Portrait of Dr Richard Perks

Dr Richard Perks

Lecturer in Music Performance

About

Rich is a guitarist, composer and musicologist. He is one of Europe’s leading exponents of the fretless electric guitar, has extensive live, studio and theatre experience in the commercial industry, and has performed all over the world. He continues to be in great demand as a session guitarist, playing much contemporary, experimental, improvised and World music. His debut album Imposition (2009) received critical acclaim and his music has been performed internationally.
Rich completed a PhD at Brunel University in 2013, submitting a portfolio of compositions and an accompanying thesis entitled Combining Musical Identities through Composition and Improvisation; this practice-based research addressed the construction of compositional methodologies for improvising musicians, primarily working with performers from non-congruent musical backgrounds and cultures. Prior to this he was awarded an MMus in Contemporary Music from Brunel University, a first-class BMus in Popular Music Performance from the Guitar Institute (London College of Music) and a first-class BSc in Mathematics from the University of Southampton. Rich has studied guitar with Shaun Baxter and Mike Outram; composition with Christopher Fox, Colin Riley and Peter Weigold; improvisation with Richard Barrett; and songwriting with Ray Davies (The Kinks).
He recorded guitars on Iranian pop-rock artist Ali Azimi's albums Mr. Mean (2013), Till Glory Finds Us (2016) and Of Love and Other Evils (2019), and was a member of the live line-up throughout both the 2014/15 and 2016/17 promotional world-tours. In 2017 he was commissioned by Diaspora Arts Connection to lead Strung Together, an intercultural collaborative performance project in San Francisco (US), which brought together virtuosic musicians from Syria, Iran, Kurdistan, US and UK. In 2019 he was awarded a research scholarship to visit Istanbul Technical University to exchange ideas about microtonal applications in guitar performance with Prof. Dr. Tolgahan Çoǧulu, as well as study privately with fretless guitar master Cenk Erdoǧan.
His improvisation-based group vLookup Trio have performed across the UK and Europe; comprising Andy Hall (trumpet), Tom Atherton (percussion) and Rich (fretless electric guitar), the band explores the sonic possibilities of an otherwise limited instrumentation by incorporating technological solutions (including instrumental augmentation, effects processing and additional live electronics). Rich also plays regularly with the Andrew Linham Jazz Orchestra and a variety of World music ensembles.

Research interests

Rich’s current research interests include the extended performance possibilities of the fretless electric guitar, guitar-focused musicology/analysis, the combination of composition with improvisation, and intercultural collaboration. Recent publications have addressed aspects of modern-day electric guitar performance and practical approaches to music-cultural hybridity (see KAR list below).  

His ongoing research project Fretless Architecture explores the potential of the fretless electric guitar as a solo instrument, as well as examining its role within different ensembles. More specifically, this work engages newly commissioned performance repertoire (via international calls for scores), the development of new techniques and original notation specific to the fretless electric guitar, technological augmentation (expressly the use of effects pedals, loops, EBow, laptops, sound-manipulation and so forth), building relationships with composers, improvisation, and intercultural collaborations (through performing modern hybrid-embodiments of musics which utilise microtonal tuning systems). 

He is a member of the artistic peer-review committee for 21st Century Guitar – Unconventional Approaches to Performance, Composition and Research Conference (Universidade NOVA de Lisboa, Portugal, 2021).

Teaching

Rich demonstrates a thorough commitment to teaching and learning. He possesses a Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education and is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
In 2018 Rich and Ruth Herbert won the University of Kent’s Humanities Faculty Teaching Prize (1st) for: The Integration of Peer-Review, Reflective Feedback, and Reflexivity into the Teaching and Assessment of Music Performance.

Professional

Selected Commercial Live Performance and Studio Recording (guitar):

  • vLookup Trio (2019). Dutch Fretless Guitar Festival VIII – Amsterdam [Concert]
  • Ali Azimi. Of Love and Other Evils. Recorded and commercially released, 2019 [CD]
  • Andrew Linham Jazz Orchestra. Weapons of Mass Distraction. Recorded and commercially released, 2017 [CD]
  • Ali Azimi and The Need (2016/17). Til Glory Finds Us – World Tour [Concert Series]
  • Ali Azimi and The Need. Til Glory Finds Us. Recorded and commercially released, 2016 [CD]
  • Andrew Linham Jazz Orchestra (2016). Theme Music of Anarchic Animals – National Tour, UK [Concert Series]
  • Ali Azimi and The Need (2014/15). Mr. Mean – World Tour [Concert Series]
  • Ali Azimi and The Need. Mr. Mean. Recorded and commercially released, 2013 [CD]
  • Ali Azimi and The Need (2013) – Eldfestern, Sweden [Concert]
  • Dr. Funkenstein’s Groove Coalition (2007) – Dunestock, Qatar [Concert]
  • Twelve Tenors ft. Jonathan Ansell, (2007) – Le Grande Sport, Monte Carlo [Concert Series]
  • Matti Caspi (2006) – London Metropole, UK [Concert]
  • Various Artists (2006) – O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, UK [Concert]
  • SUJO (2003) – Montreux Jazz Festival, Switzerland [Concert]
  • SUJO (2002) – North Sea Jazz Festival & National Tour, Netherlands [Concert] 

Publications

Article

  • Perks, R. (2019). Fretless Architecture: Towards the Development of Original Techniques and Musical Notation Specific to the Fretless Electric Guitar. Music & Practice [Online] 4. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.32063/0401.
    This article discusses the development of original performance techniques specific to the fretless electric guitar through diverse musical practice(s) and proposes a standardised system of musical notation. An autoethnographic account of personal performance experience is framed with reference to theoretical constructs of performative practice and collaborative creativity. The article focuses on the process behind an evolving practice: combining practical and theoretical aspects of contemporary music performance, and demonstrating that the collation, archiving and subsequent dissemination of both established and emerging techniques into the wider musical community is essential in order to promote the fretless electric guitar as an independent musical force.

Audio

  • Poppy, A., Pinnock, N., Cashian, P., Riley, C., Norman, K., MacLeod, D., Vincent, S., Bell, J., Akama, R., Murcott, D., Chadburn, L., Tuhkanen, T., Richards, E., Rowan, R. and Perks, R. (2016). Miniaturised Concertos / Mache. [CD]. Available at: https://doi.org/ASIN: B01DEAPM2S.
    Pianist Kate Halsall conceived the idea of the Miniaturised Concerto as a new way to present two-piano repertoire in the context of the avant-garde, rock-fusion and electronic music of today. The result is five major 'concertos' and four works in the style of Maché (collages, or medleys, of new works by several composers ( see details below).

    This is a totally unique sound experience which fuses classical art-music with the popular idioms and new techniques of perfomance and recording, involving many of Britain's top names in the worlds of DJ-ing, electronics and sound design.
  • Perks, R. (2009). Imposition. [CD]. Available at: http://www.richperks.net/imposition.html.
    Imposition explores the relationship between composition and improvisation. The compilation is ordered in such a way that the degree of freedom for the improvising musician(s) increases with each track.

    All Music Composed and Produced by Rich Perks (2009)

    Track Listing:

    1. The Giraffe in the Enigmatic Hat

    2. Verde Azul Anil

    3. Filthy J

    4. ShadEs

    5. Double Exposure

    6. II's Company...

    7. Extemporaneous Sonata

    8. ShadEs (Alternate Take)

Conference or workshop item

  • Perks, R. (2019). Fretless Architecture – Guest Lecture/Seminar. In: Istanbul Technical University – Guest Lecture Series. Available at: http://www.tmdk.itu.edu.tr/.
    The fretless electric guitar remains relatively unexplored due to its young age and ‘prepared’ nature, and it features increasingly in popular music and the neo-traditional music(s) of West-Asia. This research considers its use in broader, more contemporary, and eclectic settings – both as a solo instrument and within different ensembles – exploring extended performance techniques; including an engagement with technological augmentation (expressly the use of effects pedals, loops, E-bow etc.), to discern new timbres. This lecture-recital will begin with a discussion of various performance techniques specific to the fretless electric guitar, as well as any discoveries of new techniques and sounds which have emerged from my personal practice. This will be followed by a solo, part-composed/part-improvised performance, demonstrating how such techniques and sounds might be used in a contemporary music context.
  • Perks, R. (2019). The Expansion of Improvisatory Techniques and Sound-Palette Specific to the Fretless Electric Guitar. In: IGRC Conference: Improvisation and the Guitar, Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. Available at: https://www.surrey.ac.uk/department-music-and-media/research/international-guitar-research-centre-igrc.
    The fretless electric guitar remains relatively unexplored due to its young age and ‘prepared’ nature, and it features increasingly in popular music and the neo-traditional music(s) of West-Asia. This research considers its use in broader, more contemporary, and eclectic settings – both as a solo instrument and within different ensembles – exploring extended performance techniques; including an engagement with technological augmentation (expressly the use of effects pedals, loops, E-bow etc.), to discern new timbres.

    My personal approaches to improvisation using the fretless electric guitar have been informed by extensive performance experience, spanning a variety of ensembles, genres, and contexts, including: cross-cultural projects (predominantly with Middle-Eastern and West-Asian musicians); free- improvisation workshops (both leading and taking part); contemporary and popular music recording sessions; live electronic and technological enhancement within ensembles; the accommodation of improvisation within through-composition; and solo performance.

    Drawing from my recently published article on this subject (Music and Practice: vol. 4, New Perspectives on Technique and Practice, April 2019), this lecture-recital will begin with a discussion of various performance techniques specific to the fretless electric guitar, as well as any discoveries of new techniques and sounds which have emerged from my personal practice. This will be followed by a solo, part-composed/part-improvised performance, demonstrating how such techniques and sounds might be used in a contemporary music context.
  • Perks, R. (2019). Strung Together: A Practical Exploration of Music-Cultural Hybridity, Interaction, and Collaboration. In: Hybrid Practices: Methodologies, Histories, and Performance, University of Malta. Available at: https://www.um.edu.mt/events/spaconf2019.
    Strung Together is a collaborative performance project commissioned in September 2017 by Diaspora Arts Connection in San Francisco, US. Drawing from models of cultural integration and collaborative creativity, this research project enabled the development of a practical methodology through which the improvisatory approaches of non-congruent music-cultures might be combined to create a programme of original, eclectic works, within a limited time- frame. Considering the subtle boundaries which lie between coexistence, assimilation, and synthesis within cross-cultural collaborations, Strung Together explored how different initial musical stimuli might alter the balance, whilst maintaining contextually-relative improvisatory freedom(s); and optimising productivity. Here the blending of three improvisation-based music traditions was investigated – Persian Dastgāh, Arabic folk, and Western popular (rock/jazz/free) improvisation – through a process comprising: continual dialogue; collective composition; coalesced methods of improvisation; rearrangement and refinement; rehearsals; and live performance.

    Acting as musical director/performer, I sourced four professional musicians from the San Francisco Bay area – each expert in different traditions of improvisatory music(s) – to form a quintet; and was ultimately responsible for the project’s curation and delivery. I provided various pre-composed musical stimuli, Fragment(s), each of which incorporated influences from the performers’ respective music traditions and served as initial platforms for the development of the final pieces. We gathered together daily for one week, and during this time collectively developed, arranged, and rehearsed a complete performance programme of new, hybrid music. A live performance took place on the final day at the renowned Buriel Clay Theatre, which was streamed live via social media, reaching a worldwide audience.

    This presentation will reflect on the creative practice behind Strung Together, demonstrating that by inaugurating a democratic environment, where manifold approaches to music-making are considered and respected at a structural level, music-cultural synthesis is achievable within a limited time-frame.
  • Perks, R. (2018). Strung Together: Interactions of Musical Cultures and Their Effects on Collaborative Creativity. In: ICMP Performance Research Conference.
    Strung Together is a collaborative performance project commissioned in September 2017 by Diaspora Arts Connection in San Francisco, US. Drawing from models of cultural integration and collaborative creativity, this research project enabled the development of a practical methodology through which the improvisatory approaches of non-congruent music-cultures might be combined to create a programme of original, eclectic works, within a limited time- frame. Considering the subtle boundaries which lie between coexistence, assimilation, and synthesis within cross-cultural collaborations, Strung Together explored how different initial musical stimuli might alter the balance, whilst maintaining contextually-relative improvisatory freedom(s); and optimising productivity. Here the blending of three improvisation-based music traditions was investigated – Persian Dastgāh, Arabic folk, and Western popular (rock/jazz/free) improvisation – through a process comprising: continual dialogue; collective composition; coalesced methods of improvisation; rearrangement and refinement; rehearsals; and live performance.

    Acting as musical director/performer, I sourced four professional musicians from the San Francisco Bay area – each expert in different traditions of improvisatory music(s) – to form a quintet; and was ultimately responsible for the project’s curation and delivery. I provided various pre-composed musical stimuli, Fragment(s), each of which incorporated influences from the performers’ respective music traditions and served as initial platforms for the development of the final pieces. We gathered together daily for one week, and during this time collectively developed, arranged, and rehearsed a complete performance programme of new, hybrid music. A live performance took place on the final day at the renowned Buriel Clay Theatre, which was streamed live via social media, reaching a worldwide audience.

    This presentation will reflect on the creative practice behind Strung Together, demonstrating that by inaugurating a democratic environment, where manifold approaches to music-making are considered and respected at a structural level, music-cultural synthesis is achievable within a limited time-frame.
  • Perks, R. (2016). Fretless Architecture: An Exploration of the Fretless Electric Guitar. In: IGRC Conference 2016. Available at: https://www.surrey.ac.uk/sites/default/files/IGRC%20TImetable%208iii16_0.pdf.
    The main focus of my post-doctoral research addresses the development of new techniques and original notation, specific to the fretless electric guitar: the incorporation of improvised passages within through-written material; the use of an array of effects pedals, loops and Ebow etc.; and the use of the instrument in a variety of contexts. In addition I work with several Iranian traditional/popular music crossover projects and an improvisation based trio in which I utilise the fretless electric guitar. This research and practical experience has enabled the exploration of new timbre possibilities and the development of performance repertoire for fretless electric guitar.

    Last year I released an international call for solo fretless electric guitar scores, in conjunction with Colchester New Music. This allowed me to work closely with composers in order to develop new repertoire for, and explore the potential of this new and exciting instrument. A live performance and recording(s) of a selection of the entries took place in November 2015 at Colchester Arts Centre where five submissions from the call were premiered.

    This lecture-recital will include performances of several extracts from these pieces for solo fretless electric guitar; specifically those that best demonstrate the fretless qualities of the instrument and discoveries of new techniques, sounds and approaches to notation. I will also discuss the challenges encountered during the project with particular reference to practice, new techniques, and notational devices. The performance will also include a premier of Divisions 2 composed by Andrew Hall, a longer piece written specifically for the IGRC conference, built upon the findings and outcomes from the previous call for scores.

Performance

  • Perks, R. (2019). Improweb MMXIX – for Solo Fretless Electric Guitar - Composed by Perks, R. [Live Performance]. Available at: http://www.tmdk.itu.edu.tr/.
    Second international performance of: Improweb MMXIX for solo fretless electric guitar – composed by Perks, R.

    This piece explores various techniques and timbres unique to the fretless electric guitar, alongside technological augmentation (including the integration of effects pedals, loops, E-Bow etc.)
  • Perks, R. (2019). Premier Performance: Improweb MMXIX – for Solo Fretless Electric Guitar | Composed by Perks, R. [Live Performance]. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BgWiSaIlKRw.
    World premier performance of: Improweb MMXIX for solo fretless electric guitar – composed by Perks, R.

    This piece explores various techniques and timbres unique to the fretless electric guitar, alongside technological augmentation (including the integration of effects pedals, loops, E-Bow etc.)

    Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BgWiSaIlKRw
  • Perks, R. (2019). VLookup Trio – Live Performance at Dutch Fretless Guitar Festival VIII. [Live Performance]. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4D4NUrrxLU.
    vLookup Trio (trumpet, percussion and fretless electric guitar) explore the sonic possibilities of an otherwise limited instrumentation by incorporating technological augmentation (including effects and live electronics.)

    In 2019 the ensemble produced a studio recording (EP/ Mini-Album) of original pieces, which demonstrate their latest discoveries in terms of instrumental techniques and soundscapes. The trio performed as one of the main acts at the 8th Dutch Fretless Guitar Festival, in Amsterdam (2019).
  • Perks, R. (2017). Strung Together: A Night of World Music Improvisation. [Live Performance].
    Performance project, commissioned by Diaspora Arts Connection. African American Art & Culture Complex: Burial Clay Theatre.

    Drawing from models of cultural integration and collaborative creativity, this research project enabled the development of a practical methodology through which the improvisatory approaches of non-congruent music-cultures might be combined to create a programme of original, eclectic works, within a limited time frame. Considering the subtle boundaries which lie between coexistence, assimilation, and synthesis within inter-cultural collaborations, Strung Together explored how different initial musical stimuli might alter the balance, whilst maintaining contextually-relative improvisatory freedom(s); and optimising productivity. Here the blending of three improvisation-based music traditions was investigated – Persian Dastgāh, Arabic folk, and Western Popular (rock/jazz/free) improvisation – through a process comprising: continual dialogue; collective composition; coalesced methods of improvisation; rearrangement and refinement; rehearsals; and live performance.
  • Perks, R. (2016). Premier Performance: Divisions 2 – for Solo Fretless Electric Guitar | Composed by Hall, A. [Live Performance]. Available at: https://www.surrey.ac.uk/sites/default/files/IGRC%20TImetable%208iii16_0.pdf.
    World premier performance of Divisions 2 – for solo fretless electric guitar, composed by Andrew Hall.
  • Perks, R. (2015). Fretless Architecture: Rich Perks + VLookup Trio. [Live Performance]. Available at: http://richperks.net/fretlessarchitecture.html.
    Premier performance(s) of Turbulence, composed by Usher, J.; Divisions, composed by Hall, A.; Sinner, composed by Trotter, J.; Elephants, composed by Maguire, P.; Rhapsody, composed by Minshew, T. – Colchester Arts Centre, UK.

Forthcoming

  • Perks, R. (2020). Strung Together: A Practical Exploration of Music-Cultural Hybridity, Interaction, and Collaboration. Music & Practice.
    This article considers the creative practice behind Strung Together, an intercultural collaboration combining three non-congruent improvisation-based music(s). An account of my experience as ‘musical-facilitator’ is framed with reference to theoretical constructs of cultural integration, compositional practice, and collaborative creativity. By focusing on the process (comprising rehearsals, continual dialogue, co-composition, and coalesced methods of improvisation) and the development of an effective working methodology (using notated ‘vantage points’ as initial musical stimuli), this practice-led case study illustrates that by inaugurating a democratic environment – where manifold approaches to music-making are considered and respected at a structural level – music-cultural hybridity is achievable within a limited time-frame. The notion is posited that music-cultural hybridity may assume and traverse various forms; and furthermore, that these ‘hybridity-strains’ are likely to be in constant flux throughout intercultural–improvisatory collaborations.

    In September 2017, I was commissioned by Diaspora Arts Connection to lead a collaborative performance project entitled Strung Together in San Francisco, US. Four professional musicians from the San Francisco Bay area were sourced to form the quintet, each with a background in different traditions of improvisatory music(s): Sirvan Manhoobi (Oud) and Faraz Minooei (Santour) were originally from Iran with a background in Dastgāh (traditional Persian classical) music; Raman Osman (Saz) and Faisal Zedan (Percussion) were originally from Syria, with vast experience in Kurdish and Arabic folk music(s). I acted as ‘musical director’/performer (Fretless Electric Guitar); provided the preliminary musical material; and was ultimately responsible for the project’s curation and delivery. We gathered together daily for one week, and during this time collectively developed, arranged, and rehearsed a complete performance programme of new music; a live performance of the show took place on the evening of the final day. The basis of the musical content was improvisation – in its broadest sense (Nettl: 1974) – combined with various ‘pre-composed’ musical stimuli, each of which incorporated influences from the performers’ respective music traditions and served as initial platforms (or ‘vantage points’) for the development of the final pieces. The performance was broadcast live via online social media and reached an international audience.

    This case study facilitated the development of a practical methodology through which the improvisatory approaches of non-congruent music-cultures might be combined to create a programme of original, eclectic works, within a limited time frame. Considering the subtle boundaries which lie between coexistence, assimilation, and synthesis within intercultural collaborations, Strung Together explored how different initial musical stimuli might alter the balance, whilst maintaining contextually-relative improvisatory freedom(s); and optimising productivity. Here the blending of three improvisation-based music traditions was investigated through a multifaceted process comprising: continual dialogue; collective composition; coalesced methods of improvisation; rearrangement and refinement; rehearsals; and live performance. My point of departure is that of a professional guitarist (of some 20 years) with an extensive understanding of different approaches to improvisation; and a performer–composer with considerable experience of engaging in collaborations with musicians from the Middle-East.

    The article proposes the idea that in forging a creative ‘third space’ (Bhabha: 1988; Bayley: 2017), an intercultural–improvisatory ensemble of this kind will inevitably negotiate various ‘states’ of interaction at different junctures throughout the collaborative process, and in turn yield different forms of music-cultural hybridity. Whilst some aspects of the musics may well combine to form the foundations of a ‘new’ musical language, others may not, and instead recurrently collide, interweave and interchange across different pieces and realisations. This work suggests therefore, that in fusing music-cultures through the aforementioned means, the search for a ‘third space’ unveils not one, but multiple hybrid derivatives: hybridity-strains. Counterpart notions presented in other disciplines are used to help categorise – and thus differentiate between – the various hybridity-strains encountered and explored throughout this project; together they form an illustrative model and critical framework – used here to analyse the effectiveness of the aesthetic principles underlying each work developed in Strung Together – which may be applied by others to evaluate future work(s), and thus contribute to the wider discourse surrounding music-cultural hybridity.
  • Perks, R. and Williams, T. (2020). Fleeting Moments: Inverted Taxonomies and Outlier Detection applied to Jazz Guitar Vocabulary. In: The 21st Century Guitar Conference. Available at: http://www.21cguitar.com/.
    Analysis of improvisational language has often been led by observational taxonomies which place emphasis on common vocabulary and familiar structure, often to great effect (Owens. 1996, Givan. 2010). Correspondingly, practice, pedagogy and community are also led by similar taxonomies.

    Such categorisation – comprising tendency, familiarity, and trope – help us build systems for codifying, qualifying and classifying the improvisatory lexicon of different idioms and/or performers, so that we might engage with them performatively, pedagogically, developmentally, analytically or otherwise. This kind of organisation often results in the ‘solidification’ or ‘re-reinforcement’ of genre-specific conventions, as well as the rigid cataloguing of attributes ascribed to an individual’s improvisatory ‘voice’. Ultimately, via the tacet prioritisation of predictability, this method encourages a generalisation of an improviser’s approach and the creation of a canonical schema of vocabulary.

    What if however, in creating such generalised taxonomies we are overlooking fundamental characteristics – the ‘fleeting moments’ – which, whilst occurring less-frequently, or perhaps less obviously, are in fact those which determine the true colour, depth, nuance and holistic DNA underlying an improvisatory approach?
    In data-mining applications, ‘outlier detection’ is considered a vital part of the modelling and analysis process. Ben-Gal asserts that, ‘One of the first steps towards obtaining a coherent analysis is the detection of outlaying observations. Although outliers are often considered as an error or noise, they may carry important information.’ (Ben-Gal, I. 2005; p.131) By adapting outlier detection and applying it to the analysis of improvisatory approaches (more specifically jazz-informed guitar-based improvisation), this paper will eschew the conventional hierarchical approach of defining an improviser by the what is most common, and instead use an inverted taxonomy to explore the significance of any anomalistic, irregular, misplaced, mistaken, trans-idiomatic, anachronistic, and/or forgotten vocabulary; thus developing a broader framework for understanding the improviser’s approach.

    By conducting qualitative musical analyses of the improvisatory styles of an array of guitarists working across the jazz landscape – whilst prioritising the detection of outlier variables and considering their impact – this study will provide a fresh perspective on how we understand and interpret improvisatory vocabularies. Drawing from a range of theories and models used across other disciplines, this work aims to augment the conventional schemes applied in jazz and improvisatory analysis and, by expansion, contribute to the wider discourse surrounding multimodal and holistic methodologies of jazz analysis.
  • Perks, R. (2020). David Gilmour: Defining the ’Melodic’ Guitarist. In: Pink Floyd: Tear Down The Wall: An Interdisciplinary Interrogation of the Music and Significance of Pink Floyd. Routledge.
    David Gilmour is frequently referred to by fans, journalists and musicians alike as the quintessential ‘melodic’ guitarist. His seamless interweaving of lyrical lines juxtaposed against edgy, raw, powerful outbursts provides an assortment to satisfy the most ardent guitar critic, and his voice on the instrument is arguably recognisable as one of Pink Floyd’s primary ‘calling cards’ – But what exactly do we mean by ascribing him the accolade ‘melodic’ guitarist?

    This chapter explores Gilmour’s guitar playing, from his initial musical influences through to his role within Pink Floyd, and contemplates how his highly individual style manifests itself within the milieu of the band. His use of sound/s and equipment, phrasing, note choice, articulation, technique, and compositional strategies are examined in detail, with direct reference to studio recordings, live performances, documentaries, interviews, guitar magazines, tuition materials, and supplementary notated examples. To conclude, a musicological and aesthetic discussion – which is reinforced by an original analytical model – considers Gilmour’s guitar playing in terms of ‘melodic functionality’ to assess the ‘level of impact’ it has on the identity of the music; suggesting that his guitar-based contributions are inextricably connected to the work of Pink Floyd on an aesthetic, structural and compositional level; providing further insights as to why Gilmour is regarded by so many as the ultimate melodic guitarist.
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