Producer/guitarist John March continues with his arrangement lesson series of the legendary Ted Greene.
Last month I wrote a piece about having been a student of Ted Greene’s and wanting to help folks understand how to learn and play his solo Guitar arrangements. You can read that article HERE.
I was fortunate to have studied with Ted for a long time and what he offered those of us lucky enough to have studied with him was so much more than just “guitar lessons”.
He was first and foremost an incredibly kind and generous human being.
If nothing else I learned by example his gift of mentoring and basic kindness as a root aspect of all things music. His focus and efforts to master the instrument were unbelievable and his generosity of spirit was evident in every kind word and his willingness to support and encourage all of his students no matter what level of ability or style of music. His interest was helping his students, as human beings, to express themselves more deeply through music.
The link to my full recording is found HERE:
I have had decades to try and digest even just a small part of what Ted showed me. The main areas I learned as a musician from Ted were about approaches to understanding harmony in application on the instrument. Applications in the areas of: accompaniment, arrangements and solo guitar.
Now, in general, a lot of focus on Ted tends to lean towards his immense chord vocabulary and his use of seemingly impossible chords. My experience was that he just dove deep and had a relentless sense of curiosity and an amazing ability to catalog and organize his explorations. The truly extraordinary thing was that all that information was available to him through his ears and his hands. Ted once told me, “You can play one of three ways; you can let your ears run the show, your hands or your mind.” I think Ted had all three going at once, and that is why his playing and his teaching inspired so many.
In this article I would like to look at his arrangement of “The Look of Love”.
Before I start a couple of simple technical things: Ted’s arrangements, were written in his unique block style diagram, although if you look on his site (http://tedgreene.com/), you can see that a number of these lessons and arrangements have been notated in standard notation against the visual diagram style that he works with. If you are only working with one of his arrangements like this one that is notated in his style the basic idea is that there is a fundamental playing order to the notes based around the structure of the song and especially the melody. Black dots are played first followed by circles, x’s, then square, then triangle.
Knowing the melody of the song obviously is very important and understanding that Ted is trying to approach this from the point of view that the song is being sung by the soprano voice of the instrument and that the accompaniment and inner lines are supporting that melody and it’s all happening as one thing on a solo guitar. The way I learned Ted’s arrangements is I actually break it down into the smallest possible pieces and play that over and over again. In other words, I will look at the first one or two chords and learn to play them in sequence and then I will move onto the next one or two chords. I try and keep a singing or vocal quality to the melody and I try and keep a good sense of time unless I’m intentionally playing rubato.
Attached you will find a copy of his written arrangement and a link to my recording of his arrangement of “The Look of Love”. I have said this before, but I am most certainly not a solo guitarist and so I try and put Ted’s arrangements into contexts where I can play the song. In this
Take a look at his arrangement, listen to my recording, and if you have questions I will look forward to answering them as best I can – ZenGuitarGuy.
For me the most important thing is to try and keep Ted’s music alive and vital because I think that what he was offering was a very dynamic approach to exploring the instrument and being able to really find your own voice through harmony and melody on guitar.
The link to my full recording is found HERE:
PS I recorded this tribute CD, where I attempted to interpret some of his extraordinary solo guitar arrangements as a recording, and that was released as a tribute to Ted with the approval of his partner Barbara. You can find out more information about that HERE: Also, my second Ted Greene tribute CD, which I have been working on for the past two years, should be coming out in the middle of January and has some amazing collaborators from all around the world participating in this new exploration of Ted’s work and I will post more about that down the road.