Sunday, December 14, 2008

Easier Voicings

Q: I was looking through some of your lessons (which, by the way, are all very well written), and wondered something. I was checking out the "Thinking out of the Cage" lesson and thought to myself that there are a lot of easier voicings than the ones you have. Is there any reason for the difficult voicings? Wouldn't it be quicker and easier just to play the standard voicings rather than struggle with the ones you have as examples?

Yes it would be quicker and easier to play the garden variety voicings that everyone plays. It just depends on whether or not you want to play chords like everyone else or not. Guitar players always give me a good crack up because, at least regarding chords, we only want to play what is easy, even if the voicing sounds goofy. And the rational is that it if it can't be learned in a few minutes, it isn't worth working on. Think about it for a second: how long did it take you to learn the F chord? The answer is usually a month or two. How come guitarists seem to think that the F chord is the right of passage and no other chord should take that long? When I was learning guitar, I thought that all chords were supposed to take weeks or months to be able to hold down so I worked on them for long periods of time and that is why I can play big hairy chords that very few other guitarists can, even though my hands are relatively small.
I will concede that it is better to play simple in certain situations, but I personally believe that showing an interest in, and learning interesting voicings is important unless harmonic mediocrity is something you can be satisfied with. Listen to Herbie Hancock play chords and tell me you wouldn't want to sound like that.