Video Review: Expanding Guitar’s Harmonic Vocabulary with Artificial Harmonics Part I by Genil Castro

Review by Az Samad

I’ve always been mesmorized by the sound of guitar harmonics. I first studied it when I learned classical guitar pieces like El Testament d’Amelia by Miguel Llobet. Later on, when I started getting more into contemporary fingerstyle guitar and jazz guitar – I realised there was a whole other world. This was a world where improvised lines in harmonics (like what Tal Farlow did) and cascading harp harmonics (like what Lenny Breau did) lived together beyond the confines of composed classical guitar structures and forms.

The challenge of learning this technique is not only the technique itself but in getting enough control to be able to incorporate this sound in a musical context. In this new masterclass by maestro Genil Castro, I learned some awesome cool things. Firstly, he begins by sharing his own experience discovering this sound as a student at Guitar Institute of Technology (GIT) back around 1983 and 1984. He shares his story of watching Larry Coryell & Lenny Breau performing with this technique. Part of learning is to feel the connection with the lineage – that’s part of what’s special in this video. Not only did I learn exercises, details about the technique (including some insights on how Lenny’s right hand technique was like) but I also learned about Genil’s thought process and practice process.

This is really valuable stuff as I can feel the love and care that Genil put into the course. We get a 17-page handout with LOTS of examples and great world class playing in the video for us to emulate. I also like the convenience of having a Soundsliced example of one of my favorite sounds from the class, the Breaurio Chord.

I also think it’s important to note that the real highlight of this video is not just the technique alone but the application of this within a jazz harmonic context. This is what lifts this video to go beyond being strictly a technique instructional video. The video is an experience in learning the sound and being connected to the music itself.

Strongly recommended.

Pros: Good introduction to the technique and concept, lots of material to practice in the PDF files.
Cons: None.
TLDR: If you’ve been curious about how to use artificial harmonics in a musical way, this master class by Genil will give you some great food for thought and guidance.

February 13, 2019

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