Recently, one of my favorite guitarists, Bryan Baker began releasing a series of video called ‘The Bryan Baker Interview’. If you’ve followed my book review series from early on, you might have read my review of his first book Principles of Music which was a very influential text that shaped my approach to music. I also studied with Bryan off and on over the years (since my time as a student in Berklee) so am always curious about his music projects.This series of videos are extracted from a 3.5 hour video interview conducted by his student, Los Angeles based guitarist & songwriter Elliot Klein.
This 6-part series is a total of 2-hours long covering a range of these topics:
- Developing an Original Sound
- Outside Playing and Developing Fretboard Knowledge
- Playing with Confidence
- Being a Professional Guitarist in the Modern Music Industry
- Hearing What You Play
- Following Your Creative Vision
Although these are the titles for the videos, Bryan actually covers a lot more subtle nuances and topics that go beyond what is implied in the title. Elliott Klein does a great job of asking relevant questions throughout the series, allowing us to gain more insight into Bryan’s perspective on music, the industry and his creative process.
In ‘Developing an Original Sound’, Bryan shares his early experiences learning guitar & how his self taught approaches shaped his “outside” playing & view of dissonance without being attached to theory-based limitation. He also talks about growing up listening to the music of classical composers like Alexander Scriabin. Hearing him talk about his experience learning jazz was also fascinating. The highlight for me was the closing jam where Bryan solos over a C-Am-F-G (a I-VIm-IV-V chord progression) beginning from inside soloing until it goes outside.
The second video, ‘Outside Playing and Developing Fretboard Knowledge’ goes into Bryan’s period of intense scale practice as a teenager (5 to 13 hours?). There’s a lot of ideas to digest including ideas on scalar ideas, motivic ideas, playing in & outside of scale boxes. Bryan also talks about the importance of music (rhythm, melody and harmony) in that order. His take on outside playing basically identifying the other 5 notes not in the inside scale of the moment. I particular resonated with his explanation of the function of the other notes not in major scale & how they all could function as passing tones.
The third video, ‘Playing with Confidence in a Variety of Settings’ goes into Bryan’s approach of playing styles from jazz to metal to classical guitar, with his own melodic language. Bryan also talks about how his journey brought him to play jazz during college & going into different styles over the years. Bryan also discusses his career choices and how it relates to the music industry. Bryan talks about the confidence in the context of live performance and how it affects the audience. Confidence is the most important aspect to make the music sound intense rather than ordinary. The discussion of art & commerce is also a highlight too especially towards the end of the video.
The fourth video, ‘Being a Guitarist in the Modern Music Industry’ includes the discussion of how the music industry does not behave the same way music does. Bryan talks about how one does make choices within a certain music scene or market and why not to. He also talks about the myth of needing to move to Los Angeles or New York City to be successful as a musician. Bryan also talks the positivity and false positivity.
The fifth video, ‘Hearing What You Play’ begins with Elliot begins by talking about Tim Miller’s playing style and then asking about Bryan ability to play large intervallic lines without having large hands. Bryan shares his approach to technique and when he hears (and when he doesn’t) fast lines. This segment is the longest video at almost 53 minutes. There’s tons of myth busting done in this video with Bryan making a strong stand against the idea that musicians have to hear every single note they play. He also talks about hearing ‘tension & release’. I particularly enjoy Bryan’s explanation of his thoughts of jazz as a music of time & place.
The sixth video, ‘Following Your Creative Vision’ closes this series with Elliot’s recollection watching Bryan’s performance at the First Act store in Boston and discovering Bryan’s work as master baker at one point of his life. Bryan talks about his impulses (not just music), his nomadic lifestyle and how that shaped his desires throughout his life. I particularly love his take on the meaning of music within different cultures, the importance of feeling, the transfer of energy & the removal of the Western system of harmony. Towards the end of video, Bryan discusses the acceleration of music and art in modern music at the moment. He also talks about the difference of idiom, note choices, genres and beyond all that. There’s also foreshadowing for what Bryan wants to do next creatively.
In conclusion, this is a great series of videos that I would recommend to anyone pursuing a career in the arts. It’s very brutally honest about the realities of the modern music industry & is highly educational. Bryan has strong opinions & a unique perspective as he’s experienced music from a very young age and had a colorful career so far. Check it out for sure.
Pros: Amazing candid & honest (often counterintuitive) wisdom from a world class virtuoso musician. Great insights, a lot of interesting topics & alternative points of view.
TLDR: If you play guitar or if you’re a musician who is working in the modern music industry, these videos will provide tons of food for thought. Strongly recommended.
Check out these videos (and future ones from Bryan) at his Enilkrad YouTube channel.
I wrote a lot of other book, course and video reviews too.
Check out the rest here:
[Read more reviews]
[Submissions for Review Consideration]
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