Manic GuitarDon’t Learn it, Make it Up | Manic Guitar

Don’t Learn it, Make it Up

Learning songs when your learning the guitar is very important, but something I think is far more important as you progress a bit is to start to make it all up yourself.


Undoubtedly, as you learn the guitar, there is no substitute for picking simple songs you like and learning them (often from a teacher). But as you progress a bit I have always adopted the approach, that making things up, based on theory you are learning tends to ingrain the fundamentals of the instrument to a much greater degree.

Once you have learnt a few solos like this, then take one step away from the security blanket of another persons lead. Get down a few licks based on the scale and learn how to mix up these licks you have learnt against say a blues progression backing. Start varying the timing a bit, to give a bit of a unique inflection on these licks you have learned. Then just sit with your guitar and start finding some licks of your own. You can limit yourself to the notes of the scale for now, so with a bit of experimentation and finding a bit of phrasing, this will end up coming together. As you go further into this process of relying less on other peoples music and more on what you can get yourself out of the theory you are learning, improvisation will start to become more natural. You will start to play what you want to hear quite spontaneously.

The same concept applies to rhythm guitar. It is of course very important to learn the rhythm of quite a few songs to learn the basic chord shapes, move into bar chords and become fluent and natural with these chords and some strumming. But then there will come a time when I believe it is a great advantage to start to look at the theory behind how these chords relate to each other, for example, which note of the underlying scale is the chord based on, How do chords based on these different notes typically move. As you get more into this, you should be able to start to make up your own chord progressions, as you have seen the typical ways these chord progressions move according to the underlying theory. Give yourself some time to do this, and you will be making your first moves into your own song writing.

These concepts can move with you as you advance further into your guitar playing. You can adopt a similar method as you integrate more and more theory to create a wider variety of moods in the music you can make up. And eventually you will be able to quite spontaneously integrate a wider range of theory, and break away from your theory as you play.

Once again, learning other people’s material as you learn guitar is very important, however, I believe there is no substitute for moving beyond this when you are ready and putting your own voice behind what you play. Hope this helps.

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