Go Down To The Crossroads – Combining Passions With Guitar

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Combining your love of guitar with your other passions

Kaki King learned drums when she was but a wee lass, and the ability to have each hand working independently led her to play the guitar in unusual ways.

Charlie Christian was inspired by jazz horn players like Lester Young, and mimicked what he heard them doing on the then-new electric guitar.

Tom Waits loves roots music and Bukowski.

Steve Vai suggests that beginning guitarists use violin or saxophone books for practice reading notation.

The boys in Black Flag listened omnivorously. Henry Rollins is an outspoken fan of ZZ Top, Madonna, and jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal, among others.

Marc Ribot, who works often with the likes of Tom Waits and John Zorn, has drawn from surf rock, latin rhythms, and noise.

Experimental guitarist FredFrith – influenced by appreciation for Japanese, Balinese, and Eastern European music.

Gypsy-jazz pioneer Django Reinhardt was inspired to play jazz by listening to Louis Armstrong records.

Django loved Louis’s work so much that he referred to the trumpeter as “My brother.”

Dick Dale had heard his uncle play Miserlou on an oud as a youngster, and adapted the song to his fast-firing guitar style. That surf rock sound, by the way, was inspired by his love of surfing.

Nothing new happens in a vacuum. Want to stand out? Want to create something new and exciting and uniquely yours? Combine your loves. Use what you know from another genre of music. Or drumming. Or knitting. Or painting. Whatever it is that you love, find the intersection where that connects with your fretboard.

Go down to the crossroads.

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Nicholas Tozier

Nicholas Tozier is a book hoarder and songbird from the woods of Maine. In 2012 he made a small cameo in Songwriting Without Boundaries by Berklee professor Pat Pattison, and was named one of CDBaby’s top 10 Songwriting Resources to follow on Twitter.

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