True story. Back in the early 80's, the then top touring show band held a one day audition in NYC for a new guitar player. Dream gig with great musicians paying top dollar working week-long dates in premium clubs. Twenty-seven guitarists from the region crowded into the waiting room. One-by-one they were called into the rehearsal room, and one-by-one they were dismissed in a matter of minutes. Somewhere around the twentieth audition, a young player from Jersey (very famous today) entered the rehearsal room. An hour later, the manager came out to let everybody know that the band had made their selection. Someone asked, "what's so special about that last kid?" the manager said, "He knows what to play and when to play it."
Playing popular music is very challenging because you really have to be a master of all trades. Scan a few 'pop' radio stations, and you'll hear a wide variety of rhythmic feels, influences from all styles of music, creative harmony, tasty solos, stellar musicianship and a wide spectrum of sonic qualities. Some pop tunes feature the guitar prominently and some mix the part so subtly that you have to listen carefully to pick it out -- it's there, and it's a big part of the sound, but it's artfully blended to support the song. No gratuitous guitar pyrotechnics in pop music -- it's all about the song and knowing "what to play and when to play it."
Massimo Varini's Pop Guitar Survival Guide is an ideal course of study for intermediate guitar players and beyond (this is NOT a beginners course) who compose, arrange, or cover popular music across all genres. Presented in seven sections, each focused on a key element of the art, Massimo steps you through all of the fundamental rhythms and lead guitar skills, techniques, harmonic approaches and sonic qualities required to get the gig and keep it.
Composer, arranger, producer, renown educator, monster acoustic and electric guitarist, Massimo Varini's credits span 45-million records sold, two Grammy's, 12-million YouTube video views, multiple Top 10 listings in the charts, a signature PRS guitar, dozens of top-ranked educational publications. Massimo's pedigree uniquely qualifies him to mentor you in the art of pop guitar.
In the first section of the study program, Massimo shows you right-hand strumming techniques for quarter-note, eighth-note, triplet, sixteenth-note and shuffle rhythms. Section 2 dives deeper into rhythm applications for emphasizing bass notes, dividing up and down strokes, modifying patterns, changing chords seamlessly and working with 12/8 rhythms. Massimo also shows you how to 'think in 16ths' to craft countless rhythm patterns of your own.
Section 3 will blow your mind. Guaranteed. Massimo presents one of the clearest, easiest and most accessible approaches we've ever seen for identifying key centers and then texturing your chord voicings with 'safe' and 'colorful' voicings. This section is worth the price of admission alone -- feel free to dive in here immediately when you get the course.
Section 4 focuses on harmony applications that you can use to transform even the simplest chord progressions into compelling and dramatic musical backgrounds. Open-string voicings, CAGED capo voicings, voicings without the root, arpeggiating chords and how to combine strumming with arpeggiating is covered in detail.
Sonic qualities are covered in Section 5; pick selection, pick positioning, energy, muting, percussive strumming, heavy downstrokes and microphone placement are all important elements of the overall sound that you bring to a song. Section 6 explores the key qualities and sonic possibilities that an electric guitar brings to the pop sound. Clean sounds, distorted sounds, routing, delay, modulation, muted sounds, and solos are examined.
Everything you've learned in the previous six sections to put to take in the seventh and final section. Massimo steps you through three pop arrangements, each featuring multiple guitar parts that you will learn to play. In learning to play each of the parts, you are also learning how to craft your own guitar parts and of course, most importantly, 'what to play and when to play it.'
Whatever your preferred style, intermediate player or beyond, Massimo Varini's Pop Guitar Survival Guide is one of those rare courses that everyone should have in their library. We'll guarantee at least one epiphany herein that will majorly step up your game.
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