Hello to everybody, This is my first post here although I have been following the forum for quite a while! I’ve been playing blues and rock on guitar for years and. This garbage pick four-string tenor guitar accompanies Kurt on “Polish Song” (” The Guitarteachers and authors of guitar methods like to argue over what the ” best” here allows for example in the book “Intervallic Improvisation – The Modern. Learn how to play 5 cool guitar licks in the style of Kurt Rosenwinkel.
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Two days spent with my former Berklee fellow Kurt Rosenwinkel and a workshop at the Musikhochschule Leipzig, Germany khrt May gave ample opportunity to ten years later cherish memories of Boston, to talk for hours about music, guitar playing and more.
Insights are to be shared. Here are some of the highlights that may be of particular interest to guitar players: Guitars Since the beginning of his professional career in Gary Burton’s Methodd in Kurt has favored semi-acoustic guitars.
The Kurt Rosenwinkel Forum » Topic: Guitar method book suggestions for newbie!
For his latest work as a leader “Enemies Of Energy”, he employed guifar red Gibson and a purely acoustic nylonstring of unknown brand, bought for guiar by bass player Ben Street in Turkey. Currently Kurt plays a stock black Epiphone Emperor Yearequipped with a standard kut. Among his many guitars there is ,urt one, that he has stayed faithful to through all the years.
On sunny days during his stint in Boston he could be sighted sitting in front of Berklee’s Mass. Ave building with “Stella”.
According to Kurt its alternate tuning is not permanently fixed and changes according to weather conditions. Effects and amps Although rooted in the jazzguitar tradition Kurt distinguishes himself from other guitarists of his generation by an openness to technology and new sounds. His preference for semi-acoustic guitars, with an emphasis in the midrange, stems from a highly developed sense for sonic balance within his trios.
According to Kurt a darker sounding guitar runs the risk of conflicting with the bass, even when played in a higher register. From his guitar Kurt runs his signal through a RAT distortion pedal such as the one used by Scofieldgoing into a Line 6 Delay, followed by a Lexicon MPX effect processor of its many programs Kurt almost exclusively uses a “hall” or “large plate” reverb and finally amplified by a Polytone bassamp with a 15′ speaker from the 80’s. To Kurt’s ears older Polytone amps sound much better than newer models.
In line with general arms reduction his set-up from cold roswnwinkel Berklee days with poweramp and Boogie speakers has given way to simple one amp weaponry. For recording Kurt likes to have his amp miked with rosenwinlel single microphone. On some recordings an additional mike captures his falsetto voice that he employs to accompany his lines as well as the top notes of his voicings in unisonconsidered by Kurt an integral part of his sound.
Technique Watching Kurt play up close quickly shows that he has thoroughly dealt rosenwinkek all aspects of the instrument. It might be noteworthy that he seems to be playing lines mostly with the first three fingers of his left hand, with khrt middle finger serving as an anchor from which he frequently stretches towards the saddle.
Horizontally and vertically the guitar seems to bear no more technical secrets for him. For fast arpeggios he likes to use hammer on’s with his ringfinger. A very sovereign picking hand complements his brilliant left hand technique.
Guitarteachers and authors of guitar methods like to argue over what the “best” right hand picking technique is. After many years of practicing Kurt has come to the conclusion that playing from the elbow for speedfrom the wrist for positioning the picking hand over the strings as mwthod as from the fingers for articulation all have their individual advantages. Asked by my astute and unforgiving students about his pinky that he likes to rest on the picking guard, Kurt replies that this is something that does indeed tend to tighten up his right hand on faster tempos and that he is working on changing that.
Luckily my students seemed content with this answer Chordal playing Kurt frequently plays chords with a combination rosenwinkeo fingers and his pick held between thumb and indexfinger. Many full voicings are accomplished with his left-hand thumb reaching around the neck. Thank God my students didn’t notice Kurt never practices technique as an isolated issue. Rather he likes to combine technical studies with a musical challenge.
He constantly invents his own exercises that he continuously develops. Some systematic practicing in rozenwinkel traditional sense stood at the beginning of Kurt’s career such as for example playing modes in position in all keys. Kurt remembers practicing scales, various patterns i. Apparently this form of practice still offers a good starting point to familiarize oneself with the architecture of the fingerboard. Improvisation With a smile Kurt quotes the most frequently asked question by students and at workshops as being: Very often, the person asking this question would also turn out to know impressive three standards Even though Kurt acknowledges harmonic analysis and substitution as very interesting topics Kurt continues to recommend to such students to rather first memorize as many standards as possible.
Every jazz standard offers something different and interesting harmonically and melodically. Also every memorized standard offers added opportunities to employ substitutions. Which leaves only one question: What substitutions does Kurt favor? To me Kurt among many other notable musical distinctions is a big fan of triads.
The Music of Kurt Rosenwinkel: Pentatonics
Over a given chord Kurt seems to frequently employ triads from the first, fourth and fifth degree of the relative major or minor key. Rosenwikel first couple of measures of his solo over “How Deep Is the Ocean” on “Intuit” exemplify this pretty well. Piano and saxophone players commonly use this concept.
Kurt considers it common knowledge of any modern soloist and accordingly employs it with great command. This approach is dealt with in more detail than space here allows for example in the book “Intervallic Improvisation – The Modern Sound: This mathematically constructed collection of intervallic octave divisions can be found in many ambitious musicians bookshelf. How to use them in an organized way or let’s say a standard remains a mystery to many. Kurt admittedly is also still trying to solve that puzzle.
However he likes the Slonimsky patterns as a “different way to look at the guitar” and would quickly quote a few. John Coltrane should also be cited as a strong influence on Kurt. He recalls transcribing Coltrane’s solos on “Satellite”, “Oleo” and “Airegin”.
Three tonic compositions such as the classic “Giant Steps” have been part of Kurt’s repertoire since Berklee days. He says that in the last couple of years he hasn’t transcribed much but still considers it a worthwhile occupation. Among his idols are also piano legends such as Bud Powell and Keith Jarrett, which as Kurt puts offer certain aspects in their playing that he tries to emulate.
Interestingly he never practices singlenote lines and chords as different items but rather mixes them and treats them as an entity, which also makes for his individual sound and a pianistic approach. Voicings What a surprise it was to me when Kurt with a big grin on his face reached in his guitar bag and took out an old at least 15 years chord melody arrangement. Oddly enough I knew this one and that it had come straight from a rusty metal drawer in the Berklee Guitar Department no offense – I loved Berklee.
That an experienced player such as Kurt still keeps an open unprejudiced mind in my opinion very much speaks for him. If there is a unified field theory a topic that Kurt also likes to discuss on playing jazzguitar maybe the formula is that musical modesty equals success. Beside an intense study of harmony in general mostly learning by doing and working with standards Kurt has also been working with the late George Van Eps’ “Harmonic Mechanisms For Guitar”.
This New York telephone directory style bible mostly addresses triads and all their permutations on various stringsets. In connection with this method Kurt mentions the study of triads from harmonic minor as well as various possibilities for the movement of inner voices as particularly interesting to him.
In his playing you will indeed encounter a lot of triads, doublestops etc. Another one of his personal exercises consists of playing a different voicing on every quarter or half note over a standard progression.
The Kurt Rosenwinkel Forum » Topic: Guitar method book suggestions for newbie!
Kurt is also a devoted piano player. His mother a classically trained pianist and father who is an Architect and plays piano as a hobby instilled in him a love for improvisation early on. His love for the piano is evident. Various humorous stories have been witnessed such as wild hotel lobby fights over who gets the piano while touring with drummer Jorge Rossy If you do let him touch the keys it’ll be some time before you can get him off again.
In the meantime you might be treated to pieces by Thelonious Monk or a version of “Eyes So Beautiful As Yours” by Elmo Hope, whose chromaticism and controlled dissonance he admires. Kurt says and when you listen closely you can hear it that many of his ideas wander from piano to guitar and vice versa.
Alternative Tunings Kurt reports that at a certain point his knowledge about voicings led him into a crisis. To have a certain collection of voicings for every harmony, and a sound you already internally hear before you actually play it, would eventually make it redundant to still play it. Out of a discontent over letting the fingers dictate which voicing would be played he chose voluntary selfsabotage and started to randomly retune his guitar.
Anyone who has ever tried this will know that one twist of a tuning peg can turn you into a beginner in an instant. Just like the first time you touched a guitar all you have is yours ears to rely on – and that’s exactly what Kurt’s intention was. Many years and attempts later some tunings have emerged that Kurt likes to use again and again. His favorite tuning from low to high e-String would be: Eb down a halfstepBb halfstep lowerAb a whole step higherDb halfstep lowerG a whole step lower and Bb down a tritone.
An interesting observation with this tuning may be the possibility to realize whole and halfsteps between the “G” and “B”-string fairly easily and a much fuller sound.
Upon closer examination “only” three out of six strings really change.
E, B and D-string are keeping their relative relation but are gaining warmth through their “flat-key” tuning. His next album on Verve will feature this tuning and several compositions that he rosenwinke with it. Composition Even before the release of his CD “The Enemies Of Energy” of whose ten originals he wrote nine, Kurt had gained respect among musicians for his skills as a composer.
For Kurt composing usually starts with some kind of discovery.
He likens the process to opening a door. Some of his songs stem from improvisational exercises. The result is a twelve-measure form going through twelve keys. The frequently encountered reservations that many students and some guirar musicians alike seem to have about their own original compositions are not a problem for Kurt.
He simply says that: Practicing To Kurt practicing creatively is the key to everything. He takes the conventional and often quoted wisdom that you play what you practice very seriously: Playing the metjod means practicing your mental state of mind.
I mean really a lot. When I hit on something that I’m not really familiar with, I stop and work on it.