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Stuart, can I just say what
a joy it has been for me to listen to your playing today.
I've been standing on the
side of the room and thoroughly
enjoying every note that you played and s
uch a variation of sounds.
The first the piece you played, the Kora Song, that's gonna be on your new album, isn't it? It will indeed in 2013,
I'll record a new CD called The
Way Home and Kora Song and Way Home will be on that, yeah.
I've seen other players using
a similar kind of technique in
terms of the sound, but
tell me how you get that sound like
kind of Cora almost
like a steel pan sound with the guitar.
What you doing here?
Yeah, I first thought 2 guitar players do this,
Ralph Towner and Martin Taylor,
all you do, is they
use matchbooks and I found
a steel string guitar that this
is a bit of a gym membership card.
Something I wasn't using.
It's just a thin strip of plastic.
I've stopped going to the gym as well.
It's a thin strip of
plastic and you weave it under and over the strings of the bridge.
You have to compensate a little bit for the
thickness of the strings so if
you see mine it's actually angled
moving away from the bridge,
you know the string 6.
And what it
does it gives the strings that sort of Cora steel can effect. What
you have to is y
ou have to combine it with
something musically [xx] like a rolling.
And that's got that sort
of feel to it,
it's essential as well.
It's a lovely sound and I
bet on stage when you mix it with
a bit maybe of reverb
at the chorus and it can sound magical.
I've recently been touring with John Etheridge and he uses it on an African piece.
It is a great, say, something I haven't been particular gone into. But, hey, there's only so much life, we need to try these things. But you do it,
great effect. I'd like
to move on to the next
piece you did which is the
House Carpenter and you mentioned
that it was G minor tuning.
Just tell us what
the notes are without having to
re-tune the guitar. Sure, yeah. An open G minor, it has string 6 tune down to D, string 5 to a G, string 4 stays in D
three is a G,
string 2 goes down to
a B flat and then
string 1 goes down a
whole turn to a D. It
gives you a really, really dark sound.
Open G major up and G minor to fantastic tunings.
True that I haven't explored that
much actually so more to
come from master, definitely.
Do you find with tunings that once
you actually get into
a tuning you find that
it inspires more pieces within that tuning?
Yeah, without a shadow of a doubt.
I mean, I'm getting to the
stage now I'm always looking for
things like open G and open
C. Just things that for me are untapped. And everything, is standard.
I'm very comfortable with standard
tuning, but a by product of
that is that you end up playing the same patterns, playing
in the same positions.
So, I think composition
need to get new ideas
sometimes a new tuning can be essential.
And then what's more important for
me to is to understand what going on in tuning not just
left the fingers fall into place. What you can do, you know, with DADGAD, your it will be the same thing over and over again in DADGAD cause it will defines the good stuff very quickly. So in new tunes, I think always think in new tunes, you wanna make,
"Can I play a G chord?"
You know,"Can I play G major in open G major tuning?"
or "Where's my D chord?"
I always feel my way around the tuning.
I often say to guitar players here, haven't been to DADGAD,
can you play G C
or D? And a lot of time they can't.
I think as a composer,
you need to really understand the tuning
as much as you need to
find that stuff within it as well.
That's really good advice, that's something that I've never done actually.
When I get into a tuning and probably the same as you,
that tuning then inspires another tuning. And the interesting thing is,
with my friend, Ray Burly, the classical player, is under the entire album
of my pieces, In Standard Tuning.
Has taken away, and I don't think, "Oh my gosh, you gotta hear 4 lessons in learning standard tuning, save all that pain of I'm doing tune. But you know, I think it's, as we all know
think open tuning is an inspirational
tool for composition, w
ould you agree? Definitely, definitely.
I think another great thing about open
tuning is, you know, you'll find people saying, "Oh, [xx] ideas in DADGAD."
And then you'll find out
that everything they've written is in
D. You know, DADGAD just
lends itself to D. So you
say to yourself, "Look, I must be in E."
You know all of a sudden
you find new places new
voicings and I like
Eric Roach used to like
do things like arranging tunes in
DADGAD in weird keys, like B flat.
You know, he'd arranged "Somewhere Over the Rainbow"
in B flat in DADGAD.
So, he had to really think
about what he's doing rather than no, do nothing, if the fingers
find a great chord and going, you know, no [xx] around that.
It's always good to challenge yourself with it.
It is and also what it does
is opens up the doors it's almost like a avoid your
discovery, you think, "Oh, well where is this gonna lead me?" Well that's not logical,
I like that. And you say as guitar players,
tend to follow those old familiar patterns.
And I think that the open
tunings, done in the
right way, can kinda get us away from that.
Getting back to the House Carpenter, and also I know that your lovely wife Cory particularly likes that piece. I mean, is she a particular violent person? Yeah, I mean the House Carpenter
is a song
about *** and death, and then she loves
that tune but she didn't know it was about that.
I think she likes, cause those
are heavy feel about [xx] I think it's
quite engaging because the harmony's
quite dark and she
loves it, yeah, I mean she
loves all my music but the House Carpenter is the one she heads and plan, [xx]
coming and go on, "I love that, Jim. Play it again." I love playing for her, I love playing for her.
What's the great thing
about that, it's traditional, untraditional song but without the lyrics.
We know its going to be dark.
But by the nature of the piece
it's gonna be a dark
feel to it. I wanna talk about guitars and strings and
other things in a
minute but I wanna move on
to your final piece which
is particularly moving and
poignant I think for both
of us because we both knew Eric Roach.
A great musician and a
sad loss, and what a wonderful
thing for you to have
actually written something
in his memory, and I
particularly liked one section
where you played the lower version
and you can play the same thing but
further up the neck with slight different
base notes and I like
that about the guitar, we can
do that. Let's quickly
talk about your favorite guitars at the moment.
Well, at the moment acoustically I'm
playing Collings guitars made in
Austin, Texas, United States. Wonderful guitars made by
wonderful people, I've been fortunate to get
to know Mark and Steve who works Collings and come up here occasionally. I love these acoustic guitars,
I love American Samick guitars anyway, for me they got a clarity but they got depth as
well. I play Collings Acoustics and electrics amongst the difference.
Let's not forget, it's not the guitar, it's the player. And string gauges, I believe you used 12, 12 gauge?
12 52, yeah, these are
12 52 Alexis chord
strings. I think, match well
with this guitar, it's just sometimes I need to [xx] 1252. Chord strings
as we have said,
last longer and tend on brightness, you have to be careful, sometimes chord strings
can be too bright but these
things sound great.
Yes, this sounds wonderful.
A few tips, very quick tips, warm up techniques?
Warm up techniques I always
think for me if I'm playing
a recording I warm up with
right hand, the picking hand
first, simple patterns.
And I just build slowly and repetition.
Just get the right hand going.
And future plans, sir.
2013, you can keep up with me
Future plans will be two books next
year, Book of Traditional [xx] Guitar Arrangements and a book of Electric Guitar Blues and of course a new CD
which is long overdue. We look forward to that. Stuart,
it's been a pleasure seeing you again, mate.
Thank you so much for joining us.
Ladies and gentlemen, Stuart Ryan, round of applause.