Since the last few months been playing with some new people to play some of my songs. All the songs you hear are recent. More recordings will be added over time. All of these recordings are rough, including mistakes, talking, coughing ect. Things you would expect from a rehearsalroom recording.
There will be better, quality, recordings, but for now it will be just basic recordings which display some of the songs.
When you are creating your songs you may have some parts which do not work for the song you are working on. What to do? Leave it out! But you may want to keep that part for another song, especially for those of you who find it hard to come up with new music. Some of those parts may work very well on their own, you may be able to create a new song around that part.
Some of you may be so happy with all these parts that you may feel you need to use all you have created, but be careful: A song which contains too many parts may become cluttered and may loose its original meaning. Listen to some songs you like to see how many parts those songs have to get an idea.
Once you have all your parts together it is time to ask youself how often to play certain parts: Should you repeat a bridge a few times or just go back to the chorus and finish the song?. Again, these are matters which depend on the song and you own perception of what you want the song to do. Often playing a song over and over again in various orders may help you to see what kind of order works for you song.
Enjoy your writing and hope to see you soon again, Eddie
For this article a few ideas how beginners can improve the sound of their open chords.
It is a common problem for beginners not to be able to get a good, clear sound from some of the open chords. Usually G and Em proof not to be much of a problem whereas C, Dm and Bm cause issues: Often strings will not ring out and the overal sound of the chord is not clear. Most of these problems are related to the angle of the wrist in relation to the neck of the guitar: The straigher the wrist can be the easier it is for the student to play the chord. Using a Capo at higher positions of the fretboard (for example 5th Fret) will improve matters.
Once you can play most of the open chords without too much struggle, try the capo in lower postions such as 3rd Fret and see how this feels. After a while go back to the open position without using a Capo to find out if your chords now do sound any better.
Playing at Higher Postions Only For Beginners?
No, often intermediate students only use certains areas of the fretboard, try playing more in the 12th postion and above this area. Usually this is easier on electric guitars. If you have not played much in this area you will feel you may need a bit of practise to get the sound of your playing better. Why is this? Similar as for reason mentioned above: The angle of the wrist is diffferent, therefore it feels different. Work on it so you get as smooth as playing in the 5th position (the easiest position to the play the guitar!)
Playing in higher positions is useful to extend the range of your solos and melodic ideas: You can start playing in the lower postions while ending up in the higher positions. Listen to Slash of Guns ‘n’ Roses. A lot of his solos use these kind of ideas. Ideally you want to use the whole fretboard without having any trouble.
For this article a short brief about how to approach playing covers on your own on acoustic (or electric) guitar.
When students bring in coversongs for me to work out, they often get exhited about the sound of the song, the sound around the chords, the basslines, the drums, the production ect. How well can you copy that sound on your own on one guitar? Well that is the trick: Being aware what creates the sound of the song is a must. Some songs can be translated to just one single guitar and they hold their strength, the song is still there and sounds as good as when performed with a band. Other songs may need to be adapted to sound good on their own. Here a short breakdown what you can do:
~ Before You Play:
Listen carefully to the song, play it several times. Can you hum the melody, the intro, the riffs? Do they sound good on their own? If the answer is yes, you have a strong song in your hands which probably will sound good when played on one guitar. If the answer is no, think again about this song. Is this something you should play on your own? Ask yourself what it is you like about this song. Is it the melody, or is it the interplay between the different instruments? Find out what it is you like about the song, and find out if this can be played on one guitar.
Songs which have their bases on a bandsound can still be played on one guitar, but they may need a bit of work to get them to sound good. Maybe these songs should be left for later when you get more experienced.
~ Playing the Song:
Okay, now that you have found your song which can be played on one guitar we are in business: You can play the chords of the song and sing the melody of the song and it should sound like……………the song you liked. Well does it? What about the rhythm? How should I strum the song? Should I strum at all or rather pick the chords? To answer these questions go back again to the original song, listen carefully to how the song is being played. Then play the song on your own and see how close your version is compared to the recorded version you have chosen. If you are not sure about the stumpattern, try to break the strums down to a bacic version like four strums to a bar or two strums to a bar ect. Try to avoid strumming the off-beats, as this will confuse the rhythm if you are not sure about the strumpattern. Just use downstrums for now. Work on the strums until you start to feel comfortable, experiment a little and let it grown.
~ Can Play the Song, What Now?
Right, so you can hold the rhythm of the song, sing melody and the whole thing actually sounds like the song, but it still sounds…………..basic? Try to experiment with chordshapes, try different shapes compared to the ones you have been using so far: If you used open chords, try some barre-chords. If you used 6 string chords, try 3 string chords ect. Find chords which will work. Changes are, when you start using different chordshapes it will open you up to playing the song differently, using little riffs here and there ect. Keep at it unitil you find yourself playing a version of the song which works for you, and is at the same time a version you actually like. Takes time? Yes, if you are new to this it will take time, but it is worth it, your playing will develop and you will also grow as a musician. Your next cover will never sound the same again.
I like how Kay comes across on the radio, she often announces the weatherforcast at Radio Leeds. Liz Green, of the breakfast show, was asking Kay at some point about the men of outer space, and the answer which followed inspired me to create this little jingle.
Do you feel you often play the same melodic ideas based on the handful of scalepatterns you know? Okay for this article some ideas which may help you how to get out of that rut.
Before you even think about scales try this: Sing a note, just one note, now find this note on the neck of your guitar. Try now finding that same note in different place. You may find about 4 of them.
Now add more notes to that note you sang before. Turn these notes into a small melody.
Next step: Find that melody on your guitarneck and play it.
Once you have this melody, now find the same melody in different places on the fretboard, and heh presto, you can now play one melody in different place.
Try now adding more notes to this melody. Turn it something you could use for a solo.
While you were doing this, did you think of scales? Probably not. Do this as often as you can, then start looking at your scalepatterns again and you chordfingerings. Hopefully, at some point, something starts to click………..
For more ideas listen to Paul Gilbert’s ideas on this subject.
How to get yourself into the mood for creating songs? For this article some ideas which may help you to get into the zone.
Songwriting is not something which happens overnight, it is a skill which is learned over time. By writing songs you get better, it is very much a hands on skill. For this article I will mainly deal with inspiration, I will not go into technical detail about the actual writing as that is material for other articles.
Songwriters are not born:
Agree? It is a skill you develop overtime and anyone, with an interest in the subject, can learn these skills.
As a writer you need material to write (or talk) about. Where does that material come from? Good question, anywhere really. It depends on your personality, you own likes, how you are as a person ect. If you are interested in politics you could write songs about politicians, their behaviour and their impact on the lives of ordinary people. You could write songs about your Mum and Dad (everyone had one pair of them once in their lives………) You could write songs about your cat, dog, goldfish. You see what I mean? You can take any subject matter. Find something you are passionate about and brainstrom for a while, write down anything which comes to mind about that subjectmatter. Once you have enough ideas, try to create a story (or poem) around these ideas. Keep it short and try to use day to day language as much as possible.
From Lyrics to Music:
Let us say you have a short story, poem, or set of ideas for your lyrics, now comes the time to find a melody and set of chords where this melody can roam and breath. How to you find these? This is where more choices come around the corner. Let me first ask you some questions before we go any further: Do you like playing acoustic guitar or electric? Oh I hear you, you like both! Please make a choise, make it easy on yourself for now. Do you sing? Probably, but you may not see yourself as a singer. Howelse could you be interested in songwriting? Someone has to sing the ideas you have in your head! So you are the first choice today!.
Okay, so we go for acoustic guitar now: Grab some chords and play them, find yourself a nice groove and just play, play as long as you need to until you find something to sing.
Singing? Well, you can hum to get melodic ideas going over your chords. Just hum whatever you can hear. We have all heard the story about “Yesterday” and boiled eggs?: Paul McCartney just sang whatever words came to mind to fit his melody of “Yesterday”. By doing this you open yourself up for more lyrical ideas. In case you are happy with the lyrics you have made before you can try singing those Do they work? All you need to do is get those words to fit over the melody you have just made. Because you are the creator of this unique song you cannot make any mistakes here: How can you be against your own ideas?? Of course, once you have a melody and lyrics you may want to edit, to make the whole idea sound better. Changes are you will need to do this to improve upon your song, but for now try to get a complete picture of your lyrics and melody, and once you are happy start editing to improve the idea.
What about Electric Guitar?
The process describe above could easily be repeated for the electric guitar, but why not make the electric guitar really sound electric: Use your most outragious sounding distortion to get a killer sound from your amp, now start riffing and see what happens. These dirty riffs may give you songideas you may have never thought about if would have stuck to the acoustic guitar. You can loop these riffs with a sampler, put them into a chordstructure you play on the acoustic, in this way you combine electric and acoustic guitar into one songsetting. As you can imagine, the options you have are limitless, the only limit is your own imagination.
Choices and Goals:
As you can see from the above, the clearer you can be in your choices, the easier it will be to get satisfying, musical results. If you are new to writing I would just stick to one way of working, see if you can get some songs out of you before you make the whole process more complex than what it needs to be. Over time you will try lots of ways, as this is how songwriters develop their skill.
In this short article I only highlighted some ideas you can use. Use it as a starting point for your own imagination and try to enjoy as much whatever you get into musically.
Hope to see you soon for more guitar inspiration. Eddie
For this article we learn to play a basic blues progression which was also used by the likes of the Doors. The chords are very easy, the first line contains E, G and A, the second line of chords uses A, C and D. As you watch the video you can see how you can build upon the sequence to develop it into a fuller sound.
Ceck out one of the previous articles about slide playing and see if you can incorporate some of those ideas into your own style of playing.
Enjoy for now, and hope to see you soon again. Eddie
For this article a guide on how to play “Brown Sugar” by the Rolling Stones. Like many other Rolling Stones songs, this one uses chordshapes which are typical for the Stones and Keith Richards: It is the well-known sus4 chord resolving to a standard triad A-Shape chord. It is the particular fingering (voicing) of the chords which creates that well-known sound. A similar sound can be found in “Start Me Up”. There are a host of other bands which use this particular sound. The video explains very well how to play the intro. Check out the tab for the fingering for each chord underneath the video. No need to alter the tuning of your guitar into Open G, or take any of the strings of the guitar for that matter. You can play the song in standard tuning and still get similar results.
Watch the video to get an idea of how to get that sound:
Here are the fingerings for each chord:
Gsus4 G C Csus4 Eb Ebsus4 Ab Bb
N.B : Observe High E and Low E and A are not being used.
Very beginning intro uses: Gsus4 and G then moves to C and Csus4
For second part and end intro chords move into: Eb Ebsus4 Eb and C Csus4 C
For very end intro goes into Ab Bb C Csus4 and intro ends on C (A-shape type of chord)
Watch the video to get an idea of how the chords move, don’t worry about the chordnames if you are still fresh to the guitar. I only put those chordnames there for those of you who would like to know what is going on harmonywise, as it will help you to understand this particular sound better.
For fun: I actually create medlies out of various intros of different songs, play them in the same key and move them around from one into to the next one, in this way you get more out of the intro and it becomes real playing instead of just playing a intro from another song. You can even alter the feel of the intro and add other parts to it, in this way you turn it into an intro of your own. Experiment with your own style to see what you can come up with!
Hope to see you soon with more ideas to inspire you own guitarplaying. Eddie
For this article a short brief with some useful tips for those of you would like to explore slideguitar.
What kind of Slide?:
Thinking of Slideguitar, the first thought which comes to mind is:”What kind of slide do you use?” There are the metal ones, brass and the glass-type of slides. I mention “type of” as most slides bought from a shop will be made out of hard plastic, maybe this is for safety reasons. You could make you own slide from a bottle, you will need to cut the neck of a winebottle, for instance, and then you would need to polish it so it will be smooth and you will prevent any nasty cuts. You could also make your own slide out of a metal pipe. Similar as with the glass slide, you will need to polish the slide to get it to feel smooth on your fingers.
Okay, now we know what are the most commonly used slides you may wonder how do they differ: Metal ones are heavy, the brass ones are harder and the glass ones are the least heaviest. Each material will give you a different sound. Metal ones do sound direct and colder, the glass ones have a bit more twang. Experiment with different materials to find the ones you like best.
Which Finger to Wear Slide on?
Find a slide which fits the finger you want to use, the slide should fit snuggly around your finger, not too wobby, but also not too tight. Obvious eh? Different players wear slide on different finger: Some of them use middle finger for slide playing, while others prefer to wear a slide on their pink. Personally I prefer pink, because it leave the other three fingers free for playing. I play phrases and use to slide on particular notes, but again, different players have different approaches, later more on this.
Slide Playing and Your Guitar:
The slide is used to slide over your strings, do you apply a bit of pressure, but you do not press strings down as when you are fretting a chord, or single string. To get the best sound you may want to use a heavier gauge string: 011’s on electrics and acoustics 0.12 and upwards. Your action should not be too low. Low action will cause the slide to touch the frets quicker and more often. The volume of your sound will also be lower. In a nutshell: Heavier strings and higher action will give you the best sound. Should I now have a guitar set up for slide? All depending on your idea. I have all my electrics set up with 0.11’s and the action is a bit higher than what the typical beginner would prefer. Even if you do not play too often slide, the guitar will sound better set up that way: More tone and volume! Personally I would not fuss too much over the finer details, just get a slide, maybe change strings if you are using 0.8’s and give it a go. Once you get on with it you can always alter your guitar to how you prefer it. Overal you should be able to get a nice, full rounded tone out of your slide, but there are quite a few things you can do to achieve this read on.
Slide Guitar and Your Amp:
You know what harmonica players do to get a better tone: Use a bit of distortion, to get that harmonica to sound a bit fuller. Similar for slide guitar. The kind of distortion you want is mild overdrive. Something like a Tubescreamer type of pedal will give you that tone straight away. Set your amp up for a basic, straightforward sound, just a bit of bass and treble will do. Stay away from using reverb (The slide will gibe you the idea of reverb on its own when you get it right!) or any other effects as this will help you to achieve a better technique. One you feel more confident you can always experiment with using effects while you play slide, but for now keep things simple! If you have a choise of various amps, use the most simple and basic amp you have, complex tonestructures may get it the way in the beginning. Again use common sense, no need to buy another amp for slide, just use simple gear.
There are the players who have their guitar set up in a particular tuning and they tend to use this tuning for when they play slide. Personally I like to use standard tuning, because it is versatile and you can mimick a lot of open tunings by simply altering one, or maybe just two strings instead of retuning about 4 to 5 strings. I also like the Capo a lot for these kind of techniques. In a later blog I will give you some specific tips for Capo and slide. Will also get a video where I will show some of those techniques close up.
When it comes to playing slide you can play chords or single notes. Elmore James “Dust My Broom” is a great example of how to play chords with the slide. All the chords are of the “A” shape, an easy shape for using slide, since you can use the three notes of the chord on the D,G and B string, no stringjumping and easy to keep that slide nice and steady. Just give it some vibrato at the end of the phrase.
Another example: The long note which rings out during intro is a single note. Ry uses single notes and chords, he really mixes it all up
To get a good, solid tone out of the slide mute the strings behind the slide. The postion on your fingers will vary depeding on which string you play. When you do not apply this technique the sound of the slide may be tinny. You will get better at this with practise. You can mimick chords by playing the open, 6th string and play the A string on the 7th fret. Play both strings at the same time: Use your thumb for the open E while you slide on the A 7th fret. Make sure you apply vibrato on the slide to sustain the note. When you do it right you will get that nice, glassy sound. You can apply this technique to all your open strings and mimick chords in this way. Next step is to use the slide in a phrase: Play a phrase and apply the slide at the end of the phrase. Repeat same phrase and apply slide to same last note, but now an octave (or even two ocataves) up. Look into it, and before you know it you will find your own unique way to playing slide guitar.