Opium Songbook

02005-03-04 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

Victor writes:

I am going to get the Opium transcipt soon. I like the idea that it was transcribed by someone who actually travelled an played with you!

The book description says it contains notes on Ottmar’s playing technique. Well, certainly there are many others beside myself who were inspired to take up guitar because the love of your music – but I wonder how you feel about people trying to copy your style of playing?

For that matter, I’m curious if you’ve ever put on a guitar workshop for students or considered doing such? That would be very inspiring to get some firsthand knowlege of your technique and approach to playing!

Well, if I had a truly special and unusual technique I would not allow anybody to write about it, yes? But, the really special stuff can only be learned, not taught. It is how you touch a string, how you produce a tone. That cannot be shown to you, rather it must come from practicing, from your experience with the guitar.

Every person’s hands are different, the length of a finger, the width, the angle of the nail etc. – and if you give the same guitar to ten guitar players, they will produce quite a variety of different tones. Really, that’s the beauty of the guitar versus a mechanical tone producer like the piano, where a hammer strikes the string. It is all in your touch.

My right index finger has either adapted from three and a half decades of playing guitar, or is genetically deformed, but because of the slight right turn this finger makes from where it is connected to the hand to the tip, it lines up perfectly on the string next to the middle finger… which in turn helps me get a very even tremolo and a fast piccado. Every pair of hands is different and you will discover what yours can and want to do.

There is a beautiful intimacy that comes from time spent with your instrument. I figure I have spent at least 14,000-20,000 hours playing guitar so far. Nothing will ever replace that experience… although it would be interesting if at some point science found a way to extract/copy this intimacy from a musician’s mind and insert/install it into the mind of a beginning guitar student, let’s say. What would that be like? I imagine it would feel unsettling and foreign, since the experiences that created this intimacy would not necessarily all be available to the beginner. Imagine your mind as a very complex web page with millions of links and the ability to spontaniously create new links every moment…

Anyway, pardon my rambling – if you can glean anything from the opium songbook I will be very happy.

I have no plans at this time to put on a guitar workshop. But that doesn’t mean it will never happen.


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