Thursday, January 05, 2012

Guitar Workshop: Falling for the Bathroom Sessions

We've all seen them on YouTube, the self-made-by-yourself videos of would-be celebrities. Some of them are pretty sharp (if not always for general consumption), and their viral shelf life goes beyond fifteen minutes. Then there are the ones of otherwise reasonably intelligent people who spend half their time stuttering. Some of them play guitar.

Whether it's a performance piece, a tutorial, or a commentary on whatever put a burr in your saddle that day, there are a few things to remember. One is to know what you're doing. The secret to good guitar playing, at the end of the day, is the same as any other skill: practice! Good lighting, a setting with good composition that doesn't have a thing growing out of your head in the background, and the critical judgment of a friend, not to mention more than one take -- these are just a few ingredients of a good solo video. They can make the difference between a rabid cult following, and bringing shame and dishonor upon your family for generations.

Having a personality doesn't hurt either.

Most YouTube video performances appear to happen in the subject's bedroom. Half of them should really consider the bathroom instead. The acoustics cover a host of sins, and not just when performing Gregorian chant. Here we have Ed Robertson, singer, songwriter, and co-founder of Barenaked Ladies, doing a totally unplugged and unaccompanied version of “Falling for the First Time” from the 2000 album Maroon. This song reached number 11 on the Billboard Adult Top 100 that year. His rhythm playing certainly does the song justice, as well thought-out chord progressions are a key component of a good solo version of any band tune. Intermediate-to-advanced players can probably figure out what he's doing. They can also go to either or

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