Strategic Picking and the Improvised Line - Tony DeCaprio.pdf

Ctr*tcgIc Flcklng *md thc Tony DeCoprio For many years I have been thinking about writing a method book that would

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Ctr*tcgIc Flcklng *md

thc

Tony DeCoprio

For many years I have been thinking about writing a method book that would

be

concerned precisely with the three-fold power contained within Strategic Picking and the lmprovised Line studies. [n my view, it would surely not be enough just to teach a highly effrcient plectrum technique as an isolated factor from the action it prepares itself for. The apprentice in the art of plectrum jazz guitar playing needs to be more absorbed within a system that which offers a fortification of dependability The training must be ready on the table for usage and not merely to be presented within unrealistic or superficially postulated arenas. Jazz playing, at least harmonically, is becoming more highly evolved than it once was. Often a more efficiently developed and integrated technique is needed to meet the enhanced harmonic demands. The right hand can no longer take such a secluded backseat. Today's jazz guitaist strives for higher ground in his/her quest to be harmonically and technically on par with the finest piano and saxophone players, for example. All too often these other instrumentalists are far better prepared from an early age. Most of these players have very little to "undo" and to relearn later on in years, technically speaking. Of course, technical compensations and makeshift adjustments (many times ornamental) have been called upon as an attempt to cover a seemingly irreconcilable void, but this rarely advances convincingly further beyond the yearning to do so.

For such a book to substantiate itself coming into being, I would imagine that there should be a need established. Every where I go and in nearly every situation confronted in teaching, I am reminded of such a need for plectrum guidance. This burning desire seems to be quite universal and appears to reveal itself most extraordinarily when the technique is witnessed and results are self-verified. The key is self- verification. All the knowledge and witnessing in the world means very little without self-verification. If this did not work for me before, and it appears to work for me now, then the method must be sound. It is all too easy to put one's faith in a method or some one else's doctrine. Just look at what Jim Jones and a little spiked Coolaid can do. It is ever so difficult to unravel many years of practicing against the grain. Trust carries a healy price. I do not ask anyone reading this book to trust me. That would surely constitute hard work on the part of the author as well as the reader. However, self-verification is lar more useful and the work involved for this alone can be minimal. [n the opening pages of this book I will offer some simple "litmus test" examples to be played utilizing your present picking technique. The good motion would be in trying to realize how it feels to execute the simple material. Does it feel reasonably comfortable? How does it sound? Are all of the notes played evenly and not jaggedly? Are all of the notes given the same true value played in succession or are some notes clipped and others rushed or tardy? Above all else, does any of the above statement matter to you? It does not matter to some players. Some players prefer to maintain trying to compensate for any picking obstacles by doing an extra "dance" with left-hand fingerings. There is a price to be paid if this is the choice, how'ever it is not a goal of this book to list negatives. I wi1l, on the other hand (pardon the pun), attempt to bring to the reader's attention some of the limitations brought to the surface by use of strict picking or random picking. Yet, strict and random philosophy, or physical manifestation, in anything lies suspect. Does it not? Let us not misconstrue my

intent here. We must never leave out the motive. Our motive is to make music. make it creative, if possible, and allow it to swingwithoutbeing "shackled" to any leg irons. For example, if you are playing a ballad or if you are executing quarter notes at a "diplomatic" tempo, and you desire a more "meaty and weighty" feel, I see no reason not to use strict down strokes. Does not a downward movement (stroke) constitute an acute fondness for gravity? In another case, if executing a line, whether linear or non-linear, conjunct (step) or disjunct (skip) and you are traversing the string families, up or down, would it not make sense (particularly during challenging tempos) to strategically invoke consecutive strokes as opposed to absolute alternate picking? Of course, such insertion of consecutive up and down strokes will tend to open the portal to, perhaps satisfy a more legato palate, yet the figure does not have to necessarily be legato sounding. Your line may still have a staccato effect if desired however the execution, particularly string to string, can prove much more efficiently executed. There is a flip side to this coin. Recently a professional player and transcriber, who studies my method, questioned why I used an assumedly awkward fingering for a particular Bird head. He saw no "logic" in my choice of fingerings. "This can all be done within, pretty much, one position!" he muttered. While I could understand his justification in asking about my seemingly extraneous pivotal jaunting, I simply replied, "because this is how I perceive the closeness to how Charlie Parker phrased the head. " Pivoting to higher or lower positions within mid-flight, once a player has the developed technique to do so, is simply a matter of prerogative. When considering phrasing, sense of swing, and timbre, such invocation is indispensable. Once again, you do not have to choose the alternate route. Economizing your fingerings merely for the sake of facility is a choice. It is not often my personal choice. Then again, here is where the Strategic Picking technique works well as a formidable support system. You will soon realize how Strategic Picking will enable your immediate facility in mastering position changing at a moment's notice.

Strategic Picking and the Improvised Line

-A Little Bit of History

While it is true that in order for guitar, a stringed instrument, to produce sound, its strings must vibrate. When not playing finger-style, such vibration is initiated via the use of a pick. Archeologists continue to dig up proof of modern day guitar' s earliest beginnings and these dates back to Babylonian times. The first signs of using of plectrum seemed to be in Europe during the medieval era, but no one really knows for certain. Effrcient plectrum studies have been quite scarce in this world even after thousands of years. The result is no known standard picking technique. There exist pockets of picking techniques that have been standardized by scores of stylists. Such techniques usually correspond to a particular musical idiom. I believe that for quite some time plectrum studies have been overlooked initially due to the fact that the guitar, gradually replacing the banjo, was pretty much used as a rhythmic device in big bands from the '20s, and that there was little demand for superior articulation and an ability, for example, to execute violin repertoire and/or fluent horn or piano-like jazz lines. Eddie Lang, Charlie Christian, Django Reinhardt, Les Paul, Johnny Smith, Jimmy Raney, and Tal Farlow to list a few, had begun to change all of that and, of course, the rest is history. Early blues guitarists used a pick, when not employing individual finger-style techniques and the bottle neck style; however there didn't seem to be a need for a super effrcient picking technique perhaps until the late thirties, becoming more noticeable throughout the subsequent decades.

The early blues men tended to use a good deal of down strokes. There was little necessity for an efficient plectrum technique to accommodate flowing eighth notes, wide intervals, and sixteenth note flurries, for example. Picking techniques, up until this point were mostly handed down from those used in mandolin and banjo playing. We can never ignore the wonderful plectrum heritage brought about through the origins of country music and the subsequent Western Swing era of the late '30's through the '40's. Milton Brown and Bob Wills down in Texas, via the arranging skills of guitarist Eldon Shamblin, helped to jettison the fusion of country and jazz music. Scores of picking techniques began to emerge, mostly due to the desire to keep up with the fiddle players and that exciting flow to their lines.

This need to use the pick in still more exploratory ways came about, perhaps when the guitarists began to hear various horn players. Lester Young, Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker mme immediately to mind. Later on came Getz, Rollins, and Trane and these players induced, in guitarists, a craving to emulate. Such imitation involved transference of bebop and tertian/quartal combined harmonic architecture to the complications usually confronted with stringed instruments. Some guitarists whom, for the most part, came from a Rock and Blues background, out of the late '50s and early '60s, wanted to elevate to a more progressive playing style. A few of these players became quite famous largely because the Jazz-Rock (later to be penned Fusion) was more appealing to the average listener. It may have been more readily adaptable, at least, feel-wise for the glorified rock and blues players also. The biggest influence on such guitarists was most likely Miles Davis. Miles knew that sparse chord changes and enhancing the role of sus-type chords

were more palatable to the masses as opposed to the alternatives in lazz being a series of complicated chord changes coupled with an increasingly adjusted rhythmic underpinning. Some guitarists stayed within the tradition, however, and managed to endure the gravitational pull of the usual trends, habitually associated with the sociological changes revealed throughout each decade. These bold musicians developed the rhythmic, as well as harmonic underpinning in jazz and therefore can never be stigmatized as standing still in time. My purpose in writing this book is not to compare or display hundreds of picking styles, but to, perhaps endeavor to lay down a consolidated and workable technique to be applied to the written line (and the improvised line), in conjunction with the ability to nurture the intuitive process. The picking technique works in conjunction with the overall architecture and style of the music to be executed. There is no one picking technique that will cover each and every style of music; however I believe that Strategic Picking Technique is a highly efficient standard, of which elaboration and the additions of nuance may maneuver by a sense of freedom.

Introduction material Example #1 "l"loats atay" trom the third note!

In the above figure, although it is perfectly alright to utilize an upstroke on the second note, doing so takes the player away from the plectrum field of the third note.

Example #2

Does the upstroke on the second note flow quite comfortably up into the third note of the example above? What do you think of the strategy in using a down stroke for the final note as opposed to an upstroke?

We can begin the following scale on a down stroke (executed in IInd position), however.

Strict alternate picking is what is usually taught for concerning execution of the above major scale. Strict alternate picking is OK if the world's music revolved around scales. It does not. Scales are a tool in learning and little else. We do not play straight major or minor scales when we improvise. There is host of additional elements that are also involved in music. There are a few. l) Direction intended down the line 2) Pkasing invoked 3) Attitude conveyed 4) Induction of subsequent elements that are intervals, time and tonicization.

Examole #3

II

Pos

ITT

n

Pos V

In the above example, I chose to actually take the upstroke road on the second note, yet shifting positions for the third note. Does the picking flow smoothly?

Let's improvise utilizing the above tetrachord. TV pos.

A_7

a-z$s

n

VnVn

F-?

1;stbs n

lT[

p*.

fV

pos.

Bry$

VVV nV

n

In the figure above, utilizing alternate picking on the first four notes and shifting positions and preferring a chord form for the latter three notes (I wanted a particular phrasing) in bar one, sets up the arpeggiations in bar two.

Examole #4

II Pos.

The example above displays how the second note in the scale will smoothly accommodate a down stroke when the Dbmaj7 chord is expected. This is an early strategy when little shifting is preferred and yet it does not utilize strict alternate picking.

Example #5

Example # 5 shows when tempo permits and chords are involved, consecutive picking works smoothly.

Examnle #6 Slur Picking is introduced. II

pos.

If

a particular phrasing is desired, shifting may become necessary. When shifting (without a pick) while changing strings, slurring may be an option. It is important to note that two or more down strokes in a row is also considered a slur. The same goes for two or more up strokes. Therefore, it is necessary for me to differentiate regarding slurring with or without a pick. Slurring, nonetheless, allows the player to regain footing while retaining smoothness and finesse.

Example #6 extended into improvisations.

II

I pos.

pos.

El

F_7

Examole #7 Tonicization and Picking

m

(With stretch)

C

scale

1gbtt

nVnVil Fingeringl

24 | 2

v

TV

n

r ll

Y'--'

D2--a

t'^7 V

4

Example #7 shows use of strict alternate fingering while invoking tonicization along with use of the slur in order to efficiently execute a desired phrasing.

Example #8

m

v

F*7

nnV^LjnV

V

Examole #9

VII F-?sus

i I*!.

vnvnL-Ivn vtr

\rI

\.II

Bhaz

A7

D-?

Vn

Example #10

\rII C scale

Fingeringl 2 4 I 2 412

v

I Lv v

n

G Major Scale in Sixths Transparent and simple observation of the fallibility in employing absolute alternate picking

Alternate Pickin

2-4

0-

0_

2-3

0_1_3 2_4

2-0 2-O

4-2

Startegic Picking

2_4

o-2 0_2_3

0-2-4

2_O 3_2-0

4_2

Tony DeCaprio

Picking And Arpeggio Studies (Three Octaves)

Fmajor Ascending

Fminor

Descending

i/v

3

.

r--

3

-]

6bau Ascending

Descending

Gboz

,V Ft , DEi6L nrrr

6

lr

I

I

I

,-----L,-LL

itr_-2)

14_

-t-

I I_ G^? Ascending 7

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# r-J--F

r

_=!_ n

)

a ____+_

:

E

4-

,9

A tr

nV t fr,t

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I

'1

F--+..-l # !r)) -

I

1

=

n

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15-14-9

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E

-

-

=

brt Ascending 9

+# rF-=

rE

-

t i__

s

,-

t.l

IE

LE

'1

E.

TT _E = =

-:1_ T

0-

= Descending

rl1

t0

n

T-

LE bu

Dt)-n\/

=

=

(Pivot)

L ''+- frtnt'

t']

?

:

=

Descending

GA7

=

+ E

I

r

l_2_4_ _3---

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n

r l'l

n

VnVn

;-,t= 7s-----------. r-3----------r 9_.13_18

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bLVV 18-13-9-6-1 -.,

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)

b+

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t_r

V

r-r)

Strategic Picking And Arpeggio Studies \/n

0_

2-2

4-0

V fl,^,

Tony DeCaprio

VnVn

3_0-3-0 2-2

-4

j

1*0_1_3-3

o_4-o_4 2_2

o_-4_o

0_3-0-3 2-2

3_3_2_0_2-0-3

4

0-2-30

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m inor ] harmonic mi V

t6 il iEb t F E f-

rffi l[:,.-

n

V

n

jb.2 2_ # j; - E h b

-IT

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I

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)

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:

=

V

J

-1.

't-

0-

J

= n

n

n

IW

: =Di tz}r

n

--r YL

F

+---+

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-_1_ -1-

n

-

> 2 -t- = a

I

2-

b

nv n

n

1,9 ? l2tt tt l--L

n

n

+ t2 ? E tr tr tn

L

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:

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--

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=

=

G melodic miino nor

(# ll:-,,-

-+

n 5

=

nor G melodic mirrno = l7

V

V

n

n

n

-

13-1i

:

LE

=

A:tbs

Ascendling

t9

n

n

n

3_5_8-11

g-tbs Descending

n'\/

17_15_11

_15-17

Vn

Picking and Arpeggiated Studies Continued Tony DeCaprio

C-z*s

Ascending

tr tu+

-/'

I

A

a

[ffi c:*s

Descending

n^\

2 L^

V

[H tr 8

- 12-8

-6 -3 -0

C+7 Ascending

VV-I-1

V

Ctbs

Ascending

E

Cj-bs Descending

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n

--1 *3AD^

E

[ffi E

E-a

2-3-11-12-14

[ffi

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+

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ll

a

[H F!

[H

[H

VV nVn W\-/

A

ro fo7

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Descending

Advanced Plectrum Exercises for Development of Smoothness and Evenness in both Stacatto and Legato Execution.

#1 (1234 fingering).

Pattern

Tony DeCaprio

I pos.

tr

E

nn VVnnVV

E

tr

n

n

-

II

pos.

L1J

(shift)(4

isi

I',rl

nVV

2-3-0

3

?r) TV

-4 -3

2-3_1-4 1_4

II

I pos

fingering

(s hift) 4

n

pos. New pattern/

n

y

4-

l3 t ll 2 3" 4l i_s____ nn VV nnv V

Same picking scheme throughout

Vetc

1_0_3_2 4_3_2_3_2

E

(shift)

lt_ -J

a+

>/

lrrJ -

T:o-1

4_3-2

A

3

_4

_2_3

l_J

4-1_0

D

III

pos. New pattern/

fingering

3 412

r-3---r nnV

V

2-1-2_0 4--0_1 2-3 2_2_4

1-0-3 0--3

1

0_6_3-4-7_1

2

w r-3-r 4t23 NNVV NNVV

(shift) 15

3-7_0-'

0-3-1 _1_4_1

t9

t2)

,l

bt -n-7+

lrr,l

[E A

rr

LE (shift) New fingeri ng V 1324 23

nnVV n l'l

VV

nnVVn

E"V

VV

V

r# 0

3_2-1-4

k

-7 -6 -3-4-6 -8 -

VI 27

r-.,.--.1

e i-

Al-rLJe

1

324

frr

=

r-3------r I

2-1-1_7

_9_1

2-10-E-1- 1-9-7-3

_2

pos.

1y1-

1-2

3_6_7_0_'

2-4

1_2-O 2-1_3

3-1

Lil

l-.

I

VIII

VII 31

3142

2413

a +

-fi+

l_J

r_J 3-10-7

-4- 5-8-11 -4

4-7 - 10 -3 -0

-2-

5

VM

4132

38

3 r-r,-.----.1

F,+

-

++

*+ +t-

+

_

\rJ

r-3-----r 4-3

1-3

2

shift

23

|

4

4

Shift back

11

a)

4

5_11_9_7 _4_10_8_6 trt

Ix New fing. pattern

13

42

2_3_0_6-7

Shift 2431

4-11-12-5-6-13-12-5

Shift back

5-12-11-lt-1 -7-6-0

shfi

1-0-3_2

-2

New fing.

i.l 4,

4

Shiftback

51

3-8-6-1-6-13-11-5

4_2-3-1

6-12-14-8-5-11-13-7

1-6-8-3-2-4

,q New fing. Pattern r-3----r 4213

55

Ql-)Lr

l-/

-

r-t-

a-z_4

0-3-2

I-

l-.

I

a-c-l

)(I Shift back

9

-12-11 -9-9-12

-13

-1',1

8_1A_12-9-4-6-7-6

New fing. pattern

2134

61

0--3-5-1 3_4_3 shift

4 312

9-13-lt -7 -5 -8-6-3

1-7-9-6-8-12-14-10

Picking Etude #l

Tony DeCaprio

il

m pos. G_7

nn nn

n

m

A-d,s

,Y nn .DI

i

D+7

Y,V

n

VV

V Gb+z

G-7

ti rl vJ

Lin-

n

t) D-

T

4-0

;3

3_1 1-O-4

€.0-3

2

m F_7 4

Bb7

n Jt FIrrl V

V

Yn

shar-

Bbfve

F_7

n n I Ln V

nV

V

VntJ

n

3-4-3 3-0-3

m CJ

Elb^r'

'7

LT, n-\

Y,n V n,^\

nn

rt

vnd

\lYfl

l-r

r.r lbl

3--4_3_0_1

LE 10

c_7 - r_'1 v

F?

VII

bi Lv tl n v

11-'t0-6-3

F*"

A-l&,s

c-7

CIsus

G_7

13

{ffi

a

, ,

tv

AEI

b-J-

LJ

J 0

-2

0

-0-0

0

Abz

A-rts

G_7

D7

ght

G-7

F-7

Bb7

17

o

- e oe

la1v-

lhJ

O

_r*_r;3_3

1

1-1-0-0-0-3-3

3-4_2

_0 _.t

-4 sbAr,

F_7

trh-n

BbTsus

, --3--btl^

21

0_3_3--2

24

tu

.-'

hll

*l

-J

l&

t-,

3-0-_3

3

2

B

Dlw

Sbaz

6bz

FTsus

27

3

0-3-1

[EF

-1

-1-3

3A

a)

'

f_1_r

[H

L-J

,-'

1_2-4-2

.A-, -

-J n

A

Picking With Improvisation Tony DeCaprio

Vzalt

FA7

V n n Er,I n I 3r,[ 1-2-2-7

y

1I n v n Vn

V

nVn

-6_2-1_2_1

CA9 3

I

a

?21 t-.4

-

0_1_1_6=6

L-

7-3-0-0-

Vzalt

Bbaz

5

1-4_1_1

L--

2

s

a

Vzalt

6haz*

7

ta)

*rl

*)

!

L\,

1Vzalt

9

0_0_3 3_4-_0

_4_4_7_7

I

2

Vzalt

6pn

Vzalt

11

1-6-8-0-5

l4 VTalt

VI

2-4_3_1_0_3

Pivot

l-J

3_3_3 E'

0

III shift

1- +l+

VI

DA7

*e

,r-

0-2-3

Continued Examples of Picking and Improvisation Tony DeCaprio

0-1-3-4-7-8-10-11

Ll

dJt,-1

3- 1-7

Fa

Dbo

r3--r r-3-

Da Fa r-3;--r

-

3-4

gf-z )

30

1

3

3_4

1_

1_3_1--3

3_4

.l

gbazlel 31

gbazlel

G^7

I

3

gtbs

1

A^7qb

4-3

DA+

):

a

fr+c

4_3

8

Cil,

6#-zbs

33

2-2-3

pt-z

gzfrsbe

E-e

t 0

0-

0

2-

B--4_4-3

34

r-3----r .f

r30-7-5-7-5-0

1_10_4_2-1

Picking Hanon For Guitar C Harmonic Major

Tony DeCaprio

II

nnVn

ry

ru

ln

VVnV

V

l'1,^'

nv-. \/nvnv

v'^ nV n \i^

nVn

V

VI

IV

VnVV nVnVnV-' r,

\/

V

nVnn

VI

nn

n'--

Ynvil

InVnV

V,^.

Vn^

V,^. t'\

n ,rV n V n \

il

IV

t0

nVn

nVnVn

nVnVnn

V nVnVnVn

n

Wohlfahrt For Guitar Tony DeCaprio

rriilTE;i:ffi

,, 11 n

vnn

|.i-it?- InVn V-!l 1..]3n V,^ EH 7

5-0_5

1

-8-10-7 0

-7_0_7_7_7

11^

-^

Vnni-l

InVn v-ll

Yll

n tl ln-.

n

_

0_

2_2_2-2

Vn VVnnV

II

Y

- \/

-llVa

7-8 10-7-3 5_5 -4_4_

7

nnn

YI

F,, tV

-.1

10-5-7-s

5-7 10

5_4_5

7-7_5_7-5

VnnVnn?-V 8-7-s

5-0_5_7-0-7-7-7

t0

vn^

Vnn

loll_:t- VnVn

VnV

rVn-,, E

llV.,a

nVn n v

6 10 8-5

Vn-

tlloi.f.; YnVn 6 10 8-5

3-2-3-2

2

ti

VnV nVnVnV1Vrr

Vnn -n: 7

5-0-5-8-0-8

t6

19

Vnn

nVn

nVnV nn

4-3 - 4-

4- 3- 4-1

., I t/\

nYn

sLtL*frr

11 10

10_9 10-10

11

10 11 10

n^

9

v

nVhV

_8_7

l'1

V

'rr Y ?2;2

_8_7

n^. l'1

3-6-111011-11

VnV

_3_2

Yn

5_5_8_5 _7

Y!

1011

nVnnVnhn

13

vY -lltL-l'l V^'t LY n v n v

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,V DI

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11

-6

nVnll

-

13 11 10 11 13

Yn V--

10

5-0 -5 -7 -O-7

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VN

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Picking Etude #L

Tony DeCaprio

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(optional)

Strateeic Pickine and The Imnrovised Line

My concept of Strategic Picking is born of the results of a two-fold

force: the knowledge I have acquired through my formative studies with a series of great American guitarists and the sheer blood, sweat, and tears of a lifetime of experience. These remarkable musicians include Jim Hall, Jimmy Raney, Barry Galbraith, Chuck Wayne, Joe Pass, Dennis Sandole, and Joe Sgo. Most of the great guitarists I had learned so much from were stylists per se. I had keenly observed their "way" of plectrum execution which, for the most part, accentuated and enhanced each respective style. Out of all the aforementioned players, Joe Sgro stands out as the premier "scientist" of plectrum studies. Joe had invented, what he calls, The Slur-Alternate Plectrum System. His system, which is based on the bowing technique of the violin, remains at the core of my concept for Strategic Picking and The Improvised Line. This method book moves along a three-fold premise, which is based upon my strategy. That is of a powerful and finely tuned marriage between the right and left hand encompassing picking, fingerings (common and not so common) and phrasing for jazz. grritar. I truly believe that there is an intuitive "strategem" that is acquired only when certain elements are mastered in tandem. Strategic Picking will move you through improvisations multiple facets in jazz guitar playing. The series throughout this book will encompass traditional, as well as the growing popular "inside/outside" approach.

of

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Tony DeCapno

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