Monday 28 October 2013

Peter Bocking… on the scales: The Bocking Memorial Blog #4

For a musician, teaching serves several functions: one is to hide the fact that there isn’t a living to be made out of playing; and two, to expiate the excesses of a self-indulgent life. It is the atonement, the mea culpa of a misspent youth. 

It is also a little fragment of immortality – some other poor wretch will carry a small part of your music into the future. 

But hell! They don’t want to play like you or your dead heroes. They want to play like Whammi Palmute, the Swedish metal ace, or Vince Spaghetti, a product of The Institute of Playing Really Fast and Loud With No Shirt On.  

“Look at this scale, Melvin,” you say as you proffer it like a bauble to a child. “You can use it in the blues, jazz, rock, metal, country – it’s a really useful scale.” 

“Widdly, widdly, widdly, widdly weeee!” says Melvin (or rather, that is the sound that emanates from his guitar). He has been sat there tapping the fingerboard, eyes glazed, mouth working like a cement mixer for the last twenty minutes. 

“Look, Melvin, it’s a nice scale, there’s a good Melvin, just try it. I’ve written out examples in all the major styles.” 

“No, don’t tread on the music, just stop tapping for a minute.” 

“Ernie, Ernie, Ernie, Ernie,” replies Melvin. 

“This scale is the key to all those solos,” you say, handing him a list that flutters unheeded to the floor. 

“Whee, whee, whee, beeeeeeyooong, plink!” says Melvin’s guitar as finally a couple of strings commit suicide in desperation and the whole instrument detunes. Melvin thrashes on obliviously. 

Finally you bellow, “Earth calling guitar hero! Please look at the scale. If you learn this you can work the solos out yourself and I can stop listening to this shit!” 


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