Easily Learn Any Musical Style You Want Too
Posted: October 21st, 2013 by Ashley Saunders
If you’ve ever dreaming of learning any style, whether you wish to add another musical style to what you already have or just go deeper in your current style, I’m going to reveal how you can do it.
First – “you’ve gotta know where you came from!”
You have to understand the history. It’s important to know where the new style came from, who the legends are, and who’s currently hot.
This might sound really boring and un-necessary, but to really understand anything in life you really need to dig deep.
Second – Listen, listen and listen!
The best way to learn a new musical style is to listen, listen and then keep listening. You can learn more about music by really, actively listening to music than you can learn reading books or learn from a teacher – although you should do both.
Using your research you’ll be able to buy lots of tracks to listen to. At this stage start to pick out people that you like, buy more of them and decide who might want to leave behind.
Become consumed in the style, start to hear how it sounds as you walk around your home, hum it in the bath, and wake up singing it. When you do, you’ll be getting close to feeling it!
Third – Get some guitar gear!
As you’ve discovered some guitar players whom you like, check out what gear there using – thanks to the internet most players have website or have had their gear photo’d.
It’s best to look for general things at this point rather than trying to get super deep.
When you’ve done some picture hunting, some guitar gear finding. It’s then time to get playing. Try to get some of the guitar tones down. A lot of times just by having a few of the key pieces can get you close to the overall sound without too much effort.
Take some time to indulge yourself, you’ve probably already have all the gear you need to get the sound.
Forth – Breaking it down
You can break most music down into the types of chords used, the common chord patterns, the types of scales used, the harmony presented and how the use of time holds it all together. Sounds complex?! It’s not really. Let’s walk through it piece by piece.
Fifth – Keys
Does it sound in simple Keys? For example a lot of country is in A, G, D and E as is most blues. Pop music is also generally in one key. Modern day soul generally hangs around one or two keys (that are closely related), whereas Jazz modulated through many keys all in the space of a few bars.
The best way to figure out Key is to learn the basics of music theory and harmony. When you have the basics together, try to write out chord charts for all the tracks you have. This will help you learn the new musical style more and improve your hearing – which is a great skill to have!
Fifth – Chords
Knowing what types of chords used is critical to getting started. Go back and listen for the types of chords used. Are they simple triads or can you hear the root and a few colour tones? Open chords or partial chords near the 12th fret. Once you’ve got an answer to this – you’ll be half way to sounding convincing (“faking it”!).
It could be worth writing out a chord chart of all the common chords used. If you need blank chord boxes – head on over to the resource section!
Sixth – Chord Patterns
There are common chord patterns for each style. For example Pop is famous for the: I – V – VIm – IV. Jazz is equally well known for the II – V – I whether that be major or minor. In the blues, well let’s see, you have the Minor 12 bar, the regular 12 bar, the 8 bar and the bebop blues. County has its own common patterns as well.
Seventh – Scales
While it true that if you’re going to solo over a pop tune in one key, you’ll stick to that key, it’s also so that you could use a range of scales over a simple blues to take it in a whole new direction. This is just options, and sometimes you need to know some and pick one – other times you need to be able to pull every trick out of the bag.
It is worth buying an encyclopaedia of scales and trying to learn some, even if you only do it to further your plating.
Eight – Harmony
Harmony ties in with the scales and the chords. It would be wrong for you to turn up to a country gig and try and play your gospel chops – likewise the reverse. This comes from both knowing the style and understanding the complexities of the harmony. If you’ve listen to enough of the style, you’ll have these down.
Harmony, meaning knowing what scales to use when creating parts or solos as well as knowing what notes clash.
Nine – Timing
Having a strong idea of timing, means knowing that you can push and pull the beat around while being in time! Two examples are Stevie Ray Vaughn, who is always moving the timing around by small amount, but that’s why it sounds so great.
Another example is Billie Holiday, who would sing her version of the song, moving the notes and lyrics around the bar to convey how she is feeling – she would often sing tune completely different based on how she was feeling that day. This is very common in jazz.
It’s important to understand the timing aspect of the general style as well, for example, reggae is always behind the beat and relaxed with it. Rock is always in front – so you feel like your racing ahead of the beat.
Ten – Putting it all together
If we start from a point of getting the basics together, then focus on the types of chords that are used and the overall feel of the new musical style. If you get these two together, you’ll get close. Over time work out what scales under pin the style and how to solo in that style as well as the stylistic idiosyncrasy. The stylistic idiosyncrasies are really the detail that makes you play like a professional and not like an amateur.