Welcome to my ‘Black Parade’

As the end of 2012 draws ever nearer, the skills I so desperately desire to be able to express each and every time I wield my six-stringed axe, still feel a million miles away.

My six-stringed romance is not dead though! Far from it. The primal fury that fuels my practice time has this desire to thank for keeping me constantly striving to improve, and with three years and four months under my belt now, I would like to think I am at least going in the right direction. If nothing else, my song choice this month at least demonstrates my desire to keep pushing myself, though it also perhaps simply demonstrates my intrinsic love for anthemic alt rock classics.

This month, more than any other so far, my song of choice has indeed become an obsession and has seen me abandon my usual practice routines in an effort to focus absolutely on getting a basic cover of this song under my fingertips and up to speed.

What song could warrant such an obsession?

The epic: ‘Welcome To The Black Parade’ by My Chemical Romance, and given the furiously heavy frenzy of staccato down-strokes with intermittent accents, it was truly the speed of this song that posed the real challenge for my humble abilities developed thus far.

Added to this challenge, was the issue of trying to find a fusion between the two guitar parts played by My Chemical Romance’s lead guitarist Ray Toro and rhythm guitarist Frank Iero, whilst retaining the essence of the song. Double the challenge, but undoubtedly also double the fun!

There were lots of reasons not to release this video this month: my down-stroke speed endurance is still a work in progress and hitting the accents consistently whilst keeping the rhythmic intensity going, proved a nightmare, but this is constantly improving and always a work in progress, so this song merely found my current upper limits! Another argument for not releasing this video was the fact that there is a brief guitar solo in the original song, performed by both guitarists back to back, and at a pace that I am as yet, unable to reach, despite having the fundamental notes memorised, though I did attempt a brief section of it involving a few bends, following the unattempted initial break-neck three-note per string run. This really highlighted my need to improve my alternate picking technique and overall fluidity, if I am ever to get truly fast in my playing.

Despite the many reasons not to record this video this month, all underlining the fact that I still have an incredibly long way to go to become a competent guitar player, I remembered that the original reason for beginning this guitar journal was to motivate myself by revealing how far I have come, whilst, of course, also highlighting with each and every video the inherent flaws in my current ability to ensure that I also keep striving to improve. I have come to realise that this celebration of the journey so far and simultaneous revelation of the challenges that have yet to be overcome, are both necessary sides of the same coin, and both essential investments in paying my dues on this journey to guitar mastery. Somewhere within this desire to celebrate whilst also being self-aware, so as to strive to keep improving, lives the reason for recording these progress videos that document my six-stringed journey.

Although it may not be a perfect journey, it is nevertheless a journey worth celebrating, and so to bring 2012 to a close, I would like to welcome you to my parade …my black parade!

– Joel BB


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