Neo Soul Guitar has become more popular over the recent years. Since the whole explosion of interest in the style, especially within the Instagram guitar circles, more guitarists have been experimenting to include the elements into their playing. For some, this is now their main guitar style – driven by colorful pop jazz harmony, R&B style embellishments, vocal driven melodic guitar and groovy funky rhythms.
However, even with the abundance of videos out there, there’s still not that many high quality books or instructional material on the style. Some short tutorials often pop up on YouTube or Instagram but it’s challenging to find experienced instructors dissecting the elements in a clear manner.
This is where Jan Jakut comes in. A dedicated educator who has been transcribing, analysing and breaking apart contemporary jazz styles – he is now exploring the neo soul genre. This 20-page volume, an updated version of his previous Neo-Soul Guitar 101 guide is a great addition to help aspiring neo-soul guitarists who are coming from different styles.
As Jan is formally trained, he pays attention to the theory analysis as well as the notation. Everything is beautiful notated and formatted. This is pretty stuff. It is in fact very apparent in any of Jan’s work including his recent transcription work for the https://pickupmusic.com/ website.
This book is divided into 5 parts. To show you how detailed his work is, I’ve actually included the table of contents here for context:
1. Chord Shapes and Embellishments
Connecting Tonic and Subdominant Functions:
Constant Structure and Chromatic Approach
Mixing Chord- and Voicing-Types:
Triadic Textures vs. Quartal Harmonies // Applied Secondary Dominants
Applied Rhythmic and Harmonic Embellishments
2. Rhythmic and Percussive Techniques
Percussive Techniques – S – P – T
Percussive Techniques applied to a Standard Chord Progression
Percussive Techniques and Melodic Playing Combined
3. Etude 1
Transcription: Mateus Asato
Chordal Playing, Legato Lines, Mayfield/Hendrix Guitar Fills
5. Etude 2: Tehachapi Loop
6. Building Blocks:
Rhythmic / Percussive Outline
“Slow Dancing” John Mayer-inspired Guitar Stroll
“Mirror” Percussive Techniques + Melodic Playing
5. Etude 3: Calypso
Jan’s approach of using actual transcriptions to derive the melodic and harmonic language approaches is very powerful. He transcribes, analyses and then proceeds to create his own etudes using the techniques he discovers. Some examples including the Mateus Asato transcription and his piece Etude 2: Tehachapi Loop includes hyperlinked text to the original Instagram videos. This is invaluable and helps us study the transcription in detail especially to catch the subtle dynamics (which is tricky to capture in notation).
For some guitarists who might not be used to this level of detailed analysis, it might be overwhelming to digest. However, if you’ve ever spent time in music college or university – you will recognise and appreciate the time Jan has put into his work.
We don’t necessarily need everything he’s notated but it’s really refreshing to see this style of music getting the level of respect and analysis Jan has put in here.
In conclusion, if you’re a geeky guitarist who likes to understand structure, harmony & every nuance of a style of music – Jan Jakut’s book will be a worthwhile investment for you.
Pros: Great work, beautifully notated, done with a lot of love and care. Filled with clear musical analysis.
Cons: At 20 pages, it feels more like a booklet than a book. However, with the pure amount of knowledge filled in here, I doubt anyone will be able to go through and digest it at a fast speed. There’s a lot of challenging stuff to learn here!
TLDR: If you’re geeky and love Neo-Soul Guitar especially Mateus Asato’s style, this is a suitable addition to your practice material.
You can get the book directly from Jan here:
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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NOTE: All reviews reflect my honest personal opinion so be aware that I will point out both cool Pros and Cons that I see in the work. You dig? 🙂