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Tim May's L.A. Scene
Tim May's Bio
This month I'd like to address the subject of what roles guitar players take when there are two or more guitarists on a recording session. Perhaps the easiest way to make my points is to present a few different scenarios. As I've said before, each session is unique and has to be approached accordingly, so these are general rules of thumb. (No pun intended!)
It should be noted here that "First Guitar" doesn't necessarily mean the most important, most featured, most difficult or most ANYTHING. Oftentimes it's just a way of referring to or identifying the part. I remember doing a motion picture with the late Tommy Tedesco. Tom developed a reputation for his beautiful and lyrical nylon-string playing, and we were doing a long piece for two nylon acoustics with a big orchestra. At this time I was fairly new in the business, and Tom was already a legend- so naturally, he played the first-chair book. His part was a single-string, rather easy melody to which he brought his usual beautiful musical flare and style. The second part was an extremely complex accompaniment part, all written out with big chords and arpeggios-WAY more difficult than Tom's. I was very proud of my performance but of course, Tom was the featured player, so at the end- everybody made a big deal about the great solo guitar! However, the knowing nod I received from Tom made me feel great!
The secret to a successful ensemble performance is to stay out of each other's way, and find a part that is complimentary to the overall musical picture. There is nothing worse than an individual player trying to show off by playing too much, leaving no room for anyone else, or playing the same type of part as another player. It's all about making the most supportive musical contribution, and not about your ego. You'll get your chance to shine!
'til next time,
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