Linear Artistry

Linear Artistry

These are wonderful studies, composed by William Bay, son of Mel Bay. I highly recommend them for developing tone, phrasing, articulation, and technique. I intend to record a few of them, and they will appear below.

More details of the book can be found on the Mel Bay website. Please note that I have an interview with William Bay HERE.

These are not lines to use for improv, but there’s much more to jazz, I believe, than improv.

Reading – there are over fifty pieces, and most of them  seem to cover most of the fretboard. They are largely unfingered, so you will naturally make choices as you go. Overall, I imagine your reading skills would definitely improve by playing one a day.

Phrasing – I hope you can hear how in my interpretation I am carving out phrases? None of this is notated, and there are no recordings to accompany the book. I found myself greatly enjoying the challenge of working out phrase lengths, adjusting tone and volume as I went. Good for anyone’s musicianship, I’d say.

Tone – mentioned already under phrasing, I found myself thinking a lot about tone production for different phrases, to help delineate the architecture, which helps to make the overall performance more 3D.

Dynamics – none are indicated, but I think you can hear in my performances how important I think good control of dynamics is. Often I hear jazz players play with a limited dynamic range. Not everyone, of course. But many of us could increase the dynamic range a little.

Technique – you will need a good pick technique to play these pieces. Since I started studying these etudes, I have found myself changing my RH grip slightly. The pieces are helping me analyse how I play, and how that could be more efficient. I imagine most players would improve their technique by playing one of these pieces at the required tempo (metronome markings are given).

I’m sure most of us would become better musicians, better readers, and better technicians through a daily study of these pieces. Acoustic players especially need to develop a very subtle technique, capable of nuance as well as a wide-dynamic range, and I find my own playing improving in these areas through study of these pieces.

EDIT: “You did a wonderful job and I loved the tone.” William Bay

Here I discuss my interpretation of these pieces:

Pleased to report the composer’s reaction to the above: “You played it perfectly and your interpretation was right on spot.  I sincerely appreciate your artistry and your performance of these etudes.  I think your teaching was very good and covered lots of important points for the aspiring guitarist to ponder.”


Almost got the next one in a first take!

Finally, one in a major key. it has the feeling of a carefree, sunny day: