Organic Licks. Organ Style Soloing

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Organ Style Guitar SoloingAs a follow-up to last lesson’s comping ideas, we stole some organ style licks suitable for soloing applications… There’s no need to memorise the whole transcription (the solo was improvised, after all!) – it’s better simply to pilfer the licks you like and incorporate them into your own style. If you remember last lesson’s organ-related audio track, this time backing track will sound hauntingly familiar – yes, it’s the same chord progression! However, the prominent guitar part in the mix is considerably busier this time and it relies on more single-note lines, double-stops and a looser rhythmic feel to create more of a soloistic vibe. Many of the licks you’ll hear this time round are considered cliches when played on a Hammond, but you don’t hear guitarists doing them to the same extent. So here, in a sense, we’re trying to quote elements of the organ tradition to create something fresh-sounding.

Having said that, pilfering Jimmy Smith licks isn’t a completely original idea, as the ‘further listening’ box will tell you: players such as Danny Gatton have used the idea to great effect and I think that some of Robben Ford’s phrasing can perhaps be traced back to the same source.

The key to making this stuff work is to think like an organ player and this leads us into the interesting arena of MIDI guitar. Have you ever heard someone asking to try out a synth guitar in a music shop, firing up the most expensive-sounding ‘grand piano’ patch they have to offer and then playing their favourite Clapton licks replete with wailing string bends? This tends to sound unwholesome and bad because the phrases being played are at odds with what the synth sound leads you to expect. It’s always better to modify your picking technique, phrasing and chord voicings so that they complement the sound that’s emanating from the speakers.

Obviously, you don’t need a MIDI pick-up to use the licks you hear on the audio tracks. I make the point because the mindset you need to inject a touch of the jazz organist into your normal guitar playing is exactly the mindset that would help a MIDI guitarist to get a convincing string arrangement, marimba solo (or whatever) out of a synth module. It’s all about respecting the instrument you’re trying to emulate.

But enough of the philosophy; hopefully the accompanying audio track will demonstrate what I mean. Apart from the occasional cheeky string bend (the ‘BSS’ sign rears its ugly head from time to time in the transcription) this is all believably organ-esque stuff. Specific points of interest include the idea of sliding up to one of the notes in a double-stop (as in the opening lick); the use of the occasional dead note (wherever ‘MU’ or ‘X’ crop up in the transcription) to approximate the percussive ‘cluck’ you hear when an organist strikes a key in a staccato fashion; the rhythmic flurries of passages such as those in bars 18-19, 23-24 and 28; and the pedal tone idea in bars 25-27. The idea with this last one is to keep a consistent rhythm going on the G (17th fret D string) and throwing in occasional stabs (anything on the B and G strings). You might like to try picking the G pedal tone and ‘grabbing’ the stabs with the middle and ring fingers of your right hand.

Be sure to find a left-hand fingering that works here; I would recommend fretting the G pedal with your third finger right up to beat 2 of bar 27, when your first finger should take over; aim for a smooth transition and be prepared to shift back in bar 28.

Enjoy the piece and I’ll see you next time.

Further listening

This lesson’s homework is to track down Danny Gatton’s Unfinished Business album and to check out how he incorporates Hammond B-3 licks into his depressingly eclectic guitar style. As a postscript to previous part recommended listening, Charlie Hunter fans might like to know that His Polyphonic Majesty contributed some guitar and bass tracks on the new D’Angelo album.

Organ Style Soloing Tab Sheet

It’s a part of Organ Style Soloing lesson

Below you can download a full copy of

 lesson with backing track for free


27 December 2012 0 comments
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