About a year ago I was working on the final recordings of Mr. Fastfinger's album "The Way of the Exploding Guitar". One of the songs, "Creatures of the Midnight" had recently went though a dramatic re-arrangement editing. Now suddenly there was one more guitar solo to record.
I set up an audio sequencer to loop the backing of the solo and started improvising on the guitar. I think I spent at least an hour or more, testing out different ideas, tones and effects. Nothing felt right for the song and part, and I slowly started feeling hopeless with the case. I then rememebered seeing a clip of Mark Knopfler's (from Dire Straits) live concert on TV about a week earlier. I now felt his playing would fit the song perfectly.
I didn't start booking sessions with Mr. Knopfler. But things started really happening once I got the idea of trying to play like him. I never owned any of his records, and only had heard him occationally on radio and TV. And I never checked out any of his licks (except for the arpeggios on "Sultains Of Swing"), but I had some kind of idea what his tone is like. So I threw away my guitar pick and started exploring the guitar bare fingered. Two or three improvisation takes, then the rest followed automatically. It was just a matter of hearing the melodies inside my head and delivering them out thought the instrument. Wooosh!
In the end I don't think the solo sounds that much like Mr. Knopfler at all. And not sure if anyone would recognize such influence there. But that is not the point. My aim was to come up with a great solo for this song. And indeed succeeded with the help of this mind game method.
Image you're Mark Knopfler and cool things will happen? Well I don't think it will always work like that. Inspiration is always found from different sources. Sometimes a little mind game can trigger something fresh and exciting out of you. And it doesn't mean you need to imagine you're another guitar player. What can you get out of your instrument if you imagine you're an astronaut floating free in space? Or a guitar samurai living on a warm desert island?
About the the transcribed solo - it's a very calm down track with a simple and nice chord progression happening: C - F - Am - G. Pointed out a few technical thing in the solo. Perhaps you will get more inspiration out of the solo this way.
By plucking the notes with your finger you can do various nice things. Most importantly, the tone is very different compared to picked ones. It can give you better access to dynamics. Fingers can be used to mute notes in a precise time and rhythm (bars 4, 23). You can play two or more notes at time and string skipping won't be an issue (bars 8-9).
When listening to the recording, pay attention to how it dynamically builds up from a very calm down clean tone to screaming overdrive tones. My Hughes & Kettner TriAmp was set to a clean channel. In addition, I had a modified old distortion pedal set in front of the amp. In the beginning of the solo, the guitar's volume was set low so the tone was clean. Then (around bar 15) the volume knob is turned to ten to get the overdrive and we enter the climax part. How aggressively I was plucking the notes during the solo had a great effect on the dynamics and overdrive as well.
My guitar solos tend to be mostly single-note oriented. In this solo however I wanted to leave the notes ringing in many places. You will find a few awkward fingerings on some of the simple lines. That is only because we want to be able to let the notes ring (bars 4-6, 9-13, 16, 22).
You can hear a lot of screaming harmonics happening during the bars 18 - 21. These are natural harmonics in unusual places. To get octave harmonic sanywhere around the neck you need to use your picking hand to do both the harmonic and the plucking of the note! Octave harmonics can always be found exactly half the way between the bridge (of vibrato bar) and the fret you press. So if you want an octave harmonic at the 17th fret you would need to do the harmonic exactly where the 29th fret would be. Many players use their forefinger for touching the harmonic and middle finger to pick the note.
MP3 - Audio Solo
Mika Tyyska is a guitar player from Finland. He`s best known for his work with the animated character Mr. Fastfinger. His GuitarShredShow.com web site gives guitar lessons in a highly entertaining game format.
His latest solo CD under the project name Mr. Fastfinger is entitled "The Way Of The Exploding Guitar".