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Two guitars and a voice?

GUEST,Shalini 28 Jan 09 - 11:59 AM
McGrath of Harlow 28 Jan 09 - 12:09 PM
cptsnapper 28 Jan 09 - 01:00 PM
Big Mick 28 Jan 09 - 01:11 PM
Richard Bridge 28 Jan 09 - 02:31 PM
Nick 28 Jan 09 - 03:37 PM
The Sandman 28 Jan 09 - 03:44 PM
cptsnapper 28 Jan 09 - 03:59 PM
Leadfingers 28 Jan 09 - 04:17 PM
M.Ted 28 Jan 09 - 06:15 PM
McGrath of Harlow 28 Jan 09 - 06:36 PM
M.Ted 28 Jan 09 - 07:31 PM
GUEST,Shalini 29 Jan 09 - 03:07 AM
GUEST,Shalini 29 Jan 09 - 03:15 AM
breezy 29 Jan 09 - 04:28 AM
Piers Plowman 29 Jan 09 - 05:33 AM
Piers Plowman 29 Jan 09 - 05:37 AM
Richard Bridge 29 Jan 09 - 06:35 AM
GUEST,Shalini 29 Jan 09 - 07:51 AM
GUEST,Shalini 29 Jan 09 - 08:00 AM
Piers Plowman 29 Jan 09 - 08:15 AM
Shalini 29 Jan 09 - 08:24 AM
Piers Plowman 29 Jan 09 - 08:39 AM
M.Ted 29 Jan 09 - 01:04 PM
Piers Plowman 29 Jan 09 - 01:17 PM
The Sandman 29 Jan 09 - 01:23 PM
M.Ted 29 Jan 09 - 05:28 PM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 29 Jan 09 - 06:55 PM
Nick 29 Jan 09 - 08:18 PM
Shalini 29 Jan 09 - 09:51 PM
cptsnapper 30 Jan 09 - 02:35 PM
cptsnapper 02 Feb 09 - 06:06 AM
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Subject: Two guitars and a voice?
From: GUEST,Shalini
Date: 28 Jan 09 - 11:59 AM

My brother and I play quite a few folk songs, his guitar and my vocals, just for ourselves. Lately another guitarist has joined us, but as we're all just beginning to explore playing together, we've been finding it hard to play together. Both guitarists are not very confident of their abilities to improvise and arrange a song. I thought perhaps we could then start with a recording that has two guitars anyway, and once we get comfortable with playing together, try different things.

Any other ideas about what we can do? Also, can people suggest songs that have two guitar parts? We've been playing songs by reasonably popular folk artists, American, British, Irish, Scottish. Some favourites are Mary Black, Maddy Prior, June Tabor, Kate Rusby, Anne Briggs, The Corries, Peter, Paul and Mary, Maura O'Connell, Joni Mitchell.


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Subject: RE: Two guitars and a voice?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 28 Jan 09 - 12:09 PM

The more people play together the better - but the important thing I'd suggest, is to remember that the guitars are accomoanying the singer, not the other way round.

Easiest way to help make sure that the two guitars compliment each other rather than get in the way is to have a capo on one, so that they are playing different inversion of the same chords.


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Subject: RE: Two guitars and a voice?
From: cptsnapper
Date: 28 Jan 09 - 01:00 PM

It might be an idea for both guitarists to practice by playing a few instrumentals even if you don't intend to do so in public, swapping the leads & accompaniment wether the latter be strumming or finger picking. Another suggestion is to listen to any recordings featuring two or even three guitars. I've got a lovely one by John James & Pete Berryman called " Sky In My Pie ". And most important of all don't feel intimidated if you do hear something like that because we're all on the same ladder, it's just that some of us are a few rungs higher but we all started at the bottom. Oh yes, and join Mudcat. It's easy & free and well worth doing.


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Subject: RE: Two guitars and a voice?
From: Big Mick
Date: 28 Jan 09 - 01:11 PM

I love the fact that you are exploring this, and I encourage you to develope your own sound. That sounds simplistic, but like most things, it is much deeper than it seems. I would start by just playing together, being careful not to duplicate each other. In other words, don't let it be a contest to see who can strum louder. When one guitarist starts a song, try and figure out what you can do to enhance the sound, or the effect, add graces to it, etc. Maybe one person play in the first position with chords and have another use a capo and different chord forms fingerstyle. Figure out where the "holes" in the sound are and try different things to see if it enhances the sound. Experiment with different licks. From your tinkering, a sound will emerge, just like a sculpture emerges from a raw piece of stone. There will be dead ends, and there will be very cool things.

Harmonies in your singing are another place you are in for some sweet surprises. Siblings can do some amazing things. Give a listen some time to The Black Family, or any of a number of other family acts. Take advantage of your genetics.

The best sauce here is just do it, overcome whatever timidness you have and go for it. You will have failures, and they sting a bit, but when it comes together, they are the spice that makes a very tasty dish. I can't wait to hear how this goes.

Please join and keep us posted.

All the best,

Mick Lane


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Subject: RE: Two guitars and a voice?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 28 Jan 09 - 02:31 PM

Best bet, as well as the advice above about inversions, is to have one guitarist playing fingerpicks or melodies and the other "box chords" - and avoid "//// \\\\ ////" strumming but play related rhythms on the chords


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Subject: RE: Two guitars and a voice?
From: Nick
Date: 28 Jan 09 - 03:37 PM

Agree with everything said here. I love playing two guitars and voices as you can get very effective results without huge levels of difficulty as long as you keep out of each others space.

You mentioned Joni Mitchell in the first post. If you have access to Blue as an album listen to the interplay of James Taylor's guitar with her guitar or dulcimer and he is always somewhere else adding things. Or some of his albums will often have examples of a couple of acoustic guitars playing beautifully together. I have always thought he is a very talented accompanist whilst being immediately recognisable by the style of his playing.

If you happen to have access to any of the Transatlantic Sessions music (if you in the Uk it is on BBC4 on Friday evening) where I often marvel at the skill that the multiple instruments work together (often not playing anything flashy or incredibly clever but just playing beautifully together with each person allowing others space)


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Subject: RE: Two guitars and a voice?
From: The Sandman
Date: 28 Jan 09 - 03:44 PM

better still,
instead of using a capo,create inversions,by learning them ,that requires making a diagram of your finger board,learning the notes of the chords,and hey presto ,you can see all your different inversions.
in standard tuning,there are quite a few options ,for most chords.
next step,is have one guitar in a different tuning drop d, double drop d,or open d dadf#ad,or open G gdgdgbd.
or even consider a modal tuning dadgad or cgcgcd,probably the easiest to start with might be dgdgbd[originally a blues tuning] sees harleys website.
this depends to some extent on what keys the singer likes to sing in.OPEN G IS OF COURSE GOOD FOR G,but using acapo you can play in any key,while the other guitar is in standard,or drop d playing in g.


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Subject: RE: Two guitars and a voice?
From: cptsnapper
Date: 28 Jan 09 - 03:59 PM

Funnily enough Peter Paul & Mary are in concert on BBC4 even as I write.


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Subject: RE: Two guitars and a voice?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 28 Jan 09 - 04:17 PM

I agree to all above - DONT be intimidated by 'better' players - we ALL had to start somewhere , and MOST important , ENJOY the music .
The capo idea is a very easy way to NOT play exactly the same as each other , though the captains Inversions point IS well made , but is NOT Beginner Guitarist stuff !


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Subject: RE: Two guitars and a voice?
From: M.Ted
Date: 28 Jan 09 - 06:15 PM

PP&M are a good example of two guitars, and the Everly Brothers also used two guitars to good effect. Not to forget the Beatles, and many other 60's pop groups, who based their sounds on the interplay of two guitars.

The basic paradigm for two guitars is "Lead and Rhythm", which is to say, one person plays the chords, while the other plays melody, fills, and turnarounds.

Another way to look at it, and one that opens more possibilities, is simple to say that each player stakes out a territory--Vertically, as "When I am playing Bass notes, you play chords in middle range, or high range", for instance, or Horizontally, as in"When I play quarter notes, you play whole note chords, or when I play that catchy rhythmic phrase in chords, you answer back to fill out the measure.", for instance.

The problem you have is that your new guitarist's style doesn't compliment what you brother is doing, and your brother can't tell him how to change it so it does. The choices are to either work things out, or find someone who knows what to do.


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Subject: RE: Two guitars and a voice?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 28 Jan 09 - 06:36 PM

Surely "the problem" is that they haven't played together enough as yet, and that's easy enough to rectify. A few months should go a lopng way to solve it.


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Subject: RE: Two guitars and a voice?
From: M.Ted
Date: 28 Jan 09 - 07:31 PM

I won't argue, McGrath, I'll just point out that a few months of practice, study, and rehearsals is a big investment.


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Subject: RE: Two guitars and a voice?
From: GUEST,Shalini
Date: 29 Jan 09 - 03:07 AM

Thank you all for the input. I'll try out some of the useful ideas that came out of it and will, of course, keep you posted.


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Subject: RE: Two guitars and a voice?
From: GUEST,Shalini
Date: 29 Jan 09 - 03:15 AM

Also, it isn't a case of selecting a good guitarist. We are all three in the same boat, unsure of how to bring it all together, but we do want to play together. Our aim is to explore and learn rather than play in public, which changes the situation, no?


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Subject: RE: Two guitars and a voice?
From: breezy
Date: 29 Jan 09 - 04:28 AM

yes

1, learn a song , sing it without guitar

2 find the key

3 strum the guitar chords, you may need a capo as G and D are good base chord/keys, although a lot of the vets still use C as a base chord,

4 much depends on the competence of da guitarists maybe at the moment

5 enjoy exploring but dont be afraid to ask as there is no need to reinvent the wheel, we all had some help, some more than others


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Subject: RE: Two guitars and a voice?
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 29 Jan 09 - 05:33 AM

Subject: Two guitars and a voice?
From: GUEST,Shalini - PM
Date: 28 Jan 09 - 11:59 AM

"Both guitarists are not very confident of their abilities to improvise and arrange a song."

Both of these things are difficult. I've been working on them for over 20 years and I still have a lot to learn.

You have a great advantage in that you have two guitarists, so one can play the chords while the other works on improvising (and then switching!). I wish I'd had another guitarist to play with. An "arrangement" doesn't have to be fancy to be good. In folk music (definition available upon request), simplicity is often better than complexity and _always_ better than slickness.

My advice, based on years of struggling, is, again, to not want to be too fancy. A simple solo, played well and with feeling, is better than 90% of the one-size-fits-all solos one often hears.

The basic building blocks of improvisation are scales and (especially) arpeggios and the most useful skill, in my opinion, is being able to play by ear. A solo built around scales and arpeggios will sound like, well, scales and arpeggios. However, practicing them will help a lot with playing by ear and gaining confidence.

I personally wouldn't bother trying to learn and copy arrangements by other groups. Listen yes, copy no. Just my opinion.


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Subject: RE: Two guitars and a voice?
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 29 Jan 09 - 05:37 AM

"[...] and the most useful skill, in my opinion, is being able to play by ear [...] "

Oh, yes. If they start trying to do this, they will probably hit a lot of wrong notes. This will diminish in time. My experience is that it seems to be more a matter of practice and intuition than learning scales, arpeggios and the names of the notes on the fingerboard, although I do practice these other things. I still hit far too many wrong notes, but I feel that I'm getting there.

And it's not the years one has played an instrument, it's the hours.


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Subject: RE: Two guitars and a voice?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 29 Jan 09 - 06:35 AM

I'd be careful with that word "strum". Chord accompaniment needs a rhythm and just going "one, two, three, four" (if it's in 4/4) is DEADLY.


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Subject: RE: Two guitars and a voice?
From: GUEST,Shalini
Date: 29 Jan 09 - 07:51 AM

I am in India, so my access to videos, etc is mostly through the internet. Nick, are there any particular Transatlantic session videos that we could watch; are there perhaps any with two guitars (not slide guitars)? Could then try to watch them on YouTube. Most of those sessions that we've seen have amazed us.


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Subject: RE: Two guitars and a voice?
From: GUEST,Shalini
Date: 29 Jan 09 - 08:00 AM

We are thinking of starting with two songs that we learn well and try to play together, to begin with. I'm hunting around for suitable songs that already have two (or three) guitars. Any suggestions? I must tell you that, individually, both Rahul and Anu (the guitarists) are pretty good.


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Subject: RE: Two guitars and a voice?
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 29 Jan 09 - 08:15 AM

Subject: RE: Two guitars and a voice?
From: GUEST,Shalini - PM
Date: 29 Jan 09 - 08:00 AM

"I'm hunting around for suitable songs that already have two (or three) guitars."

You can play folksong with two guitars, three guitars, a guitar and a banjo, guitar, bass and mandolin, or whatever. It's not like so-called "classical" music, where the instrumentation is usually specified. (Music of the Baroque era and before is different in this respect.)

There are books with arrangements of folksongs for a single guitar, and there might well be some with arrangements for two guitars, but that's not what people who play in folk clubs generally play.

So, any two songs you like. How about _English Country Garden_ and _Black Velvet Band_?


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Subject: RE: Two guitars and a voice?
From: Shalini
Date: 29 Jan 09 - 08:24 AM

"You can play folksong with two guitars, three guitars, a guitar and a banjo, guitar, bass and mandolin, or whatever. It's not like so-called "classical" music, where the instrumentation is usually specified. "

Yes. We did start by trying songs together and all three of us have been rather blank -- I think both guitarists may be used to either playing ready-made solos or accompanying a singer individually. That's why I thought it may be helpful to start with listening to a recording which already has two guitars, and playing that song to feel out playing together. Not a good idea?


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Subject: RE: Two guitars and a voice?
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 29 Jan 09 - 08:39 AM

Whatever you find helpful. As mentioned above, Peter, Paul and Mary used two guitars, as did the Everly Brothers. Both groups probably had a bass player a lot of the time, too. Two guitars, one rhythm, one lead, is very common, but often there are other instruments, too. A string band might have bass, guitar, mandolin, fiddle and banjo.

I do understand the problem. To play together, one must leave "room" for the other person.

"We did start by trying songs together and all three of us have been rather blank"

Well, I think that's a good thing. If one is blank, then one can start something new, instead of just doing the same old thing one already knows how to do.

"I think both guitarists may be used to either playing ready-made solos or accompanying a singer individually."

I strongly advise against playing ready-made solos. I don't think that will lead to anything.

If one guitarist strums and the other picks, it would be a good start. Or one guitarist could play bass lines and the other could play chords in the middle or higher register. It doesn't really matter, as long as they're not doing the same thing at the same time.


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Subject: RE: Two guitars and a voice?
From: M.Ted
Date: 29 Jan 09 - 01:04 PM

My guitar teacher once told me it took him ten years to figure out things that someone could have taught him in six months. If you're coming up blank, find someone who knows what to do, and work with them. It is worth it.

And Piers, playing the same thing at the same time is called "playing in unison", and it is perfectly valid.


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Subject: RE: Two guitars and a voice?
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 29 Jan 09 - 01:17 PM

Subject: RE: Two guitars and a voice?
From: M.Ted - PM
Date: 29 Jan 09 - 01:04 PM

'And Piers, playing the same thing at the same time is called "playing in unison", and it is perfectly valid.'

You are right, of course, but it's probably not what they will want to be doing most of the time. Strumming in unison over a long period of time is probably not very interesting to listen to and single-note lines in unison is also probably not the best use of two guitars. Two single note lines in harmony (usually thirds) can sound nice, though.

What I meant was not specifically playing in unison, but doing the same thing, i.e.., both strumming, both picking a pattern, or whatever.


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Subject: RE: Two guitars and a voice?
From: The Sandman
Date: 29 Jan 09 - 01:23 PM

how about a 5 string banjo ,or a concertina .http://www.e.com/watch?v=4K4-2laAOkI&feature=channel_page


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Subject: RE: Two guitars and a voice?
From: M.Ted
Date: 29 Jan 09 - 05:28 PM

I know what you meant, Piers, and my point is that you can do those things to good effect. It is also not as easy as you might think to do, say, a finger picking pattern in unison--you have to be together.


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Subject: RE: Two guitars and a voice?
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 29 Jan 09 - 06:55 PM

Two duos with guitars who made great sounds together were Bud & Travis, a late '50's - early '60's pair who sang two-part harmony and played classical guitars, and Art & Paul, two Greenwich Villagers of the late 1950's whose music will be harder to locate, but features some complex vocal work. You can find YouTube clips by Bud & Travis. They're worth a listen.


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Subject: RE: Two guitars and a voice?
From: Nick
Date: 29 Jan 09 - 08:18 PM

There is plenty of stuff on YouTube from pretty much all of Transatlantic Sessions. I love loads of it but really love Russ Baremberg's playing and Jerry Douglas is one of the most tasteful players in any genre I think.

Hope the links below this might spark a thought or two - I hope you don't think me presumptuous/pretentious in posting them. I play with an Irish friend and when he comes round and visits we'll sit and just mess about on a couple of guitars and play and sing a few songs with my wife for practice or for fun. They are only examples of things we have done to try out and in most cases are just the first time playing them together to see how they work or what we might do with them or for the hell of it.

Mark who I play with occasionally is a fine player and singer who has worked professionally here and in the States who I learn a lot from and I pick up ideas and thoughts as I play with him.

I haven't posted these with any suggestion that they are wonderful pinnacles of excellence; for the most part it's just friends playing guitar together but it might spark a few thoughts as to how guitarists might do some things. There are plenty of errors and timing issues and bum notes but it's the fun of practice and leads to positive results later on hopefully.

There are also a couple of things live (Fragile and All Along the Watchtower) that we played at gigs where my 16 yr old son joined us on guitar and played a more traditional lead acoustic guitar role (though the recording on All Along The Watchtower is distorted). Some have the addition of a bass or third instrument but could live without.

A few comments on each.

BOTH SIDES NOW - one guitar in open D capoed at 4th fret the other playing in normal tuning

ALL ALONG WATCHTOWER - a bit distorted in sound and a more traditional rhythm/lead approach with bass and the interplay of the two guitars is nice (this is the first time they had ever played together and this was without a practice). The bits from about 4mins are an interesting bit of jamming and I particularly like the bits around 5mins where the two guitars play well together I think. They are both good musicians so find it easy I guess.

FRAGILE - like the solo in this at about 2 mins in. Bass also on this one. Again traditional rhythm/lead.

SATELLITES - solid rhythm guitar and some fills from the second guitar. Bass comes in after first verse and has fun messing about!

WEAKNESS OF ME - one guitar playing in G at bottom, one playing in C capoed at the 7th fret. Mostly arpeggios but one guitar changes to strumming in some parts for contrast. (Also has an interesting mobile phone backing in the bottom)

STRONG WINDS FOR AUTUMN - solo accompany first and then other guitar comes in when he picks up the tune and fills around the tune. One guitar capoed at 5th fret other open. Solo that I think sounds nice without being flash or difficult

STAR OF COUNTY DOWN - practicing three different approaches to playing it with the last in almost a classical style (?!)

JESSE - one guitar playing at bottom one higher up fretboard with no capo (a bit like Captain B mentioned)

DON'T KNOW WHAT THIS IS CALLED - I include this because it's how we practice! One starts a song and the other joins in once he gets the hang of it a bit. The bit at the end is fairly typical exchange - "what did you do there?" - "I did this" - "well if you do that and I do this then that may work" etc

If it's no help excuse the interruption!


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Subject: RE: Two guitars and a voice?
From: Shalini
Date: 29 Jan 09 - 09:51 PM

Thank you all. Nick, thanks for the recordings, they're most helpful. I'll ask the guitarists to get back for any clarifications they need on all the suggestions.


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Subject: RE: Two guitars and a voice?
From: cptsnapper
Date: 30 Jan 09 - 02:35 PM

Don't forget that you can vary things by occasionally having just one guitarist playing at a time. Try all sorts of permutations between voice and guitars or guitar and see what you come up with.

Going back to my suggestion about joining Mudcat doing so would give you the opportunity to contact anyone who contributes to your thread individually to discuss specific points by sending them a personal message otherwise known as a PM: just click on to PM & away you go.


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Subject: RE: Two guitars and a voice?
From: cptsnapper
Date: 02 Feb 09 - 06:06 AM

I'm just watching a dvd of Chet Atkins & Jerry Reed In Concert at the Bottom Line: well worth checking out for ideas, in my opinion.


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