Solo electric guitar improvisations

For the last two years or so, I’ve spent some time improvising for solo electric guitar.

These improvisations are spur of the moment, a kind of of thinking out loud – a process maybe leading to something more structured in the future. I enjoy it and it’s a healthy contrast to the sometimes obsessive nature that occurs (for me at least) during composing and recording.

The improvisations are free-form and tend to focus on a particular scale or mode with some bluesy playing included (no matter where I’ve gone creatively in my life, I always return to some form of rock/blues playing). So, there is no emphasis on swing or improvising on a tune like in a traditional jazz improvisation. I’m just plugging straight in, letting my fingers and ears go, focusing more on the sound of the instrument, with emphasis on articulation, dynamics and expression.

As the years have passed and having become known as an electroacoustic or experimental composer/guitarist (with 4 albums to date), I’ve gradually become more interested in conventional guitar technique and tuneful in my note selection in general. I’m also interested in making some serious noise, and yet be able to play traditionally, melodically and beautifully too.

Come to think of it, these solo improvisations might be part of the process for that solo guitar album I’ve thought about making for quite some time now.

Now, for a few videos of my improvisations.

A solo el. guitar improvisation from a week ago:

From February 2013:

Another one from February 2013:

From 2 years ago:

Thanks for watching and listening.

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$100 Guitar Project

The $100 Guitar Project 2 CD was released on Bridge Records, Inc this January. To read all about the project, go to: http://www.100dollarguitar.com. Also, important to mention is that royalties on every sale will be paid directly to CARE, a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty.

It all started in October 2010 and I found about the project a month later. In January 2011, I picked up the guitar from Elliott Sharp in downtown NYC, had it for a week in Sunnyside, Queens and then dropped it off with Ron Anderson (PAK) in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

pickup from Elliott Sharp, January 2011 (downtown NYC)

pickup from Elliott Sharp, January 2011 (downtown NYC)

dropoff to Ron Anderson, January 2011 (Park Slope, Brooklyn)

dropoff to Ron Anderson, January 2011 (Park Slope, Brooklyn)

I’ve always believed that the player makes the guitar. My first impression of the $100 guitar was that, yes, it was a real cheapo, but found that it had a good amount of resonance, was a bit quirky and a lot of character. I was taken aback by the unusually long headstock. Actually, I hated how that looked.

So, I plucked around and thought, what kind of sounds can I get on this thing? After some thought, it came to me to compose a piece that incorporated all kinds of sounds from the instrument. This approach is not too far off from what I’ve done in the past. But with writing a short piece (a little over 2 minutes), I had to find a compelling way (at least to me) to demonstrate these sounds in a short amount of time without coming off contrived.

So, I plugged it in and with the help of a Boss GT-6 multi effects processor, and some alligator clips, I got to work. Recorded a few improvisations and grabbed a bunch of samples…

What we end up with is a piece called Red Cent. The title inspired by it being a $100 red guitar. Cent means a hundred in French. And the phrase, “Not worth a red cent.” Anyway, you get the idea…

Red Cent Pro Tools session February 2011

my signature

My signature right below the high E string – now slightly worn.

After having listened to the 2CD a few times already, I am so impressed with what is a wonderful variety of music (65 players = 69 tracks. Wow). Special thanks go out to Nick Didkovsky and Charles O’Meara for coming up with this great idea. I enjoy visualizing that guitar being passed around having traveled over 30,000 miles and hearing all the great sounds coming from it. I got to see it again just a few weeks ago at the CD listening party in NYC. It still amazes me that it is still in one piece.

Hear an excerpt of my $100 Guitar piece, Red Cent:

To purchase the 2CD album: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AEDZB5M/ or
https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/$100-guitar-project/id591609723

$100 Guitar Project 2CD

with my 6 1/2 month old daughter, Jillian Maisie, January 2011 (Sunnyside, Queens, NYC)

with my then 6 1/2 month old daughter, Jillian Maisie, January 2011 (Sunnyside, Queens, NYC)

Marco Oppedisano $100 gtr (1)

Marco Oppedisano $100 gtr (2)

List of $100 Guitar Project participants:

Alex Skolnick, David Starobin, Elliott Sharp, Mike Keneally, Barry Cleveland, Fred Frith, Henry Kaiser, Mark Hitt, Keith Rowe, Nels Cline, Andy Aledort, Hillary Fielding, John Shiurba, Karl Evangelista, Phil Burk, Ray Kallas, Janet Feder, Thomas Dimuzio, Julia Miller, Chris Murphy, Chuck O’Meara, Marty Carlson, Shawn Persinger, Kai Niggemann, Steve MacLean, Ken Field, Roger Miller, Michael Bierylo, Bill Brovold, Larry Polansky, Biota Bill Sharp, Ava Mendoza, Amy Denio, Bruce Eisenbeil, Caroline Feldmeier, Colin Marston, David Linaburg, Hans Tammen, James Moore, Jesse Krakow, Jesse Kranzler, Joe Bouchard, Jon Diaz, Josh Lopes, Kobe Van Cauwenberghe, Marco Cappelli, Marco Oppedisano, Joe Berger, Mark Solomon, Mark Stewart, Mike Lerner, Nick Didkovsky, Rhys Chatham, Ron Anderson, Taylor Levine, Tom Marsan, Greg Anderson, Han-earl Park, Del Rey, Teisco Del Rey, Matt Wilson, Bruce Zeines, Toon Callier/Zwerm, Juan Parra, and Wiek Hijmanns.