Nile Rodgers, producer, musician and songwriter extraordinaire, shares a few secrets about his innovative style of guitar playing, which is much admired, but often poorly imitated.

I saw Nile Rodgers play with Chic at GuilFest 2012 – one of the tightest acts I’ve ever seen. What struck me most was how spartan Nile Rodgers guitar style was. His hands didn’t appear to be as busy as I’d expected. Listening to his music, you imagine that his hands are working overtime. But there’s a bit of an audio illusion going on. He leaves a lot of space in his music. His hands don’t move about as much as you think and though the chords he uses are harmonically rich, he tends not to play all the strings in a chord at once. He prefers to construct his funky chops by hitting only a few strings at a time. As he reveals in the video above, Miles Davis taught him to to leave space in his music. The notes he doesn’t play are almost as important as the ones he does.

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