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- I just heard your CD.I think its excellent. its more melodic than many other neoclassical stylists. I would like to know how much you think about theory when you compose neoclassical instrumentals. For example, do you have your diatonic chords written out in front of you, etc? James, London England.
- Which guitar players are your main influences?
- What can we look forward to on the next album?
- When and where did you record ‘Electric Storm’?
- What prompted you to write a book on guitar technique?
- What gear did you use to record the album?
- What gear are you currently using?
I just heard your CD. I think its excellent. its more melodic than many other neoclassical stylists. I would like to know how much you think about theory when you compose neoclassical instrumentals. For example, do you have your diatonic chords written out in front of you, etc? James, London England.
I believe that composition is an art that one will continue to learn and never master. I once read Steve Morse commenting that composition did not come easily to him and he felt that he had to work at it. I feel the same way. Developing good playing technique is only half the battle. A player also needs to work on compositional skills. There have been several "shred" albums released over the years that have been musically uninspiring.
I have composed some pieces by writing out good chord progressions with proper key changes etc (obeying good harmonic practice). A melody is then fitted to these chords. But I have also worked from the other side – writing a melody first and then harmonizing it later. Much of "The Festival" and the “Shades of Blue” piece was conceived in this way. I am working on some great new material for the next album that will certainly show an evolution in composition skills.
Which guitar players are your main influences?
I would have to say Tony MacAlpine, Vinnie Moore and Yngwie Malmsteen. There are many other great players but these masters had the most influence as I was improving my own technique. I have always enjoyed Steve Morse. In the last couple of years I have listened to Symphony X and Dream Theater. In general I like progressive rock music and instrumental music with strong compositions.
What can we look forward to on the next album?
I am currently composing new material for the next album. There will definitely be a few pieces using odd time signatures for more variety. I have several pieces in 5/4 time and one composition that blends 3/4 and 4/4 sections very nicely. There will be more sonic variety, some more aggressive rhythm guitar parts, more acoustic parts and plenty of solos of course! I will only start recording when I’m happy with all of the compositions.
When and where did you record ‘Electric Storm’?
I composed all of the material in Cape Town between 1988 and 1994. I worked as a recording engineer at small studio in Cape Town around 1990 – 1991. I recorded and mixed all but two of the tracks there. Around 1994 one of my guitar students was working as a recording engineer at one of the leading 24 track studios in Cape Town. We recorded the remaining two tracks there. The album was professionally mastered at The Mastering Lab in Hollywood during 2002. Grammy winning mastering engineer Gavin Lurssen really improved the mixes I gave him to work with.
What prompted you to write a book on guitar technique?
I have always enjoyed teaching guitar and generated a lot of tuition material over the years. I have always focused students on improving their technique and that is the emphasis of the book. There is an abundance of tuition material already available for learning to play tunes by other artists. My book will compliment that material. By improving their playing technique and understanding of music theory, students are able to master new songs more quickly. I have never found a down side to improving one’s theoretical knowledge and playing technique.
What gear did you use to record the album?
All of the electric guitar parts were played with either my 22-fret Kramer Pacer or the 24-fret Kramer Stagemaster. Some of the acoustic parts were played with borrowed instruments. After I acquired a Yamaha APX10N I used that for the remaining acoustic tracks.
I used a 100 Watt Plexi Marshall with a single 4×12 cabinet for most of the tracks. I close-miked one of the Celestion speakers and had and extra mike further away for a bit of room ambience. A Fender Twin was used on one or two tracks. Overdrive effects were either a Boss Super-overdrive pedal or the overdrive effect in a Roland GP-8 processor. Four of the tracks used only a Rockman X-100 straight into the desk. All tracks were recorded dry and chorus, delay and reverb effects were added during mixdown.
What gear are you currently using?
I use a Jackson Soloist and several old Kramer guitars. My current favorite is a Proaxe model that can sustain forever. When composing or practicing with headphones I use a Johnson J-station into a small four track machine. I will be using my Mesa Boogie Mark IV on the next album. I am currently constructing a 24 track studio around a Mackie 32.8 analog console.
I use an Alesis 3630 compressor, Tech21 SansAmp and Rocktron Intellifex for my bass rig when playing with my Warwick Streamer LX. I find the bass useful when composing. Who knows, I may end up having to play the bass parts myself on the next album.
I capture the keyboard parts using a Roland MC50MkII sequencer. I use an Axon AX100 MIDI guitar controller for creating some of the keyboard parts. I have an old Fernandes Revolver guitar fitted with a Roland hex pickup to play those parts. The rest of the parts are played the old fashioned way, on a Roland XP-30 keyboard, and yes, I do have to quantize my efforts in this area!