Guthrie Govan says he has to ‘think like a singer’ when writing

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Guthrie Govan said that when it comes to creating new music, he believes “thinking like a singer” is the best way to ensure his music is both unique and speaks to the masses.

Whether it’s performing live with Hans Zimmer or taking musical technicality to a new level with his supergroup, The Aristocrats, guitar virtuoso Guthrie Govan has shared one of the main reasons he thinks that his music speaks to so many non-musicians.

In an interview with guitar world Yesterday (September 5), Govan shared that when it comes to creating new music, he thinks it’s essential not to approach songwriting as a guitarist, but rather to channel the state of mind of a singer.

“I think it can be extremely helpful,” he explains. “First, thinking like a singer encourages you to incorporate breathing into your phrasing, and I feel listeners always respond well when a melody has that human, singable quality.”

He continues, explaining that disregarding his knowledge of theory often leads him to discover more unorthodox note choices.

“Second, the mindset of trying to make your guitar ‘sing’ can often help you break free from the trap of letting the fingerboard dictate the melody for you. If you think too much like a guitarist, there’s sometimes a danger of writing something just because it fits comfortably in a ladder shape or because it looks like one of your favorite licks, rather than looking for notes that actually mean something for you. “

“As far as your audience is concerned, the contingent of ‘serious guitarists’ might well analyze the way your fingers move […] but anyone else, subconsciously or not, will at least partially listen assuming your guitar is trying to sing something to them.

Elsewhere in the interview, the guitar icon also explains why he feels closer to his audience when performing instrumental work – stating that he strongly believes it is a “line of communication more direct”.

“When there is no lyrical content in a song, the language barrier ceases to be an issue!” He clarifies, “I have fond memories of playing instrumental music in unusually remote and exotic places and one thing that I have always taken away from those experiences is that the challenge of connecting with people suddenly feels refreshing and effortless whenever I’m on stage.


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