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Guitar as accompaniment

Jerry Rasmussen 18 Nov 04 - 12:18 PM
chris nightbird childs 18 Nov 04 - 12:34 PM
Jeri 18 Nov 04 - 01:28 PM
Chris Green 18 Nov 04 - 01:37 PM
Chris Green 18 Nov 04 - 01:42 PM
Alaska Mike 18 Nov 04 - 01:51 PM
PoppaGator 18 Nov 04 - 01:54 PM
DADGBE 18 Nov 04 - 02:09 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 18 Nov 04 - 02:15 PM
Mooh 18 Nov 04 - 02:18 PM
Chris Green 18 Nov 04 - 02:23 PM
Blissfully Ignorant 18 Nov 04 - 02:25 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 18 Nov 04 - 02:27 PM
Chris Green 18 Nov 04 - 02:30 PM
Deckman 18 Nov 04 - 02:43 PM
Blissfully Ignorant 18 Nov 04 - 02:50 PM
GUEST,Vixen @ work 18 Nov 04 - 03:07 PM
GUEST,Vixen 18 Nov 04 - 03:08 PM
Blissfully Ignorant 18 Nov 04 - 03:35 PM
Cluin 18 Nov 04 - 03:40 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 18 Nov 04 - 03:48 PM
Blissfully Ignorant 18 Nov 04 - 03:48 PM
cptsnapper 18 Nov 04 - 04:04 PM
GUEST,Blackcatter at work 18 Nov 04 - 04:22 PM
Blissfully Ignorant 18 Nov 04 - 04:58 PM
JWB 18 Nov 04 - 05:07 PM
Deckman 18 Nov 04 - 05:11 PM
Blissfully Ignorant 18 Nov 04 - 05:38 PM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Nov 04 - 07:00 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 18 Nov 04 - 09:45 PM
Amos 18 Nov 04 - 11:13 PM
Padre 18 Nov 04 - 11:28 PM
Joybell 19 Nov 04 - 05:46 PM
Cluin 19 Nov 04 - 06:18 PM
JWB 19 Nov 04 - 07:17 PM
Mudlark 19 Nov 04 - 07:24 PM
dwditty 19 Nov 04 - 07:44 PM
Amos 19 Nov 04 - 08:24 PM
chris nightbird childs 19 Nov 04 - 08:26 PM
Big Al Whittle 19 Nov 04 - 08:41 PM
dwditty 19 Nov 04 - 09:02 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 19 Nov 04 - 10:53 PM
Mudlark 20 Nov 04 - 03:07 AM
Dave4Guild 20 Nov 04 - 10:26 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 20 Nov 04 - 10:50 AM
Mudlark 20 Nov 04 - 12:47 PM
Joybell 20 Nov 04 - 05:31 PM
Eve Goldberg 21 Nov 04 - 02:52 PM
Mooh 21 Nov 04 - 04:12 PM
GUEST,Anne Croucher 21 Nov 04 - 05:17 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 21 Nov 04 - 09:21 PM
Folkie101 21 Nov 04 - 10:42 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 21 Nov 04 - 11:46 PM
GUEST,Vixen @ work 22 Nov 04 - 09:08 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 22 Nov 04 - 11:08 AM
Eve Goldberg 22 Nov 04 - 04:27 PM
Mooh 22 Nov 04 - 10:08 PM
Folkie101 22 Nov 04 - 11:52 PM
Jeep man 22 Nov 04 - 11:56 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 23 Nov 04 - 08:59 AM
Eve Goldberg 23 Nov 04 - 04:51 PM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 23 Nov 04 - 07:16 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 23 Nov 04 - 08:32 PM
Folkie101 24 Nov 04 - 11:45 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 25 Nov 04 - 07:25 AM
Dreaded Thumbpick 29 Dec 04 - 02:32 PM
Once Famous 29 Dec 04 - 02:43 PM
Dreaded Thumbpick 29 Dec 04 - 02:51 PM
Peter T. 29 Dec 04 - 05:17 PM
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Subject: Guitar as accompaniment
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 18 Nov 04 - 12:18 PM

Whenever I am asked to participate in a "guitar workshop" at a festival, it inevitably turns out to be "Can you top this?" dueling guitar instrumentals. Most participants pick their flashiest guitar pieces, trying to outdo each other. Meanwhile, many (if not most) of the people who come to the workshop are hoping to pick up some easily accessible techniques to use while accompanying themselves. Maybe that's just the case in this country. (Hey, Martin, let's count this as another American thread..)

I'd like to hear from you folks about how you use guitar for accompaniment. Do you flat pick or finger pick, and if you can do both, what causes you to choose one style or the other for a particular song. Do you use open tunings for some songs, and if so, why? What about instrumental breaks? Do you take them? When you play guitar for accompaniment, do you try to carry harmony lines on the guitar, or just back yourself with patterns? Or, do you carry the melody line in your accompaniment? Do you commonly use bass runs to make the transition from one chord to another?

And, if you accompany yourself on more than one instrument, what is it that makes you choose guitar over banjo, or mandolin?

That should get this one started..

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: chris nightbird childs
Date: 18 Nov 04 - 12:34 PM

Well, right now I'm playing everything solo. I perform with just myself and guitar... I play the bass, melody, and I take instrumental breaks, but not "lead" breaks. So there no flash at all. I rarely use open tunings, but play my 6-/12- string like an open tuning in standard... Lots of open chords and suspendeds. I pick or strum depending on the dynamics I need to accomplish (picking for quiet/strumming for loud)


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: Jeri
Date: 18 Nov 04 - 01:28 PM

Jerry, I'm only in the beginner stage of learning, so I'm looking at this from a "things I wish would get more attention" standpoint.

Flashy players sometimes are good. I like listening to them play. Listening to them explain their techniques (which, in my experience, they don't do) might be interesting if I knew more and/or was more of a guitar nerd than I am. These are workshops for masters, or at least intermediate players, and they aren't usually too helpful to me.

Some of the flashy players are just flashy. Even I can play tunes on guitar. It's pretty easy, especially since I know a bunch of tunes already on fiddle. I'm not that interested in 'impressive, but easy'. I want to learn 'so unobtrusive people hardly notice your playing, but pretty difficult'. Unobtrusive, appropriate accompaniment is a skill learned by the ears that listen and that part of the brain that does the hearing. You need a minimum amount of technical skill, but more skill means your more able to make the sounds your brain dreams up.

Jerry, this is a great idea for a thread. I think I'll sit back and read what the folks who know what they're doing have to say. To add to Jerry's questions: what is it about a song that makes you decide how to accompany it? How do you come up with An Arrangement'? What do you play in between the words and the lines of the verses? Thanks.


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: Chris Green
Date: 18 Nov 04 - 01:37 PM

Not trying to hijack the thread but for the benefit of UK catters I'm running a guitar workshop with Dave4Guild at Bedworth FF next weekend. I play a lot in open tunings with plectrum and fingers and my two top influences are Nic Jones and Micheal O'Domhnaill (have I spelled that right?!) from the Bothy Band. Dave on the other hand for those of you who don't know him is a ragtime and blues wiz. I'm looking forward to learning some stuff myself! It'd be great to see anyone who could make it!

Jerry, I tend to use guitar rather bouzouki or mandolin to accompany simply because I find it has a greater range and vocabulary. I use open tunings because I got addicted to them some years ago and find that it's a great way to vary the feel of a song and stop your playing becoming homogenous (which mine was using just standard tuning). In answer to your other questions I do all of the things you suggested!

Will return soon to add more but my chilli is boiling over ! Aargh!

Chris


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: Chris Green
Date: 18 Nov 04 - 01:42 PM

Actually, having re-read your post, Jerry, I'm sorry to hear that most of the workshops you've been to have degenerated into 'duelling guitar' type willy-waving. In my experience most UK guitar workshops are pretty helpful, and there isn't that element of competition. Surely it negates the point of having a workshop?


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: Alaska Mike
Date: 18 Nov 04 - 01:51 PM

Interesting subject Jerry, I perform solo with just guitar and voice. I almost always play fingerstyle using bass runs and transition chords as I go through each song's progressions. I vary my picking patterns to accomodate each song's needs and occasionally will strum with index finger or thumb when needed for emphasis. I do not use finger picks.

My voice is my primary instrument. I sing acapella sometimes during a set to give the audience a change in sound. On some songs I will play an instrumental break, but mostly I play patterns and bass runs as I sing. My guitar is tuned standard, I have never played with alternative tunings (too lazy to learn I guess). I play mostly in the top 3 frets with an occasional barr chord played higher up. I use a capo when needed.

Mike


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: PoppaGator
Date: 18 Nov 04 - 01:54 PM

Jerry, you did it again! This promises to be a great discussion.

I have a LOT to say on this topic -- more than I feel comfortable about writing up while here at work. And for the next day or two, I have no internet connection at home. (We're switching ISPs from unreliable DSL to cable, and the cable company has to rewire the house).

I'm putting a "tracer" on this thread and will have something to add later, probably Friday night or over the weekend. By then, there'll probably be a hundred or so messages already posted; hopefully, whatever I have to say will take some of that previous commentary into account.


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: DADGBE
Date: 18 Nov 04 - 02:09 PM

Hi Jerry,

Good question! If we can remove the "can you top this?" ego stuff for a moment, it comes down to what the heck is accompaniment anyway? For me, anything that enhances the emotional impact if a song is appropriate accompaniment.

The problem is that one innapropriate note will wipe out the emotional impact of many 'right' ones so I opt for a minimalist approach; the 'less is better' style.

My preference is finger picking either on bare fingers or with finger picks when I need to project more sound. Arthritis has made the pinch grip on a flat pick uncomfortable so I tend to drop the things. A recently completed a CD project with champion autoharper Les Gustafson-Zook was recorded with us both bare fingered; but one bare fingered contra dance would bloody my right hand.

Musically, anything that works for me is fair game: chords, drones, bass lines, melody fragments, whole melodies, harmony lines and the like.

As you can guess from my mudcat name, I stick to dropped D tuning for a large proportion of the time. It seems to be most musically flexible. Also, that arthritis makes certain left hand positions painful and dropped D helps me stay away from the nasties. Ironically, playing in the key of C is now my most difficuly task because of the C chord, not the much feared F.

Hope that helps. I'd love to see what other folks post.

Ray


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 18 Nov 04 - 02:15 PM

Here in the Yew Ess of Aye, workshops in folk festivals are only ocassionaly "workshops." They are either song swaps with an agreed upon subject, or instrumental showcases. The workshops I've participated in that have been closest to an actual workshop are the songwriters workshops. Songswaps with an agreed upon subject are fine, and I enjoy participating in, and attending them. Bu they aren't really "work" shops.

Guitar workshops rarely start from the perspective of someone who knows some basic rhythms and chords, who is looking for picking patterns, rhythms or harmonies. The kind of wrokshop that Jeri would find most helpful is the kind of guitar workshop I'd like to be a part of. Sometimes, just to make my point of using guitar for accompaniment, I'll do a song that has no chord changes, and a basic rhythm, showing how you can use that rhythm to make the song more interesting and melodic. I do both The Farmer's Curst Wife and John Henry in one chord (a 7th chord in both instances) and I think the accompaniment provides a rich framework to really savor the words and the humor in the songs.. particularly Farmer's Curst Wife. (I really like a version of John Henry done by Wade Mainer and His Mountaineers that is done with one chord.)

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: Mooh
Date: 18 Nov 04 - 02:18 PM

On Nov 27 and Dec 11 I'll be conducting guitar accompaniment workshops in Goderich (Ontario Canada). It's sort of my specialty because I found a lifetime ago that solo flatpicked lines couldn't compete with squeezebox, piano, fiddle, whistles and several voices, sometimes all at the same time. Without amplification, my sound got lost in the mix, but my rhythm began to form the foundation so I worked on refining that. Chord substitutions and inversions, rhythmic variations, transposition, modulation, open chord and altered tunings, baritone use, various articulation devices like slides and slurs, strumming vs fingerstyle, and so on are parts of the workshops I do.

Accompaniment is part subtlety, part brashness, part support, part drive. It is the singular strength of guitar. Usually the song or tune should dictate the style of accompaniment, but experimentation is the key to finding fresh ideas.

Fwiw, if anyone around southern Ontario is interested, pm me for details of my workshops.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: Chris Green
Date: 18 Nov 04 - 02:23 PM

Another great example of unobtrusive and simple accompaniment is "The Ballad of Hollis brown" by Bob Dylan, which fits exactly with what you're talking about re one chord accompaniment. I think (and am prepared to be corrected!) that he plays it in DADGAD and uses the bass runs to counterpoint the melody. This gives the emotional starkness of the lyrics a really powerful edge.


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: Blissfully Ignorant
Date: 18 Nov 04 - 02:25 PM

I just make it as simple or as complicated as i feel is required by the song...like, on one song, there's a flashy intro to begin with, then through the verses straightforward chords embellished with some picking and more flashy bits at the end of each line; then in the chorus some fast flashy bits, ending on another flashy bit...on another song, it's just two chords strummed to a very basic rythym, sort of mantra like.

It all depends on the song, for me. It's not about impressing people, it's about making good music...a lot of the music i hear is technically impressive, but it just does nothing for me; sometimes the opposite is true. Sometimes both. It has to fit with the song, and it has to connect with the listener...i think that's what's important. :0)


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 18 Nov 04 - 02:27 PM

You sound Blissfully Intelligent to me.. :-)

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: Chris Green
Date: 18 Nov 04 - 02:30 PM

I only get the feeling that an accompaniment is "flashy" when it detracts from the lyrics and melody. It's perfectly possible to have an intricate accompaniment that actually enhances the content that it's backing eg - "Canadee-i-o" by Nic Jones or "Erin-Go-Bragh" by Dick Gaughan.


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: Deckman
Date: 18 Nov 04 - 02:43 PM

A very interesting subject Jerry. I'll try to add to it.

Like Mike, my voice is my primary instrument. As such, I try NOT to allow the guitar to overwhelm the telling of the tale, ballad. I've always appreciated the "Burl Ives" type of approach, where often just a simple strum was all that was necessary.

However, on some ballads, where there is a very strong melody line, I often play a guitar bass line harmony, to the melody. Examples of this might be "The Star of Bannock," or "Roddy McCorly," or "Wandering Angus," or "Palace Grand."

I do a fair number of songs in different languages. On these, I'll often do a guitar solo break where the guitar can take the stage and "play" with the melody lines.

Thanks for this thread. CHEERS, Bob(deckman)Nelson


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: Blissfully Ignorant
Date: 18 Nov 04 - 02:50 PM

Thanks :0)

Thing is, i don't put any intelligence into playing, i don't think about it at all...my hands work of their own accord, and it comes out ok...

I think i cut out the middle man, my brain, because it's clumsy and tends to get in the way.:0)


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: GUEST,Vixen @ work
Date: 18 Nov 04 - 03:07 PM

Well, Jerry, ya did it again!

I strum a boom-chick-boom-chick or boom-chick-chick rhythm, mostly, but I'm still a bit inconsistent with tempo, and if I can't hear the melody line, or it changes somewhat, I tend to lose the rhythm too, and muck up the chord changes. Consequently, I try to play as unobtrusively as I can, so as not to ruin the song. This is somewhat difficult, since I'm one of a duo. Also, Reynaud says I need to be more emphatic with my downbeat/bass, but I haven't mastered the muscle memory in my right hand to do that consistently either.

Strangely, *I* feel as if I keep better rhythm and tempo if I'm finger-picking, but that's so quiet as to be completely lost under the concertina or dulcimer or fiddle or banjo or mandolin or whatever. Unfortunately, I only know two finger-pick patterns--pinch-2-3 and pinch-2-3-4 well enough to play consistently. The other patterns I just don't know well enough to play at any tempo. And, they're patterns--no expression, no melody, just boring.

I would love to have a workshop/lessons taught by someone who can tell me explicitly what I have to do, so I can practice it over and over. I tried using a beginner's video, figuring I could just replay each segment over and over until I got it. NOPE--the instructor went over the first riff so damn fast I couldn't get it. Reynaud watched it once, and spent an hour working with me to get my fingers going in the right places, so I could then practice it.

Sometimes I think it's because I'm left-handed trying to play guitar right-handed--but I've been playing this way nearly 40 years, so I think it's too late to try to change. Sometimes I think it's because I just don't "get" the guitar, because I do much better on other instruments. And other times I think it's just that I don't have the single-minded devotion to practice a couple hours a day. I mostly manage to play 15-30 minutes a day, with a couple of 1-2 hour sessions every week; I just don't think I give it enough time.

But what I want to do as a guitar accompanist is provide a rhythmic foundation, with bass runs or melodic riffs where appropriate--the kind of unobtrusive embellishment that emphasizes the emotion, mood, and feel of the music. I'd love to have a workshop/lessons that gave me a set of tools to practice using toward those ends.

Whew--that's more like a dime than $0.02--fwiw

V


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: GUEST,Vixen
Date: 18 Nov 04 - 03:08 PM

Blissful--that's what I need to get to, a point where the hands and ears work directly together.

V


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: Blissfully Ignorant
Date: 18 Nov 04 - 03:35 PM

Well, Vixen, this is how i got there...don't know if it will help, i hope it does.:0) Everyone learns differently!

I've had a few guitar lessons off and on, when i could afford them; all with different teachers, and all of them started with different things, like one taught me a few chords, another pentatonic scales, another some rythymic styles. In between, i didn't practise nearly as much as i should have...until i started writing my own songs, and needed to accompany myself. Then, i started just messing around with chord changes, just simple ones, until i could do them without thinking. After i had them down, i just used the same process for more complex ones, and then for picking.

I think what did it for me was having the knowledge there, then just running with it with it and working out the best way for me to develop it; and then, of course, practising till i had blisters:0)
I also found it helpful to sing as i was playing because i had to concentrate on my voice, and that helped the auto-pilot kick in with my hands. Maybe you could try this, even if you're not a singer.

I think the important thing is to get the technique down (not necessarily an official technique; one that works for you. Remember, if it sounds good, it probably is!), so you can play without thinking about it, and then let the emotion come. Start with something easy, then work your way up...get the foundations down first:0)

Hope this helps! :0)


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: Cluin
Date: 18 Nov 04 - 03:40 PM

I was never much impressed with guys who had mastered a bunch of flashy riffs they'd picked up from records and guitar mags. Probably because they were trying to impress. Besides, they never seemed to be able to get through a song and usually their timing was way off.

Master a good solid rhythm guitar with clean, tasteful chording and you'll always find work and an audience. THEN you can flash things up a bit, as long as it doesn't get in the way of the groove.


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 18 Nov 04 - 03:48 PM

I'm with you, cluin. I've heard too many players who get all the notes but miss the song.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: Blissfully Ignorant
Date: 18 Nov 04 - 03:48 PM

Yeah...and i think if you're just trying to impress, the only emotion that's going to come across is smugness. Keep it real:0)


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: cptsnapper
Date: 18 Nov 04 - 04:04 PM

Less is often more! Perhaps people should ask what would happen if they included moments of silence in their playing. Also, with particular reference to anyone who is learning to play, never, Never, NEVER say " I can only strum. " At times that's all that's needed. And anyway we should all try to make a virtue out of what we might think to be a limitation or a necessity. Let's not forget that the whole idea is to enjoy what we do & to share that enjoyment with whoever's listening.


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: GUEST,Blackcatter at work
Date: 18 Nov 04 - 04:22 PM

Hi all,

I'm yet again thinking about picking up the guitar to accompany myself while singing. I've tried it a couple times in the past and never could seem to be able to strum and sing at the same time.

Does anyone have any techniques that might help? I don't despirately want to learn, but a nice guitar has just fallen into my lap and I'd like to give it a go one more time.

-----------------

Also - I'm left handed and tried playing right handed previously. But a guitar just seems more natural being held 180 deg. from most people - do you think that would help? Someone mentioned that using my favored hand would be good for doing the chords, but I've found that strumming rythym and singing don't seem to be compatable, at least with my right hand.


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: Blissfully Ignorant
Date: 18 Nov 04 - 04:58 PM

I had that problem, Blackcatter. Then i got the chords for Goodnight Irene and it all fell into place...don't know why!

Try strumming the chords in sequence until you feel comfortable with them, and then just join in when you feel ready. It doesn't matter if it doesn't sound right to begin with, just try it, then practise until you get it right...worked for me anyway! Try it with a song you know really well, both vocals and guitar.

Hope this helps:0)


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: JWB
Date: 18 Nov 04 - 05:07 PM

The biggest hurdle I had to clear as a guitar player and singer was realizing that my main instrument is my voice, like for others. Once I figured that out I could let go of trying to have my guitar accompaniment be brilliant, compelling, and engrossing. It just needed to serve the song.

So my approach these days is to find the accompaniment style that supports the lyrics. I tend to use fingerpicking for "prettier" songs, with bass runs, hammer-ons, pull-offs, slides and all the rest used sparingly. An example is James Taylor's "Millworker": fingerpicking allows me to use a hook between verses and to make the most out of partial chords to build emotional tension.

Strumming I use to drive a song more, or give a fuller sound behind my voice. I enjoy playing with the rhythym while strumming, without loosing the pulse needed to move the song along. "When I ws a Young Maid" I treat with a marching pulse that has a lot of syncopation in between the downbeats.

I like standard and drop-D tunings for both finger and plectrum styles.

Since I play concertina, banjo, accordion and uke I always have to answer Jerry's question about which to use for a particular song. Sometimes the choice is driven by venue: I tend to use the squeezeboxes more for sea music gigs, for example. Other times it's an instinct for what I think will be most pleasing. One thing I have learned is that to revive a song I've grown tired of, all I need to do is accompany it on another instrument. Presto! All sorts of possiblities open up.

Arranging songs is a large part of the fun, I think. I'm continually pushing my limits with different accompaniments. I'm working on a guitar accompaniment for the traditional song "The Weary Cutters", trying out a very spare, minimalist fingerpicked arrangement, without a steady beat and with silences. It's exciting to go down new avenues like that, and it helps me remember cptsnapper's advice that it's about enjoying and sharing that enjoyment.


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: Deckman
Date: 18 Nov 04 - 05:11 PM

JWB ... Very well said! Thanks, Bob


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: Blissfully Ignorant
Date: 18 Nov 04 - 05:38 PM

Another thing that might help with singing and strumming together; try speaking the lyrics over the guitar, you'll probably find you start singing automatically. :0)


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Nov 04 - 07:00 PM

The crucial thing is, the song comes first, and any accompaniment that gets in the way of the song is too much accompaniment. (Yes, there are some types of music where it's the other way round, and the voice is just an accompanying instrument - I take it singing in Bluegrass is like that.)

Very often I prefer to sing unacompanied, especially if I'm in a song circle with other people. Perhaps the most important role of the guitar is to make sure I don't start in a key that's going to give me problems later in the song - quite often I'll start with the guitar, and leave off playing for much of the song.

If I'm in a big room or a noisy room, I'll use a plectrum, and probably a predominantly strumming accompaniment. If it's quieter I'll use my fingers, whatever seems to fit. Probably more often than not I'll be using a kind of clawhammer, with the index finger playing most of the melody, and quite a lot of simultaneous plucking of a bass and a treble string. (That's a style I learnt from John Pearse, and it's got a name I forget.)

And the reason I'll use a guitar is because I can't be carrying lots of different instruments around, and guitar the one that I can use most flexibly, especially if there's a group session at some time in the evening.


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 18 Nov 04 - 09:45 PM

Sometimes, the source of the song on a recording determines how I want to play a song. I rarely do Carter Family material finger-picking the guitar. I use a flat pick to get the chunka chunka rhythm. There are exceptions though, as I do Palms of Victory on banjo. Generally speaking, I'm more likely to use finger picking on guitar if the source is an old recording of old-time music, or country blues. Then there are the times as mentioned, when a song takes on a whole new, fresh feeling changing to a different isntrument, different rhythm or picking style. And, as so often happens in music, I end up finger picking an accompaniment if I can't find the flat pick I would normally use for the song.

Absent-mindeness is the Mother Of Invention.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: Amos
Date: 18 Nov 04 - 11:13 PM

I've never been to a workshop, but my take -- following from what was said above -- is that impressing people is only done by building a song which communicates. That means a singer being there in the moment of the song, an accompaniment that enhances the timeline and the emotional nuances of the song, and a balance betweent he two which carries the whole over tot he listener in the kindest way.

Thus, a lifetime spent, getting it right from time to time! :D


A


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: Padre
Date: 18 Nov 04 - 11:28 PM

Jerry,
I guess most people know me as an unaccompanied singer (The Boarding Party, Rock Creek) but I do play guitar a little, to accompany songs that I think lend themselves to accompaniment. I usually finger pick, using thumb and index finger (and occasionally the middle finger as well) but I also flat pick when the song seems to call for it. I played guitar (1950s Gibson J-50)in a bluegrass band called 'None of the Above' around 1970-72, flat picking mostly. And even earlier, I played backup guitar (1940s Gibson J-35) in a straight-ahead C&W band called 'The Rhoen Valley Boys' in Germany about 1965.   

Like many of the folks who have already written in to this thread, I let the sense of the song, or the overall style, determine what picking or strumming I will use. I agree with you that it is somewhat discouraging to go to a festival workshop where the speed demons have taken over.

Padre


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: Joybell
Date: 19 Nov 04 - 05:46 PM

True-Love uses guitar like a second voice. Like Ramblin' Jack Elliot. Never allows it to dominate. For both of us the song - words and melody, are important. I'm never going to be as good at it but that's the style I aim at too. The thing that most upsets us both is the fancy, terribly fast and clever riffs used on old mountain songs.
We both also play banjo and mandolin as accompaniment instruments for voice, and Hildebrand uses piano (based on his guitar style). We both use finger picks or flat picks depending on the song.

As for left-handedness, True-love (who is lefthanded) always claims that it's an advantage on a standard guitar. Gives the dominant hand the fingering job, especially when you are learning. Perhaps those left-handed guitars belong with us right-handers? Joy


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: Cluin
Date: 19 Nov 04 - 06:18 PM

Most guitarists know it's the strumming/picking hand that is most important of the two, Joy.   ;)

Without that one, there'd be very little sound at all. It's the right hand we guitarist watch when we watch other guitarists.


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: JWB
Date: 19 Nov 04 - 07:17 PM

Cluin, I usually watch the hand on the frets, since I can never keep up with what's happening at the other end. I have noticed that you can identify the guitarists in an audience by checking out what they're looking at -- the pickers in the crowd always seem to have their eyes on the performer's hands.


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: Mudlark
Date: 19 Nov 04 - 07:24 PM

I'm a lefty who plays right-handed guitar...maybe that's why I've never moved much beyond simple strums and bass runs. But I play mainly to accompany my voice, and I sometimes find, when playing in song circles, that fancy guitar playing, laid on top of my simple accompaniment, ruins the song for me. Over the years I've worked out ways to get the most from my simple playing and it really throws me off to hear rapid fire finger picking intruding. One of the sessions I go to includes not only electric bass but a drummer...that really tends to throw me off!

I'd like to be able to do instrumental melody line breaks, just to vary especially multiple verse trad tunes. but usually have to resort to chords with whatever melody line I can find within them. I'd like also to extend my chording ability past the first 3 or 4 frets, to play 30's/40's music. I know a lot of that music, sing it often, but can't accompany myself very well because I just don't have all those 7ths, 9ths, diminished, etc. barre chords.

I enjoy listening to wizard fast playing sometimes, but it usually doesn't go very well with Mary Hamilton, Matty Groves, and songs of that ilk...or even lyrical contemporary ballads. Sometimes less really is more.

That is not to say that I don't get intimidated when the sessions I go to are predominated by jazzy all over the fretboard barre chord exponents trading fast riffs back and forth. A few of those numbers in a row, and somehow my simple little songs seem pale and lame. It often takes me a couple of days, after a session like that, to get my self-confidence--and my love of trad tunes-- back.


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: dwditty
Date: 19 Nov 04 - 07:44 PM

As much as I love to play the guitar, I do not consider myself a guitar player. I, too, use the guitar to carry the song along. I learned somewhere along the way to "fingerpick." Now, I am not talking travers or other style. Frankly, I don't think I could stop and explain what my fingers are doing. At one point, once my fingers got use to touching the strings, I would run through a simple progression in a fingerstyle fashion trying to set up a pattern and repeating it over and over...then changing it a bit, and repeating the new one...then changing back and forth...adding more new ones as I went. I still do this for practice and right hand exercise. WHat I wound up with is a fairly simple why to create a raggy display of arpeggios through the chord progression ... alternating the bass while plucking the treble strings. As far as instrumental breaks, I have learned a trick or two on a couple of songs, but mostly I just figure out a way to, at best, play an abbreviated version of the chord progression to break up the vocals. I use dropped D tuning alot, but mostly standard tuning. I use a capo to fit the guitar to my voice. It is odd, but most people think my singing voice is deep, when it is really in the tenor range....of course, it is all scratchy (some have accused me of gargling onion soup mix before I sing), so I guess it makes it sound lower than it really is.

I guess the bottom line is, Jerry, that you will not find me firing up any pyrotechics in a workshop.

dw


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: Amos
Date: 19 Nov 04 - 08:24 PM

I enjoy listening to wizard fast playing sometimes, but it usually doesn't go very well with Mary Hamilton, Matty Groves, and songs of that ilk...or even lyrical contemporary ballads. Sometimes less really is more.


Let me be the first to add here that when Mudlark does her "less" it is stunningly more -- she has mastered her own style of counterpoint and complement on the guitar so well, and executes it so cleanly that it is a thrill to hear her.

As for self confidence, Nancy, anyone who dares to mess with yours is way out of line!! You deserve complete self confidence as natural as breathing.

A


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: chris nightbird childs
Date: 19 Nov 04 - 08:26 PM

It seems to be in agreeance that it's the whole picture that matters and not just the flash.


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 19 Nov 04 - 08:41 PM

my only guiding principle is that if hear abit of something I like, I try and nick it and put it into my style - on the principle that if I like it - its probably okay.

i regret never learning to use a plectrum properly. I love that church picking sound that rambling Jack Eliot does so well. He uses a stiff pick plays a bass note and then sort of flaps it up and down gently over the treble strings. Also some of the syncopated stuff django did, you can't do without a plectrum.

Having said that I think I do okay.

i said my only guiding principle - probably I have dozens. But the other main one is always use an open string if you can. you have to be able to do barre chords but really for an acoustic guitar - open strings sound better, than held down ones.

john Williams once said electric guitar playing is about the way the note sustains, whist acoustic playing is about the way it decays and dies. I think that is very profound, not a hundred percent accurate look at all the trouble electric guitar players go to using old valves and making holes in the speaker for that authentiic ragged surf sound, but a good guiding principle.


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: dwditty
Date: 19 Nov 04 - 09:02 PM

I recommend the book Zen Guitar by Philip Toshio Sudo.


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 19 Nov 04 - 10:53 PM

Makes me think that next year at Nomad I should suggest this as a workshop title. I'd ask people to check their flashy picking at the door, as politely as I could. It makes me remember that not everyone is a good teacher. My oldest son is brilliant on the computer and makes a very handsome living as a high-powered consultant. I'm a klutz who has figured most things out by trial and error. When I ask him something simple, he has a lot of difficulty shifting down to where I am so that he can explain it in terms that I can understand.
The first rule of teaching is to find out where your student is. It's not important to impress them with how good you are. It's your job to help them take the next step from where they are.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: Mudlark
Date: 20 Nov 04 - 03:07 AM

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Amos. I'll remember that next month, when I'm sitting between two studio musicians at the next Paso jam--I'll see your Girl from Ipanema and raise you a Cruel Mother!


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: Dave4Guild
Date: 20 Nov 04 - 10:26 AM

I thought that I would leave this thread for a while to see how the discussion developed, and was surprised to find that I agree with most of the contributors.

Many years ago, perhaps '72/73, I saw my first guitar workshop at Cambridge run by John James and he had some guest guitarists with him including (I think - memories fade!!)Isaac Guillorie, & Whizz Jones which was brilliant - BUT a Showcase not a workshop.

Since then I have appeared as a performer at festivals but only in the last few years have I been asked to do Workshops. I decided then to emphasise that the content of the workshop was as 'Guitar as Folk-Song Accompaniment'.

I have never regretted it!

I usually produce a single sheet handout with:-
Some TAB for a few pattern picks

(a) TITM for G (Thumb - index - thumb - Middle ; on strings 6/3/4/2)
They remember that!

(b) A clawhammer roll in C for those with more experience'

Some chord diagrams for the basic chords
Some modified chord shapes suitable for fingerstyle
Some suggestions for songs

And then work through it slowly.

With only an hour to cover it it is a bit rushed, but with the handout to act as a memory aid, it's like a mini guitar tutor, that they can get back to later and it triggers memories to recreate the sounds they heard.

Don't forget that with a group like this they are the ultimate in "mixed ability Groups" but they are so keen, it is an absolute delight to see them develop so quickly. Sometimes from not even having much of an idea of where to start, to being able to play at least something musical, before leaving.

I've never had so much positive feedback as I have had after some of these sessions, with friends coming to me later in the festival to say how much it has helped them.

Here's a suggestion from one of my work sheets this year(not for complete beginners)as an example, although I can't put in a suitable tab and I'm simply expressing the chords as fret positions fingered rather than the chord shapes.

This is a 5 chord sequence ending on GM7

7x7750 (Bm), 6x6750(?1), 5x5530(Am), 4x4530(?2), 320002(GM7).

I got this from Kevin Dempsey years ago and it is a great ending for a slow song in G - but he used it in Brigg Fair '.....(Bm)Aug ......(?1)ust, The (Am)Wea(?2)ther.... 'to Dm7
From the first verse, here in the key of C, hence moving to Dm7.

(3/4 time - some fingerstyle arpeggio pattern as you wish)

This load of garbled gobbledygook just shows how how difficult it is to express guitar playing in words!!
But with the facility of being able to SHOW someone how it is done, and what it SOUNDS like, the whole thing becomes clear!
Honest!
Anyway I've written enough to annoy most people, but I am looking forward to the workshop at Bedworth that I'm doing with Chris (duelling bazoukis)which is actually called "Guitar Playing for Song Accompaniment"
The idea is to promote accomplished guitar playing and musically sensitive arrangements for folk songs bearing in mind that if you are going to accompany a song it should be with due regard for the song and its meaning.
It is an area where we can be artistically creative despite the fact that we didn't write the song, but most songs are not to show off your guitar playing ability! There are instrumental tunes for that!

The song comes first.

Dave Bennett


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 20 Nov 04 - 10:50 AM

Good addition, Dave. SOunds like you run a true workshop.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: Mudlark
Date: 20 Nov 04 - 12:47 PM

I would love to attend your workshop, Dave. When are you coming to California?! It's no wonder you get a lot of positive feedback. For those of us with limited guitar skills, every new wrinkle, little bit of business, is pure gold and can refresh old tired songs instantly. It's like giving toys to poor kids...they appreciate them so much more than rich kids do.


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: Joybell
Date: 20 Nov 04 - 05:31 PM

Of course the picking hand is important. BOTH hands are important. Guitar is a TWO-handed instrument. However nobody suggests that instruments like piano, for example, need to be adapted for left-handers. Some of the finest pickers I've known are left-handers using standard guitars.
Not trying to tell anyone what to do actually. Just an observation. Joy


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: Eve Goldberg
Date: 21 Nov 04 - 02:52 PM

Thanks Jerry, for introducing this topic. I have always considered myself a solid but "non-flashy" guitar player. Now that I'm teaching guitar lessons, I've had to really think more about how I accompany songs, what are the most important elements, and why.

Most of my students are not interested in playing flashy solos, they just want to be able to sing songs that they love. So my role as a teacher is to help them do that effectively.

I have come to realize through having to take all this apart for my students that the #1 thing that you need to accompany a song is to keep the rhythm going. You can make all kinds of mistakes but if you can recover and keep the rhythm going, most people won't really notice or care about other little mistakes.

I would rather hear someone strum down once per beat with solid rhythm than try to do all kinds of fancy stuff and lose the rhythm. A simple strum is really all you need to sing a song. Once I get students doing that, we move on to bass notes and strums or bass notes and fingerpicking. But you can start really simply and still have a very effective accompaniment. I think it helps motivate people to keep going when they get the satisfaction of being able to do it right away.

When I arrange a song to sing myself, I'm thinking about what would best put the song across. Like Jerry, I tend to use a style that fits the style of the song-- a flatpicking style for country or old-timey kind of stuff, fingerstyle for bluesy things, vamping for jazzy things, and so on. But often whatever style I'm using to accompany I add a few small things to give some variety or something to listen to in between verses. Usually it's pretty simple, built on the melody of the song, and using bass notes and bass runs.

A lot of times I find I'm hearing something that I don't know how to play, which is what forces me to improve! And sometimes I take a song in one style and I suddenly find something new in it by using a very different accompaniment. I've recently been singing "Keep on the Sunny Side" in a very quiet, fingerpicking mode that gives a very different feel to the song.

Those are my rambly thoughts at the moment -- I'm interested to hear more from others!


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: Mooh
Date: 21 Nov 04 - 04:12 PM

Hi Eve...Do you have a lot of students who are learning guitar in order to accompany their voice? I always ask incoming students, and most of the time they're not interested in singing, though they are likely interested in some sort of other ensemble arrangement. Maybe its been the preponderance of rock lessons lately, or an age thing, but most seem hesitant to sing. It helps on my part to illustrate correct notes vocally rather than always picking up an instrument...there being little better than singing to break the ice.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: GUEST,Anne Croucher
Date: 21 Nov 04 - 05:17 PM

I find that my guitar is a substitute for a second voice - I never could find a permanent partner to sing with. It is probably why I am still singing. All the duos and groups I knew in my younger days have split up and the individual members no longer sing.

Some of my songs can take a plectrum accompaniment, but for most of the time I use fingerpicks to keep the volume down and prevent a metronomic tempo. It is definitely the guitar adding to the song and not me singing along to the music.

I write lefthanded, but am fairly ambidexterous so I use a 'right handed' guitar. I do not think of what I am playing when I am singing, I play a new accompaniment several times in order to get used to the chord changes, then sing along with it, until I can do it automatically.

I use a cassette recorder and listen to the effect once I think I have got close to the right combination. I use just one microphone and stand back from it - I need to create balance without a sound tech.

I think a lot of people never hear themselves - and it might be rather a shock to them if they did.

Anne


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 21 Nov 04 - 09:21 PM

The very first thing Dave Van Ronk did when I went to my first lesson with him was to ask me to play some stuff for him. It was very intimidating, because I was extremely limited on guitar, and hadn't even been exposed to much live picking. But, it was just the right thing. He learned a lot about me, watching me play and listening to me. I think it helped him teach me in a more personalized way, starting with where I was.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: Folkie101
Date: 21 Nov 04 - 10:42 PM

Hi Jerry,

What were some of the most useful guitar teachings/tips you learned from Dave?


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 21 Nov 04 - 11:46 PM

Hey, Folkie:

What a question... my answer may not be what you'd expect, and it says a lot about Dave and his teaching. My lessons (I only took lessons for about three months) consisted of three, roughly equal parts. I think that all three were equally important. The most obvious one was Dave teaching me some basic finger-picking patterns. I didn't come to him to learn to be a blues guitarist because I didn't feel that's who I was (or am.) What he showed me was how to do basic three finger picking patterns, and as the lessons progressed, how to carry bass runs with my thumb and pick out melodies with my two other fingers. He showed me some rudiments of blues guitar, where the thumb doesn't play alternate bass notes, and also sent me home to transcribe songs from one key into another. After two or three months, I had pretty much digested that, and he didn't feel that he had that much more to show me, for the kind of guitar I wanted to play. Ironically, the blues techniques of sliding notes and breaking out of the alternating bass turned out to be of great value many years later when I tried to play electric guitar on black gospel. "Travis" picking styles didn't fit the rhythms, and the syncopated rhythms and broke down picking patterns turned out to be just what I needed. Now, when I play guitar in black churches, the other guitarists play a much more electric blues and jazz style and are fascinated that I carry the rhythm, bass runs and melody all at once, with a lot of drive to the music. The seeds for my style were planted 40 years ago, in those three months with Dave.

But, that's only a part of the story. Every lesson included Dave playing records for me.. introducing me to everything from the Carter Family to Blind Lemon Jefferson. He was the one who introduced me to the Anthology Of American Folk music, which became my bible and primary source of songs for many years .. right up to the present.
Dave understood that music is much more than technique and he wanted to fill me with traditional music that he loved, the blues only being a small part of it.

The other third of the lesson would be me bringing in arrangements that I was fumblingly working out on my own. Dave understood that the only way anyone really learns to play an instrument is to leave
tablature and "lessons" behind and create your own music. Dave was very encouraging of my early attempts, occasionally showing me how I could find a different fingering for a chord or a slight modification of pattern. But mostly, he was just there as a resource when I had a question.

In later years, when I taught guitar and banjo, I subconsciously taught in much the same way. I tried to wean my students from playing tablature by rote. challenging them to learn songs from me that I would play in front of them, slowing everything down as much as they wanted, taping the song for them and then sending them home to listen to the tape and work it out on their own. Sad to say, every student I had resisted trying to learn anything on their own, and quit the lessons as soon as they didn't have a weekly tablature to work on. That really discouraged my efforts to teach. I had given them all the basic patterns, and everything they needed to proceed on their own, but they didn't want to step beyond the spoon-fed phase.

If I had been more serious about being a blues guitarist more in the style of Dave, I'm sure he would have led me further into chord progression and positions on the neck. As it was, he did give me a good understanding of basic chord structure that proved helpful. Dave didn't teach from written sheet music. Everything he taught me was from tablature, and example. He was the perfect instructor for me because he encouraged me to have my own style, right from the beginning. I never wanted to sound like anyone but myself, and Dave not only respected that, he did everything he could to give me what I needed to find my own voice. And then he set me free.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: GUEST,Vixen @ work
Date: 22 Nov 04 - 09:08 AM

Lots of food for thought here!

Two responses:
Eve wrote--
"A lot of times I find I'm hearing something that I don't know how to play, which is what forces me to improve!" Amen to that! The frustrating thing is that there is so much I hear that I don't know how to play!

And Jerry, concerning lessons with Dave Van Ronk--
What you describe is what I would call a true teacher--someone who brings influential material to the student, and challenges the student to find ways to learn from it, while being a resource to assist the student's individual process of apprehending and integrating the material. What that teaching method does is assure that every student learns to trust and follow his or her own muse. It's a method that inspires confidence, creativity, and competence, regardless of the subject matter.

Ironically, all of the teachers I've known who use this method (and they are few, but excellent), however, would deny that they have a "method". They say that they "teach as they learned" and "trust the process." Several of them also refer to "magic" when describing what they do, and, interestingly, so do their students. They say things like "I don't know what happens, it's like magic!"

I'm not sure that this teaching method can be easily distilled into the 1-hour festival workshop format for a group of students with widely mixed skill levels, styles and goals. It would be a fun challenge to design a 1-hour workshop that could send everyone away with something new and usable.

Just my $0.02, fwiw...

V


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 22 Nov 04 - 11:08 AM

Another basic tenet of Dave's. Play the song at the rhythm you need to to do the hardest part of 6the song cleanly. That is... don't play the song at one speed, and then fumble all over a guitar break. Play it at the rhythm you need in order to get the guitar break cleanly.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: Eve Goldberg
Date: 22 Nov 04 - 04:27 PM

Mooh asked

"Do you have a lot of students who are learning guitar in order to accompany their voice?"

And the answer, for me, is definitely, yes. Maybe that's because I pick up a lot of my students through The Woods Music and Dance Camp, where I've taught beginning guitar off and on for years and where the emphasis is definitely on singing-- or the song circle, which is an offshoot of The Woods, and similarly is made up of people interested in singing folk songs. Maybe it's because most people think of me as a singer more than a guitarist. Who knows.

But I've also learned not to take on students who are looking for something I can't offer. I don't play music from a staff, I can't teach someone the ins and outs of rock or heavy metal music. So I don't teach students who are looking for that. I teach people who want to play guitar well enough to accompany themselves singing. And I'm pretty up front that we're going to be working mostly with folk songs. Which is not to say we won't go a little off the path into something by the Eagles, Neil Young, or other stuff like that if that's what they're into.

Where I've sometimes had to push a student is sometimes with teenagers who are shy. So I just do all the singing and let them follow along. I figure when they're ready to sing, they'll sing!


Eve


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: Mooh
Date: 22 Nov 04 - 10:08 PM

Thanks Eve, much appreciated. I teach full-time private lessons in a small town so I have to handle everything from celtic tenor banjo to heavy-metal electric guitar. All in all I prefer acoustic guitar players but the other stuff keeps life interesting. The moment a student says they'll play something they wrote, or sing to their own accompaniment, I know their music involvement and commitment is for keeps. Maybe someday I'll be able to pass the pop interests off to another instructor, but for now I do what I gotta so I can do what I wanna...besides, sometimes I like to crank up the volume too.

I envy you your "Woods" connection. Great gig!

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: Folkie101
Date: 22 Nov 04 - 11:52 PM

Jerry: Thanks for your responses re: Dave Van Ronk - please let us know if other tips come to mind from those lessons.

Some time ago, I started a thread titled " Folk Guitar Accompaniment". As a developing guitarist, I was so inspired by the responses, I joined Mudcat.

Next time this year, I'll be regularly singing/playing guitar for audiences. As my guitar style evolves, I get such satisfaction knowing I didn't give up while teaching myself guitar months ago. I truly believe if the music is in you, it will come forth - if allowed.

I was surprised to find that barre chords were not needed to express myself and present the traditional and popular 60's folk music (think PP&M) I love so much. Since I sing lots of songs acappella, adding the guitar gives me extra colors to share.

The more I practice, I discover many little things - like groovy fingerpicking and strumming patterns, lifting a finger off certain chords while strumming or fingerpicking, discovering new open chords (all w/in the first three frets.) And, to think I was once intimidated in learning to play guitar (that is why I insisted on teaching myself.)

If there's anyone reading my post who really feels a desire to learn guitar, I want to encourage you to get started - you can do it. How To Play Guitar by Roger Evans was a big help to me. I found it in a used bookstore. It's the best $3.00 I've spent in some time :)

I hope this thread continues to grow - I'm learning lots :)

cheers,
Folkie


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: Jeep man
Date: 22 Nov 04 - 11:56 PM

Hey, Jerry. I have nothing to add to the thread, but it is certainly good to see you surface again. If you have something to say, I am one who wants to hear it. Jim


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 23 Nov 04 - 08:59 AM

Thanks, Jeep:

One thing that has evolved in my guitar playing over the years is something I rarely if ever here anyone talk about. The Guitar as a rhythm instrument. Maybe I'll start a thread on that...

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: Eve Goldberg
Date: 23 Nov 04 - 04:51 PM

Mooh,

I understand your dilemma. Since I don't rely on the teaching for my full-time income, I'm able to make the choices I've made. I teach guitar one afternoon a week. I have five slots one after the other, although right now I've got one opening if anyone's looking for lessons in Toronto!

The teaching adds a solid bit of income to my performing income, which of course is up and down. At some point I may decide to teach a little bit more, but for now this is what suits me.

And beginning guitar students are by far the MOST rewarding!

Eve


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 23 Nov 04 - 07:16 PM

"Guitar as accompaniment"..

i live and breathe guitar and other metal strings instruments..
but I'm not a singer..

so if anything, i'd give up all my instuments in an instant
to be granted a strong clear tuneful singing coice..
and a memory for lyrics..

My role in music is as an accomanying 'sidekick'
for mates who can sing..

But, even as a guitarist, i gotta be honest,
and admit i get bored listening to so many singers
taking the easy option and supporting their vocals
with 'strum 'n' pick by numbers' guitar playing..
i guess overfamiliarity can eventually breed indiference..

I truly admire singers who can hold an audiences attention
with just the power & emotion of their voice alone..

and if they do prefere to support their solo vocal performance
with an instrument..
then i'm far more likely to be won over
and enjoy the songs..
on the rare occasion when i chance upon singers
who can accomany their songs with a good old fashioned squeezebox..

i love the sound of an instrument like the concertina,
that a discerning singer can skillfully use to mirror
the personal dynamics and timing of their own breathing..
To me thats a far more captivating interaction
between voice and instrument,
than 'yet another' guitar..


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 23 Nov 04 - 08:32 PM

Punkfolk: While we're talking about guitar as accompaniment, it's worth mentioning that other instruments may fit particular songs better. Guitar has a fulness to it that a mandolin or banjo doesn't have, but there are some songs where a banjo gives a drive and energy and enough space between notes to make it better for that particular song.

Now, this being the Land Of Crinkled Noses, I should add that I found it impossible to accompany black gospel on an acoustic guitar, and use an electric for the sustain and the ability to project loud enough to be heard. The first time I tried leading black gospel playing guitar, I just took the strap off over my shoulder and put the guitar down after a couple of bars of such full-throated singing. I couldn't hear my guitar at all.

Electric guitars are especially good for blues where you need sustained notes to harmonize with the vocal, and bends of the strings to match bent notes of the singer. Acoustic guitar sounds best to my ears on the old country blues, because they don't need the same sustain (and they are usually sung without a lot of other instruments or voices to drown out the guitar.)

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: Folkie101
Date: 24 Nov 04 - 11:45 PM

Jerry,

Did Dave ever see you perform after you developed your style as a performer? If so, what were his comments?

Folkie


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 25 Nov 04 - 07:25 AM

Folkie:

Yes.. Dave heard me perform many times. He even came up and sang harmony with me on Wayfaring Stranger once, when I was singing at Gerde's Folk City in New York. Dave ran a Monday night Hoot at the Gaslight Cafe, and that's where I really learned to perform. I did three or four songs there just about every Monday night for a couple of years, and most of the time, Dave was there. After I became more comfortable as a performer, Dave would wander upstairs and have a few beers at the Kettle Of Fish, and informally leave me in charge of keeping the Hoot going. It was good for both of us.

One thing about Dave is that he appreciated a lot of styles of music, and we had in common a love for tradtional southern mountain music and jazz, as well as country blues. Dave seemed to like my style of playing, which is substantially different than his in that I use more brushes and syncopated rhythms. I stopped taking lessons after a couple of months because Dave felt he had given me what I needed. It wasn't that I didn't have a lot left to learn, but my style was going in a different direction than Dave's (which I still love) and Dave thought I had everything I needed to go there.

In later years, I had the pleasure of not only hearing Dave, but in booking him at a series that I ran. He also had my first three albums, and was very complimentary about them.

He was a generous man, as everyone knows who crossed his path.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: Dreaded Thumbpick
Date: 29 Dec 04 - 02:32 PM

I've just come along to this thread. There's an awful lot of diverse thought here.

Talk about "flashy" guitar work always reminds me of why I like so little bluegrass. When the musicians really feel the music, it can be so good but I find so many of the players are phenomenally technically competent and have no sense of the soul of the music. The Country Gentlemen or The Greenbrier Boys could really move me. The speed technicians leave me cold.

As far as guitar workshops go, when I find myself in a workshop, I always try to offer options to the guitarists in the audience. I love the sound of banjo but don't play it. So I figured out a way to approximate it in open tuning. Jeff Warner once told me about a tuning which he called "mountain modal". I now use it for almost everything in Myxolydian or Dorian that I accompany.

Another technique that I like is the use of the bass melody note to push a song along. That's the striking of the melody note momentarily after (or before) you've sung that note. Works very nicely in chord transition runs.


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: Once Famous
Date: 29 Dec 04 - 02:43 PM

Perhaps the high speed of bluegrass just frustrates you, Dreaded thumpick. first of all that high speed can't possibly be obtained by using a thumbpick, so perhaps that is your problem.

I play bluegrass guitar pretty quick and know others even quicker. There is more soul and feel for the music in their little finger than many thumbplunkers have in their whole body.

get out that heavy flatpick, and ditch that thumbpick if you ever want to pick something as soulful as bluegrass with speed and competancy.

doc Watson would be proud of ya. so would Tony Rice.


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: Dreaded Thumbpick
Date: 29 Dec 04 - 02:51 PM

Martin,

Don't take it personally. I didn't say that all fast pickers had no feeling. I just get the sense sometimes that some fast pickers just want to get in as many notes as they can. To me, it sounds like they lose the meaning of the tune. That's what I hear as a listener. It has nothing to do with my ability to use a flat pick.


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Subject: RE: Guitar as accompaniment
From: Peter T.
Date: 29 Dec 04 - 05:17 PM

Eve is being modest about her talents -- check her out at the Free Times Cafe in Toronto second week in January!!

i remember Rick Fielding once saying to me that guitar students were very attracted to the sounds of strummed chords, but that that kind of beauty was skin deep -- if you were performing the real thing was a solid bass rhythm. The reason was that the audience would somehow know you were in control even if they couldn't articulate why.

yours


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