In part two of our look at the making of the new title, The Essential Acoustic Rory Gallagher, professional session guitarist Arthur Dick, the book’s arranger, writes about his work transcribing and translating Rory’s style into print.
Part one can be found here.
Arthur Dick on the making of The Essential Acoustic Rory Gallagher:
What is there to say about Rory himself as player? He’s one of the greatest definitely! The forewords written in The Essential Rory Gallagher volumes one and two, and in this acoustic collection, help to give you some idea of his legacy. Certainly from the point of view of seeing some of his work in print one can only marvel at his output, but it is the spirit and emotion of his playing that sits within the pages which makes us want to pick it up and play.
The work I did on the previous books in the Essential Rory Gallagher series featured Rory’s great electric playing which obviously has a different sound and feel to his acoustic playing by its very nature.
His acoustic recordings delved into different tunings and styles as he explores the tonal landscape with his six and 12 string acoustics, and National Steel guitars. Besides using standard tuning and capos, his acoustic work features D tuning, Drop D, DADGAD, G tuning and some bottleneck here and there. Going To My Home Town is also a great mandolin feature.
One of my main considerations when putting Rory’s music onto paper was to make sure that whatever was transcribed was not only accurate but musically accessible. Songs such as Empire State Express, As The Crow Flies and Seven Days were played quite freely and it was important to notate and present this in the most musical way possible rather than relying on complex time signatures that can be restrictive. After all, that would not have been the way Rory himself would have thought of it.
This was the main difference between Rory’s electric and acoustic playing. His electric playing, especially the soloing, is more straight ahead in this respect. With his acoustic playing there is often a requirement to fill out the performance with rhythm as well as solo lines.
Similarly with some of the finger-style techniques, I looked for the most consistent way to display the music rather than complicating things with over detailed notation that becomes very tiresome to work through and play.
I always think that what is written down and transcribed should not only make sense and be musical, but it must also be absolutely playable, and I always try to bring a professional musical viewpoint to it.
As a guitarist working through Rory’s acoustic collection you will come across many great ideas. His music is a treasure trove of classic guitar tunings which allow the songs to explore some really interesting chords and phrases unique to these tunings.
There is of course Rory Gallagher’s amazing playing and spirit to inspire you along the way too, which is the way we all continue to explore guitar playing. The idea is to be inspired to learn from his playing and hopefully this Rory Gallagher collection will continue to do so.
Adrian and Daniel Gallagher compiled the songs for the publication, and then I got down to it! I think my expertise as a session player brings a real world approach to presenting Rory’s work, through which I can hopefully offer an insight into how he wrote and played his pieces.
Many people will think of Rory and his high octane electric blues but his devotion to the style led him to explore other worlds of acoustic sounds using slides, altered tunings, National Steel guitars, the mandolin and more.
Like many great musicians, Rory’s ability and diverse array of combined with a continual search for honesty in his playing to make him special. I think that too is what continues to attract so many people to listen and be inspired by his music today.
Hear Rory talk about his approach to playing the acoustic guitar, below:
If you haven’t already, click here to read part one of our making of feature: an interview with the book’s editor, Adrian Hopkins.
Has Rory Gallagher influenced you as a guitarist? What have you taken, learned or been inspired by from his playing?