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Songbook: The Sound of Steve Hackett

Steve Hackett’s sound has always caused an enormous impact on Paulo De Carvalho.

Paulo has always spent hours listening to Steve’s recordings, writing down the notes, playing parts of Steve’s songs in his guitar trying to figure out how Steve came up to produce a particular sound or effect. Indeed, Steve Hackett is a prominent musician whose talent surpasses dexterity in performing progressive rock: seeking texture and colors have always been his mark. A self taught professional, Steve has never allowed himself to be sidetracked by showing-off his technique: for him technique must exist only to exalt musicality. This was the propeller motor for Paulo to write the book.

Paulo De Carvalho decided to get in touch with Steve to propose to transcribe for the guitar some of his solo career songs in order to publish a songbook. The idea of having his songs available to the public as music sheets with chords and tablatures revised by him attracted Steve specially because guitar players throughout the world would have a trustworthy material to play with. Paulo and Steve stayed in touch and for about four years they worked together.

A mixing of a book and a songbook, the most relevant and differentiating fact about the work certainly is that, to the moment of its publication, a songbook on Steve’s solo career has never been released. While carefully transcribing Steve’s music, Paulo De Carvalho had the privilege of, in different moments, asking in person to Steve small questions about fingerings, chord shapes, techniques, timbre, and musical gears that he used. Steve carefully revised the information Paulo added to the book. Because of that, the songbook contains authentic transcriptions and it perpetuates in written some of Steve’s music.

The songbook recalls events from many years ago and it required hours of conversations with Steve about his versatility both as a guitarist and composer. In this matter, it innovates the concept of songbook, stretching its meaning by providing pioneering guitar transcriptions, all made by Paulo De Carvalho, at the same time that it stresses the techniques used by Steve and itevidences the investigation on the instruments, gears and techniques chosen by Steve, which were explained in details to Paulo by Steve. The result points directly to Steve’s unique and distinguished sound – as per the title of the songbook.

The songbook is a product of meticulous research. Besides the discussions with Steve, the sources were based on communications with people that had worked directly for, and with Steve.
These included: Jo Hackett, composer, Steve’s wife and co-manager; John Hackett, Steve’s brother, a flautist, composer and guitarist who has recorded and composed with Steve; Amanda Lehmann, singer and guitarist who sang in many of Steve’s live shows and recordings; Pete Cornish, who built pedalboards for Steve throughout his career; and Richard Buckland, guitar tech and production coordinator of Steve’s concerts from 1992 to present.

Choosing what songs would be in the songbook was not an easy task. Few musicians have such a vast amount work to their credit as Steve does, ranging from classical to rock. The valuable collaboration and receptivity of Steve and Jo were of utmost importance to the selection. Steve gave the final approval of the list of songs to be included in the book.

Since the beginning Paulo felt the need to provide the reader a chronological sequence of Steve’s career, not only for organizational purposes, but mainly because he found out that Steve’s varied history led him to build his most unique sound and musical identity, which are the main objects of the songbook.

Paulo De Carvalho came up with three musical eras:

  • Era I: Developing Musicality and Professional Beginning, which describes the musical environment that Steve belonged since an early age and the acquisition of an harmonica, his first instrument. It stressed the recording of Steve’s very first track, which was with the band Canterbury Glass. Steve played both the harmonica and the guitar on it. This section ends reporting Steve’s first entire album, The Road, recorded with the band Quiet World.
  • Era II: Finding His Sound starts with the Genesis Era moving on to expose many of the techniques, guitars and pedalboards used by Steve.
  • Era III: Steve’s Solo Career provides a selection of guitar transcriptions from Steve’s Solo Career, all written by Paulo De Carvalho.

In each of Steve’s musical eras Paulo proposed, Steve was developing different approaches, creating new techniques, as evidenced throughout the book.

Upon thorough investigation, Paulo De Carvalho came up with charts that showcased Steve’s instruments and gears in each musical era. He was careful to make visible and clear the connections Steve chose to better produce the sound that he was searching for in each album, live and/or in studio. In this matter, Pete Cornish’s contribution makes public, for the first time,
information on signal path on two of Steve’s pedalboards. Steve has revised all these charts that are, therefore, very reliable.

Aside from the two pictures of the cover by Bill Banasiewicz Wilmington and Lee Milleard respectively, the book includes unpublished photographs of Steve’s hands on the guitar showing details of his techniques. Paulo De Carvalho took those pictures at Steve’s live performances as well as in his home. You will also find numerous unpublished photos of Steve’s original instruments and pedalboards, all taken by Paulo.

In accordance with its title, the songbook is not just about music sheets, charts and tablatures. It is about the music that has shaped the legendary Steve Hackett. Above all, it is about Steve’s sound.

Buy @ Amazon.

© Paulo De Carvalho

Last modified on Monday, 19 June 2017 08:42

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