Sunday, January 07, 2007

Pac Bell's Cannon

There's been quite a buzz about this video – a young guy playing Pachelbel's Canon in D on the electric guitar, in what appears to be the ultimate expression of the style popularized by Bill and Ted's excellent Wyld Stallyns. Fascinating stuff. I've now watched it about five times straight through, open-mouthed with awe. He sure is fast; he sure is good. You can't take your eyes off him.

The only trouble is I'm watching it in much the same way I watch a skateboarder – more in wonder that he never falls over and flattens his nose on a curb than admiration for his sheer wanton fabulousness. My outstanding thought is that this guy – his name is Jeong-Hyun Lim, apparently - probably played more notes practicing this and playing it for the video than Paul Kossoff played in his entire lifetime. And yet I look forward more to hearing the first three notes of Kossoff's solo on I'll Be Creepin' (at 2:12 on this video) than to hearing Lim shred another skull-peeling five-minute virtuoso solo.

With Koss it never seemed to be about how many notes he could fit in to a piece. It was about picking the right one for the occasion. Usually he just needed a few and the listener got his message perfectly – there's a couple of solos that almost make me cry, they're so effective. Using the right note and making it sound right was the key. He got what people refer to as the right tone. As you read through the comments on Kossoff's playing on the YouTube videos, you see people asking how gets that sound. How does he? I don’t know – apart from starting out really loud, of course. I've read that he didn't care too much about his legendary tone. It seems he just got it when he played as though he carried it with him, rather than carefully teasing it out of a unique combination of guitar and amplifier.

On another note (no pun intended) the comments on Lim's video mention that when he makes a mistake (which is rare), his eyes flick to the right and rest there for a second. One person thinks he has his tablature on the wall over there and he's checking it. I'm not sure; I think that people look into their minds by looking up and to the right. It's a way to access your inner thoughts. At least I hope so, because I'm putting that into a character's habits in a piece I'm currently writing. Funny to see it played out (so to speak) on a video in front of me.

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