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 Jazz and nylon string guitar

( a finger picking steel string acoustic or electric guitar player might pick up ideas as well!)

It’s really nice to use the pure sound of the nylon string guitar. I guess that when we use it, we aim for this warm natural sound. We can not impress like we can with electric guitar with itīs big sound and the possiblities to borrow easily from heavy metal or rock. We can, but it has to be more subtle. We can "impress" though with many subtleties. We can colour the sound, we can be very conscientious about what strings to resonate, we can use the sound board and we can easily adapt ideas and techniques from flamenco and classical guitar.

For an improviser it’s really great to have an understanding of blues and jazz and even funk and rock / heavy metal. We can get many ideas from that world. Also it makes it easier to find people to improvise with. Most improvisers come from the jazz tradition.

We have to study at least some jazz standards in different styles and also know how to play blues. It’s a very rich tradition and it takes quite a lot of afford and time to feel comfortable playing well jazz. First we have to listen a lot to it and like it.

For a nylons string finger picking guitarist I think it is good to study jazz - guitar as well as jazz-piano. We can think much more in depended voices and choose chords with separated strings the when using a pick for example. We can use one line melody playing like most electric rock and many jazz - guitarists do, but one line melody, especially in solo playing is not  as effective as on electric guitar, since the tone stops so quickly.


To get practical: (practical exercises will follow)

- Ralph Towner wrote a great study book, where he proposes great exercises, especially concerning rhytm and right hand techique. Listening to him, solo or in his group     Oregon is a great source of inpiration.

- Study finger pick style, blues and jazz, wit the tipical walking bass. Arrange jazz standards or invent blues pieces involving a walkin bass.

- Play chord melody, (there are many online lessons about the subject to be found in internet)

- Arrange soloing in a way that you combine one line melodies, bass lines and chords in an interesting way. Examples you find here:

   1 easy for beginners,

   2 more advanced.

- memorize jazz standards, which you like and listen to versions especuially with piano, to get ideas.

- study existing licks and compose new ones and make play along recordings and practice along those. which will help to be prepared to play with other people

- find other musicians to play with and compose and / or arrange in a way the classical guitar fits well.

- study different kinds of scales (major, minor, blues, modes, bebop) in a creative musical way



But don`t forget: jazz standards are not the only vehicles for improvisation!  Guitarists can ofcourse also base their improvisations on for example the studies of Leo Brouwer, Ferran Sors or the valses by Antonio Lauro to start with. And doīt forget simple childrenīs songs, pop songs, tango, Irish folk and if you want contemporary composers like Stockhausen or Ligetti.....