I have a mental block, because to me it's like trying to put mathematical limitations on something that to me isn't mathematical. I'd compare it to trying to put a concept like "beauty" or "courage" in a box...impossible.
But music is purely mathematical. It's just another form. Being able to read musical notation allows you to be able to play a piece without having heard it before. There are millions of pieces and more being written all the time that have never been recorded or performed, so the skill of reading music is of the utmost importance.
neil's ability on the guitar really impresses me. no, he's not the best guitar player in the world - far from it, but he really knows his way around the instrument. transferring songs like fall at your feet and ddio to capo 3rd fret and having it sound killer...well that's pretty impressive to me.
I'd disagree with this.
I've said it a few times, but I don't think Neil does know his way around the guitar that well. Yes he's a very good rhythm player, but when he improvises a solo, it seems woefully obvious he doesn't have a clue where he is on the fretboard. I've alos noticed that he rarely crosses strings when soloing, preferring to run up and down the neck on one string. This makes me think that he taught himself how to play guitar, coming from a fairly accomplished piano background. Whacking a capo on and playing the exact same shapes doesn't really impress me I'm afraid
Any accomplished musician and every professional should have excellent aural skills. This is partly the ability to recognise chords and intervals by ear alone. Having played in bands for son long and being a songwriter it doesn't surprise me that Neil has good aural skills.
I don't even know about the "circle of fifths" thingy. Though I do understand that a lot of songs resolve on the fifth chord (e.g. progression in C will often end in G). Is it any more than that?
No they don't resolve on the fifth chord (dominant). In a progression in c major, the second last chord is usually G (7) which resolves to the tonic (1st chord) which is C. A circle of fifths is a series of unresolved dominant seventh chords: G7 C7 F7 Bb7 Eb7 Ab7 Db7 Gb7(F#7) Cb7(B7) E7, A7, D7, G7 etc.. so G resolves to C, which resolves to F etc..
FALL AT YOUR FEET: The verse is indeed in the key of C minor, before modulating to the relative major, Eb for the chorus. So Neil was in fact right to say that FAYF is in Cm.
Back to the topic: I think Peter Green mentioned once that Neil was stuck on a plane without an instrument and was forced to write his idea down on paper. Apparantly the first time he had done it since he was a kid. Neil does indeed have grade eight piano, so he must have been pretty good.