At the time of this writing, I am uploading a video of myself performing a tune by Tommy Emmanuel called “The Hunt”.
It is a fast, fiery piece and it is his signature piece (one of them).
Why would I even attempt to play this and post it to YouTube – where people can easily see him destroy me, guitaristically? 🙂
Well, this piece really energized me when I first heard it and turned me onto the idea of being a man onstage with just a guitar and “electrifying” the audience. I must say, before seeing Tommy I thought that solo guitar had to be either like Joe Pass or classical (both of which I love), but neither of which has the frothing-at-the-mouth energy I wanted as part of my own solo playing.
I was unaware that this kind of playing was available to me in a blues / rock / acoustic/ steel string idiom. If you have not heard the piece it’s kind of like southern-rock-meets-flamenco.
I have been shedding (practicing) this piece for about a year. And while I am my own artist, have my own thing to say, and urge others to find their own voice – it is great to learn from masters, and take on new challenges by emulating what they do. Part of what I am excited about is where these musical ideas will take me once I have digested them.
The reasons that I practice this piece are many.
1) Tommy is like the “Michael Jordan” of guitar – and as far as I am concerned I am responsible to pay attention to what he’s doing and push myself to be as good as he is. Of course my “artistic voice” will and should manifest differently than his – but if he can do a 360 slam dunk, well I gotta work on mine!
2) This forces me be “out there” spiritually and grab people at a show, to get the high energy going in my playing. I tend to be too introspective (see my previous post).
3) I have had to learn new techniques, and am still working on them. The hardest for me is the alternating D bass in octaves with a flatpick while I play thirds with my m&a fingers on my right hand. My picking has been pretty fast for years.
4) One has to throw away proper left hand classical technique to play this piece: if you are playing with proper “hand” position you can’t do the pull offs and get the chords quick enough. As well, you can’t play the scales without the pull offs or else they don’t sound right – i.e. it ain’t all alternate picking!
5) I am hoping that it will get me to actually “think” differently. Actually, it has.
So there you have it. I will continue shedding this piece for a while still. Tommy plays stuff by Chet Atkins & Jerry Reed, so it’s the same thing for me.
This is my “tip of the hat” to a modern day master of the guitar – Tommy Emanuel.