The Official KSAND Kent Sandvik Web Site

Producer, guitar player, composer and maker of noise.

Instruments as Percussion

Posted on | September 28, 2008 | 1 Comment

guitars.jpgI have a Blockbuster home delivery deal with DVDs, similar to Netflicks. The cool thing is that I could order home music DVDs, live shows, instructional videos and so forth, then my wife takes it to the local Blockbuster store and could get another free DVD rental by just returning the one that arrived home earlier. I’ve watched a lot of live shows and other instructional videos — still waiting for the Frank Zappa Baby Snakes DVD; suspect I need to purchase that one.

Anyway, I watched through Nils Lofgren‘s guitar instructional video yesterday, interesting techniques even if he uses a thumb pick and somewhat I think it would not work out well with my playing.

But there was another note of instructions that got stuck in my brain. Nils said that he got this from hearing  Keith Richards (Rolling Stones) playing. And this was to treat a guitar or actually any other instrument as a percussion instrument. It means playing in the pocket, use percussion elements and in all ways let the guitar playing work like another melodic drum playing.

It’s easy to forget this when you are up on stage and playing, but a band or setup sounds even more tight if your rhythm or even lead playing is tight and has percussion syncopations that work well. This is then true of playing keyboards or anything else, even voice. During the heat of a solo it’s easy to forget this — I think Frank Zappa was a master with his guitar solos, they were very evolving and abstract, but super-tight.

It might even help to think like a drummer from time to time to see how the percussion world works. If all instruments work together like a gigantic drum system, it’s sounds really well and you get the groove, especially a groove needed for any cases where you also want the audience to dance.


One Response to “Instruments as Percussion”

  1. Rodney Robbins
    October 23rd, 2008 @ 12:22 PM

    Yeo Kent,

    You are so right! Well–you know–literally right in that guitars are usually “hit” with a pick and that makes them percussion instruments (like pianos). But more than that, using the guitar as a percussion instrument makes staying in the groove a lot easier. Since I’m a singer/songwriter (I write musicals and stage plays) and no great shakes as a guitar player, I’ll often use the darned thing just to keep my vocals in time.

    If you want to see a master of the “percussion guitar,” follow this link to and check out Kaki King going ape on her Ovation. Wild!

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