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I've played guitar for over 14 years and I've developed a very distinct style in my guitar playing. Some people have mentioned that my style is much in line with John Butler.

I now want to expand/change my style. I've developed a habit of composing most of my music based on my current style and I want to change this. I see other artists that I'm interested in (Alt-J, Estas Tonne, etc.) and want to fuse my style with theirs (I understand that the two artists mentioned above have very very different styles). Besides learning their songs, what are some techniques/exercises that can help me transition and fuse my style with theirs.

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I've enjoyed the comments so far. Each one has their own distinct and valid answer. I wish I could give credit to all, but I decided to award it to the person who posted first. –  jason328 Jun 27 at 5:43

3 Answers 3

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Something that I think is really underrated is simply listening. If you listen closely, and its something you really love, you'll definitely pick up some of their licks and other ideas to add into your playing. But I'm assuming if you want to get their style, you're already doing that. So, maybe be patient with it.

Another thing that I was always told to help me learning jazz is transcription. I guess this goes along with learning the songs, but it definitely going beyond that. Learning how to transcribe is a great skill to have on its own and will definitely improve your ear, but you'll get into the music and see things you never would have seen before.

Whatever you do, don't force it because whether you're playing in front of musicians or not, they'll somehow know that what you're playing is just not authentic and natural. So just really get into their music (the artists you want to sound like) and let it silently, naturally influence your playing.

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One of the hardest decisions to make when you compose, or write songs (depending upon how you view the process…!), is really fundamental. It's not about techniques, chords, harmonies, modes, scales and other processes…

…it's about what you want your music to sound like.

I think this is the same whether you are a "classical" composer or a song-writer.

I see two main ways you can arrive at satisfactory points with finding your sound.

  • Firstly, discover other artists, bands, composers etc. who create a similar sound to the sound you want to achieve (it sounds like you have a good idea already!) Listen to them. Read their scores. Read their lyrics. Play their music. This will give you an insight into how their music works. But, also ask other musicians you know, "How did this artist create this sound?; What is this chord sequence they wrote?; Why does this melody work (or what does it do)?; How did they perform/record this?".

  • Secondly, Experiment. Noodle. Improvise. See where your fingers take you on your instrument. But do this using your ears. All the time you should be asking yourself, "Have I discovered something closer to the sound I want to create? Or, have I discovered something unexpected that excites me, and makes me want to compose more music like this?"

But, this is quite abstract…

How about I suggest some more specific approaches:

  • play songs by bands, artists, composers you are interested in (and want to take influence from) - get their music under you fingers, and into your ears.
  • try yourself to be analytical: What is it you most enjoy about their music?; Are there any short musical ideas or characteristics that seem to recur in their music?; If you had to tell another person (musician or otherwise) what the best "bit" from a song you like is, how would you explain it?

These approaches will give you a broader understanding of the sound of the music you are interested in, and suggest ways to emulate, vary and (hopefully) move beyond your influences.

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Music is about expression, and your style should represent you. It sounds to me like you listen to a fair bit of these guys already, and if you want to implement aspects of their style into your own I suggest you learn their songs, try to replicate their songs accurately, transcribe some sections (especially solo lines) etc.

You should be trying to achieve your own unique style, and you will notice that your style will evolve naturally to represent your influences in life (not specially just musical influences). The more time you spend listening and playing other artists music, the more their stuff will influence you in your own style.

E.g. I spent a lot of time listening to Metallica, Creed/Alter Bridge and others when I was a teenager, then I went and studied jazz for a few years, and have spent the last few years listening to gypsy jazz (especially Bireli Lagrene), and Sylvain Luc, and as a result now my playing style has influences of those artists (rhythmic elements from Metallica, Mark Tremonti's gorgeous open tuning guitar riffs, Bireli's feel and Sylvain's tone, etc) while I still feel like my style is my own. You need to be happy and progress with your own style.

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