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"The latest article by my pal Gordon Giltrap...probably the greatest acoustic guitar genius in the Universe! But did you know he writes great themes for TV, Films...'Wish You Were Here' is but one"

'Composition? What is it?'

by Gordon Giltrap

Anyone can learn technique given time, patience and diligence but the real mystery for me is composition.

Where do tunes come from?

Obviously whatever your influences, they will come through in your style whatever that is, but the tunes, especially those one judges to be good ones, come from somewhere else, usually deep inside.

Some times some of the most profound things I have written have come about purely by accident and it seems as though they wrote themselves without any apparent effort on my part. Examples of these are 'On Camber Sands', 'Down the River' and 'A Dublin Day' taken from my 'Troubadour' album, 'Elegy' the title track from 'Elegy' and 'The Ecchoing Green' and 'London' from 'Visionary'.

To a lesser degree 'Heartsong' fits into this category. (Dec: Ecchoing does have two cc's...[GRIN])

Much of my inspiration comes from the world of art and nature but I draw my physical inspiration literally from the guitar whilst practising.

Usually a phrase will present itself and then from that point on I try to sing the tune in my head. Some times I sing out loud which is quite hilarious to listen to and has given my wife Hilary hours of laughter witnessing my terrible attempts to sing what I think the next phrase should be.

How I started:

When I first started writing tunes, they were largely dictated by a certain riff or technique I had picked up, so therefore the tune would just be a vehicle for that technique, although occasionally a nice melody would shine through. As the years go by one masters more technical ability, and therefore one is able to attempt things that would have been technically difficult to execute in the past.

In the early days I would explore the mysteries of open tunings. These days I just go for what presents itself in standard tuning. Having said that some of those weird tunings have produced a number of favourite pieces like 'Down the River' and 'A Christmas Carol', a tune written in DADGAD tuning.

A Bit of a Mystery?

As I said earlier, this tune writing is all a bit of a mystery and thank God it is because, otherwise, I would be out of a job. I do believe it's possible to compose to a formula and I am sure there have been thousands of well crafted tunes written this way but how many have really hit the spot and produced those elusive goose bumps, brought a tear to the eye or given one a feeling of elation? I know a number of my own pieces have fallen short of really hitting the spot, but one keeps on trying in the hope that the next tune will be better than the last and that the next album will eclipse the last one. I do know that I have succeeded in raising those goose bumps with some of my pieces. I remember a quote from Rick Wakeman, when he was asked "what is your best composition to date?" and his answer was, "hopefully the next one that I have yet to write."

I think that's true for most of us tune smiths

Check out my site...or maybe get in touch with first love is music, my second love maybe YOU!

[oh, I am an old romantic!] However, I will only love your music. Pay a visit to GORDON'S SITE ...a 'must' for serious composers and serious guitarists.


Gordon Giltrap....

"Best of mates - Gordon Giltrap with Dec"

Gordon Giltrap with Dec

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