As promised, here is another easy fingerpicking song: the old children's song, Skip to My Lou. It's a melody almost everyone knows, and in terms of chord progression, you can't get much simpler than this. This arrangement is in the key of D, and it's composed of only two chords: D and A7. In addition to making it easy to focus on the fingerpicking technique without worrying about a complex arrangement, the simplicity of the chord progression leaves a whole lot of room for improvisation around the basic melody, if you so desire.Continue reading Skip to my Lou – easy fingerpicking
One of my favorite ways of playing acoustic guitar is country-blues fingerpickin'. Also known as Cotten pickin' (after Elizabeth Cotten) or Travis pickin' (after Merle Travis). The style consists of a steady bass line played with the thumb, accompanied by a syncopated melody line played with the fingers. The combination of the driving bass and the melody that seems to float in space over it creates a sense of movement and lets a solo guitar sound like more than a solo guitar.
The best way to learn a technique is to learn songs in that technique, so that's what this lesson is for. A good song to start with is Oh When the Saints, because it has a simple melody that we all recognize, but still has a lot of room for elaboration. That way, we can start simple and add embellishments as we go along.Continue reading Oh When the Saints (beginners fingerstyle)
I covered major scales in the last lesson. Today I go minor. It’s really not that much of a leap from major to minor, so this should be an easy lesson, or at least easier. I’ll cover three types of minor scales in total: natural minor, melodic minor, and harmonic minor. Today, I’ll start with the easiest one, the natural minor.Continue reading Natural minor scales
I don’t know about you, but the word “scale” scares the crap out of me. I picture some white-wig-wearing little boy tinkling the same “do re mi” blah blah blah over and over on a piano as a stern-faced matron tells him to watch his posture.
Well, it’s not quite so bad as all that. Scales turn out to be enormously useful for coming up with melodies, soloing, and for practicing technique.Continue reading Major scales and keys