I’m not sure if that’s a quotable statement — now that I look at it I am reminded of those kickers that appear in large print between paragraphs in a published interview. The idea behind such journalistic practice is to grab the attention of someone paging through the magazine/paper/publication and get him / her to read the entire article.
This is how I recently described my approach to playing solo guitar – while I always employ a generous amount of improvisation to most of my repertoire I’ve become aware of how I also employ that approach for arranging.
For the very first time I recently arranged one of my non-guitar compositions for solo guitar. The piece, Now That You’ve Been Forgotten, was originally composed for piano and soprano sax using Finale. I voiced the piano chords by feel/sound, not attempting to make them adhere to any predetermined rules or ideas. When I did sit down and begin adapting the piece to the guitar one of the first things I did was define the chords, essentially naming them (i.e., Dm7, Fmajor7b5, etc.). It was immediately apparent that they did not transpose to guitar easily – re-voicing them essentially altered the piece far too much for my taste. At first, I was ready to declare it unplayable on the guitar and just figure it was best-suited to the original arrangement. However, after a minute or two, I began transposing the melody so it sat better on the guitar; then, I dropped harmonies around the melody in the new key. Before the evening was over I had re-interpreted Now That You’ve Been Forgotten for the guitar in much the same way I’ve arranged music by other artists, be it popular, standards or anything else. I am still tweaking my approach with it — especially the improvisational section — but it now exists in two different forms and I am pleased with both. At first, I worried I’d end up altering my original version — but it’s different enough from the solo guitar rendition and it works on its own.
This is a real first for me as I tend to keep my original versions of my compositions intact. They may evolve over time (say, 10 years) after repeated performances, but never did I adapt a piece so early in its life.
Of course, I now want to include it on the still-in-progress recording Balance — at this rate I may have to release two volumes just to get everything out. Or I’ll need to be patient and include what I originally planned while stockpiling the newer pieces for later release.
By the way, you can hear the original along some other non-guitar compositions on ReverbNation:
Until next time….