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Why Do Guitarists on play Rhythm

GUEST,Tonyteach 23 Mar 12 - 07:36 PM
GUEST 23 Mar 12 - 07:37 PM
Commander Crabbe 23 Mar 12 - 07:41 PM
catspaw49 23 Mar 12 - 07:41 PM
GUEST,Chord Chunker 23 Mar 12 - 08:20 PM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 23 Mar 12 - 08:29 PM
Dave MacKenzie 23 Mar 12 - 08:35 PM
Leadfingers 23 Mar 12 - 08:48 PM
JedMarum 23 Mar 12 - 09:57 PM
GUEST,leeneia 23 Mar 12 - 10:17 PM
Don Firth 23 Mar 12 - 11:14 PM
Bonzo3legs 24 Mar 12 - 08:50 AM
GUEST 24 Mar 12 - 09:12 AM
Will Fly 24 Mar 12 - 09:53 AM
Will Fly 24 Mar 12 - 09:53 AM
Arkie 24 Mar 12 - 09:54 AM
GUEST 24 Mar 12 - 10:34 AM
JedMarum 24 Mar 12 - 11:16 AM
Big Al Whittle 24 Mar 12 - 01:31 PM
GUEST 24 Mar 12 - 01:44 PM
John P 24 Mar 12 - 08:22 PM
Dave MacKenzie 25 Mar 12 - 04:28 AM
Big Al Whittle 25 Mar 12 - 06:06 AM
Bee-dubya-ell 25 Mar 12 - 06:52 AM
Phil Cooper 25 Mar 12 - 09:25 AM
Bonzo3legs 25 Mar 12 - 11:22 AM
Don Firth 25 Mar 12 - 01:25 PM
GUEST,gillymor 26 Mar 12 - 01:09 PM
JohnInKansas 26 Mar 12 - 03:33 PM
Arkie 26 Mar 12 - 05:44 PM
Big Al Whittle 26 Mar 12 - 07:30 PM
GUEST 26 Mar 12 - 09:46 PM
Don Firth 26 Mar 12 - 10:39 PM
Bobert 26 Mar 12 - 11:02 PM
treewind 27 Mar 12 - 02:47 AM
Rob Naylor 27 Mar 12 - 08:27 AM
GUEST 27 Mar 12 - 09:43 AM
Richard Bridge 27 Mar 12 - 10:40 AM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 27 Mar 12 - 10:49 AM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 27 Mar 12 - 10:53 AM
Cool Beans 27 Mar 12 - 12:52 PM
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Subject: Why Do Guitarists on play Rhythm
From: GUEST,Tonyteach
Date: 23 Mar 12 - 07:36 PM

I noticed on the excellent Transatlantic Sessions that the guitarists only played chords - do they not get a melody line. I cannot think it is lack of ability but is it a convention
I was flatpicking and keeping up with the fiddlers quite easily so I suppose lots of people can do this

More melody for guitarists I say


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Subject: RE: Why Do Guitarists on play Rhythm
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Mar 12 - 07:37 PM

Sorry should be only play rhythm


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Subject: RE: Why Do Guitarists on play Rhythm
From: Commander Crabbe
Date: 23 Mar 12 - 07:41 PM

Tonyteach

If you go back to episode 3 or 4 you will see Jim Murray accompanying Muireann Nic Amlaoibh singing "Leaving Limerick". He's not playing rhythm.

Or are you referring to when they only accompany tunes?

CC


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Subject: RE: Why Do Guitarists on play Rhythm
From: catspaw49
Date: 23 Mar 12 - 07:41 PM

Probably serious Catholics.....

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Why Do Guitarists on play Rhythm
From: GUEST,Chord Chunker
Date: 23 Mar 12 - 08:20 PM

Simple answer-the acoustic guitar isn't very loud, compared to the fiddle, so in "traditional" music, it pounds out chords, while the louder instruments carry the melody and do most of the soloing.

It may be easy to keep up with the fiddlers when you play an acoustic along with a record, but it is a very different matter when you try to take the lead in a session, or in a band!

Plug the guitar in and it's a different story.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Guitarists on play Rhythm
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 23 Mar 12 - 08:29 PM

"Why SHOULD Guitarists only play Rhythm

because most hobbyist acoustic guitarists are absolutely crap improvisational lead soloists...*

obviously I don't mean you... or you ..or you.. etc

But you know what I mean....














[* I include myself in that assertion]


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Subject: RE: Why Do Guitarists on play Rhythm
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 23 Mar 12 - 08:35 PM

IMHO most guitarists should play lead because they're mot good enough to accompany!


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Subject: RE: Why Do Guitarists on play Rhythm
From: Leadfingers
Date: 23 Mar 12 - 08:48 PM

Playing Rhythm in a GOOD tunes set is often harderthan playing melody


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Subject: RE: Why Do Guitarists on play Rhythm
From: JedMarum
Date: 23 Mar 12 - 09:57 PM

The guitar is, for the most part in Irish Trad music a rhythm instrument. It is much more skilled technique then melody playing, for this type of music - and the guitarist is really the only with with real creative ability, when the band is playing tunes sets. Irish bouzouki or octave mandolin is sometimes used, typically in lieu of guitar, for the same purpose; providing rhythm.

It has nothing to do with player skill. The guitar is a good rhythm instrument, even providing bass for tune sets. And typically DADGAD or similar low modal tunings are used.

.. and as Leadfingers said above, playing rhythm for this kind of music, really takes a very skilled player.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Guitarists on play Rhythm
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 23 Mar 12 - 10:17 PM

Well, Tony when I bought my guitar in 1973 I also bought the Mel Bay folk guitar book. I learned some chords and I learned to strum. I quickly moved on to fingerpicking pretty patterns.


I've been content with that ever since.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Guitarists on play Rhythm
From: Don Firth
Date: 23 Mar 12 - 11:14 PM

I use the guitar mostly for song accompaniment, but I also play some classical guitar (and use a classic guitar to back my singing).

Depending on the song, I may play chords and rhythm only, OR I may work in countermelodies or harmonic lines to the tune of the song. Even with straight rhythm, say "Burl Ives Basic" (bump-chug-chug, bump-chug-chug). I generally plan the bass notes (the "bump" part of the pattern) carefully.

I know a number of folk guitarists who do the same.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Why Do Guitarists on play Rhythm
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 24 Mar 12 - 08:50 AM

Nobody can play Irish tunes like Swarb and Richard Thompson did in the Full House Line Up of Fairport!!


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Subject: RE: Why Do Guitarists on play Rhythm
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Mar 12 - 09:12 AM

Re the rhythm method - lots of unwanted ukes are a result

I agree that proper rhythm playing is hard because being a teacher I have to teach comping
most guitarists do not like to do this and are often not very good

BUT with a an electro acoustic one can create good melody lines that cut through or using an amplified 12 string


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Subject: RE: Why Do Guitarists on play Rhythm
From: Will Fly
Date: 24 Mar 12 - 09:53 AM

Well, check out Russ Berenberg on the TS - a complete all-rounder. A great accompanist, a superb lead player.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Guitarists on play Rhythm
From: Will Fly
Date: 24 Mar 12 - 09:53 AM

... and, contrary to my typing, his name is, of course, Barenberg!


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Subject: RE: Why Do Guitarists on play Rhythm
From: Arkie
Date: 24 Mar 12 - 09:54 AM

Here in the Arkansas Ozarks where the fiddle is commonly used to provide music for square dances and jig dancers, the fiddler often relies on the guitar to supply a steady rhythm and a good rhythm player can be a definite asset for even a rather shaky fiddle player. Some guitarists are exceptional in playing chords and providing rhythm and there are some who know all the chords and be somewhat proficient in playing guitar but they are not worth a flip in accompanying a fiddler. They can actually be a distraction. As has been suggested already, providing good guitar backup for a fiddle is a real skill and should not be diminished.

I have emceed and spent a lot of time backstage at some big fiddle contests with world class fiddlers such as Mark O'Connor, Randy Howard, Tim Crouch, Brandon Apple, Alison Krauss and others and observed how the major contenders choose their accompanists. Some bring an accompanist who is then drafted by other major players. In some cases a fiddler plays guitar for other contestants. They know what a fiddler needs.

All this to say, backup guitar is a special skill in its own right. Some of the worst backing guitarists I have seen are flatpickers who seem to think they should be out front and the center of attention whenever they are on stage or anyone else is around. Some backup players are also first rate flatpickers or thumbpickers. What is important is that the musician understand their purpose for the band and for a given tune or song.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Guitarists on play Rhythm
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Mar 12 - 10:34 AM

Oh I agree that accompanying is a real skill I do this for singers and for guitarists as well.
I have had to explain to enough bass players that they are not part of the front line and therefore do not get first choice of the girls. This is the singers privilege

However the "tradition "seems to be something cooked up between fiddlers and whistlers here to put the guitar player in his place. ITongue in cheek)


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Subject: RE: Why Do Guitarists on play Rhythm
From: JedMarum
Date: 24 Mar 12 - 11:16 AM

Arkie - right on. Well said. This is the answer to the Irish trad players, as well ... it is NOT the loudness of the instrument or the melody skill of the guitarist ... it is what the style of music demands of the instrument.

The very best rhythm players for these trad bands are nearly always very fine "lead" players as well ... and in most of those band,s you're likely to see that guitarist play some of those lead, or even finger-style accompaniments, in addition to the rhythm work.

These are few excellent guitarists who do both, rhythms and lead work, frequently in DADGAD:
Daithi Sproule
Richard Thompson
Martin Simpson
John Renbourn
Bert Jansch


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Subject: RE: Why Do Guitarists on play Rhythm
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 24 Mar 12 - 01:31 PM

I think fiddles and flutes and accordions sound better with a rhythm guitar. To do it imaginatively - yet sound natural - isn't a skill you pick up in ten minutes. Theres too much facetious rhythm playing these days - driving the song or tune, instead of accompanying it.

That's the job of the guitarist - if he wants to play tunes with bloody silly titles like The Vicar Underpants - get a fiddle and compete with the other egomaniacs.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Guitarists on play Rhythm
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Mar 12 - 01:44 PM

Tried to find that tune on google The first response was this

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/3330057/Vicar-went-to-hospital-with-potato-stuck-in-bottom.html


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Subject: RE: Why Do Guitarists on play Rhythm
From: John P
Date: 24 Mar 12 - 08:22 PM

Because fiddles usually sound terrible accompanying a guitar. It just works better the other way.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Guitarists on play Rhythm
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 25 Mar 12 - 04:28 AM

"Because fiddles usually sound terrible accompanying a guitar. It just works better the other way."

Ask Paganini.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Guitarists on play Rhythm
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 25 Mar 12 - 06:06 AM

The late John Dunkerley who used to play with Ian Campbell folk group was a master rhythm player. he could draw out a melody without appearing to be attempting to lead. Alastair Russell is another great trad rhythm player.

These are great musicians. They didn't get into what they did by default because they couldn't play Apache, or Stairway to heaven.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Guitarists on play Rhythm
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 25 Mar 12 - 06:52 AM

Rhythm guitar is like the guard-rail on a highway. It keeps the melody guys from driving the tune into the ditch.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Guitarists on play Rhythm
From: Phil Cooper
Date: 25 Mar 12 - 09:25 AM

I've enjoyed reading all the comments on this thread. I agree that a good guitar accompanyment should pretty much disappear to lift the song, or tune. I like playing in smaller groups of musicians rather than larger sessions. My reason being, I finger pick, and I wind up not being able to hear myself in the larger groups. I thought the late Tony Cuffe was great with his playing in Ossian being very different from what he played as solo artist. I also like to play finger picked versions of fiddle tunes, but find they are not appropriate to play in sessions. So, it's fun to work on back up parts for the fiddlers and pipers.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Guitarists on play Rhythm
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 25 Mar 12 - 11:22 AM

Some guitarists play lead and rhythm at the same time - Richard Thompson, Simon Nicol, Martin Simpson, me - to name but 4!


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Subject: RE: Why Do Guitarists on play Rhythm
From: Don Firth
Date: 25 Mar 12 - 01:25 PM

Lead and rhythm at the same time?

Andrès Segovia, Julian Bream, John Williams, Christopher Parkening, Sharon Isbin, Eduardo Fernandez, Ana Vidovic. . . .

Maybe a bunch of other folks.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Why Do Guitarists on play Rhythm
From: GUEST,gillymor
Date: 26 Mar 12 - 01:09 PM

John Doyle plays melody sometimes but he's such a rhythmic force that overall the music greatly benefits when he's playing backup, IMO.
For a couple of guitarists that shine as both lead and backup players there's Arty McGlynn and Tony MacManus (who's also an awesome fingerstylist).
Also, you have fingerstylists like Donogough Hennesey, Tim Edy and Steve Cooney who play a good amount of melody while backing.
Please excuse any mispells.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Guitarists on play Rhythm
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 26 Mar 12 - 03:33 PM

Whether or not the guitar (or anything else) should play "the melody" depends on the kind of performance.

It is a widely accepted rule in performance that NO INSTRUMENT should play the melody when there's a singer "playing" the melody.

An accompanying instrument can play a "counter melody," or a "different voice" (alto, tenor part etc) and can add embelishments to the extent that they don't detract from whoever is doing the solo, whether it's a singer or another instrument; but NO PERMFORMANCE should ever (except when it sounds better) have two instruments (including voices) playing the same melody at the same time.

Music publishers once offered separate "accompaniment" arrangements, especially for piano and sometimes for guitar that deliberately omitted the melody (but sometimes showed it in a separate line for reference), but with the "dumbing down" that coincided with the "everybody can sing" movement I'm not sure it's as easy now to find such scores. Separate scores were then were produced for "solo instrumental performances" so that the piano (or guitar) could play both melody and accompaniment, but the difference between the two kinds of scores was once fairly clearly indicated.

For best effect, the guitar, even when accompanying the singer who is the one playing the guitar, should not play the melody. The only time instrumental playing of a melody is permissible, according to this principle, is when the particular instrument and player has "a break" where that particular player is effectively the "solo instrumental artist" for the duration of the "break."

Since many guitarists begin by learning a few chords to accompany themselves when singing, it is the preferred performance method that they do NOT PLAY the melody while they are singing the same melody, and many never progress much past where their "accompaniment" is adequate to support their vocal performance.

And note that in a jam, many singers (and solo instrumentalists) do consider it incredibly rude if you play the melody along with their vocal/performance, so if you're polite and haven't progressed to taking "solo breaks" yourself, there are likely to be few instances in informal group sessions for you to "practice" playing "melodies," and almost no times when it's appropriate. (Some vocalists consider it rude if you play anything while they sing, but that's a different, and more specific, tradition - I think.)

John


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Subject: RE: Why Do Guitarists on play Rhythm
From: Arkie
Date: 26 Mar 12 - 05:44 PM

One's attitude toward music has some bearing on what they might expect when playing in a group or a jam. If one views music as a group effort, they look for ways they can fit it or enhance what is being played. If music is viewed as a means to show off one's skills, the musician is far more likely to try to take over and play what they want irregardless of what the others are doing. I consider myself a competent listener and a musician of very modest skills. But I have seen sessions ruined by someone who is always trying to show off, and what might have been a great recording or performance ruined by a bass player or other instrumentalist who does not know their place.

I would consider John's tips valid and well stated.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Guitarists on play Rhythm
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 26 Mar 12 - 07:30 PM

I think your missing the point - Segovia couldn't do what Eddie Condon did or Alistair Russell does.

Great rhythm guitar is a calling. Respect is called for.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Guitarists on play Rhythm
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Mar 12 - 09:46 PM

because when they stop playing rhythm, the tune falls apart...


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Subject: RE: Why Do Guitarists on play Rhythm
From: Don Firth
Date: 26 Mar 12 - 10:39 PM

The point, Al, is that the guitarists I mentioned play melody AND rhythm at the same time.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Why Do Guitarists on play Rhythm
From: Bobert
Date: 26 Mar 12 - 11:02 PM

Rhythm is the 1st goal...

Anything else is gravy...

But get the rhythm down first...

If not??? You have a problem...

B~


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Subject: RE: Why Do Guitarists on play Rhythm
From: treewind
Date: 27 Mar 12 - 02:47 AM

Dick Gaughan made a whole album of playing tunes on the guitar.

And John: It is a widely accepted rule in performance that NO INSTRUMENT should play the melody when there's a singer "playing" the melody.

Well yes, up to a point, but rules are made to be broken...


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Subject: RE: Why Do Guitarists on play Rhythm
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 27 Mar 12 - 08:27 AM

Going right back to the original question from the OP:

On my Transatlantic Sessions 3 DVDs, Russ Barenberg gets lead parts in several songs: "Drummers of England" and "St Anne's Reel" to name but two....he plays rhythm, then a lead part for a whole "AABB" cycle then drops back into the rhythm almost withouit you noticing.

I went to his solo gig in a pub in the Peak District about 16 months ago and had a whole evening listening to his lovely flatpicking technique, sitting about 3 feet away from him.


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Subject: RE: Why Do Guitarists on play Rhythm
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Mar 12 - 09:43 AM

Do not agree with the idea that no instrument should play the melody while a singer is performing Many artists including Martin Carthy underline the melody with the guitar

There seems to be an assumption that playing lead on guitar is showing off and such people cannot play rhythm I did not say this I asked why guitarists do not play melody lines more I have been told that some guitarists do thats fine by me

I play flamenco guitar among other things and playing properly to a 4 or 12 beat is the first requirement to play in compas is important


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Subject: RE: Why Do Guitarists on play Rhythm
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 27 Mar 12 - 10:40 AM

Where would Dr Feelgood have been without Wilko Johnson?


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Subject: RE: Why Do Guitarists on play Rhythm
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 27 Mar 12 - 10:49 AM

Where would my generation have been without Wilko Johnson?

Wilko is the most influential prime exponent of 'Rhythmic Lead' electric rhythm guitar style..


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Subject: RE: Why Do Guitarists on play Rhythm
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 27 Mar 12 - 10:53 AM

..and then again, how capable are most hobbyist acoustic guitarists
of holding down a solid constant rythmic unobtrusive heavy riff
as the foundation of a song performance..????


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Subject: RE: Why Do Guitarists on play Rhythm
From: Cool Beans
Date: 27 Mar 12 - 12:52 PM

Great comment, Bee-dubya! I was once at a club in Coral Gables, Florida, where banjoist Roger Sprung was the headliner, preceded by an open mic session. A couple of the open mic guitarists had been chosen to accompany Sprung. Although they were good solo guitarists, after two songs it was apparent that neither one knew how to play backup. I had my guitar with me, having played at the open mic, and decided to pitch in. By the time I arrived at the stage, the other guitarists had given up and were putting their instruments away. At the end if the evening, Sprung said I had saved his gig.


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