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Folk guitar accompaniment

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GUEST,Guest 26 Sep 04 - 12:26 AM
GUEST,Obie 26 Sep 04 - 12:42 AM
Amos 26 Sep 04 - 12:59 AM
Peace 26 Sep 04 - 02:01 AM
Leadfingers 26 Sep 04 - 07:09 AM
kendall 26 Sep 04 - 07:30 AM
McGrath of Harlow 26 Sep 04 - 07:32 AM
kendall 26 Sep 04 - 09:11 AM
Mooh 26 Sep 04 - 09:31 AM
GUEST 26 Sep 04 - 09:45 AM
leeneia 26 Sep 04 - 09:50 AM
Pete_Standing 26 Sep 04 - 10:21 AM
McGrath of Harlow 26 Sep 04 - 03:01 PM
kendall 26 Sep 04 - 03:06 PM
GUEST,Guest (original poster) 26 Sep 04 - 03:19 PM
McGrath of Harlow 26 Sep 04 - 04:13 PM
Leadfingers 26 Sep 04 - 06:45 PM
kendall 26 Sep 04 - 06:51 PM
McGrath of Harlow 26 Sep 04 - 08:18 PM
Big Al Whittle 27 Sep 04 - 05:32 AM
s&r 27 Sep 04 - 05:38 AM
McGrath of Harlow 27 Sep 04 - 07:06 AM
PoppaGator 27 Sep 04 - 02:39 PM
M.Ted 27 Sep 04 - 04:06 PM
PoppaGator 28 Sep 04 - 12:10 AM
Cluin 28 Sep 04 - 02:24 AM
muppitz 28 Sep 04 - 08:31 AM
M.Ted 28 Sep 04 - 11:02 AM
PoppaGator 28 Sep 04 - 02:38 PM
M.Ted 28 Sep 04 - 03:06 PM
McGrath of Harlow 28 Sep 04 - 03:16 PM
Cluin 28 Sep 04 - 03:16 PM
GUEST,Guest (Bill) 28 Sep 04 - 04:06 PM
McGrath of Harlow 28 Sep 04 - 04:34 PM
PoppaGator 28 Sep 04 - 05:36 PM
McGrath of Harlow 28 Sep 04 - 08:05 PM
Mooh 28 Sep 04 - 08:09 PM
Cluin 28 Sep 04 - 08:33 PM
M.Ted 29 Sep 04 - 01:00 AM
Peace 29 Sep 04 - 01:10 AM
GUEST,Grab 29 Sep 04 - 08:03 AM
Mudlark 29 Sep 04 - 01:28 PM
s&r 29 Sep 04 - 01:39 PM
PoppaGator 29 Sep 04 - 06:58 PM
GUEST,Bill 30 Sep 04 - 03:32 PM
PoppaGator 30 Sep 04 - 07:47 PM
Grab 01 Oct 04 - 05:14 AM
Peter T. 01 Oct 04 - 10:04 AM
s&r 01 Oct 04 - 11:22 AM
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Subject: Folk guitar accompaniment
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 26 Sep 04 - 12:26 AM

I'm a folksinger who's teaching himself guitar (i'll play at my first folk festival in late Oct. 04.) I can play in the keys of C, A, G, E and D (baritone singer btw.) I'm mostly playing two to five chord songs for now. Can anyone offer any tips to add a more professional flair to two to three chord songs? For now, I mostly strum (working on fingerpicking). These songs are traditional ballards and early Joan Baez , Peter, Paul and Mary, etc.

Also, do any of you bother with barre chords in your folk guitar accompaniment? Thanks in advance for any advice you can pass on to a guy who's starting a new career in folk music. Lastly, to any of you who are at the beginning stages of learning guitar, don't give up....it's worth it :)


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Subject: RE: Folk guitar accompaniment
From: GUEST,Obie
Date: 26 Sep 04 - 12:42 AM

It seems that you have made a great start. You can play most folk music   with 3 chords. The keys you play and a good capo are all that you need , but that should not discourage one to strive to improve. Woodie Guthrie and Hank Williams did great with as much except for slipping in the odd minor or seventh. Woody was quoted as saying that anyone using more than three chords was just showing off.


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Subject: RE: Folk guitar accompaniment
From: Amos
Date: 26 Sep 04 - 12:59 AM

GG:

SIgn up as a member here and spend some time perusing the many many discussions held on these fine subjects over the past seven years or so. Especially, there are some great threads by Rick Fielding on basics of playing.

One thing to move ahead is to begin practicing bass runs while strumming with your finger(s).

Barring is usually used as needed, most frequently on the F chord. But I use it all over the neck.

Enjoy!!

A


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Subject: RE: Folk guitar accompaniment
From: Peace
Date: 26 Sep 04 - 02:01 AM

Try the use of the SUS 4th and the relative minors.
In C for example, the relative minor of C is Am, F is Dm and G is Em.

The SUS 4 in the C chord is the F note.


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Subject: RE: Folk guitar accompaniment
From: Leadfingers
Date: 26 Sep 04 - 07:09 AM

When I started playing guitar to accompany songs I was lazy and didnt learn Barre Chords - Then I had a Motorbike accident and broke my left wrist . This involved re-learning the guitar , and at this point I included Barre Chords . Best thing I could have done ! It means that
I can play a lot more stuff , and dont have to keep worrying about capos and the inevitable tuning tweaks . A good idea is to practice the basic Chord run in as many keys as you can think of -C,Am,F,G,G7 then G,Em,C,D,D7 etc . If you can play these runs in A ,C ,D ,E ,F , and G you will be able to play the chords in Most songs without any trouble . As Amos said , you might as well join the Cat and see how long it takes for us to drag you down to our level . Best Of Luck .


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Subject: RE: Folk guitar accompaniment
From: kendall
Date: 26 Sep 04 - 07:30 AM

What Woodie said is like saying anyone who uses two legs to walk is showing off.

I never use a barre chord, don't need to because I can get my thumb around the neck in the "F" position. Couldn't do that with my Martin or my Gibson, but I can with the Taylor.


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Subject: RE: Folk guitar accompaniment
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 26 Sep 04 - 07:32 AM

Actually Woody Guthrie said that two chords were fine, and that he only needed the third when he wanted to show off and impress a girl. He was exaggerating there I think, but not much. Too many chords can spoil the song.   

The most important thing, I think, is to get to play along informally with other people, because that loosens you up, and you can get away with trying new things that don't work out, and find the ones that do.

And there's nothing wrong with capoes - and with a decent one (Keyset or G7th) and a guitar with a reasonably low action, "the inevitable tuning tweaks" aren't inevitable.

As for F chords and barré, that depends on your hands and your guitar and your thumb. I'd never use a barré on an F shape, because I like being able to lift my second finger to get that open G string, especially when I'm up the neck where the F chord becomes a G chord or a C chord.


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Subject: RE: Folk guitar accompaniment
From: kendall
Date: 26 Sep 04 - 09:11 AM

Too many chords ? that implies that someone is using chords that don't belong. The emperor of Austria once told Mozart that his piece had too many notes. One was a politician, the other a musical genius; who would you believe?


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Subject: RE: Folk guitar accompaniment
From: Mooh
Date: 26 Sep 04 - 09:31 AM

Not a minimalist by nature, it never occurred to me to limit the number of chords to use. It only limits the styles of guitar one can play. Not a bad thing if that's all a player wants, but most players want more.

Use every chord you can find or imagine, use them appropriately to your music, and don't be limited by perceptions of right or wrong.

It's only sound.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Folk guitar accompaniment
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Sep 04 - 09:45 AM

You shouldn't get the idea that learning to barre involves some sort of herculean effort. Just practice a couple of times a day when you're playing and you'll get them down in no time.

If you get discouraged just think about all ther really elementary bands and players you've seen who use them - if they can manage it I'm sure you can.

The ability to play barres will expand your guitar playing in two really key ways - firstly it will expand the sonic range of your instrument beyond the third fret and secondly you'll be able to work out chords for yourself on the fly without relying on having to know them or look them up in a book.


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Subject: RE: Folk guitar accompaniment
From: leeneia
Date: 26 Sep 04 - 09:50 AM

I like to play guitar and sing, too.

1. For your first gigs, concentrate on your singing. People care much more about your voice than your guitar. Try closing your eyes and doing your songs. You will hear yourself much better, and may hear flaws you want to correct. You can't do this if you are watching the guitar.

2. One day I went to a concert by Martin Wyndham Read, and I saw that he uses a pick on his thumb. I bought myself one, and I love it. I only strike the lowest strings with it (usually the tonic or fifth of the chord being played), but I love the richness it adds to the sound. It was no work at all to add it to my playing.

If you do start using a finger pick, don't use it all the time. Finger picks are hard on your hands.

I never have been able to make barre chords work. Other people do succeed, of course.


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Subject: RE: Folk guitar accompaniment
From: Pete_Standing
Date: 26 Sep 04 - 10:21 AM

Martin Wyndham-Read plays in drop D - that is to say that he drops the bottom E down to a D. This makes for a really nice sound when playing fingerstyle in the keys of D and G. In fact, it is possible to run chords and melody together quite easily when playing in D and G this way. Other guitarists spend most of their time in open or alternate tunings. This isn't as hard as it seems and their explanation is that if it makes playing a piece easier, then it gives more room for expression and to concentrate on singing too. I've spent most of the last year experimenting this way and it has been a liberating experience. Don't get hung up about barre chords. A lot of folk music doesn't need them - although a Bm and F#m are handy for dropped D when playing in the keys of D and G. Also, just try moving chord shapes up and down the fretboard without a barre, you'll discover some interesting sounds. The capo, of course, will allow you you to change key and retain the use of simple chords.


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Subject: RE: Folk guitar accompaniment
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 26 Sep 04 - 03:01 PM

Use all the chords you need. But no more.

I've got one song where I use (I think) 50 different chords (some of them inversions); but mostly I find three or four ample; and there are somgs where one chord is just fine.


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Subject: RE: Folk guitar accompaniment
From: kendall
Date: 26 Sep 04 - 03:06 PM

50? Hell, I only know 18 or so!


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Subject: RE: Folk guitar accompaniment
From: GUEST,Guest (original poster)
Date: 26 Sep 04 - 03:19 PM

Thanks for all the great tips! I'm soon to start performing at Open Mike nights as well. The songs I plan to play in public soon are two chord songs. If I Had A Hammer - chords C and G

He Had A Long Chain On - chords Em and Am

thanks again,
Bill


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Subject: RE: Folk guitar accompaniment
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 26 Sep 04 - 04:13 PM

50 chords sounds a lot, but it's just five easy enough barré chords, going up the neck one fret at a time between verses and choruses...


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Subject: RE: Folk guitar accompaniment
From: Leadfingers
Date: 26 Sep 04 - 06:45 PM

Listen to Paxton and McTell - Stacks of Superb songs with only three Chords , But there are so many songs that work SO much better with the extra chords . The difficulty is knowing WHEN the extra Chords ADD to the song and dont just make it 'Flash'.


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Subject: RE: Folk guitar accompaniment
From: kendall
Date: 26 Sep 04 - 06:51 PM

They should compliment a tune, not bury it.


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Subject: RE: Folk guitar accompaniment
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 26 Sep 04 - 08:18 PM

Often what sounds by the name of it to be a complicated and weird chord is just an ordinary one with a single finger lifted or lowered, and you've been playing it for years anyway.


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Subject: RE: Folk guitar accompaniment
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 27 Sep 04 - 05:32 AM

of course thats only half the story to be a real folksinger you've got take loads of drugs: live out on the streets next to the people; a drink problem adds colour and I think virtually everybody worth talking to knows Martin Carthy.


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Subject: RE: Folk guitar accompaniment
From: s&r
Date: 27 Sep 04 - 05:38 AM

I've seen a book with 22 000 guitar chords - I didn't buy it, it seemed a bit OTT

Stu


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Subject: RE: Folk guitar accompaniment
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 27 Sep 04 - 07:06 AM

I gat a vision of some guitarists equivalent of a bellringers' marathon, which involved them playing all 22,000 chords...


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Subject: RE: Folk guitar accompaniment
From: PoppaGator
Date: 27 Sep 04 - 02:39 PM

For years, I couldn't make a barre chord, and learned to use my thumb on the bottom string to make that nasty "F" chord. I still prefer this method, for a number of reasons including what McGrath said. It's just easier to change chords, work in bass runs, and pick off-chord melody/grace notes (especially in the key of C, which is when I use the F chord most often, anyway).

I still prefer to wrap the thumb around for F and other similar chords up the neck, i.e., all those that are shaped like an "E" just below the barre (F#/G/Ab/A/etc.). On the other hand, I eventually found it easiest to use the barre configuration for the bB and BbMinor forms (chords shaped like an "A" or "Am" below the barre). Depending upon the sequence and speed of chord changes, I might stay with the barre for a quick "F" (or variation) when also playing barre chords of the Bb family.

Another nifty trick I learned and have adopted -- when in the key of G, you can play your D or D7 chords by sliding a C or C7 two frets up the neck. You can mute or avoid the top sting (when playing the 7th, you have to), or else fret the top string with your pinky on the "third" fret (that is, where the third threat would be in first position when playing the C chord.) The open "G" string is not, strictly speaking, part of the D chord, but it's fairly harmless to let it sound without muting it, since it's the tonic note of the key you're in -- the "drone" effect is similar to what a 5-string banjo produces on a D chord in the key of G.

Yet another hint especially applicable to the key of G, but also helpful in C and other keys -- instead of making the G chord with index and middle fingers on the bottom two strings and ring finger on the top (high E) string (as usually taught to beginners) , use the middle and ring fingers on the two low strings and your pinky on the high string. Assuming you can use your left pinky at all (I know that may take a while), it is MUCH easier to switch back and forth between this configuration of G and C, and also to include the "two-frets-up" D chord described above. Also easier to move back and forth between G major and G7 and, in key of C, to move among C/F/G/G7/Am/etc.

Regardless of the chord "shapes" you adopt, a good beginning-player's strategy is to learn a few simple bass-note patterns to "walk" the bass from one chord to the next, between your full-chord strums. It's pretty simple, and can add a lot of interest (and an impressive, seemingly complex flavor) to your accompaniment.

Within the next year or so, before you learn any really complex picking, you can start fingerpicking with a simple, memorized, four-beats-to-the-measure picking pattern that you can use for virtually any non-waltz-time song. Next, insert your walking-bass tricks into the fingerpicking pattern. To the casual listener (everyone except us fellow players), you'll be as accomplished as anyone by that point.


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Subject: RE: Folk guitar accompaniment
From: M.Ted
Date: 27 Sep 04 - 04:06 PM

If you want to learn fingerpicking patterns, strums, and all the little things you can add to them, the best way to do it is to take guitar lessons--if you can't afford them, find someone you know who can play, and get them to show you how to do them--when you learn from someone who knows how, you get it a lot faster than if you are self-taught--most important, it sounds right--self-taught guitarists tend not to understand how to make what they're doing sound like real music--


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Subject: RE: Folk guitar accompaniment
From: PoppaGator
Date: 28 Sep 04 - 12:10 AM

Different people have different "learning styles," and formal guitar lessons may not be as necessary, or even as big a help, to some beginners as to others. Especially:

~ If the student has some knowledge of music theory from another source, e.g., choir, piano lessons (even brief, failed piano lessons like mine!). If you can read TIME, that is, one beat for a quarter-note, two beats for a half-note, etc., then you can read tablature -- and books {and free web-page printouts} can help you learn, especially in conjunction with recordings.

~ If there is some available source for informal, ad-hoc "lessons" -- that is, just getting occasional advice and tips from more experienced players. If you have a friend, or make a new friend, who is a comparatively accomplished player, they should be able to keep you on track and help you to "sound right."

Hey, I don't mean to upset anyone's applecart, and I'm sure there are plenty of fellow members here who offer lessons and whose services are worth more than they get for them. But I have to disagree with the position that lessons are necessary for everyone.

After all, historically, practically every true master of real down-home original traditional FOLK music was/is "self-taught" -- right?


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Subject: RE: Folk guitar accompaniment
From: Cluin
Date: 28 Sep 04 - 02:24 AM

Learn several versions of each chord, up and down the neck (yes, this means bar chords too), as well as the scales for the keys you play in. You don't have to play all these versions, but the more you know (and practice till you can do them cleanly and quickly) the better and more varied & interesting (to all including yourself) your playing will become. There's no such thing as too much knowledge. Just don't let it get in the way of the music. No showing off suggested, just increase your options.


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Subject: RE: Folk guitar accompaniment
From: muppitz
Date: 28 Sep 04 - 08:31 AM

From personal experience, I have found going to informal sessions to be of great help because you are encouraged to join in, and people are always happy to help you learn or show you the little tricks they have picked up.
And if you are just starting out, you don't need to worry too much as there is usually enough noise made by others to enable you to play at your desired volume if you want to avoid the embarrasment of hitting duff notes, I've been there, still am in fact!
Also, my Mum's other half is storing his amp and mic at our house and I've found plugging this in and turning it in my direction so I can hear myself in all my imperfect glory, helps to improve my performance.


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Subject: RE: Folk guitar accompaniment
From: M.Ted
Date: 28 Sep 04 - 11:02 AM

I have to respectfully disagree PoppaGator when he says:

After all, historically, practically every true master of real down-home original traditional FOLK music was/is "self-taught" -- right?

The idea that music is "traditional" means that it is transmitted from one generation to another--meaning "taught" by someone who knows the repertoire and how to play in the proper style--and a lot of musicians, like Doc Watson and Merle Travis, and Willie Nelson learned the basics from formal music lessons--

Reading music is a good and important skill, but you need someone who knows what is important and what isn't, what belongs and what doesn't, and how to get it to sound and feel right--

If you are a self-taught, your teacher doesn't know any more than you do--


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Subject: RE: Folk guitar accompaniment
From: PoppaGator
Date: 28 Sep 04 - 02:38 PM

M. Ted, we're gonna have to kiss and make up. ;^)

I feel like I did OK learning guitar from books (tablature), with additional (essential) help and tips from musician friends and acquaintances. However, I have to admit that I already had some formal musical training in my earlier years, which certainly did help. Also, when I was about three years into playing folk-style guitar, I took classical guitar lessons for one summer (probably no more than 8 to 10 weekly lessons in all). I had a classical (nylon-string) guitar at the time. The brief foray into the classics was an interesting diversion, but I don't think it did much for my development as a folk/blues player. Didn't hurt, of course; if nothing else, it gave me something new to practice every day. (I learned two pieces, by the way -- one Bach, one Villa-Lobos.)

Now I will proceed to disagree with someone else: Cluin.

I don't really see how a beginner can benefit much from playing scales and chord inversions in every possible key. (Especially a beginner interested in "folk guitar accompaniment" as opposed to, say, rock lead guitar.) Developing an ability to play single-string melody lines is *way* off in the future for such a student, and not really a necessary aspect of accompaniment at all.

I would advise, instead, concentrating on playing simple first-position chords in a few common keys *well* and *cleanly* in strict rhythm, and then developing some chord-strumming varations such as arpeggios, if not full-fledged "picking." The next embellishments I would add would be the most common "walking" bass-note phrases that lead from chord to the next.


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Subject: RE: Folk guitar accompaniment
From: M.Ted
Date: 28 Sep 04 - 03:06 PM

I'd kiss you, PoppaGator, but that beard is so scratchy;-)

The drop out rate among self-taught beginning guitar players is about the same as that of beginning insurance salesmen--9 out of 10 don't make it to a level where they can sustain themselves--the ones that do take a lot longer to get to where they are going--I don't mean to negate your experience, I am just trying to improve the odds for our GUEST--

In my guitar classes, at the end of six weeks, absolute beginners could play solid rhythm in all the open keys, and knew about a dozen songs, to boot--I usually managed to teach them play either part in a simple rhythm and lead arrangement. as well--and it only cost $45--


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Subject: RE: Folk guitar accompaniment
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 28 Sep 04 - 03:16 PM

All depends on what you mean by "taught" - learning from other people who know what they are doing, and being shown how to do things, that's one thing, and that's probably how most traditional musiicians have acquired their skills. Having formal lessons, that is something else, and I suspect fairly unusual.

That isn't in any way to knock formal learning, and I'm sure it's been a very important aspect of traditional music - but it seems to me to be doing a step too far to suggest that it's essential.

People vary in the way they learn, that's all. It's always a mstake to assume the right way for us is right for everyone, or vice versa.


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Subject: RE: Folk guitar accompaniment
From: Cluin
Date: 28 Sep 04 - 03:16 PM

The Guest who started this thread want to know how to add a more professional flair to his 2 and 3 chord songs. The way I suggested is a good way, PoppaGator. It sounded like he already has a good grasp on first position chording to me. And he wants to stretch things a bit more.

Also, learning the scales allows you the knowledge and confidence to start adding "colour" notes to your regular chords. It all helps in accompaniment. And, like I said above, there's no such thing as too much knowledge. You don't have to use it all everytime, but it's nice to have those extea colours on your palette. Especially if you might find yourself playing or jamming with others. If you know how to transpose on the fly, you can slap on a capo and chord in a different key pattern or add fills and alternate chords, like relative minors, diminished or augmented runs and things. Why limit yourself, just because yopu think folk music is supposed to be dumbed-down or something?


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Subject: RE: Folk guitar accompaniment
From: GUEST,Guest (Bill)
Date: 28 Sep 04 - 04:06 PM

I want to thank all of you for your imput! It's a big help indeed. I promise not to give up. Chords in the first position and a few variation chords w/in the first three frets, allow me to express what I feel w/in the music I sing (no barre chords needed for now, even though I can play five or so). I have a pal who's self taught, who plays folk music.

He plans to start teaching me walking bass lines, strumming patterns and simple fingerpicking patterns.   

Again, thanks to all for your thoughts, tips and advice :)

Bill,

P.S. Poppa Gator rules imho :)


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Subject: RE: Folk guitar accompaniment
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 28 Sep 04 - 04:34 PM

I hope you stick around, Bill, or whatever you choose to call yourself if(when) you become a member.


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Subject: RE: Folk guitar accompaniment
From: PoppaGator
Date: 28 Sep 04 - 05:36 PM

Now I have to make peace with you too, Cluin. Hope you don't have a problem with scratchy whiskers!

One thing upon which the two of us agree is the necessity of knowing enough theory -- harmonic theory, anyway -- to be able to transpose by use of a capo and to figure out which set of 3 or 4 chords to use. Depending upon the student, this could require anything from a brief logical explanation to several weekly classes. But, it's almost entirely an intellectual problem, not involving the mechanics of playing and so not requiring repetitive practice.

I'm still somewhat prejudiced against the idea of practicing scales, at least not until one has become a really advanced student. For someone interested in "folk accompaniment," there is little demand for playing single notes apart from chords. And as I have said before, the most basic type of single-note playing that can be introduced into chord-strumming at an early phase would be bass notes moving from chord to chord.

I didn't begin incorporating treble/melody notes with my chording until I started learning whole songs and arrangements via tablature (e.g., Mississippi John Hurt pieces in "C"). In those cases, almost every treble note is played along with a chord, and you just have to slavishly memorize what to play for each beat of each measure, either "pinching" thumb and finger simultaneously, or alternating the thumb (on the count) with a finger (on "and," when counting "1-and-2-and-3-and-4-and").

Only after putting everything together, getting up to speed, and learning to play complete verses can you even *begin* to think about trying even the slightest variations. Learning that kind of folk music in the way I learned it, I never played freely enough to be able to put scale-playing to use. (Thirty years later, I can -- just a little bit!)

But hey, that's just me. As several of us have aleady noted, everyone learns differently, and all these positions have validity in different cases.


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Subject: RE: Folk guitar accompaniment
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 28 Sep 04 - 08:05 PM

For someone interested in "folk accompaniment," there is little demand for playing single notes apart from chords.

Now that is a bit of an over broad generalisation. There are a lot of different ways of playing the guitar to acconpany songs, and some of them involve a lot of understanding of how single notes relate to each other. And even when you're playing the single notes in chords, that applies as much - especially if you are thinking primarily about the melody line you are playing, and choosing the chords to fit the melody note you're playing, rather than doing it the other way round.


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Subject: RE: Folk guitar accompaniment
From: Mooh
Date: 28 Sep 04 - 08:09 PM

Running scales trains the fingers to move more independently, with more agility, and often quicker. Scales also teach where the notes in a particular key are and therefore where accidentals are. Also, the pick hand will more reliably follow the fretting hand, and the pinky will strengthen. The benefit is when the accompanist wants to add some colour or some melody to the chords they'll know where to look. Within the first few lessons (and usually the first) I get all my students to play a chromatic scale exercise in the open position as a warm-up and as an exercise to train the fingers. Another benefit is better instincts as to melody fingering when the time comes. My experience is that it doesn't fail, doesn't alienate anyone and gives pretty quick gratification.

Open position scales in 3 or 4 keys, their related 5 or 6 chords, capo use, rhythms, some fingerpicking patterns, and you've got a folk guitarist.

Works for me.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Folk guitar accompaniment
From: Cluin
Date: 28 Sep 04 - 08:33 PM

No need to make peace, PG. We all have our own approach. I was just elaborating on mine. (and sorry, but sometimes I tend to snap at perceived indications of folk-nazism).

Chord substitutions, runs, riffs, and colour notes all come into play for me whether accompanying myself or others on vocals or accompanying a fiddler or other instrumentalist too. It also helps when finding a good harmony line.

And the learning of scales I treat like I did in learning colour theory when I went to art college: I learn it to forget it and let the art take over. Sometimes I break the rules, but I do know what they are and what help they can provide. It sounds like Guest Bill is well on his way... it'll be his OWN way, like all of us (we're all unique, just like everybody else). Have fun with it, Bill. That's the main thing.


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Subject: RE: Folk guitar accompaniment
From: M.Ted
Date: 29 Sep 04 - 01:00 AM

I like scales, too--and the sooner you get to playing them, the better. There is no reason why you can't just sit down and pick out the melody while you're strumming open chords--it a bit trickier if you want a steady bass line, in the Travis picking style, but there are some fairly simple things that even beginners can do, only thing is, you've got to know how--


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Subject: RE: Folk guitar accompaniment
From: Peace
Date: 29 Sep 04 - 01:10 AM

The drop D is great for many songs. I played in that lots. One of the things I liked--after learning to use my thumb to handle notes on the bass E string on the A chord for example--was that in certain songs, just thumbing the three bass strings at the fifth fret gave some songs a neat sound (and also left the option of strumming the treble E string which then provided the 6th).


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Subject: RE: Folk guitar accompaniment
From: GUEST,Grab
Date: 29 Sep 04 - 08:03 AM

Re barre chords, it depends on the song. Sometimes it needs it due to the key - if a song in C tends to use Am, a song in D will use Bm. You can go a long way without using them, but at some point if you want to play guitar more seriously then you'll need to get the hang of them.

I'm sure there's been a lot of threads about barre chords, but my tips are: (1) keep your elbow tight to your side so that your hand is rotated outwards into the right position; (2) don't use the flat of your finger, use the edge (about 45 degrees round) because the bone there presses down better; (3) keep your guitar pretty high up your body, because a low-slung guitar gets in the way of barres; and (4) keep working at it, because there's a large element of strength/endurance that just needs the relevant muscles building up. Also strum when you're practising barres to start with, because you won't be able to hold it down cleanly enough to fingerpick properly - when the strumming starts sounding good, switch to fingerpicking because that'll expose anything you're not quite doing right and get the technique perfected.

I think McGrath touched on something else earlier. When you're strumming your chords, try lifting one finger. See how it sounds, and see which ones work and which ones don't. Get a few of those down, and that should make your strumming more interesting.

Graham.


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Subject: RE: Folk guitar accompaniment
From: Mudlark
Date: 29 Sep 04 - 01:28 PM

Bill... I'm self-taught, can't read music or tabs, have no knowledge of music theory, have never been able to manage barre chords (to my sorrow) and play guitar largely just to accompany myself singing. Even so, there are lots of easy things to do with simple chords. Aside from the good ideas contained in this thread you might also want to try experimenting with using some chords interchangeably, like F and Dm. In certain songs it can be very effective--throwing in an unnecssary but workable minor often adds color. Also, listening to the sounds of each string in a given chord and picking out, and stressing, those that coincide with the note you're singing. Songs like Wildwood Flower and Railroad Bill (in C) practically fingerpick themselves. You sound like you're having fun, and that's the main thing.


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Subject: RE: Folk guitar accompaniment
From: s&r
Date: 29 Sep 04 - 01:39 PM

Funny - my advice on barre chords is use the flat of the finger; don't stick your elbow into your side; Keep the guitar neck close to the body and high, so that the LH wrist is straight, and make sure that there is a 'tunnel' between the neck and the base of the thumb.

It always works.

Stu


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Subject: RE: Folk guitar accompaniment
From: PoppaGator
Date: 29 Sep 04 - 06:58 PM

In retrospect:

It has been silly, and ultimately irrelevant, for us to have argued over each other's bits of advice. After all, anyone reading the thread in hopes of learning something -- Bill or any other visitor -- will be reading *everyone's* contribution, and will make his/her own decision as to which bits to take seriously. Our opinions about each other's contributions will be no more than an interesting sidelight at best, a disturbing distraction at worst. The interesting and critical stuff will always be the information we offer (even when it represents conflicting opinions).

I think my instinctive reaction against the suggestion "take lessons," while it may have been overblown, was based on my feeling that it implied "forget about learning from these other posts, your only hope is to take lessons." That was probably an overreaction on my part.

Actually, the tip "take lessons" is just one tip, just like "play the G chord with fingers 2-3-4 instead of 1-2-3" is one bit of advice. No more, no less. Different readers will follow different instructions.

I just felt (and still feel) that, in the spirit of the internet, we should all offer *specific* pointers about playing. Everybody brings their own perspective, everybody has a different concept of what's appropriate and easy for a beginner, and the more different pointers we contribute, the better.

Bill, thanks for the vote of confidence; I appreciate it and actually find it a bit humbling. (Just a bit.) If you had signed up as a Mudcat member by now, I could have sent you my little thank-you note as a "PM" (personal message) rather than in this public forum, which would have been more appropriately humble!


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Subject: RE: Folk guitar accompaniment
From: GUEST,Bill
Date: 30 Sep 04 - 03:32 PM

Hi Everyone,

I just want to give an update on my lessons w/ my guitar pal. He taught me groovy strumming patterns and walking bass notes w/ chords. I can't believe how much better I sound already. Now, I'm going to practice lots to polish my new skills, then go back for more. Playing the guitar has opened up a whole new world for me :) I just know the best is yet to come :)

PoppaGator,

*Many* have given great advice, but, your suggestions seem more right for where I am at this time of folk guitar development. Thanks again "kind soul" :)

Bill


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Subject: RE: Folk guitar accompaniment
From: PoppaGator
Date: 30 Sep 04 - 07:47 PM

Bill (and whoever else):

There's another thread running at the same time as this one on a very similar topic, containing the same kind of suggestions: "Folk Guitar Accompaniment". You should check it out (if you haven't already).

If you do go there, you'll see messages from some of the same people as here, plus additional tips from others as well. In some cases, including my own, a member may have written something on one thread, read a critique of it, reconsidered, and then written a revision on the other thread or added a new idea as an afterthought.

If you hang around here long enough, you'll start to get a sense of the differences between American and British folk music, and especially between the folk-music-playing *cultures* on either side of the ocean. The Brits and Irish apparently have more opportunities for individuals to show up somewhere and play with a group, and these sessions seem to share a common dynamic.

The person who started the thread asking about "Folk Guitar Accompaniment" was obviously British or Irish, seeking advice about beginning to participate in sessions; the differences between your requests and responses and his (or hers?) are pretty interesting.

My suggestions probably fit your needs to the extent that they did largely because (I assume) we're both Americans.

Let me encourage you to join Mudcat. It don't cost nuthin', there's no obligation to stick with it -- no reason *not* to join. As a member, you can send and receive personal messages, maybe post a profile and/or a photo or two if you like, and gradually get to know the rest of the cast of characters. (I have some pictures in the Member Photo section, but no profile as yet -- maybe someday soon.)

You can join under your real name -- in your case, you'd have to include your last name or at least an initial, because there are already other members named Bill -- or come up with some kind of fake "Mudcat name." I had always used my real name on other forums, but the member who first encouraged me to join was adamant that I come up with a pseudonym. I have no regrets about that, but I really don't think it makes much difference either way, unless you're nervous about privacy/confidentiality. There *is* a little bit of fun involved in the minimal anonymity of a "screen name" -- a bit like wearing a mask at Halloween or Mardi Gras.


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Subject: RE: Folk guitar accompaniment
From: Grab
Date: 01 Oct 04 - 05:14 AM

Interesting, Stu. I guess it's always "what works". :-) I'm just basing mine off having lessons last year to try and improve my technique. That forced me to really analyse how I was playing, to remove as much unnecessary movement as possible.

One thing my teacher improved was that I tended to play with my forearm rotated so that the palm of my left hand was almost 90 degrees to the neck, instead of parallel with the neck. That was great for A and D chords, but it really limited my range for anything else. In particular it meant that I had to rotate my forearm to get my hand back parallel to play a barre - if the palm of your hand isn't parallel to the neck, you can't stick your first finger out parallel to the frets - and the extra time spent turning my forearm meant I couldn't play as cleanly because I couldn't hold notes properly while I did it. I found that if I kept my elbow closer into my side, my hand just naturally rotated into being parallel with the neck, and my playing got much smoother. It feels very uncomfortable to start with (anyone remember how difficult it was as a kid, being told to keep your arms in while you were eating? :-) but it's really helped me.

But it's just "whatever works". And on that theme, Bill, I suggest you don't go to a proper teacher and take lessons until you've got basic chords and fingerpicking sorted. I've found it's much better to go to a teacher and say "I can play OK, but I need my technique tidying up" than going to a teacher and saying "teach me how to play". If you go to a teacher from the start, you'll just get taught to play how they play, which might not be right for you. If you've worked out a lot of it on your own, you can go along and get some fine-tuning to your existing technique without having your style dictated by the teacher. If you've got a friend who can show you some stuff and then leave you to play around with it and find your own style, that's great! It'll probably take you longer to learn on your own, but you'll learn *better*.

Graham.


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Subject: RE: Folk guitar accompaniment
From: Peter T.
Date: 01 Oct 04 - 10:04 AM

The most important single thing I learned early on was to be wary of the easy "TAB" pictures on most sheet music -- what I call waffle irons. Only when I started with a teacher did I learn that most chord identifications on this music are done by piano arrangers, and that once you had the key down, you could work on different versions of what was going on, different ways of doing a C or whatever. Sticking with the basic chords over and over got really tiresome over ten years.

I also found that two chord books -- Larry Sandberg's Chords and Tunings for Fretted Instruments and Mel Bay's Deluxe Encyclopaedia of Guitar Chords (gives you the chord structure) were godsends. They give you a quick way of figuring out what happens when you move up the neck, etc.

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Folk guitar accompaniment
From: s&r
Date: 01 Oct 04 - 11:22 AM

in the classical guitar world there are arguments about whether to play off the finger, flicking with the nail, or off the nail directly. And what angle the finger should make with the string. In the rock world I've seen similar arguments over whether or not to rest the pinky on the face of the guitar.

Like you say Graham, if it works use it

Stu


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