I’m pleased to be writing my first blog. These are going to alternate between tips and advice for guitar students, general tales from (mis)adventures as a musician and also my newest musical venture – ‘Love Guitar’.
It is Love Guitar that I am pleased to present to the world today. This is a wedding guitar service that focuses on playing solo instrumental arrangements of classic and modern romantic ballads, for example, ‘All of Me’ – John Legend, ‘Perfect’ – Ed Sheeran, ‘Your Song’ by Elton John. In addition to this there are some uptempo feel good songs and some quirky choices thrown in too; ‘I Wanna Be Like You’ from Jungle Book, ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy’ and even ‘Bang Bang’ by Jessie J.
I’ve always loved the challenge of arranging tunes for solo guitar, and it is something I’ve done periodically over the years for fun, most memorably the Grange Hill theme tune and Moonlight Serenade (mmm, I should really think about resurrecting them). Last year, in between teaching numerous guitar lessons and working on other music projects I managed to put together a bit of a set and ended up playing a handful of gigs. They seemed to go well see testimonials page.
The aim of Love Guitar is to play dinners and primarily Wedding daytimes. This is something I’ve always enjoyed doing with my jazz duo. Its a nice relaxing part of the day where you can play some chilled background music whilst people get their bucks fizz or Prosecco and tuck into Canopes, and I’m looking forward to hopefully playing many more as Love Guitar too.
So I decided to dedicate the first half of this year to making this a real thing. This has meant a pretty intense practice schedule! The set up of a new musical project is always the hardest part- being faced with the massive list of songs you need to get through, and that’s before you get onto organizing all the other stuff like photo shoots, contacting agencies, websites etc. So it means a certain discipline has to come in as the reward of getting out and doing the performing can seem like a long way off.
Arranging songs for solo guitar is far more involved than just knocking out a ‘Wonderwall’ or ‘Mr Brightside’ too. You have to balance the needs of the melody with the harmony/chords underneath. There are often inherent rhythmic/co-ordinaton challenges in this and ultimately it means you can’t have the freedoms to express a single part of music and make it ‘sing’ in the way you might if you were playing it alone. When you play a normal guitar part for a song, it is usually something written on and for guitar, so it works quite naturally. With this you sometimes find yourself working against the natural layout of the instrument, you’re certainly not just playing a guitar part.
However, this is sometimes where the fun really kicks in. Sometimes you can take a version of a song and condense it onto an instrument well, but other times it’s better to leave behind the shackles of the versions you know, strip the song back to it’s basic DNA and completely re-envisage it for the instrument. When you hit upon something that really works it’s a great feeling!
The process of arranging a tune typically involves the following:
1) Working it out by ear and writing a bit of a chart, or sometimes I get the sheet music and work from that.
2) Playing around with it, mixing practicality and creativity to make it work for guitar.
3) Practicing till you can play it good (nobody wants to listen to you stuttering through something).
4) Practicing more to make it special and have a sense of style, a feel, making it dynamic and nuanced and engaging.
5) Lastly, more practice! to make all of that consistent and bulletproof. Can you do it under pressure?
As well as putting the tunes together, I’ve also taken time to record some initial home videos. These were done on a camera and have allowed me to initially present to several agencies who have put me on their respective rosters. I’m going to be doing a super duper professional thing soon, watch this space. I also did a photoshoot in March with Cheshire photographer Kat Hannon (no I didn’t break the camera!).
The last couple of weeks have involved me sat on a laptop wrestling with wordpress putting together this website. I’ve done basic web design years ago with HTML, but the internet’s moved on since then! In more recent years I’ve used Wix which is very user friendly but all advice seems to point towards WordPress as being better for search engines etc. I have to admit, this hasn’t been easy for me and has taken me aaaaaages! Worse of all its kept me away from my guitar practice (yes, sorry students) but I seem to have got there in the end!
Now I can get back to doing what I’m actaully supposed to do and play some guitar, and maybe watch some World Cup too. Got a nice mix of gigs coming up, solo acoustic and function band, so time to get the fingers back into shape and let my site loose onto the world. So, if you know anyone that might want an acoustic guitarist playing some nice tunes in the background for a wedding or dinner, please point them to www.loveguitar.net
Cheers for reading!