Of the four Beatles, George Harrison brought to the group an assortment of electric and acoustic guitar approaches, flavors influenced by everyone from Chet Atkins and Carl Perkins to the Byrds and Bob Dylan.
I grew up listening to James Taylor, and I admit I know pretty much every word of every song he’s ever performed. But when it comes to the guitar parts, that’s something I’ve still gotta work on. Luckily the legendary Mr. Taylor has taken steps to remedy that. He’s posted a series of free lessons on his site that not only run through some of his most beloved songs, they also incorporate new portable camera technology so that you can see his right hand technique from the inside.
I had the privilege of sitting down with John Butler recently as he went through the fingering and technique for his new song “Spring to Come” off the upcoming album Flesh and Blood. Check it out and Play It Now!
When I was studying music, one thing I remember my professors kept driving home was that you don't just stop when you see a "rest" in music notation. You play silence. Silence acts as a frame around the sounds you're producing and helps make those sounds feel more profound. Think about what a picture frame does for a photograph.
Song structure (or lack thereof) can definitely prove to be a source of considerable frustration, especially for new writers. You might have a great collection of hooks or parts, but how you string them together can really make or break a tune. While there are certainly no “rules” as to how a writer should structure their tunes, there are some tried-and-true classic structures (especially in the pop tradition) and variations on the like that just plain work, building excitement and keeping the listener’s attention. Why not look at these workhorse structures from songs past and incorporate them into our own work -- or at least use them as a springboard for our own variations on the theme?
As songwriters, we think of tempo as the most basic of basics. Tempo, or the speed at which we perform a song, is sort of the quiet engine, the driving force behind all our tunes; yet, because we consider it so "Songwriting 101," tempo can sometimes become songcraft’s sadly neglected middle child.
The full-chord strum is only one way to skin the rhythm cat. A subtler but no less effective approach is playing broken chords, which involves successively picking the individual notes of a chord in a following pattern. An arpeggiated, or “broken,” chord simultaneously outlines the harmony, meter and rhythm.
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.