Playing Guitar Like a Pro: Lead, Solo, and Group Performance
with Colin McAllister
The Great Courses, 2018
Musicians have been performing for the public since time immemorial, inspiring people all over the world with their creativity, knowledge of theory, and subtle nuances that set them apart from the crowd. Embark on a wondrous trek around the world, through time, and into the hottest musical scenes in the last 100 years as you open your eyes and ears to the magic of playing guitar like a master.
This course provides a treasure trove of knowledge for both the guitarist and the music enthusiast who’s never picked up an axe. Dive in and learn the storied history of this diverse catalog of virtuosos onstage and off. Unearth the secrets of some of the world’s most influential rockers, including Eric Clapton and David Gilmour; then bone up on jazz pioneers like Django Reinhardt and Antonio Carlos Jobim. From the origins of bluegrass to the rich sounds of Joni Mitchell, explore over a century of music from artists spanning the globe. Whether you are a musician looking to play like the greats or a music fan wanting to enrich your experience of favorite performers and songs, you will treasure the experience of Playing Guitar like a Pro, and you’ll hear your favorite bands in a whole new light.
Hone Your Guitar Skills
No matter your preferred genre or skill level, Dr. McAllister has you covered. Adopt intermediate-level techniques like right-hand arpeggios, crosspicking, slurring, funk-style chord strumming, and slapping harmonics, and improvise them over the provided backing music tracks to truly make them your own. This course hands you a substantial toolbox full of ways to improve your rehearsals, live shows, and in-studio recordings.
As he walks you through each of the vital performing techniques in the course, Dr. McAllister makes use of several learning methods to ensure that you absorb everything you need to for improving your instrumentation. Throughout the course, for the hands-on or audiovisual-based learner (as many guitarists are), he performs on his guitar alone and with his band for a thorough demonstration of technique. Then, after showing you how it’s done, he provides backing music tracks in each lesson so you can practice what you have learned with the band! Further, Dr. McAllister explains every technique and playing style as you learn them, accompanied by onscreen notation and tablature.
Play like the Rock Stars
Dr. McAllister centers each lesson on one or two specific guitarists who excel at specific techniques—and you can choose which ones you want to master, and in what order. These real-world examples show the successful application of each discussion, inspiring you to apply the techniques that made the greats so great. The featured guitarists include dozens of well-known names whose trademark sounds are ripe for the picking.
A few of these include:
• Eddie Van Halen’s lightning-fast, two-handed tapping adds flair to any rock, metal, or even jazz solo. Conquer it for yourself and learn about KISS’s Gene Simmons scouting Eddie and his band at a nightclub in the 1970s.
• David Gilmour of Pink Floyd specializes in string bending. Sometimes he bends his string slowly, lending a bluesy and ethereal quality to his parts; other times he does so quickly, using vibrato to liven up otherwise monotone sections of solos. Acquire this strategy and you’ll improve your solo game faster than you can say, “We don’t need no education.”
• Wes Montgomery was widely known throughout the jazz circuit for his octave-based melodies and his odd habit of hitting the strings exclusively with his right thumb, earning him a distinct sound that’s yours for the taking.
• Celedonio Romero will inspire you to infuse classical influence into your musical arsenal—Dr. McAllister studied with Romero’s sons when he attended the University of California, San Diego. With techniques like rasgueado (using your fingernails to strum), and pizzicato (in which you rest the outer edge of your right hand on the strings and pluck with your thumb), your playing will overflow with texture and sophistication.
Each genre of music represented in Playing Guitar like a Proalso benefits from multiple subgenres explored throughout the course, which complement each other nicely and help widen your range. If the older jazz stylings of Wes Montgomery and Django Reinhardt aren’t enough, then you may appreciate the contemporary sounds of John McLaughlin’s jazz fusion and Pat Metheny’s technical jazz-blues combinations. Similar examples follow for rock, classical, and folk.
Radically Grow Your Music Appreciation
Did you know that Eric Clapton’s practice of simultaneously playing both lead and rhythm guitar parts mixed together was inspired by Jimi Hendrix? After Hendrix sat in with Clapton’s band Cream at a show in London in 1966, Clapton practiced to learn the amazing technique for himself. While Eric Clapton’s most obvious influences may have come from early 1900s Chicago and Delta bluesmen, after hearing the details of this story from Dr. McAllister, will you ever watch his landmark MTV Unplugged concert the same way again?
Often, knowing what went into the writing, recording, or performance of a song changes how we listen to it or what we hear when it plays. While you may or may not relate to the technical and performance-based stories, the history and context for your favorite musicians and songs will open your eyes to a whole new level of appreciation. The disciplines perfected by these legends become easy to notice in their own—and other bands’—songs.
Aside from the techniques themselves, Playing Guitar like a Proalso offers stories similar to that of Clapton and Hendrix for virtually every musician studied . Learning about these skills trains our ears to hear music in a way most of us are unfamiliar with. Connect the Grammy-winning song “The Girl from Ipanema” with its Brazilian jazz and samba origins, then listen to it again and understand why it is one of the most important songs of the early 1960s bossa nova movement. Or, explore the sounds of Rush, who have been called “The Canadian Led Zeppelin.” The changing time signatures and power arpeggios commonly used by their guitarist Alex Lifeson influenced future generations of progressive-rock groups.
You’ll also discover why certain musicians are so distinct and recognizable that you will know a song by them before they start to sing. For example, Dr. McAllister reveals why only Eric Clapton sounds like Eric Clapton, why Wes Montgomery’s recording of a song is impossible to mistake for anyone else’s, and why you can pick a Pink Floyd guitar solo out of a lineup—even if you haven’t put on one of their records since Nixon was in office. This enlightening course reveals the mysteries of professional guitar for performers, but it also evolves the listening ear of anyone who experiences it. Fortunately, refining our ears and brains with the understanding of this beautiful art form never ruins the special relationship we have with our record collections and six-string heroes. Contrary to learning how your favorite magician does his or her tricks, this peek behind the curtain is as enriching as it is rewarding. If you’ve ever wanted to go back and hear your favorite song again for the first time, this is your chance.
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