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Sheets of Sound

Ben McDonnell By

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Jack Zucker
Sheets of Sound
Self-Published
ISBN: 0975559303
2004

It is with some trepidation that I open a new guitar instructional book, whilst each promises to 'advance your playing to the next level' or help you 'play like (insert guitar hero's name here)', most tend to deliver a jumbled collection of scales and chords which are near useless if you are a proficient player, or appear as an insurmountable mass of information if you are trying to learn. With my previous instructional aides gathering dust on the shelf I open Jack Zucker's Sheets of Sound. With pleasure I can announce that Zucker's blend of harmonic ideas, licks, technique and theory really does appear to be different, a genuinely useful aid to players of all levels.

Essentially Sheets Of Sound is based on the premise that the guitar should not limit the player's note choice. In an attempt to combat this, Zucker provides harmonic and technique based concepts and exercises that should help the player free themselves of guitar related inhibitions. As Jack Zucker says in the introduction 'I realized that I had made the mistake of allowing the guitar to govern the music instead of allowing the music to govern the guitar'. With testimonials from such luminaries as Jimmy Bruno, Dave Liebman and Ulf Wakenius, Sheets of Sound certainly appears to deliver what it promises, meeting the approval of some of the world's top players.

SOS is 277 pages long, mainly comprising licks and exercises some of which are derived from players as diverse as Pat Metheny, Michael Brecker, Frank Gambale and Eric Johnson amongst others. Each exercise is designed to demonstrate a particular harmonic or technical idea and this provides the reader with the ability to use the idea in a musical manner straight away. Zucker also explains the origins of his licks and exercises idea very clearly, this means the written examples are a starting point, each leading the player down a new avenue. Not only has Jack Zucker created a huge amount of useful examples, but he also equips the reader with the knowledge needed to create their own unique musical ideas.

With such a lot of information at hand the author has devised a simple method of identifying each idea with three numbers; this both structures the information into manageable chunks and allows the reader to easily skip between ideas, picking that which is most relevant to their study. As well as this the book is split into eight chapters entitled 'Linear Scales, Pentatonic Scales, Arpeggios, Fourth-based Intervallic Models, Fifth-based Intervallic Models, Miscellaneous Lines and Etudes, Diminished Models', and an appendix. The appendix is almost worth the price of the book in itself, as not only does it provide a clear reference chart for all the most used scales and modes, giving their name, melodic formula and suggested chord associations, it also explains a lot of the most useful chord substitutions to be found in jazz. This is an invaluable resource that players of all standards will find themselves constantly referring too.

As well as highlighting various harmonic possibilities, SOS also deals comprehensively with technique, a blend of sweep picking, alternate picking and fingerstyle techniques all combine with suggested fingerings in the left hand, allowing the reader to play sequences that would once have seemed impossible. From Coltrane style flurries of notes to Metheny-esque sequences, SOS methodically covers the techniques required.

Jack Zucker has drawn on his great experience not only as a professional musician but successful teacher, to create an extremely well organised book that will appeal to guitarists of all styles and abilities. Sheets of Sound is packed full of useful examples, ideas, and technique, but perhaps most importantly Sheets of Sound allows you to make these ideas your own, advancing your level as a musician, leaving you better equipped to explore your individual musical identity.

Visit Sheets of Sound on the web.

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