Spinning Yarns

Guitarist Pat Metheny and the art of a good tale

by Rob Ruffin, January 28, 2003 for Berklee.edu

When several hundred guitarists gathering for a workshop on playing their instrument last month realized that their lecturer was spending much of his time talking about storytelling, some of them might have considered leaving for a moment. But acclaimed guitarist, composer, and former faculty member Pat Metheny was doing the talking, and those same guitarists were transfixed by his words, looking for plot connections, hints of characterization, and clues about how the whole thing would turn out.

One of the biggest questions on everyone's mind was about the guitar case he carried on stage at the beginning of the clinic. What kind of guitar did he have in there? What tune will he play? Will he even take the guitar out of the case?

Right from Metheny's opening invitation for questions, he placed narrative at the center, urging audience members to make their questions follow each other with some sense of connectedness, as if he wanted them to participate in the story of this clinic as much he did.


Rob Ruffin graduated from Berklee in 2001 with a degree in Performance. He is a jazz guitarist, composer, and Guitar Department assistant administrator.

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