it's still really educational. So how did that come about? Was it a goal from the beginning, how did it happen?

Adam: Yeah, it was intentional, with the things that are strictly mechanical, how to sit, how to pick, those sort of things are graphic, they're things which are visual. But music itself is not really visual. You could be synesthetic and have color tie into it, you can have similar aesthetics if you're a filmmaker, an artist and a musician. There's some stylistic similarities, but music, as itself isn't visual, you can tune an instrument in so many different ways, as I said before I didn't want people to just be copying things. This book was supposed to be an antidote to people who just copy blindly which detracts from experimenting and finding things out for yourself. Making mistakes is how you learn things. You learn what you like by finding what you don't like, I find. You learn what works from finding out what doesn't work. You narrow things down, that doesn't work, that doesn't work and that doesn't work but THAT works, in this instance. It does work. Some people like a visual approach and to see where exactly to put their fingers. I think this method might take more work but it's a more fulfilling approach. People I've taught with it seem to have appreciated it. It sets you up better for the future. If you forget what you're playing in terms of fret position if you know what you're playing and how you worked out why you were playing it where. Then you'll know how to work it out again a bit more quickly and making remembering things not an issue.

TGMR: That's probably for the better I know a lot of guitarists who just go like, Oo major sweep pattern, and just play that.

Adam: Exactly, for anyone who doesn't know and ends up reading this whose curious, we found each other at and there's so many threads about “Seven String Scale Shapes” and there's a few of us who aren't primarily guitarists, we're involved in music in other ways, composition or whatever, and we think of scales as notes not as shapes. So you get someone who plays their sweep picked minor arpeggio pattern, the one chord arpeggio so then they go to the four chord arpeggio, they just take the shape and move it. They have this sudden harmonic leap from one root to the next when they can easily just use the root of the one chord arpeggio which is the 5th of the four chord arpeggio and makes things much more precise. Maybe I'm going into a bit to much detail for an interview, but it helps make things fit more musically, if you know what frequency band you're fitting into, you can arrange yourself. You don't have to worry about clashing with the bassist or the singer and you can still play all these different arpeggios. Without relying on a shape, if you know the notes you don't need the shapes, and you can find them in other tunings rather than going, “Ahh I don't know any scale shapes in open G”.

TGMR: Can we do a breakdown of the book? Maybe not chapter by chapter but section by section?

Adam: Uhhuh

TGMR: So let's talk about the first 4-5 chapters. Can you give us the behind the scenes of those?

Adam: Yup, the introduction I just wanted to put people on my wavelength of sort of what we've been discussing here. The how and why of this book when there are so many other guitar books out there. Parts of the guitar, whats where so that people can know what I'm talking about. Holding the guitar... I advise, finger picking in the book. It's not directed towards acoustic player or any specific style of player. I just think it's good to have some facility of playing just with your hands. If you lose your pick, or get a bit over-excited and throw your last pick in the crowd, and you realized you have a solo coming up you don't want to just be flapping around, you need to be able to play something in that space. Chances are that if it's a pre-prescribed solo there'll be a space in the rest of the band for you to solo. So you'd just have this empty chasm if you're not playing anything in there. So I feel you need to be able to fit something suitable in there, be it acoustic, metal, jazz, rock, indie or whatever. In terms of the seating position and thumb position and things those are the sort of things that people describe as classical position, or as I call it “comfortable position”

TGMR: Pretty much (laughter)

Adam: Exactly if you're holding the guitar on your right knee you're twisting your torso and wasting energy by hurting your muscles like that. Your picking arm is all jacked up high, there's a lot of tensino in your picking arm, which is again, a waste of energy. And you don't have much control at what anlge your picking hand is at. And with your torso being twisted if you go up to the higher frets of the guitar you end up twisting your fretting wrist. And your arm gets stuck against your body. Whereas if the guitar is on your fretting side leg, if you're right handed you left leg, you have much more access to the higher frets and you are much more capable of using them. And also your perspective of looking at the frets is much more even. All the frets look kind of evenly positioned. And you can see where you are compared to the other frets, that makes it easier to my mind... So that was kind of a utilitarian sort of thing I guess. Theres not a lot of flashy stuff in the book, lots of other books will teach you sweeping and multi finger tapping so I felt I didn't need to cover that.



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