Previously, I presented
an easy fingerstyle guitar version
of When the Saints Go Marching
In. Now I’ll try and take it to the next level, by
adding some syncopation, bass runs, and a slightly more
complex chord progression. I make no claim to be a
fingerpicking virtuoso, but I believe this demonstrates some
useful techniques. I find it lots of fun to play, and to my ear it sounds
If you haven’t learned the previous version, I suggest
checking it out now, as this lesson builds on that. If you
find this one to be too big of a jump from the last one,
stay tuned, as I will be posting some more intermediate
songs, or check out some of the books listed below.
Continue reading Oh When the Saints (difficult fingerstyle)
Note: This is based on a message I originally posted on the Harmony Central Forums. Revised and extended.
This is a topic that seems to come up quite often, both in online forums and in talking to people. Does learning music theory take away from the ability to simply “play what sounds good?” Can learning proper vocal technique remove the raw emotion from singing? Does learning more about the established techniques in a field (like songwriting) remove true creativity and make us all sound alike?
I’ve thought about this a lot, and I’m going to say no. And here’s why.
Continue reading Can Education Kill Instinct?
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
Continue reading Oh When the Saints (beginners fingerstyle)
Throughout the long tumultuous history of Rock ‘n’ Roll,
there have been certain song patterns that have shown up
over and over. Many of them are cliches by now (how many
times have you heard the fire/desire rhyme?), but others are
classics, comfortable sounds we recognize in our
bones. We’ve heard them a million times, but can’t help but
feel inspired anew every time. Today I’ll cover one of
those: The I-vi-IV-V Chord Progression. Yeah, just rolls of
the tongue, right? Well, trust me that it sounds better
when you play it than when you try to name it.
Continue reading Chord Progression: I-vi-IV-V
I pride myself in a willingness to listen to different styles and genres of music. I have favorites in rap, heavy metal, Irish folk, country, classical, even opera. So my strong negative impression of jazz may come as a surprise.
To be fair, there is a lot of jazz I like, mostly the early stuff and the great singers. Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, basically back when jazz had melodies and was meant to be danced to.
Before rock and roll came along, jazz was young people’s music. It’s what people danced to, it was rebellious, it was accessible, it was listenable. Then something happened.
Continue reading My Problem with Jazz