30 years of guitar

Thirty years of guitar.

Brooklyn, New York.

In April 1984 at the age of 12, I picked up my father’s beat up acoustic guitar and set out how to learn how to play it. Up until I started guitar, I had dreamed of being a professional baseball player. Personally, I didn’t care for winning and losing, so I stopped playing organized baseball. Music seemed the way for me. I was passionate about learning and wanted to learn how to play guitar. At the very beginning, I took some informal “lessons” with a family friend, learned a few power chords and took off from there.

6 months into that, my uncle bought me my first electric guitar – an imitation Les Paul. I was so excited.

Marco Oppedisano - 13 years old

Then about a year later, I took 6 more months of lessons with another family friend (who was actually quite good) and then basically became self –taught. My youth was spent listening to hard rock, heavy metal and 80s shred. I practiced at least 4 hours a day. In my later teens I discovered jazz and fusion. This was a time before kids had a plethora of after-school activities to choose from. Would that have made a difference for me? All I know is that I lived to play guitar. I would often fall asleep playing it. It’s all I wanted to do.

I became one of those rock guitarists in my late teens who felt that I needed validation by learning classical guitar. There were many out there – longhaired metal heads plucking the nylon. (I didn’t have long hair though). So, right out of high school, I enrolled into the Brooklyn College Conservatory of Music as a classical guitar major. After 2 years of studying classical guitar, I eventually switched focus and finished with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Composition.

I managed to get in the conservatory as a primarily self-taught rock musician. I didn’t have the type of music background many conservatory students had. My parents were hard working Italian immigrants. They would ask me to sing while playing and I could never do it seriously. So, I made fun of Italian style folk songs. I played only two chords (D and A7) and improvised lyrics in Italian and broken English.

(Now as a band/guitar teacher, I can “sing” and play at the same time fairly well. I would have never imagined that happening. Life is funny.)

I wanted to play fast. I wanted to make noise. I loved feedback. I wanted to learn as much as possible about it. And as much as I loved the guitar, I learned that I hated it too. I fantasized smashing it into pieces. It was the perfect vehicle for my angst and sometimes it still is. I’m just not a kid anymore.

guitar 5.4.12 (1) alt

Long story short; I went on to get a Master’s Degree in Music Composition. After traveling some winding creative roads and getting lost too, I became a composer and use lots of guitar in my music (I have 4 albums available).

30 years of guitar and I see myself as a composer first and foremost.

Read some of my other blog posts to learn more about me and to hear my music.

http://www.marcooppedisano.net

Queens, New York.

Some electric guitar memories, feedback and a new piece

I’ve always had a fascination for electric guitar feedback. My first experiences go back to when I was around 13 –14 years old.  After many hours of intense practice (all I did was practice from the ages of 12-17), dealing with frustration and sore fingertips, I would turn the amp up as loud as possible allowing the guitar to howl and scream.  Then I discovered that I could manipulate the feedback by walking around the room and swirling the guitar around in the air. I also discovered that at certain spots in the room the feedback was very consistent and could get that long sustain to add to those certain held notes.

painting by Richard Whadcock

Here’s a link to my brand new piece utilizing electric guitar feedback, Fractured Sky (2012). The sounds in this piece come mostly from electric guitar with the addition of a few percussion samples. The painting above is by the British artist Richard Whadcock. Click the photo to check out his wonderful artwork.

Both recording sessions for these pieces involved recording electric guitar feedback at a very loud volume.  For me these compositions are not only about the finished result, but about the process. A reliving of those youthful electric guitar feedback experiments and sculpting them into compositions. It’s the stuff that keeps me drawn to the electric guitar and makes me want to keep playing and wrenching sounds out of it.

Hope you like these pieces.  I still have some feedback experimenting left to do..