Magazine article Guitar Player

Soundhole Channeling Charisma

Magazine article Guitar Player

Soundhole Channeling Charisma

Article excerpt

There was nothing I could do to help him. We were listening to a playback of the solo he had just recorded, and he hated it. His tone and phrasing were absolutely flawless, but the performance was completely devoid of that elusive X Factor--that little gift from the musical angels that transforms mere notes into messengers of seduction. Like all those cliches about losing a kingdom for want of a nail, his remarkable technique had failed him. He had tracked a technically brilliant solo, but it wasn't going to slay anyone with charisma.

I've watched this same scenario play out again and again, and I remain intrigued by this cosmic question: What prevents a monstrously talented player from cutting a transcendent performance that truly moves people? Of course, if I had the answer, I'd be churning out hit records by the boatload and calling in this column via cellphone from the French Riviera. But, ultimately, it's not an outsider's responsibility to find a way to smash through your personal barrier to the X Factor--that's your gig.

It's not a hopeless quest--all your heroes found it and so can you. (In this very issue, you can discover how B.B King and Eric Clapton transformed their influences into unique and thrilling voices by reading "2 Kings." Regardless of one's talent level, all musicians make choices that affect their personal style. For example, we can default to regurgitated, crowd-pleasing licks that make us feel "accomplished," or we can strive to unleash our individuality, and be brave enough to put our souls out there with every note we play. …

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