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Percussive guitar

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Self Taught: Fingerpicking (40)
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GUEST,Les B 07 Sep 00 - 12:18 PM
Brendy 07 Sep 00 - 12:30 PM
Lox 07 Sep 00 - 12:35 PM
Sean Belt 07 Sep 00 - 12:53 PM
Clinton Hammond2 07 Sep 00 - 01:06 PM
Allan C. 07 Sep 00 - 02:15 PM
oggie 07 Sep 00 - 05:15 PM
McGrath of Harlow 07 Sep 00 - 06:08 PM
Brendy 07 Sep 00 - 06:13 PM
ddw 08 Sep 00 - 12:04 AM
Jon Freeman 08 Sep 00 - 05:01 AM
Hamish 08 Sep 00 - 09:00 AM
GUEST,Scotsbard 08 Sep 00 - 12:06 PM
Allan C. 08 Sep 00 - 12:42 PM
Roger in Baltimore 09 Sep 00 - 12:53 PM
GUEST,Rich(bodhránai gan ciall) 10 Sep 00 - 11:23 AM
McGrath of Harlow 10 Sep 00 - 09:27 PM
Jon Freeman 10 Sep 00 - 09:41 PM
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Subject: Percussive guitar
From: GUEST,Les B
Date: 07 Sep 00 - 12:18 PM

I caught part of a singer/songwriter's act the other night and was fascinated by his use of the guitar as a percussive instrument.

He did one song where he tuned the guitar to an open tuning and strummed the strings in between playing the upper and lower bouts of the guitar like a bodhran, meanwhile "pulling off" notes with his left hand on the strings -- and singing. It was nearly amazing.

My question is - are certain kinds of guitars better for this in terms of strength, cross bracing, resonance etc.? He was using a classical cutaway with a pick-up. And what all techniques can be used in doing this?

Also, how can other instruments be used as a drum ? ( I occasionally pull out a snare drum brush and use it on the head of my 5-string banjo when the rest of the band get into a bluesy/jazzy mode, or start playing "demented" chords I can't find!)


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Subject: RE: Percussive guitar
From: Brendy
Date: 07 Sep 00 - 12:30 PM

There's a Swedish guy called Janne Strøm, and he beats out a rhythm on the guitar while alternately strumming it. He gets an amazing samba rhythm, reminiscent of a lot of Cornelius Vreeswijk's material.

I have been known to use the back of the guitar as a 'kind' of bodhran, using the back of my right hand to gently brush against the wood.

B.


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Subject: RE: Percussive guitar
From: Lox
Date: 07 Sep 00 - 12:35 PM

I find that when I'm really on a roll, I can't help slapping my guitar around a bit whilst I'm playing it.

The results are twofold; on the one hand, songs sound a lot punchier with real sharp dynamics. On the other hand, my right hand in fact, there are bruises. (Close inspection of my guitar will reveal about ten years worth of accumulated congealed blood.)

When you're on a roll though you just don't notice these things.

I once made £40 in 25 minutes busking on Grafton St in Dublin.

The crowd just kept getting bigger, and naturally, being the self effacing non egotist that I am (ahem!), I assumed that they were enraptured by my singing.

The truth was not made apparent until a concerned citizen approached me to ask me "aren't you in pain?".

I responded by giving him a quizzical look, to which he responded by pointing at my T-shirt and my guitar, both of which appeared to have had a bath on an abbatoir floor.

Suffice to say that I took the opportunity to have lunch.

I never learned my lesson though, and I don't regret it either.


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Subject: RE: Percussive guitar
From: Sean Belt
Date: 07 Sep 00 - 12:53 PM

A trick I've learned (thank you Thomasina) for jam sessions when I'm playing mountain dulcimer and don't know the tune is to flip my dulcimer over on my lap and -- gently -- use it as a drum. This allows me to play in the jam and add a new sound to the mix. For me, it only really works with faster tunes. I've never used this when playing guitar, but I'm sure one could.

- Sean


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Subject: RE: Percussive guitar
From: Clinton Hammond2
Date: 07 Sep 00 - 01:06 PM

2 words...

DON ROSS


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Subject: RE: Percussive guitar
From: Allan C.
Date: 07 Sep 00 - 02:15 PM

You can pull the fifth string of a guitar up and over the sixth and then hold them both down at the fourth or possibly the fifth fret. Having done this, you can strum them to create a sound not unlike a snare drum. I like to use a Spanish-style finger strum but you may find something which works better. Experiment!


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Subject: RE: Percussive guitar
From: oggie
Date: 07 Sep 00 - 05:15 PM

Many years ago I saw Keith Christmass do the same stunt in his final number - guarrenteed an encore! In his case he did not strum the strings at all but hit them with the side of his while using his thumb and the heel of his hand for percussion.

All the best

Steve


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Subject: RE: Percussive guitar
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 07 Sep 00 - 06:08 PM

If you want to have a snare drum effect on a guitar another way is to weave a bit of silver foil in and out of teh strings up near the sound hole. It's very effective with fake flamenco.

In an Irish session, I think the role of the guitar is basically to be a kind of bodhran with strings. In that context it's essentially a percussion instrument. And like a bodhran, it shouldn't be flashy or obtrusive.


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Subject: RE: Percussive guitar
From: Brendy
Date: 07 Sep 00 - 06:13 PM

"Bodhran with strings"?

Oh Kevin, have you no culture? *LOL*

B.


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Subject: RE: Percussive guitar
From: ddw
Date: 08 Sep 00 - 12:04 AM

I thought a bodhran with strings would be called a banjo....

david


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Subject: RE: Percussive guitar
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 08 Sep 00 - 05:01 AM

McGrath, a guitar can be used as a melody instrument in an Irish session as well as a rythym instrument. I am not quite sure what you mean by "flashy and obtrusive". I have played in several sessions where a SLIGHTLY dominant rythym player (guitar and bodhran) has actually helped to pull a session together. I have also played with guitar players who play all sorts of fancy chords up and down the neck and bodhran players who have done clever bits and it works well.

The main point is that a player needs to be skilled and have feeling for the music, and for other players before attempting anything beyond the basics.

Jon


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Subject: RE: Percussive guitar
From: Hamish
Date: 08 Sep 00 - 09:00 AM

I do an end-of-set kinda novelty version of Cupid where I hit the 6th, 5th and 4th strings with the side of my thumb and bash the guitar top in some sort of rhythm, holding Pete Townsend-type power chords with the left hand. And (I like to think) it works pretty well...


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Subject: RE: Percussive guitar
From: GUEST,Scotsbard
Date: 08 Sep 00 - 12:06 PM

Many flamenco pieces specify striking the guitar to complement the melody or dancer's rythm. The most common technique is rattling fingertips onto the pick-guard area, but other methods include thumping the top plate below the bridge with the heel of your palm to get a low pitched thud, or flailing fingernails against the corner of the top and side to get a high pitched rattle.

Differently pitched sounds can be made all over the top of the guitar, and the manner of striking can include all of the basic conga methods. Just experiment until you find something that fits the music you're working with at the time. There are also a lot of percussive string techniques, such as striking quickly (and rebounding cleanly) with fingers or thumb. Usually near the bridge works better, but sometimes the click of strings against the frets adds to the desired effect. Even hammering on strings could be considered percussive to some extent.

This piece features several different percussions:

http://artists.mp3s.com/artist_song/499/499469.html

~S~


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Subject: RE: Percussive guitar
From: Allan C.
Date: 08 Sep 00 - 12:42 PM

I do a few oldies from time to time. As an intro to Tommy Roe's "Sheila" which I couple with Buddy Holly and the Crickets' "Peggy Sue", I usually finger the chords (I use A, D, A, E - repeated) while lightly beating on all the strings just a little above the bridge. This results in a somewhat satisfactory immitation of the sounds of the original recordings.

I also saw this technique used by someone who did "Kaw-Liga".

You need to be careful doing this, though. It is not difficult to break a string this way.


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Subject: RE: Percussive guitar
From: Roger in Baltimore
Date: 09 Sep 00 - 12:53 PM

There are several acoustic guitarists who are developing the percussive technique that started this thread. All of the ones I have seen have been "plugged in", that is they have some type of electronic pickup that allows them to amplify their sound. It does not require a special guitar, but one with good resonance is a good choice. Any other techies out there to help answer the original questions?

Roger in Baltimore


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Subject: RE: Percussive guitar
From: GUEST,Rich(bodhránai gan ciall)
Date: 10 Sep 00 - 11:23 AM

Keller Williams does a little drumming on his guitar as well as some interesting strum patterns, although the things he does with his mouth are the main attraction. To clarify for the benefit of certain people who may be imagining all sorts of things one can do with one's mouth, he imitates the sounds of a shaker, a ride cymble, an upright bass, and a TRUMPET! Really, like if you closed your eyes you could believe there's a trumpet player next to him. That coupled by the dynamic playing and the drumming that includes playind open-hnanded on the side of his guitar with his wedding ring (CRAACKK!)makes hims ound like a whole band! Just thought I'd mention him.

And by the way, I thnik calling a guitar a "bodhrán with strings" is giving a lot of credit to the guitar. :-) LOL

Slán agat,
Rich


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Subject: RE: Percussive guitar
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 10 Sep 00 - 09:27 PM

Yeah, a guitar can indeed be used as a melody instrument in an Irish session. And there are always times when the easy distinction between melody instruments and rhythm instruments breaks down, both ways.

But I think that in general that's not what the guitar is best at doing. I think any guitarist with the skill and the taste to do it, in keeping with the music might be better to be doing it with a different instrument.

As for "flashy and obtrusive" - well that's a matter of personal taste maybe. In general I don't like it in any instrument. There's times and occasuions, but in general, no.

And the description of a guitar as "a bodhran with strings" - it's a phrase I've used from time to time for years, but the reason it came to mind just then was because at Whitby Festival Denny Bartley used exactly that phrase in a workshop.


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Subject: RE: Percussive guitar
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 10 Sep 00 - 09:41 PM

I don't know of the term but I have had the pleasure of playing in a couple of sessions with Denny Bartley - whatever he does seems to work!

Jon


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