Meditations for the Electric Guitarist


Meditations for the Electric Guitarist is a long buried labor of love, a book I put together in about 2001. Through some prodding by students, technical and artistic input of generous friends, and the majesty of desktop publishing software, the thing has been resurrected. Below is the intro to the book. If you’d like to order a real paper copy or a Kindle download, please head over to Amazon.


Introduction (or, Address of Potential Grievances)

Meditations for the Electric Guitarist was inspired by legendary works like Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier and Chopin’s 24 Preludes, Op. 28. Lofty company, right? Hear me out: Similar to those titanic pieces, this is a collection of studies in each major and minor key, focusing on a range of techniques specific to the instrument.

To play these 24 ditties, you’ll need to navigate the neck, weaving through loads of arpeggio and scale forms, using alternate, hybrid and sweep picking, hammer-ons, pull offs, string skipping, slides, bends, double stops, harmonics—you know, all the techniques you need to brush up on.

But, you may still be asking …

Bach and Chopin? That’s classical music. Is this classical music?
Ehh, not really. The Meditations are musical compositions built around melodic themes and variations, so they might resemble classical music, but this is definitely not classical guitar, if that’s what you mean. That’s a whole other discipline.

Why “for the electric guitarist?” Can I play the Meditations on acoustic?
Sure, do what you like. The pieces were conceived for—and written on—electric guitar, so they contain notes that are difficult to reach on a typical acoustic guitar and feature techniques that are more easily executed on electric.

What about on other instruments?
With the exception of a couple of techniques, I don’t see why not. In fact, now I’m really psyched to hear some of these on marimba …

How, exactly, are theses “meditations?”

The 24 pieces of music here are, again, pieces of music. Yes, they’re meant to develop technical faculties, but the Meditations also meant to be heard. This means you should listen to the melodies as they move by and pay attention to details of tempo and dynamic. Focus your mind, in other words. That’s meditation.

Really, though—why in every major and minor key?
Part of the point of the Meditations is to explore keys you don’t frequently encounter in guitar-oriented music. Sure, D major and E minor are represented, but so are relative outliers like Ab major and D# minor. Get to know your neck like never before and go fearlessly into any harmonic situation! Get to it.

If you’d like to read about how the book came back to life, click here to read “Resurrecting Meditations,” a detailed blog with nice pictures.