Oasis Guitar Techniques
Hijacking his brothers band, Noel Gallagher sat down and wrote a staggering string of hits that became the peoples new folksongs, as near as dammit. Douglas Noble dissects the bands recent output and discovers that they know exactly what theyre doing
‘I try not to challenge myself in any aspect of my life, you know,’ once claimed Oasis‘ Noel Gallagher, with tongue inserted into cheek by an unknown degree. ‘Why do that? Why make it hard on yourself? “I really try to take myself out of my comfort zone…” Why? Why do people do that? Get your comfort zone – stay in it! That’s what it’s there for… I never challenge myself. I do the bare minimum.’
Well, innovators they most certainly are not, but the last three Oasis albums, on which this workshop draws – Heathen Chemistry (2002), Don’t Believe The Truth (2005) and Dig Out Your Soul (2008) – saw Noel Gallagher loosening his formerly notoriously tight hold on the songwriting duties. Heathen Chemistry was the first album to include both new members Andy Bell and Colin ‘Gem’ Archer. Experienced musicians and songwriters before they joined Oasis, former Heavy Stereo member Archer contributed guitar, bass, keyboards and harmonica, while former Ride and Hurricane #1 guitarist Bell had to shift over to bass in order to join the band. Besides relinquishing his hold on songwriting, Noel Gallagher also began sharing lead guitar duties with Archer, enabling him to concentrate on vocals when required.
In effect, the Oasis of Heathen Chemistry and afterwards is a band of four songwriters – the two Gallaghers, plus Archer and Bell – giving the band greater depth and range, and a much wider array of influences.
Exercises 1 and 2 look at Oasis‘ use of dropped D tuning, of which much use has been made on the last three of the band’s albums. Exercises 3 to 5 covers chords in the key of G major and E minor, two highly favoured Oasis keys, and examine how chords in these keys often feature shared notes or are connected by passing chords.
Exercise 6 delves into Oasis‘ use of 5 and 6 chords, a stock rock and blues device that the band return every so often – such as after the main riff of Cigarettes & Alcohol. Exercises 7 and 8 look at some of the more unusual chord voicing on the last three Oasis albums, then Exercise 9 touches on their use of compound time. Finally, Exercise 10 picks out some favoured lead licks from the last three albums.