You've successfully subscribed to Dr. Jon 🎸
Great! Next, complete checkout for full access to Dr. Jon 🎸
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.
Success! Your billing info is updated.
Billing info update failed.
TP #1 — The Pluck

TP #1 — The Pluck

Dr. Jonathan L. Smith
Dr. Jonathan L. Smith

Welcome to the first issue of my newsletter, The Pluck. It is a new adventure to write in this format, so don’t be surprised if I change style from time to time. If you have feedback along the way, please let me know!

Each newsletter has 5 parts:

  1. Personal Blog Feature
  2. Composer-highlight
  3. Guitarist-highlight
  4. Producer-highlight
  5. Weekly Listening

Now onto this week’s newsletter.


Let’s be honest. Composers are afraid of the guitar.

Here are 5 reasons:

  1. The Guitar is Too Complex
  2. No One Taught Them How (At Least Not Correctly)
  3. No Time to Figure It Out
  4. Who’s Going to Play It?
  5. Familiar Bias

Read the details in my first official blog.


Composer Howard Shore Features the Guitar as a Primary Sound in The Departed

Howard Shore, Canadian composer, has composed over 80 film scores, and is most recognized for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Film trilogies.

In The Departed soundtrack, he collaborated with three highly respected and sought after guitar players in the music industry: Sharon Isbin, G.E. Smith, Larry Saltzman, and Marc Ribot (Dobro).

The tonal palette is wide with this one. The sounds range from Isbin’s beautiful touch on the classical guitar to Smith and Saltzman’s steel-string and electric guitar magic.

For more information, see Gramophone’s review by Adrian Edwards and listen to the score directly from my curated Spotify playlist:


Julian Bream Will Be Greatly Missed

Julian Bream, one of the most idolized and revolutionary guitarists of our time, passed away on August 14 at age 87.

Evening Standard/Getty Images

My audio library is full of Bream’s records. He was every guitar student’s go-to reference, he wowed audiences across the world with limitless expression, character, and color, and he inspired prominent composers to write for the guitar. Bream and his contribution to music and guitar will forever be categorized with past legends such as Francisco Tárrega, Miguel Llobet, and Andrés Segovia.

Mr. Bream, I hope you are still playing the most beautiful guitar wherever you are.

Tom Cole, Senior Editor from NPR, wrote a notable obituary which expounds on Bream’s connection to jazz, which is seldomly discussed. Check out his article entitled, Julian Bream, The Classical Guitar Giant With The Soul Of A Jazz Player.


Electric Guitar Written in a Not-So-Traditional Way

Still Lives (2013) for electric guitar composed by Jay Hurst stretches the ear with reverb effects, delay pedals, and allen wrenches. 📣

Jay Hurst (b. 1989) is an Indiana-based composer of concert, film, and electronic music. He is an ASCAP award recipient and an instructor at Indiana University. Read his bio in more detail here.

II. reunion (excerpt) from Still Lives by Jay Hurst

Check out Still Lives for electric guitar and film with artistic videography by mutual friend and colleague, Daniel Capo:

Or audio-only on Hurst’s SoundCloud:

Please follow these two good friends online as they are producing great content all the time. Go Hatters! 🤠


Weekly Listening

First, listen. Second, read. Third, write.

Classical Guitar

Steel-String Acoustic Guitar

Electric Guitar

Related: Follow one of my regularly curated Spotify playlists entitled, Fretted String Instruments in Film Music.


Final Words

I hope my newsletter gave you new information and insight for your week.

If you like what you see, please share, subscribe, and find me on social media (@drjonmusic).

Until next time, keep plucking.