Guitar

Swing Friction in Johnny B. Goode

Swing friction is a term I coined in my PhD thesis and is defined as the differential of swing values between individual performers (or groups of performers). If the swing friction is significantly large and consistently maintained, it may form a characteristic of ensemble feel.

Chuck Berry’s Johnny B. Goode (Berry 1958) provides an instructive example of swing friction. Berry, often considered the father of rock n’ roll, was instrumental in ‘straightening out’ the blues 12/8 shuffle rhythm into the archetypal electric guitar riff. Johnny B. Goode features this ‘straight 8th’ guitar rhythm, as well as equally straight lead playing juxtaposed with a stubbornly bouncy drum, bass and piano feel. Heavily swung quaver values occur in the ride cymbal pattern, often near the 67% mark, a significant deviation of over 52ms from the straight quaver at 170bpm. The guitar rhythm part however remains resolutely straight rarely venturing beyond 52% swing. This already large 15% discrepancy of swing value is exaggerated with the guitar part often sitting on top of the beat (ranging between 0% and -4% latency) leading to a mean separation of about 17% (≈60ms). The lead guitar is equally straight, although not pushed, and occasionally falling behind the beat. Piano interjections are loose but quavers are generally quite swung, mainly in the 60-67% range and repeated quaver triplets prevail. The bass plays mainly crotchets, with the occasional quaver (usually ≈67%). A representative extract from the track can be heard here:

Figure 1 shows a composite two bar template for the lead, rhythm, bass and drum parts, with time-feel components added. There is a huge gap between the swing values of the guitars and bass and drums. The vocal track tends to fall in between these two extremes.  In order to hear the effect of swing friction, This example contains electronic sequences of this section with varying time-feel values: 1) as from Figure 1, 2) all instruments at 67% 3) all at 52% 4) all at a middle ground of 60% and 5) back to the ‘true’ values for comparison.

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Figure 1. Composite swing and latency values for guitars, bass and drums in Johnny B. Goode.

 

The sequences have been rendered with MIDI instruments on purpose; although the section would sound better with human performers, but the elimination of the inflection they would inevitably provide allows focus on the power – and limitations – of the SLW model. Mean values for swing and latency have been provided, but the standard deviations of these values introduce the component of looseness or tightness, again different between players. Weighting elements also occur, (the cymbal has a slight emphasis on offbeat quavers for example,) with both mean and standard deviations). This extract plays the sequence first as Figure 1 then with swing, latency, weighting standard deviations from Figure 2  introduced, which add a clearly-defined randomness to each of three time-feel elements, and instruments, individually. There is a subtle but appreciable difference between the sequences; attention to the cymbal pattern, for instance, will reveal a slight offbeat emphasis and looseness.

 

 

 

Lead Guitar Rhythm Guitar Bass Drums
µs= 51 ∂s=1.5  µl= 2    ∂l=

µw= -3 ∂w= 2

µs= 52 ∂s=1

µl= -3 ∂l= 1

µw= -3 ∂w= 2

µs= 67 ∂s=2

µl= 0    ∂l= 1

µw= 4   ∂w= 2

µs= 67 ∂s=2

µl= 0    ∂l= 0

µw= 2   ∂w= 1

Figure 2 Mean and standard deviation values of swing, latency and

weighting (measured as dB level)

An averaging out of time-feel components over the entire track runs the risk of over-generalization and may incorrectly group specific mechanisms that occur only occasionally. There are for example, brief moments when the bass seems to join with the rhythm guitar’s straight quavers. There is also the assumption, with a single matrix per instrument, that all beats of the bar are the same, which ignores the emphasis on crotchets 2 and 4 in the drums. Matrices could be provided for beats 1 and 2, and beats 3 and 4 separately, or even weighting at the crotchet level, for greater sophistication when needed.

Despite these acknowledged limitations, the discretionary use of this type of analysis allows for an instructive and parsimonious description of ensemble time-feel elements.

IGRC2016 Timetable and Booking Now Open

The 2nd International Guitar Research Centre Conference (March 18-23, 2016) has attracted speakers and performers from every continent, and guitar style. It’s a fantastic line-up, and timetable shaping up.

Booking now open…

IGRC 2016 Call for Papers

The next international conference of the International Guitar Research Centre has been announced. It will take place 18th to 23rd March 2016. The call for papers, keynote speakers and headline concert artists can be found here. The deadline for proposals is midnight GMT on Friday 9th October 2015.

The IGRC has no stylistic or conceptual prejudice, if you are doing work that is innovative, creative and related to the guitar, we are interested. For further info

Classical and Jazz Guitar Course in Le Marche, Italy

Urbino2Molto excited to be running a Jazz guitar course (with Bridget running the parallel Classical guitar course) in the stunning Palazzo Mannocchi in the Marche region of Italy 15-22 August 2015 with Helicon Arts. Italian food and wine, terraces, gorgeous views, 2 swimming pools, all food and trips catered and lots and lots of extended chords, guide-tome lines and tasteful phrasing.

Classical and Jazz Guitar Course in Le Marche, Italy

Ascoli-Piceno1 Palazzo9 Petritoli1

 

The Eclectic Guitar Orchestra with John Williams – Bush Hall April 8th 2015

EGO Poster

On the 10th anniversary of my bone marrow transplant, you are warmly invited to a concert of the Eclectic Guitar Orchestra, in support of leukaemia charities. April 8th 2015, 7.30pm Bush Hall (Shepherd’s Bush) Tickets a mere £25
Performers include the legendary John WilliamsGeorge Uki HrabDeclan ZapalaCraig OgdenBridget MermikidesJohn WheatcroftPeter Gregson Amanda CookSteve Goss Jake Willson and an ever growing list of amazing musicians.
Please join the Facebook event for ticketing information, how you can support the event, to express interest (so I can get an idea of numbers), and a bunch of other exciting stuff to be announced… visit again for unfolding information…

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Alexia Coley Album Release

Alexia Coley’s debut album is out on Jalapeño records. It was a pleasure to play geetar on the record and even more of a pleasure to gig the material. Alexia’s music is infectious and a joy to play, and her voice gives me the bumps of many geese.
Here’s a sneak preview:

Purchase:

CD

Jalapeno (GET FREE MP3s): http://bit.ly/1qQENIp
Amazon: http://amzn.to/1sakHKx
Juno: http://bit.ly/1n9e9JP

Digital Download

iTunes: http://bit.ly/1DmPt5C
Juno Download: http://bit.ly/1saf2Em
Beatport: http://btprt.dj/1uQ9lM8

Martino Unstrung Viewable Online

Martino Unstrung (2008 Sixteen Films) – for which I was honoured to compose the music – is now available to view online.

Synopsis:

In 1980 Pat Martino moved his belongings from California to Philadelphia to live with two complete strangers: his parents. As a young jazz guitar virtuoso he had achieved near legendary status during the 60s and 70s, before being diagnosed with a life-threatening brain condition. Surgery had saved his life but wiped his memory. Back in his childhood home, surrounded by the relics of his former life, his father played him his old recordings at full volume and friends rallied to try to coax him back to being the great artist he had been. He could not dispute the evidence; the face in the mirror was the same as the one on the record sleeves but it meant nothing to him. Amnesia had ripped selfhood from his brain and rendered his life meaningless. He was nobody. 

Director Ian Knox and Neuropsycologist Paul Broks travel America in search of the soul of the legendary jazz guitar great Pat Martino, tracing his remarkable return from the depths of amnesia to the peak of artistic achievement. FEATURING: CARLOS SANTANA, PETE TOWNSHEND, LES PAUL, JOE PESCI, JOHN PATITUCCI, RED HOLLOWAY, DELMAR BROWN.

 

Bossa Nova!

My article on Bossa Nova guitar is now in Guitar Techniques issue 238. Such an amazing and idiosyncratic guitar style, it was a real pleasure to put this together, and I learned a lot about the players and techniques.

GT Bossa

Guitar Soloing DVD Out Now

 

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No 4 in a series of Guitar Instructional DVDs is out now! Available in many newsagents worldwide, or the interamawebs here

What’s in it (besides from a nice new shirt and guitar(s)? In the words of Future Publishing –

Everything you need to know to play like your heroes – with full lessons on your DVD
  • Theoretical: You will gain knowledge of scales and how to use them to make music
  • Practical: This will help you gain the technique and skills you will need to create solos
  • Style and Creativity: Listening to and adapting the playing of great guitarists is a brilliant way to begin developing your own vocabulary.
Play like Clapton, Hendrix, Gilmour, Page, Slash, Santana, Van Halen and many more

International Guitar Research Centre

March 2014 saw the launch of the International Guitar Research Centre, a major asset to guitar research world wide. It’s great to be involved among such eminent guitar practitioners and theorists. From the IGRC:

“The research centre will work in close affiliation with various partner institutions including the IGF (International Guitar Foundation, King’s Place, London), the IGRA (International Guitar Research Archive, CSUN, Los Angeles, California) and the University of São Paulo (Brazil). The launch was a two-day event on 29th and 30th March 2014 that included academic papers, seminars, public discussions, lecture-recitals and concerts. Guest artists included John Williams, Xuefei Yang, Newton Faulkner, The Amadeus Guitar Duo, Bridget Mermikides, Declan Zapala and Michael Partington.”

A nice promo vid is viewable here, which includes a fragment of my classical guitar and electronics concert with Bridget.

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