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David Gilmore: Getting To The Point

By Published: January 6, 2007

AAJ: Well, this is the wonderful complexity of your music. But it doesn't sound like that to the listener.

DG: Ritualism doesn't have that much polymetric rhythmic stuff goin' on. Some of it's implied, but Steve will have a whole tune just kind of looping with polyrhythmic stuff. I've written tunes like that but they didn't make it to my record. There are tunes where the meter changes within the tune but not long stretches where one meter is played against the other. There are only short bursts where one is played against the a melody or something like that. Poly -rhythm is implied or even improvised a lot. Rodney goes into some metric modulation and we all do a bit of that. We do even more of that live.

AAJ: Yeah whatever that is? Metric modulation is...(SEE:

DG:Here's a way to think of it. A basic one. For example say something's in 4. A lot of times I base things off of the triplet. So each beat is da-ta-ta, da-ta-ta, da-ta-ta, eight note triplets. 123,223,323, 423 etc. You can accent, for example, every 4 of the its still triplets, but in 4 note groupings, so those twelve notes grouped in 4 groups of three are now in 3 groups of four, even though they are still played as triplets 1234, 1234, 1234...datatata,datatata,datatata.

Snapping your fingers while counting this over that pulse will show you how the emphasis can be shifted into a different rhythmic strata or layer. But the trick is really getting back to where you were, originally. Well that's always the trick I guess (laughs). But I mean that looping thing I was referring to earlier. When I improvise I base a lot of things off of triplet figures where I omit certain beats.

AAJ: You mean in your single note lines? I can really hear the time in your single note lines. It's a great element of your linear playing that there's rhythm in the line..which not many guitarists have, or if it comes out in their playing, they're not thinking about it in those terms.

DG:To me, guitar players for some reason have lagged behind in rhythm. It's a rhythmic instrument. I mean you hit's a percussive instrument. I played drums a percussion before I played guitar. I'm a closet drummer. I love playing rhythm guitar as well, just laying in the pocket with the rhythm section. Just taking a few choice notes and just exploring the rhythm of those notes and then...seeing how other cats react to it.

AAJ: Well, that really came out in Lost Tribe a lot...between you and Adam Rogers.

DG:Yeah, sure. Well, I can't touch Adam when it comes to notes. In a way I had to find...he's such a note freak, and such a great player, and he's got such fluid lines.

AAJ: Nolo contendre, man. One of the great soloists on the instrument of our time, right along with yourself, in my opinion. I was thinking in terms of you guys playing off each other in Lost Tribe with those cycling single note lines, those hypnotic riffs behind the melodists or the "Mythology from the first cd or "Second Story from "Soulfish .

DG:Oh yeah, definitely. That too.

AAJ: Can you break it down, timewise on a few of the tunes on your cd?

DG: "Ritualism is in 11. You can think of it as 11:8 but I like to think of it as 5 and Ã?—?":4.

AAJ: That's interesting...

DG:Phonically, it's 1,2,3,4,5 and1,2,3,4,5 etc. No space between the "and and the "1 .That's 4 quarter notes and the last is a dotted quarter note.

AAJ: Yet somehow the stuff is so slamming...

DG:Well, see the bass line is one bar but the piano line spreads over two bars before it it's an over the bar piano line while the bass is one.The piano line doesn't complete 'til two measures of the bass line. When you stretch certain things out like that, it's a good way to get away from the stiffness that often happens when you try to write something in an odd meter. So the stuff over the top is spread out...and NOT playing on the downbeat all the time is very important as well. When we play in 4:4 we don't play on the downbeat all the time. The old fusion stuff emphasized the one with a crash every measure... that drives me nuts. It takes getting used to feeling those meters in order to feel comfortable playing over and writing lines that feel, just, natural, in that meter. But that one is, yeah, 5 1/2 :4 for the whole tune. It does have short beats and long beats..the long beat shifts to different positions on a couple of bars. So it's almost like a clave concept ...what's the terminology they use...harmonic rhythm? Yeah. That means like, shifts in different areas to give it some variation.

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