Ask Dominic

This is where you have the chance to ask Dominic a question. Please contact Dominic under contact@dominicmiller.com. Please understand that Dominic has a busy schedule and although he would love to answer all of your questions, he can only manage a few per month.

 

Question:

I gave 5th House a play again tonight and I'd forgotten how much I like it.  Are you working on a new album?

Also, I just found the Ten Summoner's Tales video on YouTube and it took my breath away.  In fact, I watched it twice through in one sitting - it's magical.  Is there/will there be a DVD copy available? - from Greg Harper

Answer:

I'm glad you like 5th House. I am always working on new material. I think I will record a new album in February. I don't know of a DVD of Ten Summoners Tales.

 

Question:

I tried to learn "soul cakes" and "Gabriel's message" from the album "If on a Winter's night" but they don't seem to be in a "normal tuning". I tried tuned the high E down to B but was never sure if I got it. Can you tell me what the tunings are? Thanks so much! I just love your work - you are a huge inspiration!! - from Tom

Answer:

For "Gabriel's Message" I used the traditional DADGAD tuning (with capo I believe) and for "Soul Cakes" normal tuning. I like experimenting with different tunings particularly in the studio where I sometimes tune to suit the song and to get the best voicings possible. For live performances I usually adapt the part on normal tuning to make for good show continuity. I really like hearing open strings which act as a kind of drone. DADGAD is great for this but I recommend experimenting with differenttunings. DADF#AD is another good one which I have been using recently.

Question:

My question is about "David". Every time I listen to it I am amazed at its power. What is the story behind this song? How did you write it? What inspired you to write it? - from Aida

Answer:

I am glad you like this one. 'David' was the last tune I wrote for 'First Touch'. 'David' is the name of a friend of mine who died in the summer of '95. His wife called me the next day and asked if I could write him a tune. I said I would without thinking and the result is this tune which I wrote without that same afternoon without thinking. It's almost as if it wrote itself. I was just there. I think this is the quickest I have ever composed anything. Usually I like to take my time trying all options with a piece. This one came out the way you hear it. It was written and recorded, as you hear it in less than an hour. I feel 'David' is the tune that was the last piece in the jigsaw for 'First Touch'.

Question:

About a month ago I first saw you on an episode of Studio Jams. How you came up with the two instrumental songs Rush Hour and Otis. They are a couple of the best instrumental songs I have ever heard and I am wondering if you can tell me, what inspired you to write those two particular songs? - from Samuel

Answer:

Rush Hour was originally written and recorded as a kind of power acoustic track. I like playing with styles like this. Playing it on the Jam sessions is really how it should always have been i.e. with a rhythm section, so I really enjoyed the process of going for it in this way. Otis was written for my son by the same name. It's quite a simple structured jam.

Question:

I’d like to know if you’ve used alternative tunings in any song. I have been able to play Eclipse using standard tuning, even if I am not quite sure, because some clusters in it made me think of some dropped string. Second, did you play with fingers or pick? Third, did you use an Ovation with nylon or steel strings? Fourth, in which tracks did you use two guitars (or more) and where is it only one guitar? Finally, are you thinking to publish transcriptions of your music? - from Pierfrancesco

Answer:

Wow, that's a lot of questions! I will do my best: On 'Eclipse' I used normal tuning. On 'Looking For' I used DADGAD, on 'Rush Hour' and 'February Sun' I used a dropped D and on 'Ten Years' I used a dropped C. The guitar I played was a P-Project electric nylon string made in Japan. The only tunes that aren't two guitars are 'Eclipse', 'Ten Years' and 'David'. All the tunes are played with fingers. I prefer the sound. In the last few years I have been playing with fingers and without nails. It's a warmer sound. Less bright. I have been very influences by South American music, particularly from Brazil (Egberto Gismonte, Jobim etc), Venezuela (Antonio Lauro) and Argentina (folklore music, not necessarily tango). I am still influenced by American, Spanish and Arabic music and of course I am influenced by the music of J.S. Bach. He is the original genius. I haven't published 'First Touch' for guitar but a lot of people ask me so it is maybe something to think about.

Question:

Please can you tell me the tuning of your guitar on 'Ten Years' on the 'First Touch' album? - from Christopher

Answer:

The tuning I use for 'Ten Years' is normal except the low E string drops to a C.

Question:

I've not had the chance to hear you play live yet but I was wondering as some of your songs are quite short do you play around with the arrangement to space them out for the gig? Also what was the time signature for Truco? - from Chris

Answer:

It is true we make the arrangements longer in concerts. This is to show or play with different variations. I don't see the need to do this on record because I only want to say what is relevant. For some reason my tunes (or stories) are quite short. Even I get bored with too many words (or notes). I am glad you asked me about 'Truco'. I am proud to say it is all in 4/4. The first stab you hear is on 3 and...

Question:

I am always moved (sometimes to tears) when I listen to Last Song from Second Nature, the best word I have to describe it is 'tender.' I would ask you what you were thinking about when you wrote it, but if I am correct, it was written by Sir Elton John. A lot of how a song sounds also has to do with how the musician who is performing it interprets and plays it. What does the song mean to you? - from Deb

Answer:

The reasons for doing this song are very personal and very sad. I am glad you get something out of it.

Question:

A friend of mine just gave me Second Nature, (very good by the way), and I was thinking: The Last Song, do you play that solo or is there a second guitar? - from Phillip

Answer:

This is played on two guitars. I have since worked out a version for solo guitar.

Question:

My favourite song from Second Nature is Foi Boa. What is it about? - From Nina

Answer:

I am so glad you like 'Second Nature' and I am happy to tell you 'Foi Boa' is my favourite track too. That was the first one I recorded. It is about the experience of meeting someone you love and would like to know and love more and more knowing you might never meet again. It's about the subject of a memory of something like love being more meaningful than the action. It's about longing.

Question:

On Sunday evening I listened to Second Nature and again extremely enjoyed If. It's a really fantastic song. It makes me feel being close to the ocean since I listened to it last year when I was in Italy. The feeling I had then is a very lasting experience... I always remember the smooth movement of the waves. - From Alex

Answer:

I am glad you like 'If'. The tune was originally meant to mean 'If I could love someone it would only be you'.

Question:

I have a question about the Second Nature album. I think I listen to it more than any other CD because it makes me feel so relaxed. My favourite piece is Quiero Decirte. I was just wondering what it means in English and what inspired you to write it. Beautiful music. - from Anna

Answer:

I am glad you like 'Quiero Decirte'. It was actually the first tune I wrote for the album. I means 'I want to tell you'. It's about wanting to tell someone you love them but are too embarrassed or not ready.

Question:

I bought Third World a week ago and I like it very much, it's very emotional and interesting, the music I'm searching for and find. I'm practising Letter Unsent by ear. These riffs really make me imagine someone singing on that track. Would you please tell me the story behind that unsent letter? - from Andris

Answer:

I am glad you like this tune. Actually I also imagined this one as a song because I was originally singing the melody. Most of my tunes start out this way. But in the end I made it an instrumental. It is not difficult to play. I hope you enjoy it.

Question:

My question, what ever inspired you to write such a beautiful song as Forgotten Dream on Third World? It's like no other I've ever heard. I'd like to know what was going through your head at the time. - From Bonnie

Answer:

'Forgotten Dream' is exactly what it says on the label. I woke up one morning with a unique feeling that I had had some amazing beautiful, but sad dream but couldn't for the life of me remember what it was or who was in it. So I documented this feeling or emotion in the only language I really knew how. Music.

Question:

I have read that you feel better able to express yourself in instrumental music than lyrics. I was pleasantly surprised to hear on Third World the song (with lyrics) Denver Sun. I am curious about this song and the lyrics. I believe the liner notes give credit to William Topley for 'vocals'. Did you write the lyrics and what was is like for you to put lyrics to your music and publish it? - From Deb

Answer:

William Topley is one of my best friends. Being an intimate kind of album I wanted to include a 'friend'. The lyrics are his and the music mine. It deals with the life of a musician on the road meeting a particular girl whenever he is in that town. I find it very romantic. Sounds like a cliché idea but it's both sad and beautiful.

Question:

Does Altea, the 12th track on Third World refer to the Spanish Mediterranean coastal town near Benidorm? Also, why after about 3.53 minutes of phrases is there silence for almost 15 minutes before you re-appear on a beautiful tune with a background feminine voice speaking French, apparently on the phone? What does this lapse mean? - From Isabel

Answer:

'Altea' is written after the Spanish town. I wrote it while I was there a few years ago. I love the place (or the region) because it's kind of mysterious or witchy in a positive sort of way. I love the language they speak there and it comes as no surprise to hear that many artists and poets go there for inspiration. The gap after it was intentional. I wanted the listener to get a surprise track fifteen minutes later. The reason for this is because I didn't think that tune (titles 'Apres le Beep') should be on the album because it wasn't musically related to the other tunes but at the same time I wanted to 'show' it. The woman speaking is my wife (who is French) and she is basically giving me shit on the answer phone (hence the title) because I was I didn't live up to her expectations on a certain incident. I found this amusing but still quite therapeutic putting it on my album plus the concept of having the last laugh. She thinks it's funny too now.

Question:

I got Third World two weeks ago and I like it very much. My favourite is Devil's Punch Bowl. How did you come to this title with the Devil in it although it's such a wonderful piece of music and what does the title really mean? - from Kerstin

Answer:

The title 'Devil's Punch Bowl' signifies a particular area on the A3 road about 40 miles south of London. There is some mystique surrounding this region. Kipper lives near there and I recorded this tune at his place. On my way home I was trying to think of a title whereupon this one came to me. Perhaps not very interesting, but you did ask.

Question:

I love the first song Always on your Third World album. I wish it was longer! Sorry to keep asking, but what inspired you to write it? I think it's beautiful. - From Anna

Answer:

'Always' is about relentless love for someone. There is one note that keeps repeating which is this feeling. The chords around it are like different ways of saying 'I love you'.

Question:

On the track one more second, the section w/Dave Heath did you write something specifically for the flute and the other woodwind sections on the album, or did he improvise around the melody and the mood of the pieces? Also has your niece Claudia, who sings on Count It Off, sung on anything else either with you or another artist or has plans to do so? Finally, did you record the master edition of Bachiana? - from Jackie

Answer:

David improvised around a theme I proposed to him. He expanded on it. Claudia is new to the industry. I am proud to have her on my record. I decided against 'Bachiana' in the end.

Question:

I was wondering if there is a story behind how you arrived at the final song order for Fourth Wall? Also, once you've completed an album, do you consider it 'done', or do you still hear things you'd like to change in the songs? - from Amy

Answer:

I came to the order decision at the last minute. The other one just didn't feel right. I am much happier with the new order which I believe runs smoother. Whenever I hear anything I have done I can always hear how I could improve it. But whether I can or not is a different matter. I don't think I have made the perfect recording or performance of any tune so far in my career. This is partly what drives me to improve. I sometimes listen to my old albums. The more distance or time I have from them the easier they are to listen to. I can accept them more because they remind me of where I was spiritually and emotionally. The fresher they are (like 'Fourth Wall') the harder it is because I can hear possible changes or alterations all the time simply because what I hear is my place in the universe right now.

Question:

In Lyre String why did you decide not to choose Willam's vocal to be included in the mix? I thought the vocal piece is pretty good as well but your instrumental of the piece is superb too. - from Linda

Answer:

I decided not to use lyrics in 'Lyre's String' to keep the album's instrumental feel. I do really like Williams's version too and I am sure I will use it some day.

Question:

Why did you change the running order at the last minute? Has it to do with the changes you made on Count It Off? - from Peter

Answer:

It was a last minute change. The other order stopped working for me. I think this is better. The only place for 'Count it Off' was at the end.

Question:

I notice in the liner notes on Fourth Wall that you play keyboards for some of the tunes too, which I don't think I or many fans know about. Do you learn to play keyboards since childhood as well? Finally, how do you decide on the sequencing of the tunes? Do you relate to them as a sequence to tell a complete story or do they have individual meaning for you now that the album is completed? - from Linda

Answer:

I am not a serious keyboard player. I can just about handle playing the chords I want to hear. The sequencing is decided by the mood and the keys.

Question:

Meeting Point is a classic. It reminds me of Jan Grabarek's airy compositions. Was all of Rhani's percussion tracked in one take? Have you picked a label yet? - from Michael

Answer:

That was Rhani all in one take except for the chorus where he overdubbed a Moroccan tambourine. I am sticking with the European label and am still looking for a US label.

Question:

I have a question regarding the mastering and final order of Fourth Wall. What happened with Bachiana and Barock? Those were roughs that were placed on your site some weeks ago, but as I see the final order, they are not showing up. - from Martin

Answer:

'Barock' is still there but is now called 'Three Souls'. 'Bachiana' is a great tune but I couldn't make it fit with the others.

Question:

I have a question about your new album. Does Sting sometimes comment on your demo tracks? How important are his comments for you? - from Margitta

Answer:

Sting does make comments on my music which I find useful sometimes. He just uses pure instinct and likes or dislikes music from the heart. He is brutally honest with me but I am happy to say he likes most of my new album. His favourite is 'Iguazu'.

Question:

I was fascinated by your and Sting's performance of and comments about playing Bach in the hallway of Sting's home on the All This Time DVD. Have you and Sting ever considered recording a CD of Bach's Partitas together? - from Patti

Answer:

I recorded an album 'Shapes' which have two or three of these partitas recorded with my own arrangements. I dare not do them for real. I would prefer to leave that to the specialists like Julian Bream or John Williams.

Question:

The song Presto on the Shapes album... is it two guitars that are playing or do you play the whole thing alone? - from Normand

Answer:

I only wish I could do this with one guitar. The main part is as written for violin on one guitar (an octave lower). I added a rhythm guitar arrangement. I then added a bass line and finally I played all the percussion on the guitar. Oh, and some hand claps. One could call it cheating but the thing about making a record is you are in a recording environment which is a perfect place to experiment. I can do a solo version of this tune which also works live but when in the studio, why not!

Question:

How can I get the notes for the Presto? It is wonderful. I'm not a very good guitarist, but I would train for hours to play this. - From Josef

Answer:

I took the notes from the J S Bach book of Partitas and Sonatas. I am playing exactly the same notes but adding different parts on bass and rhythm. Glad you like it!

Question:

The more I listen to Shapes the more beautiful I think it is. All the songs are amazing but there are two that I particularly like: one is the first track and the other is Mi Fe. It surprised me the fact that Alejandro Lerner participated in the album. I am not a fan of him but I must say that I really love that song. I wanted to ask you how he came to play with you and who wrote the lyrics of Mi Fe. - From Myrian

Answer:

I am so glad you like the album. The first is my favourite too. I have known Alejandro for a few years having collaborated with him on his albums and a songwriting retreat in France. I wanted a Latin song on the album so I thought it natural to ask him. He wrote the lyrics.

Question:

I noticed that on Ave Maria, Sting and Placido Domingo recorded their parts in separate studios. Did you attend both sessions? What is it like to work with Placido Domingo? His voice is such an incredible gift. Is he as gracious and professional as he comes across? - from Dawn

Answer:

Actually, I wasn't there for either Sting's or Placido's vocals because they had to do their performances where they were. Sting in Paris and Placido in Italy while I was busy trying to finish the album in England. But I know all about the sessions. Placido had sung an opera in Rome and then gone to an ambassadorial dinner before going to the studio at 1:00am. Unbelievable dedication. He was there until 3:00am. He says he likes recording after an opera because his vocal chords are looser. I am so happy to have him on the record. I have since seen him and talked about his experience and of course thanked him. I think his performance on 'Misa Criolla' is magical. Sting did the usual amazing vocal.

Question:

Your version of Gymopaedie Number 1 by Eric Satie on Shapes is one of the best things I have ever heard. - from Des

Answer:

I am so glad you like this version of Satie. I really think his music lends itself to this style. I am looking forward to experimenting with Debussy and Ravel.

Question:

I was just wondering if you ever recorded the guitar solo of Shape of my Heart as you did it in 'The Professional'... that last scene where Mathilde was walking in the yard... and then as the movie ended, it went into the original one, but that simple guitar piece before that is what always comes up in my mind and I have hoped for it when I bought your album with Neil Stacey and the Demolition Man soundtrack. Would you ever consider recording it as a single? - From Don

Answer:

I remember recording that intro for ‘The Professional’ (which is called 'Leon' in France and Europe). Luc Besson was a fan of the song and called me up to ask if I could customise it for him and then segue into the original. It worked out well. But it's exclusive to the movie so I can't release it in that form.

Question:

In which key did you write Shape Of My Heart (the intro and solo/instrumental part) it sounds like they were written in different keys. - from Soy

Answer:

The intro is in F#minor and then modulated to C# minor for the solo. Originally I wrote this in E minor. I am glad you enjoy it.

Question:

Please could you tell/show/communicate the fingering for Shape Of My Heart. I have played it a several ways and they all have their own idiosyncratic hardships, so rather than let my fingers drop off I thought I'd ask the writer. - from Pete

Answer:

There are indeed different ways of playing this part. The way it was recorded was by having the high note on the G string and 14th fret going down etc. The way I like to play it now is with the high note on the B string and 10th fret. The simplest way but not the best sounding is to play it 'downstairs' with the high note on the E string and 5th fret.

Question:

How did you end up arranging the alternate opening for Shape of My Heart for the film 'The Professional?' Did Luc Besson personally choose that song? It's a beautiful arrangement.

Answer:

Luc Besson personally called me up and asked if he could use the song for his movie and if I wouldn't mind doing a custom version for the film. Of course I was interested so I did, and had a lot of fun working the arrangement to picture. I was just playing around with different keys until I arrived at what you hear.

Question:

Some pupils at the school have heard the song - Shape of my Heart, on the new CD and think it is great. I am willing to pay for the music if this is necessary. Although I have already been told that the music for this song is not available some pupils in the school that I teach in have expressed an interest in performing this song and I wondered how it would be possible to give them the opportunity to play this music, especially the guitar so that they could be further motivated. - From Alistair

Answer:

Thanks for your interest in this song. I get a lot of questions about it. As far as I know there isn't an official publication of the guitar part but there are many unofficial ones. It's actually all down to the fingering which seems to vary from one guitarist to another.

Question:

Could you please tell me what guitar you use in the Shape Of My Heart video? - From Paul

Answer:

The nylon I used on the video was a Rodriguez classical guitar. Very serious.

Question:

I just got done watching your videos on the sting website and I have to say I feel like I just had a conversation with my best friend! I purchased a classical guitar (I've been playing regular guitars for years) and it is so different. I don't know where to start. I learned La Belle Dame Sans Regrets - most of it anyway. Do you have any tips? - from Tim

Answer:

I am glad you have taken the time out to learn La Belle. You must have a lot of patience because this is quite a tricky one to play. My main tip for this tune would be to practice playing the melody on its own to try and make it 'sing' as much as possible. Then do the same with the rhythm and try and make it as smooth and relaxed as you can. The reason I say this is because if you separate the parts you have a better chance of understanding their nature. Then have a rest. Now play the tune with both parts, remembering what you have worked on. I think you will find some improvement. The beauty of Bossa Nova and most Brazilian music from that era is that the guitar parts are so self-contained. The master would be the guitarist Baden Powel. He sounded like an orchestra playing different parts against each other and even tackling polyrhythms. Deep ***t!

Question:

Would it be fair to say that La Belle Dame Sans Regrets is a tribute to Jobim? - From Colin

Answer:

La Belle was indeed inspired by Jobim. I wrote the music (or it wrote itself, more like) the day I heard of his death which had a profound effect on me like Kennedy or Lennon dying. I was a passenger while putting this together and he was driving.

Question:

When I heard La Belle Dame Sans Regrets I just fell in love with it. In fact, I think the first time I heard it was from the movie 'French Kiss'. Where did you get that inspiration to write that song? - from Ivy

Answer:

The day I heard Antonio Carlos Jobim died I wrote that music. It is directly inspired by his and all Brazilian music. I am glad you identify with it.

Question:

On Mercury Falling there is a song called La Belle Dame Regrets and it's also on your album New Dawn, and my question is did you write the guitar part? - From Jacky

Answer:

I did write the music and guitar part for that song. It's a co-write like ‘Shape of my Heart’. I am glad you like it. It is directly influenced by the style of playing of my favourite guitarist Baden Powell.

Question:

While everyone asks you and knows everything about Shape Of My Heart would you please tell me the story of Lullaby To An Anxious Child? I love both songs but Lullaby is closer to my heart. I have learnt it a few days ago, and I really enjoy playing a song of yours what I'm able to sing too. It's strange, because as I'm listening to Second Nature it makes me think that it was a complete piece before Sting wrote the lyrics. How much of the song belong to him? - from Andris

Answer:

It was a complete piece of music before Sting came to it. He wrote the lyrics and I wrote the music (and melody). This tune very much South American approach (particularly Venezuelan and Peruvian) in harmony and rhythm which I have a strong identification with. I wrote it in hotel room in Japan during the Soul Cages tour of 1991/1992. I am glad you like it.

Question:

I was wondering if you could tell me about the effect used on the electric guitar for the main riff in A Thousand Years. Also, I read somewhere that the riff was based on a Bach piece... anything to that? - from Gordan

Answer:

It is very much based on a Bach riff. I just used some chorus, delay and compression for the sound.

Question:

I was watching the DVD from the rehearsals for the Sacred Love album again and picked up All Would Envy. I've tried to find the chords to play but I can't really picture it. Any chance you know what key it is in? - from Peter

Answer:

This song is in the key of C#. It's quite a tricky chord sequence. I don't know of any transcriptions. Chris Botti recorded this song on his last album.

Question:

I always wondered where did the guitar progression on Bring On The Night came from, as it always looked to me as a classical study. I've seen you have added the song into your solo concerts' set list, so I guess you do like it quite a bit. Could you also tell me how did it evolve to become Never Coming Home and what was your participation on the arrangements? - From Julio

Answer:

‘Bring on the Night’ was played by Sting and I think it is influenced by a combination of Villa Lobos and Spanish music. If you listen carefully you will see that the shapes are the same as ‘Fragile’. ‘Never Coming Home’ is indeed based on the same riff. I came up with the electric ideas for that song but also played the acoustic part (which is Sting's).

Question:

How do songs like Desert Rose, which have so many different parts/tracks develop? - from Adrien

Answer:

A song like 'Desert Rose' is not reliant on the guitar. It is more production driven. The guitar has its place but it is not central to the song. On songs like this I like to do various parts or layers and then let the producers come up with a composite.

Question:

I was curious about a song included in Sting's Ten Summoner's Tales album, called Everybody Laughed But You. What's the story behind this song and have You also worked on it? I think this is a very lovely song and I was surprised that it has such a small publicity compared to other songs from this album. Have you ever performed this song at some gig? - from Arthur

Answer:

I remember this song well and am a big fan. We used to do this and still do in soundchecks. We have often tried putting it in our set but there never seems to be a place for it. It is kind of isolated as a song. But we all like it.

Question:

I was wondering what effects do you use on your Guild Paloma when you play Fields Of Gold. - from Carlo

Answer:

I use a bit of chorus for this song.

Question:

I was wondering what tuning you use for country/slide guitar, e.g. on 'Fill Her Up' from the brand new day album. - from Lars

Answer:

I use normal tuning for slide. I am not a slide expert. Sometimes it is good to use DADGAD.

Question:

I've been obsessed for years by the Mercury Falling album and specially by I Hung My Head. What's your opinion about this song (lyrics/melody/harmony and time signature ) Have you ever thought about making an acoustic version of that with Sting? - from Nuno

Answer:

I also love this song. The time signature is out there (9/8). It reminds me of the Mahavishnu Orchestra approach to a guitar riff. Perhaps I will one day do an acoustic version!

Question:

I really like the guitar on I Was Brought to my Senses and was wondering if you came up with that part, or if Sting worked that out, or was it collaborative? I also really like how it starts in D and then shifts up into G. I was wondering if that was like that from the beginning, or if that was something that was arrived at after some evolution etc. It's really effective musically I think, fitting what the song is about, (a kind of epiphany) so it seems like that may have been the plan from the beginning, but wondering if that was indeed the case. - From Brian

Answer:

'I Was Brought To My Senses' was initially Sting's creation. Actually, it is he who plays the intro on guitar and then I take over when it goes into tempo (which I am sure you worked out was 7/8). The opening bars were jammed for a while in the making of the song until Sting started singing, finding his melodic idea too high. This is why we were looking for a better key to go to. I remember the moment well when we realised the best place to go was G major (which is just down a tone from the previous chord (A major). The thing with key changes is to make them sound natural and not mentally (or emotionally, more importantly) challenging. A good example of this can be heard on 'When we Dance'. It actually goes up a semitone but it very well concealed. Going up a semitone is the hardest key change of all. Some people just go up one, but there are better ways and I think this song demonstrates this very well.

Question:

The intro to Mad About You: normal or open tuning? Which guitar and which effects? - from Neil

Answer:

Mad About You is played with the guitar tuned down a semi-tone. On the album I used a Buzuki and a Telecaster playing the same riff.

Question:

I always wondered where did the guitar progression on Bring On The Night came from, as it always looked to me as a classical study. I've seen you have added the song into your solo concerts' set list, so I guess you do like it quite a bit. Could you also tell me how did it evolve to become Never Coming Home and what was your participation on the arrangements? - From Julio

Answer:

‘Bring on the Night’ was played by Sting and I think it is influenced by a combination of Villa Lobos and Spanish music. If you listen carefully you will see that the shapes are the same as ‘Fragile’. ‘Never Coming Home’ is indeed based on the same riff. I came up with the electric ideas for that song but also played the acoustic part (which is Sting's).

Question:

I've seen you play Seven Days a few times live and you seem to be using open tuning. Or are my eyes deceiving me? - from Neil

Answer:

Seven Days is played with normal tuning.

Question:

In the song Hounds of Winter, you play a guitar figure over verses 3 & 4. It's quite low-down in the mix. It's a rolling, finger picking sort of thing. I love it - it complements the song just right. I've seen you play it several times but it's kind of over in a flash. Can you describe it? I want to play it and I know that with a description from you I'll be able to. - from Garry

Answer:

I am glad you picked out that part for 'Hounds of Winter' because I like it too. I had to kind of sneak it in there when we were making it so as not to draw too much attention to it which might have made the boss reluctant to have it 'survive' on the track. It's basically an open arpeggio motif using the top E string as a kind of drone or pedal. the notes are (from low to high) C# A E (fretted) and open E, next chord B G# Eflat and open E again etc. If you grasp this concept of the part I think it will make it easier for you to get the rest. Q. What classical guitar did you use on The Soul Cages album? And what electric guitar gear did you use - I've found out that you've used Vox AC30 (combo?) but I'm very curious if you used any additional distortion, especially on the title track. What electric guitar did you use (on the videoclip for Soul Cages I can see a strat-like shaped guitar)? Did you use any pedals? - from Mateusz A. I used a Rodriguez classical guitar. I played mostly on a P-Project Strat copy. P-Project is the custom store of Fernandes guitars. I occasionally used a Les Paul. I played a Basuki on 'Mad About You' which was doubled with a Telecaster. I also used a few Boss pedals (delay, chorus, distortion, and compression). I mostly recorded the electric DI (straight into the desk). Hugh Padgham, the producer and engineer had me going through some good pre-amps. Yes I did use a Vox AC30 but also used a Messa Boogie Mak 3 amp. Q. How did you compose your parts? Did you improvise a lot or maybe you had a more classical approach? - from Mateusz A. It was mostly Sting, Manu and myself in the studio (Kenny wasn't there much) so I had a lot of freedom with my parts on this record as I was covering all the harmony. I try to compliment the melody as much as possible by playing chords that are more ambiguous than anything else. There is no formula. I like to colour the music more than play heroic guitar parts.

Question:

I recently came across my copy of Soul Cages and remembered how much I loved your tones on that album. I wondered if the clean electric parts on that album were stereo 'rack sounds' and what you were using for all those great ambient tones. Any pictures of your rig back then? Also loved your tone and parts on the title song Soul Cages. Excellent riff. Was there some slight pitch detune on the main guitar part? - from Paul

Answer:

You might be horrified to hear that the the set up I used for that album (and the track Soul Cages) was very simple. The stereoness comes from sometimes tracking myself. I like to get a good clean Strat sound with a clear part and then track it and/or embellish it with something else. I used a basic pedal board with compression, delay and some chorus. For the heavier sounds I used a boss Heavy Metal. Most of this album was recorded DI (direct input). I used an amp occasionally (Mesa Boogie Mark III). I used a Fernandes Strat copy for this record and sometimes used the Les Paul and a few acoustics. Most importantly, I had the freedom to express myself the way I believed in on this album perhaps more than on any other. Sting didn't really know me so he listened. This is why it still remains my favourite.

Question:

I want to know what guitar effects are used with your good ol' Fender Strat on The Wild Wild Sea. - from Filip

Answer:

For the 'The Wild Wild Sea' I remember going straight to the desk (no amp) and the only effects were compressor, delay and chorus pedals. Quite basic really.

Question:

I wanted to tell you what a great, beautiful record you and Dylan made with The Latin/jazz Guitars of Dominic Miller & Dylan Fowler. I came upon it in 1984 when I was 14 or 15 yrs old at the time and had been taking guitar lessons. I was obsessed with the guitar and that record. Little did you know there was a kid in Ventura, California really digging your music. I still have a really poor copy of three songs on it. My wish is you guys could some how have it re-released. - From Jon

Answer:

This was a really rare record. As far as I remember there were only 1,000 printed. It was the first record I made and I don't even have a copy of it. Strange I know. I wouldn't mind getting a copy myself! I am glad you like it though.

Question:

I was wondering which guitar you used on all the demo pieces for the 4th Wall? Was it the all maple wood Kazafumi? I absolutely love your arrangements on Marcello & Villa Lobos' pieces and the way you blended in Iguazu. The different tones/colours and sustains that are produced on these pieces makes me feel that it's not the usual solid body nylon-string guitars being played. If I'm right ...I want one of those Kazafumi guitars BIG TIME !!! - from Paul

Answer:

You are right about the guitar. I am addicted to this instrument and can't seem to put it down. The difference in recording with this one (hollow body) and a solid body guitar like the Guild, P-Project or any other similar guitar is in the overtones. Being a real acoustic the pick-ups are responding to the instrument as a whole rather than just what is coming off the bridge. I hope this makes sense.

Question:

What is the significance of Fourth Wall? How did you come to that title? - from Mary

Answer:

Fourth Wall is a theatrical term relating to an actor either looking or speaking to a member of the audience. It's called 'breaking the fourth wall'.

Question:

I ran across the No Speak series that IRS Records put out. I noticed you contributed a song to it in 1991 on the 3rd volume of these albums. Having never heard the song, is it a rock song or is it a more mellow song? - Ken

Answer:

It is much more a rock song. Vinnie Colaiuta played the drums.