“It’s hard to recover from a bad year,” sings Terry Price in the opening track of my favorite release of 2013, Photo Ops’How To Say Goodbye. “Friends that were with us are no longer near / But hey, I’m glad to be alive.” As Price’s first release under the alias of Photo Ops, the shimmering guitar pop found within How To Say Goodbye is a deeply personal ode to death, loss, growing up and moving on.
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.
Ok, this is a first for us. Independent musician and virtuoso guitarist Jon Gomm is not only an amazing player, he retunes his strings as part of the performance...while he's playing! Gomm released his new album Secrets Nobody Keeps on November 25th of this year and it's well worth a listen.
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.
Every day I get to write, and to play music, is a great day, for which I am very grateful. I am a recovering lawyer, and while that was a great gig for me for a while (and while I cast no aspersions whatsoever on the noble profession), as a songwriter I am able to connect with my feelings of joy and gratitude more directly. Here's a story of how stepping away from my usual songwriting routine lead to a flash of inspiration.