Luna Girl is the opening track on my latest album, From the Up’Nah, which I recorded with my group, the Koch Marshall Trio, featuring Toby Marshall on keyboards and my son Dylan on drums and percussion.
The main riff in this song is crafted from a melodic line played in tandem with pedal tones while additionally adding bass notes underneath the melodic information.
Like most guitar players, I can deliver this type of musical mayhem on the guitar by incorporating hybrid picking, wherein, generally speaking, the notes on the lower strings – the “bass notes” – are downpicked with the plectrum while the notes on the higher strings are fingerpicked.
The majority of the tune’s initial primary riff is built around a C chord. The best way to get started is to set up a pick-hand framework to follow for the entire song. Figure 1a illustrates a 1st-position C major chord, sounded by fingerpicking the notes on the B and G strings while using the pick to sound the reiterated low C note on the A string’s 3rd fret.
In Figure 1b, I expand the sound of the C chord by fingerpicking the open high E string along with the B and G.
With the high E included as part of the equation, I can simply barre my index finger across the top two strings at the 1st fret to sound an F major chord, and then alternately add or remove the barre to switch from an F chord to a C chord, as shown in Figure 2.
In Figure 3, you can see that the C chord can be embellished by adding an ascending line on the G string.
The Luna Girl lick is constructed by interweaving a melody based on the C blues scale into the repeatedly hybrid-picked C chord: Figure 4 shows this scale played on the top two strings, and Figure 5 illustrates how I employ it in the fist melodic phrase of Luna Girl.
Figure 6 elaborates on the initial one-bar phrase by illustrating how I carry the idea across three bars, which is accomplished by moving the melodic phrases gradually downward from the high E string to the B, G and D strings. The musical idea is capped off with the bold and aggressive striking of the F5 chord at the end.
A useful thing to think about and practice is the single-note melody by itself, as illustrated in Figure 7. Here, the entire melody is stated in single-string fashion; once you have a handle on this melodic line, it will be that much easier to add the hybrid-picked bass notes and additional chord tones.
Figure 8 demonstrates how I bring all the elements together in the final actualization of the Luna Girl lick.
I'm a huge fan of hybrid-picked ideas like these, so please feel free to use these musical examples as jumping off points into your own musical inventions.