Over the next few weeks we’ll be revealing some of the great new songs appearing on our Rock & Pop 2018 syllabus in a series of video showcases. The first spotlights songs on the Guitar syllabus, and features session guitarist Luke Higgins; watch him put his spin on five songs and find out why he thinks they’ll be so great to learn and are so enjoyable to play.
The iconic riff in the opening bars of Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ hooked Luke: ‘I know for me, probably at the earliest stages of learning guitar, it was a riff that I desperately wanted to play. The combination of the power chords and the muted percussive strumming gives it so much aggression and attitude.’ Kurt Kobain used an Electro Harmonix Polychorus on the track, and Luke said he rushed out and bought it like many others at the time.
David Bowie’s ‘Ziggy Stardust’ features Mick Ronson on guitar. Ronson plays the iconic opening riff, which Luke feels cans sometimes be overlooked, ‘so if you want to turn some heads in guitar shops, get this one down.’ Luke’s favourite part of the track is the pre-chorus with the semi-quaver power chords: ‘they just sound great, a lot of attitude, and really set the chorus up well.’
The complex opening guitar riff and solo on ‘Are You Gonna Go My Way’ by Lenny Kravitz was played by Kravitz’s sideman Craig Ross. Luke enjoys playing the solo which has ‘quite a lot of complex, fast pentatonic runs. They jump from the major pentatonic to the minor pentatonic giving it flavours from different angles. It’s great fun, if you can keep up…’
Luke describes Oasis’s ‘Morning Glory’ as ‘not far off the perfect classic rock song’. He cites Noel Gallagher as a personal hero: ‘Definitely, 100% the reason why I picked up the guitar in the first place, because I wanted to be Noel Gallagher basically, writing songs, playing songs, in a band like Oasis, and hence why I have a red Gibson 335.’ Luke says playing this song is massively rewarding, as it ‘feels like rock and roll in your hands’.
‘With a Little Help from My Friends’ by Joe Cocker is, in Luke’s opinion, ‘the perfect combination of soulful song-writing combined with blues.’ On playing it Luke said: ‘you’ve got these fantastic unison guitar bends in the beginning and there’s some great breaks where the guitar can ad-lib with some bluesy pentatonic runs.’
Luke Higgins is a London-based professional session guitarist and is currently working with James Arthur and Pixie Lott. Previously, he’s also worked with artists including Badly Drawn Boy, Lighthouse Family, Backstreet Boys, Amy Winehouse, Adele and The Script.
With a huge range of songs spanning all contemporary styles, the new Rock & Pop 2018 syllabus lets you play the music you love. Find out more about the new syllabus and sign up to hear updates at trinityrock.com/2018.
Rock & Pop 2018: Real Songs. Real Skills. Real Progress.