• Nick Mulvey - I Dont Want To Go Home - Guitar Patterns - Ep9

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    The debut album 'First Mind' is out now:
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    When it comes to guitar playing I think of the fingers on my right-hand as a whole band. My thumb is the bassist, my index finger is the keys player and my third and fourth fingers are like a horn section. Sort of. Interlocking lines of music, simple on their own but complex in combination, have fascinated me since I started playing music as a teenager (and I think I even liked them as a young kid but never knew it). What I love is musical lines that weave together to make a unified whole whether they be in human voices (think Central African Pygmy 'hocketing'), euphoric synthesizer music (Charanjit Singh style) or in American minimalist classical music like Steve Reich. And although I've always been spellbound by this principle its hard to really explain why. Maybe its because music with interwoven parts tends to groove well- the act of weaving lines implies a forward motion and brings an animation to the music that gives it flow. Or maybe its something to do with the magic of witnessing separate parts combine to create a complete thing. To me an 'aliveness' sparks, an extra thing becomes, when parts are put together in such a way as to makes the sum creation greater than these parts alone. Whatever the reason it's no wonder that when I first heard African guitar players I flipped. Ali Farka Toure became an obsession, then Jean Mwenda Bosco, then D'gary, each one leading me to other guitarists from their countries (Mali, Congo and Madagascar respectively) and on to the older musics and instruments (and eventually techniques) that pre-dated the guitar (like the kora, the balafon, the mbria and the vahli). Wonderful, euphoric sounds filled my ears and the more I listened the more my already cyclical guitar playing became evermore repetitive and hypnotic. Listening to these sounds also cemented another feature in my playing- the use of texture as a key agent in creating 'event' and 'direction' in the music. Rather than using a harmonic development in my songs (like a pre-chorus or a bridge) I'll more often use a variation in the thickness or thinness of the interlocking lines instead. I might pull out my thumb (which, as the plucker of the lowest notes, normally plays 'on' the beat) and create a syncopated tension in its absence, a musical vacuum that the listener's ear wants filling in- and I'll duly oblige when the chorus drops. (And because i've always loved hip-hop, i'll bring that 'drop' in on the last beat of the bar before so we all feel that good head-nod. Uh huh). My listening adventures also took me to North Africa and the Gnawa tradition, to Pakistan and the Qawwali music of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and co, to the Santo Daime songs of Brazil, to the Blues guitar greats, flamenco, English folk and on... Each left their mark. Combine this with a diet of the song-based popular music upon which we all basically grew up and that begins to cover some of the strands in what i'm doing. But to do it, and do it originally, I have to switch off to all the external endeavour and let it coalesce inside me, into something of my own. Then I get back to those weaving lines...
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