Zone Recording: Playing In 5 Minutes

Hello readers and welcome back to yet another installment of Zone Recording. Man, I think I have been doing these for over 10 years? Let me check... hold on...

Wow, this is my 10th anniversary column for Guitar Nine! Amazing how time flies.

I am on the road at the moment in Connecticut (USA) working for the National Guitar Workshop. Tons of fun is being had with my buds up here as well as some great guest artists: Tommy Emmanual, Paul Gilbert and John Petrucci.

One of the many requirements for the teachers is to perform in a faculty concert at the opening of the Workshop.

I will talk about the one I did in Los Angeles a few weeks ago. The first piece of information is there is basically no time for rehearsal. I remember the good old days where I would lay this crazy chart on the band (whom I pick) and expect them to learn the song in 5 minutes, have a 10 minute rehearsal and perform it later on in the evening. I learned the hard way that this usually leads to a train wreck, and to KISS! Keep it simple stupid!

For example, I threw a chart at the band of an arrangement of "Amazing Grace" that I have performed live before. Here is a copy of the chart.


Before we even play the song, I will talk the band through the chart.

I will start off with the drummer (Blake) and give him the tempo and feel of the song. Then I will discuss the form with the band. For example looking at this chart, I might say something like:

"We have a 4 measure intro and we are all in off the top. It's a funky swing pocket type feel, drums and bass locking tight, with a clean rhythm guitar part playing the chords."

"Play the A section as written with the last measure of A building into the B section. The B section is basically the same as the A section but modulated into the key of G major. At the end of the B section, come down dynamically on the E-11 chord."

"This will bring us into the solo section. We have the first 4 measures repeating 4 times, followed by a minor 3rd tag. Then repeat the whole solo again. The second time through the solo make it more intense as I build as well. After the second pass of the solo we are back to the B section. After that, just vamp on the E-11 and let's just jam it out. I'll cue the end."

Basically something like that is all that is needed for the players. Of course, you have to make sure your players can read the chart and can play all of the chords.

Here is a shot of the bass player reading the chart. Looks like something surprised him (David Albertson).


Then I had my good bud Neal Nagaoka on guitar. Looks like he hit something weird here - man that's a funny look! I have to thank my good friend Greg Robertson for the candid shots of the rehearsal!


We got through it quite effortlessly actually, even though it does not look like it. On a side note, check out the kick drum mike stand (LOL)...


That's just so awesome!


Anyway, here are a few shots from the show (Blake is on drums).



It was tons of fun, and I also did one other song with a backing track. I have to say, it's soooooooooo much more fun to play with people than a damn backing track!

So what I learned is basically to KISS! Have a great time, explain the chart clearly, and make sure it is written well (not chicken scratched in), rock their faces off, and just let 'er rip!

May the tone be with you.

David Martone is a guitarist from Vancouver, Canada who has released seven solo CDs which showcase his musical diversity and brilliant guitarmanship.

His 2007 CD is entitled "When The Aliens Come", which features a progressive sound incorporating jazz, rock, fusion and metal influences.

David Martone