While high profile acts like Nickelback, Sum 41 and Avril Lavigne may dominate the Canadian music spotlight, some artists hover just below the popular radar, influencing and inspiring as much as they entertain. Rob Szabo is one of those artists. Making music for the better part of two decades, this Toronto-based performer has built a very loyal and following thanks in part to his years as a member of the dearly departed power trio Groove Daddys and with his ongoing relationship with dynamic rockers Plasticine.
With tours across Canada, five full-length albums, appearances on national and regional television, a video on Much Music (for Plasticine's tune "No One"), Szabo through his various endeavors, has built an occasionally rabid audience who recognize that this prolific songwriter is not only versatile, but also has a fresh perspective and sound. That is why anticipation for his debut solo album A Battery of Tests was so high.
Take a moment to download an mp3 of Canadian singer/songwriter/guitarist Rob Szabo's "Trampoline", from his release A Battery of Tests on the now-defunct Basement Bar Records label.
from A Battery of Tests
Basement Bar Records
When you've given the tune a few listens, then take a look at the Trampoline tab.
Songwriting Notes on Szabo's "Trampoline"
Rob has illustrated some great songwriting and performance techniques in "Trampoline" that other writers might want to take note of. Here are just a few:
- "Trampoline" begins with acoustic guitar and vocals, then gradually builds by adding more guitars, bass, harmony vocal, etc. This is a commonly used technique, which allows the intensity of a song to grow, and keep the listener interested.
- Although it's an acoustic-sounding song, Szabo eschews traditional strumming, in favor of plucking. This gives "Trampoline" a dramatically different sound.
- Listen carefully to the guitar part - at times it mimics the melody of the lead vocal. This is a powerful technique, used quite frequently to great effect (for a random example, think of Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Chile").
Performance Tips for Rob Szabo's "Trampoline"
Acoustic guitarists used to strumming simple chords will find this song a bit of a challenge, as the rhythm guitar part features "plucking" as opposed to straight strumming. Put your pick down, and focus on using your thumb, first and second fingers to handle plucking the guitar strings. Your thumb will handle plucking the bass notes on the sixth and fifth strings, while your first and second fingers handle the other notes. While the chord names look scary (lots of slash chords) the shapes themselves aren't too challenging.
The rhythm patterns do change subtly from verse to verse within the song, but if I were you, I wouldn't concern myself with the small variations. Just learn the basic pattern, figure out what some of the variations are, and tinker with them yourself. This is a concept you can apply to your own songwriting - small variations in chord shapes (or progressions) in different parts of the song can add subtle complexity that holds up to repeated listening.
Learn More About Rob Szabo
Notable Quotes About Rob Szabo
His music has been called "a perfect blend of accessible yet sophisticated acoustic pop."
"The soul of a poet... a voice of tremendous power and whimsy... one beautiful talent waiting to explode." - SEE Magazine (Edmonton, AB, CANADA)
"Brilliant... Cobain-worthy." - Erie Times (Erie, PA, USA)