One simple technique that is often used to spice up many chords – and in the process make a lot of garden-variety chord progressions sound more interesting – is the manner-on. To play a hammer-on, pick a string and then, while the note is still ringing, sound a higher note on that same string by firmly tapping, or “hammering,” it onto the fretboard with one of your fretting fingers without picking it again.
In this article I’d like to acquaint you with some great slide licks I like to play in open A tuning. These riffs and runs are super versatile – you can use them to hop up your own blues pieces, employ them as solos in a classic blues song or even just entertain yourself with them on a back porch in the middle of a scorching heat wave.
KT Tunstall released an awesome song in 2005 called “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree.” It was inspired by a Bo Diddley beat. Here is the very cool video that I came across.This performance pretty much set her on the path to stardom.
Even if you’re not a fan of "American Idol," I hope you’ve heard the music of season nine’s winner, Lee DeWyze. An avid fan of the show, I’ve watched pretty much every episode since day one, and DeWyze always impressed not only with his fabulous voice, but his obvious musicianship. He could often be seen on the Idol stage with a guitar in hand. So, of course, I was thrilled when I had the opportunity to meet with DeWyze in the Acoustic Nation studio. He spent some time teaching me the powerful single “Fight” from his new release Frames.
Don’t let the term diatonic harmonic interval scare you; it simply means two notes from the same scale played at the same time. Harmonic intervals are particularly useful on the acoustic guitar because they lend heft to single-note lines, especially up the neck, and they are staples of blues, country, R&B and traditional Spanish and Latino music. In a previous lesson we discussed one such interval (the third), and this time we’ll look at its cousin, the sixth.
Love Mumford and Sons? Joni Mitchell? Led Zeppelin? Patti Griffin? Have you tried to play their songs but just couldn’t make them sound quite right? Welcome to the world of alternate tunings. Not all songs are written for, or played in, the standard E-A-D-G-B-E tuning. Alternate tunings open up a whole new world for guitarists willing to look beyond the standard tuning, offering the possibility of creating combinations of notes not previously available, or only available to those with enormous hands.
Certain memorable themes, like those of Bill Wither’s “Lean on Me” and Gustavo Santaolalla’s "Brokeback Mountain," to name just two, artfully derive melodies and chordal accompaniment from an extraordinarily useful system called scale harmony.
In past lessons we’ve spruced up rhythm patterns by adding extra notes to chords, and by inserting bass lines and scale runs. This time around the subject is intervals, specifically thirds. Here we give you some practical examples of how to put thirds to work for you. In fact, thirds in particular are real workhorses, frequently used by guitarist, R&B, rock, country and blues.
Even if one were to limit himself to an examination of pop songwriting over the last 40 years, a true instructional “guide” would take up many volumes, as it would involve a serious study of musical theory. Our aim here is to prove a sampling of common chord progressions that you can use with your own songs, and to examine some of the things a guitarist can do to add a little zip to his or her songs.