Mark Knopfler: Master of Touch, Tone, Timbre and Texture

When it comes to my influences in my own music and guitar playing, I've got far more than one might expect. Sure I have my core favorite guitarists/musicians to whom I look to the majority of my inspiration, but the number who have inspired me numbers in the hundreds I'm sure, and includes saxophonists, violinists, and even a bagpipe player (no joke). I feel like if there's a great musician out there who's doing something innovative, powerful and emotional... then there's probably something I can appreciate and learn from to enhance my own music.

The "inspired by" number increases every day too, even if I just count guitarists. Every guitarist has their favorites and being what we are we all love to share our favorites with others to all end... and many love to bash other people's favorites to all end as well... to each their own. I collect all these guitarists with the idea being that eventually I'll check them all out and see what all the hype is about... or see if maybe it is just hype, who knows. It takes a while, but eventually I get around to them, and in many cases find myself with new inspiration and appreciation for these artists.

Today I'll feature one such artist, a guitarist who's been on my radar for a while. I'd heard some of his work, heard a lot of the hype and even liked what I'd heard, but hadn't taken the time to explore too much deeper... for whatever reason... until recently... I'm glad I've finally taken that deeper listen though, amazing talent, musicianship and a true master of touch, tone, timbre and texture.

I'm talking about Dire Straights band leader and guitarist Mark Knopfler.

And what better way to feature such a great musician than to let the music do the talking, so here we got a set of videos, found at the usual place (thanks all around of course). The first is probably the most recognizable song from this band, "Sultans of Swing" taken from the "Night in London" footage apparently.

And the second is a little song... a stunner actually, an emotional spine tingler if you will... called "Brothers in Arms.

What can I say... this isn't exactly shred guitar playing, but there's definitely some technical moments where Knopfler moves around the fretboard with tremendous ease rapid picking pieces with his fingers unlike any other guitar player around. That of course is cool and all, but really this is more about touch. Few, if any, guitarists can match Knopfler for touch... he just always seems to be playing the perfect note at the perfect time to raise the hairs on the back of your neck.

Actually there's more to it than just the notes, there's the timbre and the tone. Subtle shades, slight changes make all the differences, create all these little nuances, colors and textures. Those are the types of things I wish I could incorporate into my own guitar playing... the kind of things that for me differentiate a great guitarist from an amazing guitarist... no make that an great musician from an amazing musician.

This is just a taste of the great stuff produced by Mark Knopfler and Dire Straights. There's some great albums out there and plenty of great guitar playing throughout. Take a listen, and if you're a guitarist, or any kind of musician actually, pay special attention to all those little details, that's where Knopfler makes the magic happen. Take a close listen, learn what you can and be inspired by a master of touch, tone, timbre and texture.


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