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I got the chance to speak to him shortly before the gig, in the Golden Tulip hotel. The guitar lesson took place one month later, the 18th of June when Shawn was visiting a health center in Breukelen and staying in Holland for a few weeks.
The major part of the lesson was filled discussing pentatonic ideas and sequences. All the actual soundclips are posted as they were played by Shawn. No tape manipulation going on! This is a transcription of the full conversation.
It was a great pleasure talking to somebody who knows so much about music and art in general. When I was 10 I was re interested in it and picked up the guitar and..
I did a lot better on that instrument and I guess by the time I was about 12 I started playing around a lot in Memphis, Tennessee, a lot of club gigs, playing blues and rock music.
I joined them at about 14 years old and toured for about 4 years non-stop, playing Black Oak music, but also as different band members left, I ended up recruiting people that were friends of mine from Memphis. So by the time I was finished playing with them, four years later, it was all my old band mates from Memphis and we were interested in kind of fusion music and were big fans of U.
After that, I was so burned out from touring that I wanted to take some time off. So around 18 I took a few years off to study a lot of classical music and I was really tired of being on the road and stuff.
Then, the main thing that happened to me, was about 8 years ago, I met Jonas Hellborg, who I had known about for a long time, on his records with John McLaughlin and his solo bass records. And even we had some friends in common. They came to Memphis, I met them then, after they played with Yngwie they went on and made some records with Jonas and they were always trying to get me and Jonas together.
But for years, we kept missing each other. Can you tell me more about the Powers Of Ten album? Well, thank you. Well, you know, it seems people like it many years later and it.. I spent a long time at home making that and it came out really good.
And there were people selling it on E-bay, on the internet auction site. But things turned around and I, surprisingly, got a license from WB to re-release the album myself. On that album I really wanted to do one where I played everything. I did everything myself, all the engineering and mixing and I played all the instruments. So I played the drums with my fingers, on the keyboard keys. But that album was recorded in a very tiny little room in a house, like a ten-foot little room.
And the guitar amp was in the closet laughs On that album.. I like the sound of doubling guitars, so on a whole lot of, maybe most or all of the record practically all the guitars is actually two performances of the same lines panned from side to side. It gives it a real rich sound, I was careful to double things really close.. Do you use mainly guitars or do you prefer keyboards? Mostly keyboards. Actually, I usually write the keyboard parts first and put down drums and bass and usually guitar last.
I always wrote more on the keyboards. But some of the songs started out as guitar songs. For me, composing is pretty much the same as improvisation. What I would tend to do with the computer, that I used for sequencing all the instruments but the guitar, everything is all recorded in the computer.
The guitar is the only thing on tape on the whole album. What I would do is improvise at the piano, sometimes with layered sounds on the keyboard. And record it all and then take parts that I like out of it. Sometimes the very first time it was ever played. Like when I was improvising and some idea just came to me and I played it. So many of the compositions the actual performance that you hear itself was the performance in which the thing was conceived as part of an improvisation.
I heard another story about that of a Pat Metheny clinic I saw 10 years ago. Or take Jeff Beck. He just improvises 30 minutes into Pro Tools, they cut and past some nice riffs they like together with the engineer and work till something cool comes out and build songs around that.
I really like the last couple of Jeff Beck albums, too. All Indian music in based on vocals. Even the percussion parts are learned before hand as vocal parts. But it can also be done with frets, the main example of that is Srinivas.
He does that most successfully on the mandolin which is not an Indian instrument but he plays legitimate Indian classical music on it.
I had usually taken that as my model to try to play some Indian type things on the guitar, because the mandolin is fretted and the guitar is a fretted instrument, too. And so I just never really played slide. My idol on the mandolin is Srinivas. Me and Jonas did a concert with those two. We did a concert in San Diego about three weeks ago and Srinivas was amazing on the mandolin.
I heard all the records, loved them. When these musicians are not playing with Jonas and me, they play with Shakti as well. Mark Varney, yeah.. I he was a child psychologist at one time I heard.. I remember he would put sometimes disclaimers one some Legato releases, on a few of those samplers and Centrifugal Funk.
Centrifugal Funk.. That would have been a better idea for the record. He is very persuasive, and he would try to persuade me over and over. I never did it, I never agreed to do it. I wish I could erase that from history, at least that solo.
Pretty much everything. Then I would relearn it and double it along with it. What did you do to develop that kind of skill to such a high level? Any tips for players? So instead of physically practising moving the fingers, it would probably be more of a case of getting the mind sharper to think of things a certain way. I practised a whole lot when I was very young, between 10 and maybe even I used to practise.. I probably could be better if I did. About 14, 15 I started hearing some of his records and the fast sound he had when he played with his fingers on the piano, I had that early on in my head as a model of what I kind of wanted to sound, of what I wanted to hear out of the guitar.
And then the other big thing was; I saw Allan Holdsworth when I was about 14 in I never dreamed a guitar could be played like that and that really changed my whole life. There is a certain number of coordinations I think that can be taught that I talk about on my instructional video. Just different mathematical coordinations then can be used just as a ready-made involuntary kind of a reflex motion. It just helps to learn. And you have that together going up in pitch and going down in pitch and orient it with different numbers of notes per string, then almost any musical phrase you might need to learn, you might hear in your head you can execute because you already got the movements down as reflexes before.
I think that helps maybe in improvisation sometimes. But he was a big influence on Frank Zappa and I love Zappa records for a long time. Nancarrow had some amazing music that really turned my head around. Yeah, I tried to keep my two videos that I did to a pretty basic level because I had many ideas that I wanted to save for a more esthetic video that dealt with more things about musical values and expressive values with phrasing rather than just the mathematical coordination.
So I do hope to do that again pretty soon. As far as getting a book together, I probably will in coordination with some of my friends. I have a friend that plays bass with me sometimes and he is a good transcriber.
I get other people to do that as much as possible! Guitars, pedals, amps? I think he made a really quality instrument and has a unique idea with the kind of some sort of graphite, polymer, artificial material, carbon for a stabilizer in the neck, instead of a truss rod.
And the fretboard is also made of this compound. But the neck is wood, so it has a very wood feel, but you have the stability of the polymers. And also, some of the guitars that he made for me were very consistent and played very low action, real low on the guitar and real high on the guitar very consistent. It felt like a cool instrument. I had to get used to the metallic fretboard though.
Primarely to get more into the mandolin range, because I want to do more things that sound like Srinivas, you know. But the string was so thin that it used to break all the time so he went for a low B. But Lenny Breau really made great use of the 7 string with the extra high string.
Shawn Lane Style Licks
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Guthrie Govan on Shawn Lane
shawn lane - lane's licks (by guthrie govan).pdf
Guthrie Govan - Shawn Lane style licks lesson