In this week’s episode of Sunday Strum, I demonstrate an example using eighth note triplets. This is a basic way of practicing them, but if you are more comfortable with the rhythm, feel free to switch it up and apply triplets any way you like. The eighth note triplet rhythm translates to three eighth notes in the space of two eighth notes.
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.
Fills, those brief instrumental runs that occupy the spaces between vocal lines, no doubt have their origin in the call-and-response vocal tradition associated with country blues, gospel, work songs and field hollers. On records, guitar fills can be overdubbed, but you can enhance both your rhythm playing and soloing by learning to alternate seamlessly between steady chord patterns and well-placed melodic phrases.
In this segment of our exclusive Acoustic Nation Play It Now video series, hit singer songwriter Matt Nathanson teaches me, and YOU, how to play his latest single, “Mission Bells.” The track appears on his new album, The Last of the Great Pretenders. Nathanson, and his guitar player Aaron Tap, run through the riff, verse and chorus arrangements for what is basically a fun to play three-chord song.
New York City-based guitarist/songwriter Sean Sullivan has an extremely mixed background in music. His style blends folk, rock, Latin, blues and more to create a distinctive musical melting pot. But of all of Sullivan's influences, it’s jazz that runs the deepest. Here, he takes a second to explain the role of a guitar player in a jazz band.
In this episode I go over a basic strumming pattern stressing the downs in the first measure and the ups in the second measure of each chord. This can help to create a powerful feel without being abrupt. The key is to be fluid in the right hand. Experiment with this concept using various chord progressions.
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.
So, we've spent a few weeks talking about the left hand, the shape of the left hand, and how to organize your technique to take pressure off of your wrist and palm. But, how does this work in real time? In other words, is it possible to take this newly-organized shape and apply it to actual songs? One thing I see in my beginning to intermediate students–particularly in adults, who tend to be a bit more focused on the idea of 'success’–is the left hand's unconscious tendency to 'double-check' itself.
We recently had acoustic guitar legend Tommy Emmanuel stop by the Acoustic Nation studio. Luckily for you, we didn’t let him leave without passing on some valuable picking tips! Emmanuel has an uncanny ability for thumb and fingerstyle picking, and it’s our guess that hanging around Chet Atkins certainly helped too.
Let's talk about shapes! Also, let's take a look at my tiny hands. If you watch this video, you'll see that my hands are small. Like, really small. Smaller than they should be for someone my height, and definitely smaller than those of the average guitarist. This is ok!