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Help with fingerpicking melodies

GUEST,Old Folkie 22 Jun 05 - 03:44 AM
GUEST 22 Jun 05 - 04:05 AM
Kaleea 22 Jun 05 - 05:16 AM
GUEST 22 Jun 05 - 05:17 AM
Nick 22 Jun 05 - 05:30 AM
Mooh 22 Jun 05 - 07:47 AM
KateG 22 Jun 05 - 11:21 AM
Highlandman 22 Jun 05 - 12:12 PM
M.Ted 22 Jun 05 - 12:44 PM
GUEST,Old Folkie 23 Jun 05 - 03:27 AM
Allan C. 23 Jun 05 - 07:09 AM
HipflaskAndy 23 Jun 05 - 07:24 AM
OldFolkie 23 Jun 05 - 08:25 AM
Nick 23 Jun 05 - 09:18 AM
Bee-dubya-ell 23 Jun 05 - 09:24 AM
PoppaGator 23 Jun 05 - 11:02 AM
Highlandman 23 Jun 05 - 12:24 PM
PoppaGator 23 Jun 05 - 01:34 PM
PoppaGator 23 Jun 05 - 01:43 PM
M.Ted 23 Jun 05 - 01:43 PM
PoppaGator 23 Jun 05 - 04:44 PM
Highlandman 23 Jun 05 - 06:41 PM
PoppaGator 23 Jun 05 - 07:57 PM
Nick 23 Jun 05 - 08:04 PM
GUEST 23 Jun 05 - 11:33 PM
GUEST,Highlandman 23 Jun 05 - 11:46 PM
OldFolkie 24 Jun 05 - 03:56 AM
Grab 24 Jun 05 - 07:51 AM
M.Ted 24 Jun 05 - 06:32 PM
khandu 25 Jun 05 - 06:24 PM
OldFolkie 27 Jun 05 - 04:11 AM
Nick 27 Jun 05 - 06:47 AM
Nick 27 Jun 05 - 08:22 AM
Lowden Jameswright 27 Jun 05 - 12:30 PM
OldFolkie 28 Jun 05 - 03:24 AM
Nick 28 Jun 05 - 09:13 AM
GUEST,Joe 29 Jun 05 - 12:31 PM
Mooh 29 Jun 05 - 01:30 PM
M.Ted 29 Jun 05 - 02:02 PM
GUEST,Joe 30 Jun 05 - 06:06 AM
OldFolkie 01 Jul 05 - 11:00 AM
GUEST,Jim 01 Jul 05 - 11:39 AM
M.Ted 01 Jul 05 - 12:16 PM
M.Ted 01 Jul 05 - 02:53 PM
Brendy 02 Jul 05 - 10:35 AM
OldFolkie 05 Jul 05 - 03:24 AM
GUEST,Jim 05 Jul 05 - 04:33 AM
s&r 05 Jul 05 - 04:52 AM
GUEST,Jim 05 Jul 05 - 05:07 AM
Grab 06 Jul 05 - 08:26 AM
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Subject: Help with fingerpicking melodies
From: GUEST,Old Folkie
Date: 22 Jun 05 - 03:44 AM

I fingerpick guitar to accompany myself singing in folk clubs in the uk.

Whilst I am reasonably competent at bass runs, I seem to be stuck in playing in mostly C or G shapes, frequently with capo on 2nd fret. I generally use standard fingerpicking patterns (e.g. arpeggio, clawhammer, etc) repeated throughout the songs, with the thumb picking strings 6, 5 or 4, and up to 3 fingers playing strings 3, 2, 1.

Part of the problem is that my vocal range goes up to a high D – i.e. either 10th fret 1st string or 2nd fret 2nd string.

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to master barre chords, so I seem to be stuck in the first position chords, and don't seem to make any real use of the rest of the guitar neck!.

I want to be able to pick out the melody better, particularly where it goes up to higher notes – e.g. note A within an F chord, note B within a G chord. Should I confine myself to picking the melody on say 4th 3rd and 2nd strings?

I also have heard of a technique where the melody is picked out on the bass strings, with the higher strings being effectively just fill notes.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Old Folkie


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Subject: RE: Help with fingerpicking melodies
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Jun 05 - 04:05 AM

You may wish to consider an alternative tuning. The drawback being that it will be like learning a new instrument, starting all over again.


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Subject: RE: Help with fingerpicking melodies
From: Kaleea
Date: 22 Jun 05 - 05:16 AM

Try using a partial chord or altered chord when fingerpicking to achieve some of the melody notes. You can sometimes play a note or two without a chord behind it and the get to the next chord in which you find the next melody note.

   Some melodies are found right under your fingers in one key, and in another key you will find other melodies. You need to experiment with the keys of D & A or whatever, just finding the melody notes, then adding some scratching or plucking of the rest of the strings. For example, Southwind is right under my fingers in the key of C. It also is there in D, but some of the licks might be a little different.

   Mother Maybelle Carter had a mother who played old time clawhammer style banjo. Mother Maybelle approached the guitar the same way. She plunked out the melody on the lower strings with her thumb mainly, using hammer ons & pull offs to help find the melody notes; & with the top side of her fingernails scratched downward, or used her pointing finger & maybe the next fingers to scratch up & down across the strings. Thus the "Cart Family Scratch pick" began to be formed. She did this on Wildwood Flower, which has been widely heard on recordings of The Original Carter Family.

    By the way, I'm only 5 feet tall, and have short fingers & have played bar chords for years--do as Nike advertises: Just do it! You really can.


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Subject: RE: Help with fingerpicking melodies
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Jun 05 - 05:17 AM

Drop 6thE to D; capo 3=F work around with it


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Subject: RE: Help with fingerpicking melodies
From: Nick
Date: 22 Jun 05 - 05:30 AM

If you capo at 5 and play A family chords or D family chords it would give a bit of variety - a D chord played as X00235 or an A chord played 002225 it would span right up to the D you sing. Should be able to sing a lot of stuff there. I also have C# or D as the highest practical note I go to and find I sing a lot in the keys of Bb through to D which with the aid of a capo is easily dealt with by playing either in G, A, C or D. A bit of fiddling with the capo and working out how the melody falls should allow you to pick out the tune with the chords you are comfortable with (can even play in G and capo at 7 ish - you just lose a lot of the bass on the guitar)

You can avoid most of the barres by playing variations of Bm and F#m as partial barres or without (eg Bm as X2043X or F#m as 2xx222 using your thumb for the bass string and whatever combination of fingers for the top three strings).


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Subject: RE: Help with fingerpicking melodies
From: Mooh
Date: 22 Jun 05 - 07:47 AM

Try fingering a G like this: X 10 9 0 8 10 (it's like a C shape with the pinky added to the first string).

Try a D chord like this: X 0 0 7 7 5 or 5 0 0 7 7 5 or X 0 0 11 10 10

Try A like this: X 0 7 6 5 0

All these (and more) allow access to notes around them which may be melody notes.

A neat trick is to get or make a fretboard map with all the notes indicated (PM me and I can send you a very good one) and highlight only those notes contained in the chord you're looking for. For example, for a G, highlight alll the G, B, and D notes all over the fretboard. Suddenly you'll be faced with dozens of possibilities for chord fingerings. This is a technique I use regularly to open the fingerboard to the fret hesitant student.

Good luck.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Help with fingerpicking melodies
From: KateG
Date: 22 Jun 05 - 11:21 AM

Try playing the melody on the bass strings. I do House of the Rising Sun in Em and Dona, Dona in Am that way, using my thumb to pick out the melody and filling in stray notes with my 1st and 2nd fingers in a T-1-T-2 pattern. You can play the melody for leads and breaks, and go back to mindless pattern picking while singing.


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Subject: RE: Help with fingerpicking melodies
From: Highlandman
Date: 22 Jun 05 - 12:12 PM

Many guitarists I play with seem to have learned their G chord fingering out of the same book:

1 |--|--|--3--
2 o--|--|--|--
3 o--|--|--|--
4 o--|--|--|--
5 |--|--1--|--
6 |--|--|--2--

This has the short-term advantage of avoiding using the weak pinkie, but everyone I know who plays this way struggles with smooth chord changes and passing notes.

Try this:

1 |--|--|--4--
2 o--|--|--|--
3 o--|--|--|--
4 o--|--|--|--
5 |--|--|--x--
6 |--|--|--3--

(mute the 5th string with the pad of the 3d finger)
You may find it hard to get the pinkie to behave at first, but once you do you will find that your first and second fingers are available to handle most of the notes in the G major scale. Playing the D on the 2nd string just involves muting (or not picking) the 1st string and fretting with the pinkie.
I find this "home" position opens up a lot of possibilities for melody/accompaniment as well as passing runs.
Also, if you're game to experiment, I second the suggestion that you might find open tunings worth a look, particularly DADGAD and its brothers Open D and Double Drop D. Or check out one of those Third Hand partial capos.
-HM


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Subject: RE: Help with fingerpicking melodies
From: M.Ted
Date: 22 Jun 05 - 12:44 PM

The basic trick you are looking for is to learn to alternate single note melody with playing of full chords in such a way that the ear hears them together--the key to it is to move from playing rhythm guitar, where the important thing is keeping the beat, to lead guitar, where the melody comes first(but still keeping the beat)--

If you've been playing for a while, you probably have all the technique you need to do what you want already--there are just a couple things that you have to sort out-

First thing is that your strumming pattern is getting probably getting in the way of playing your melodies--a strum takes several counts to execute, and when the strum does something that goes against the melody, the melody breaks down--You have to simplify the "strum" which is really just an accompaniment, so that it doesn't interfer with playing the melody--a lot of times, this means just letting the chord ring for the active part of the melody, rather than keeping up the rhythm pattern--sometimes, you just forget the chord entirely while you play the melody notes-then go back to the chord strum at the end of the melodic phrase-

Next thing is that you probably haven't practiced playing your scales by themselves. If you want to play melody, first you must be able to play smooth and solid single note scales.

Start out with a G scale, starting with the open G string--pluck the scale with your index finger, and only your index finger--and play it to a metronome--

After you've gotten so that you can do this perfectly, start playing from the bass G, using your thumb on each note, but pluck the open G with the index finger. Same deal as above.

At some point, it will occur to you that you can fill in some of the chord notes while you are playing the scales without throwing your timing off--this is where you want to be--

As far as playing up the neck--there are three basic closed position scales that you can play anywhere up the neck--they all really come out of the open G scale--but that is another story--


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Subject: RE: Help with fingerpicking melodies
From: GUEST,Old Folkie
Date: 23 Jun 05 - 03:27 AM

Hey Guys

Thanks to you all for all the above suggestions.

There's a whole load of awesome and totally diffrent ideas in there for me to explore.

Can't wait to get home tonight to start trying them out.

Thanks again

Old Folkie


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Subject: RE: Help with fingerpicking melodies
From: Allan C.
Date: 23 Jun 05 - 07:09 AM

As Kaleea indicates, finding the melody within the chords is often a function of the key. You may need to switch around quite a bit to find the key that contains the chords that hold within them the notes you want where you want them. Getting inventive with your baby finger as well as experimenting with alternate chord fingerings can also bring you good results. For me, the most versatile chords are C, G7, and Dm7. You may discover others that work better for you. Good luck!

Oh, by the way, in my own style of playing, my ring finger is nearly always the one that plays the melody - most often on the first and second strings; but sometimes wandering to the third and even to the fourth.


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Subject: RE: Help with fingerpicking melodies
From: HipflaskAndy
Date: 23 Jun 05 - 07:24 AM

I think the drop D option, as mentioned, would be a fine one to explore for you O. F.
New-to-you 'Alternative tunings' may slow you down a tad for a while, where Drop D is hardly a million miles away from that which you're already used to.

Melody notes are easily found in Drop D on yer average three-or-four-'chord-trick' folk songs, not only on the bass end, but also higher up using partial shapes based up around the 5th and 7th frets.
Then a capo (as others have said) opens up other keys right up the neck using the same patterns.
It's pretty easy in drop D (after getting used to the new way of fretting the basic chord shapes) to play in G and A also (without resorting to a capo).

If you like, PM me an email address and I'll mail you some diagramatic 'sheets' I produced for a 'simple' guitar workshop at Otley festival a while back (Word or Publisher?)
Happy picking - HFA


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Subject: RE: Help with fingerpicking melodies
From: OldFolkie
Date: 23 Jun 05 - 08:25 AM

Thanks again guys.

To those of you who have suggested alternative tunings, I had looked at them, but I confess, only briefly (bought a book on them).

But at first glance it seemed that whilst the major chords were easy, the relevant minors - of which I use a lot in my various songs - didn't look so easy.

Obviously, I welcome your thoughts.

Rgds

OF


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Subject: RE: Help with fingerpicking melodies
From: Nick
Date: 23 Jun 05 - 09:18 AM

Partial capos were mentioned in passing. If you have a standard Shubb capo you can capo across the top 5 strings leaving the bottom (low) E string open. If you then play your normal chord shapes as though the capo was the nut you get the benefit of the low D without having to relearn shapes. Your G shape chords will be in A but that should be bang in range for your voice I would guess for many songs.

Armed with two capos you can whisk further up the fretboard and play in other keys with a dropped bottom note (eg Capo at 3rd fret all way across and partial capo as described in previous paragraph at 5th fret). Makes the guitar look a bit like an accident in a hardware shop though...

Clear as mud that probably but it saves me retuning.


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Subject: RE: Help with fingerpicking melodies
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 23 Jun 05 - 09:24 AM

Another vote for open tunings here. Their chief advantage for me is that it's easy to play "self-accompanied" melodies. The lower strings provide appropriate bass notes that are always there to be used with no left-hand work involved. That allows me to devote 95% of my meager mental capacities toward playing the melody on the higher strings. And some of those melodies can be incredibly simple and still sound good if the open bass notes are used to fill the sound out. I have some versions of songs where the melody part is played almost entirely on the first string. It would sound insipid if I tried to do it in standard tuning, but it works in open tunings.


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Subject: RE: Help with fingerpicking melodies
From: PoppaGator
Date: 23 Jun 05 - 11:02 AM

Old Folky,

Unfortunately, I don't have as much time as I'd like to respond at length right now.

See if you can look up threads from the last 6-12 months with titles like "Right-Hand Technique," "Folk Song Accompaniment," and anything including the word "Fingerpicking." I'll try to look 'em up later, if and when I can, or maybe a nice helpful MudElf/JoeClone will provide a list of related threads at the top of this page (as so often happens). If you find some of these threads, you'll see that I have plenty to say on this topic; look for posts by M.Ted and Patrick Costello, too, among others. Hell, read the whole threads and make your own decisions about whose advice is best for you..

Highlandman (above) was absolutely right about the "G" chord, but he was wrong about having to damp a string. You can get the whole 6-string chord easily enough like this:

E--pinky on 3d fret
B--open
G--open
D--open
A--middle finger on 2d fret
E--ring finger on 3d fret

Like you, I play mostly in C and G. In both keys, if you use the above formation for the G chord (along with the C and F, or the C and D chords), you can hit plenty of melody notes with your pinky on and off the 3d fret, and with your forefinger on and off the first fret, of the top 2 strings. Also consider using the alternate D/D7 chord formed by sliding the C/C7 up two frets, again, with and without the pinky fretting the high-E string at the 3d fret (or in the case of the slid-up D, the 5th fret).

Learn to play Freight Train, and you'll learn a lot about playing melody notes in C along with a steady alternating-thumbstroked bass. Learn a few Mississippi John Hurt songs in G and (especially) C, and you'll learn a bunch of riffs you can use in other songs in these keys.

More later ~ or if not, more elsewhere, in those past threads I mentioned above.

Have fun.


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Subject: RE: Help with fingerpicking melodies
From: Highlandman
Date: 23 Jun 05 - 12:24 PM

On alternative tunings: the only ones I've had success with playing minor keys are DADGAD and the Drop D family. Straight open tunings like DADF#AD kind of commit you to a major key. In DADGAD, though, when playing in D major, getting the relative minor bm is not so good -- at least I haven't found I voicing I like.

PoppaGator is of course correct that you don't HAVE to damp the fifth string in a G chord. I do it for two reasons: (1) it leaves me two fingers to play melody notes and (2) I don't like the thick voicing of the G chord with that low B in it anyway. I do use his fingering for a G/B. Just a personal preference, but then again what isn't when it comes to playing guitar? (It may be significant that I play mostly steel string, which has enough volume to cover the "thunk" of the muted string in a full strum. Your mileage may vary.)

I too have seen guitarists with two capos on different frets. Looks amusing but seems serviceable. I'm looking for one I've heard tell of that capos only the 2-3-4 strings (or 3-4-5 if put on upside down). The idea is it's a quick way into EBEABE, which is one step up from DADGAD, while keeping your chord shapes and scales standard. Anyone know the name of it, or tried it?

I've found that playing guitar is so personal that it's really a matter of sorting through all the conflicting suggestions and finding something that works for you. I would never presume to be dogmatic about my own way of doing things.

Amen to PoppaGator's suggestion on Freight Train. Amazing how much there is to learn from that old chestnut. It's what got me started fingerstyle oh so many moons ago.

BTW I'm an old dog trying to learn new tricks myself. After umpty-seven years playing standard I've just recently begun to explore alternative tunings. Pretty cool stuff.

Anyway, good luck to you, Old Folkie.

-HM


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Subject: RE: Help with fingerpicking melodies
From: PoppaGator
Date: 23 Jun 05 - 01:34 PM

Hey Highlander. You're right of course ~ each to his own when it comes to playing methods.

I'd still argue that the forefinger and pinkie remain free to play at the first and third frets while the middle and rings fingers hold down those two bottom strings on the G chord. I guess you prefer to dampen rather than fully "fret" the A string with your "political" finger. So be it!

Links to previous threads:

Self-Taught Fingerpicking:
thread.cfm?threadid=79518#1439217

Guitar Skills: Folk Guitar
thread.cfm?threadid=78798#1427199

Learning to Fingerpick
thread.cfm?threadid=13015#1365555

Guitar Right-Hand Technique
thread.cfm?threadid=76616#1358433

Folk Guitar Accompaniment
thread.cfm?threadid=73732#24385


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Subject: RE: Help with fingerpicking melodies
From: PoppaGator
Date: 23 Jun 05 - 01:43 PM

A couple of notes on those prior threads I just referenced:

~ The order of the posts is scrambled in at least one of the threads, undoubtedly due to the recent server meltdown. This makes the ongoing discussion a bit more confusing than it was originally, but the content of the individual messages is still as pertinent as ever.

~ The older threads each provide a list of other related threads at the top of the page ~ happy hunting!


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Subject: RE: Help with fingerpicking melodies
From: M.Ted
Date: 23 Jun 05 - 01:43 PM

One thing that it is really important to understand--REALLY IMPORTANT!!!!!!!!--is that each chord position is a universe of its own--

G is the only fingering that offers you an open major chord to work with on the fretboard.

E offers that big fat low note that you can play against--and, because of the open b and open e next to each other,offers the possibility of harmonizing your melody

A is the most flexible because you can play a two octave scale without changing position, and you can play a D chord and D scale by shifting the position of one finger--(you can play a walking bass line and lead without changing the position of your hand!!!!!)

Each has it's own range of possibilities, and each has it's own distinct sound--


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Subject: RE: Help with fingerpicking melodies
From: PoppaGator
Date: 23 Jun 05 - 04:44 PM

Excellent points, M.Ted. Let me add, in regard to my two of my favorite keys and Old Folky's as well:

C allows you to "walk" the bass from C to Am and/or to F and to G/G7 using open/2d fret/3d fret on the three low strings, using middle and ring finger, AND to pick melodies on the top two or three strings, open and at the 1st and 3d frets, using forefinger and pinky.

G offers most but not all of the above features of C.

I've been thinking along these lines as this thread has developed. Different players seem to favor different keys (actaully, different key "shapes" or "fingerings" which can be adjusted to the actual sound of additional keys by use of the capo).

I lean heavily towards C (and to a lesser extent G) for most non-blues songs, and towards E (and A) for blues, and I'm a fingerpicker and a "bass-walker."

I am very much aware that plenty of folk-type players have a similar affinity for the key of D, and I think that, for whatever reason, this penchant seems to go hand-in-hand with an interest in, and ability to utilize, alternative/open tunings ~ especially open-tuning work that is not blues slide playing. I wonder why that is?

Maybe they get started by dropping that bass string from E to D and then can't stop themselves... My other theory, even more vague, is that players who favor D might be more harmonically ("chordally") oriented than us bass-note/melody-note C pickers... ????


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Subject: RE: Help with fingerpicking melodies
From: Highlandman
Date: 23 Jun 05 - 06:41 PM

Wow, this has gotten real technical real fast! I hope I don't sound too much like I think I know what I'm talking about, but...

MTed and PoppaGator, you have opened up some important facets of the guitar. Playing in G on standard tuning is NOT the same as playing in E capoed three frets up. One reason for this, I think, has to do with the voicing of the chords (the spacing of the notes).

For example, GBdg sounds differently from Gdgb and from Gbdg', whether played on guitar or piano or sung by a chorus -- even though all are G major triads in root position.

Another reason, I think, is the different shapes made by the chords and scales, and the availability of open strings in the various keys.
In G and C your melody notes sort of fit inside the chords; in D (standard tuning) your hand position and the nature of the scale tends to lead you to play your melody notes on top of the chords. It makes for a different sound.

In part because of my vocal range, I favor D G and A. I particularly like D and A, because I just like the sound of playing up the neck with open strings below. For me that's part of the attraction for the DADGAD tuning. The downside is that my mental encyclopedia of 1001 chords doesn't work!

Cheers and happy pickin'

-HM


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Subject: RE: Help with fingerpicking melodies
From: PoppaGator
Date: 23 Jun 05 - 07:57 PM

I hate to digress now that we've gotten into such an interesting subtopic, but I haven't yet commented on a couple of things that were mentioned much earlier and that reminded me of observations I might contribute:.

In his very first post, Old Folkie said:

I also have heard of a technique where the melody is picked out on the bass strings, with the higher strings being effectively just fill notes.

I think what we're talking about here is sometimes referred to as "Carter Family style," as in Wildwood Flower. Years ago, when I was figuring out how I wanted to play Tom Paxton's Bottle of Wine, I had come with a nice key-of-C fingerpicking approach to the chorus, playing the melody on the treble strings, but couldn't continue in the same vein through the verse. I tried all kinda things, including sliding the "D" shape way up the neck to play the "F" chord, but was left with no bass notes, etc. I wound up playing the (approximate) melody on the bass strings (pretty much the same notes as for the standard C/F/G walking bass) for the verses and playing the melody on the treble strings for the chorus. Worked for me; still does!

Also from that opening post:

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to master barre chords, so I seem to be stuck in the first position chords, and don't seem to make any real use of the rest of the guitar neck!.

I shied away from barre chords for years myself, and still use them sparingly. What I did learn to do instead, at least for the common major chords formed like the "F," was to use my thumb to fret that bass string.

For a few years, I had to skip or dampen the 5th (low A) strings, but eventually got to where I could hold down all 6 strings with all 5 fingers. Even now, when I can make the barre chord, I prefer the use the "thumb-wraparound" method for F major and F minor and all the variations up the neck, while using the teacher-approved barre chords for the BbMaj/BbMmin shaped chords and also for F7/Fmin7 etc.. At least on songs with lots of these chords, I think it leaves me with less finger-fatigue and palm-cramp than trying to use the barre-chord method exclusively.

ALSO: you can play up the neck a bit without having to use barre chords or even full-six-string-fretted chords played with the thumb and/or partial barres rather than the standard index-finger-all-the-way-across barre. There are some very nice alternate chord forms that combine open strings with strings fretted relatively high on the fingerboard that create nice unusual sounds. Several are mentioned somewhere in those other threads from the recent past that I referenced; I can remember just a few:

~ Slide the C7 chord up five frets for a nice, full E7 with high and low E strings open and ringing.

~ Slide the C, C7, or C-plus-high-G-note-by-the-pinky up two frets for D or D7. The open G string is not truly part of a D chord, but it sounds OK as a "drone" when in the key of G (not unlike the high-drone G of a 5-string banjo).

~ A couple of tricks from Robert Johnson's Kind Hearted Woman, a blues in the key of A: Slide a D7 shape way up the neck (7 frets, if I'm not mistaken) for an A7, a Dmajor shape up two frets for an E, and move a Dmajor shape two frets up and one string lower for a nifty open A major:

E--0--
B--5--
G--6--
D--5--
A--0--
E--0--

Nifty, huh?


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Subject: RE: Help with fingerpicking melodies
From: Nick
Date: 23 Jun 05 - 08:04 PM

Highlandman -

Whats wrong with 024400 or x24400 as a relative minor in DADGAD? I think it's a fine sounding chord. And it runs down happily from D (000200) via X42000 if you want to run between D and Bm

As an aside and a different bunch of chords which people seem to like when they're played try here - (Canyon Moonrise). It's a lovely tune amongst other things but the chords are really interesting and different. I came across the tune on a CD called Celtic Fiddlers I think and was so taken by the tune that I wrote to John who composed it. He was kind enough to respond and explained a lot about his thoughts on chord voicings. When I first heard the tune I thought it was in DADGAD or similar but it isn't. His response was that he had tried (I think successfully) to create that sound but without the limitations of DADGAD!

Interesting bunch of chords to tinker with and got me fiddling up the neck more and using some of them in other tunes.

There is a lot of other guitar stuff on John's site which is interesting by the way so it's worth an explore.

Still one of the top five tunes I play with a fiddling friend.


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Subject: RE: Help with fingerpicking melodies
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Jun 05 - 11:33 PM

Yeah, PoppaGator, Carter-style is an excellent way to go, esp. in C and G, and especially for a singer with a low-ish voice.

Thanks for the tip, Nick -- I've been using x20400 and it doesn't sound balanced -- too much third in the chord for my taste, but x24400 might be an improvement. I'll play around with that a bit.

I spent some time this evening experimenting with standard tuning and capo on strings 1-5 only (second fret) as someone suggested above. It works pretty well. The only thing I didn't like about it is that I can't finger a low E with the capo in the way... it's G, F#, F, then nothing until low D (relative to the capo, I mean).

I also learned that the partial capo I was thinking of is called the Third Hand in the US, and that it's possible to make one out of the standard clothespin style capo by cutting up a replacement rubber, so I may give that a spin soon.

-HM


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Subject: RE: Help with fingerpicking melodies
From: GUEST,Highlandman
Date: 23 Jun 05 - 11:46 PM

Oops, sorry, gents, that was me... who moved my cookie?
-HM


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Subject: RE: Help with fingerpicking melodies
From: OldFolkie
Date: 24 Jun 05 - 03:56 AM

Well guys, there's an absolutely vast amount here for me to experiment with.

To all of you, my very sincere thanks.

Being entirely self taught I was beginning to run out of ideas, but now I've realised just how much there is available on a guitar, if you can only 'think outside of the box a bit. Or to put it another way, a lot of what has been said here is a blinding flash of the obvious that I missed due to being stuck in a rut for about 15 years.

When I first put this thread up , I thought I'd get enough back to keep me busy over the coming weekend. Now I know, I'm gonna be busy for months to come....

Poppagator, you and I must have progressed our thinking and playing along very similar lines. I too tried the D shape moved up 3 (Pinky on 4th, or thumb hooked over on 6th, but couldn't get both to work together!) to get a F chord with A, but struggled to get smooth transitions from previous chords, and was at a loss without my alternating bass notes! Have also been trying to get G chord with B on 1st string similarly... or other chords that I can pick out a melody asit progressed up a scale from say a D on 2nd string up to a high D on 1st string, still leaving me with a nice full bass, instead of losing that lovely 'rounded' bass that my guitar produces, if I capo at say 5th.

It wasn't long after I first started fingerpicking (a vast amount of moons ago) that I discovered walking bass runs, and that seems to have been the foundation of a lot of my playing. I reckon I must play at least 40%, if not more, of chord changes using a bass run... I have to say I'm suprised at how many guitarists sit and watch and listen intently as I run from D chord using open 4th, via open 6th, 6th at 2nd fret (using thumb hooked over) to open G etc etc. For easy bass runs you can't beat the keys of C and G.

Have just recently been starting to play about with F chord shape, using all 4 finger plus thumb hooked over onto 6th sliding up 2 to give alternate voicing G chord.

But as I said, to suit my vocal range, I play a lot of songs in key of C shapes capo'd up 2 to give D, and a few others in G capo'd up to 2 give A, with a few in C or G keys. All tend to make use of quite a lot of minors.

My problem with bar chords seems to be one of making the transition from open chord to bar chord smooth and fast enough. Probably not helped by several tens of years of playing open shapes with the palm area of my hand on the back of the neck, not the thumb on the back of the neck, but old habits are the devil to get rid of....

I have however, for many years been playing open G chord with middle ring and pinky, to get G7 or C note on 2nd, or moving pinky to 2nd to put D into it. Sometimes using pinky 1st str 3rd fr, ring 2nd str 3rd fr, and 1st on 5th 2nd fr, middle on 6th 3rd fr, to give alternative voicing.

A musician friend of mine once said the world would be a sadder place without music. Mudcat and all you guys are a truly awesome resource, that will undoubtedly improve my playing, and hence hopefully make the world just that tiny bit happier!

Once again very sincere thanks to all contributors.

Rgds

OF


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Subject: RE: Help with fingerpicking melodies
From: Grab
Date: 24 Jun 05 - 07:51 AM

OF, if you keep your left hand wrist curled and don't collapse it on regular chords, you'll find it easier to change between barre and regular chords.

Another issue is that your other finger are often unfamiliar with the shapes and it puts more strain on the little finger which is weaker. If you practise playing normal chords with 2nd/3rd/4th fingers instead of 1st/2nd/3rd (chords E, Em, A, Am, C, D, Dm) then you'll strengthen up those fingers and get used to using those shapes. And then adding the barre is only a small (but significant! :-) step after that.

An alternative to barres are the 3-note or 4-note chords that jazz players use a lot, which involve muting the other strings to avoid them sounding. They have a very distinctive sound which may suit you, but it's a very sparse sound which really needs another instrument accompanying you to give it some depth.

Re fingerpicking melody, a useful ability is to be able to use open strings in the melody or fingerpicking pattern whilst playing above the 5th fret. This really messes with your head, because years of practise has taught you that you go to the next string up to get a higher note, but once your hand position is above the 5th fret then the next open string is a *lower* note! This is very effective for leaving notes ringing on and giving depth to the sound, especially in minor keys. But as I said, it takes some getting your head around...

For what strings to use for the melody - it depends on the melody! :-) But a good plan is to use the other register for "backing". So if you're thumb-picking the melody on the low strings, fingerpick or strum some backing to give rhythm on the high strings. And if you're fingerpicking a melody on the high strings, bass notes and bass runs on the low strings. If the tune goes over more than one octave, you may need to switch from one to the other depending on where the tune happens to be at that point.

Graham.


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Subject: RE: Help with fingerpicking melodies
From: M.Ted
Date: 24 Jun 05 - 06:32 PM

With due respect to Grab, all you need for a chord is three notes--and classical guitarists get plenty of depth playing single notes--the trick is in the arrangement--


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Subject: RE: Help with fingerpicking melodies
From: khandu
Date: 25 Jun 05 - 06:24 PM

I was all prepared to make suggestions but PoppaGator came roller-skating in with all of them two days ago! I'm getting slow in my not-so-old age.

"Freight Train" was the first song I learned to fingerpick well. And, in learning that, I learned a lot of things which I could apply to other songs. So a hardy, hearty "YES!" to learning "Freight Train".

Several of Mississippi John Hurt's songs are done in C and, despite how grand they sound, some of them are relatively simple to play! "My Creole Belle" (easier than "Freight Train"!) comes to mind as the simplest. Also "I'm Satisfied", "Make Me a Pallet on Your Floor", "Since I Laid My Burden Down". All are in C.

As for barre chords, though many of the "elite" poo-poo the idea, I recommend that every fingerpicker learn to wrap his thumb over the top of the neck and use it to fret the big E string. This gives you more fingers to do other things with!

Don't push too hard as this can cause frustration, but remember, guitar playing is a joy! Go at a steady pace, keep on pressing on and you will see new worlds opening up in your hands.

You've given some excellent advice up above, fellows!

Ken


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Subject: RE: Help with fingerpicking melodies
From: OldFolkie
Date: 27 Jun 05 - 04:11 AM

Well, Catters, it's been a long weekend. I have played so much, and tried so many new ideas, my left hand fingers are positively painful as I return to the office today. I thought the callouses on my fingers were so thick I was immune to it – I can usually play all night without feeling the slightest soreness, so you can guess how much I've been working at it!

As suggested, I've tried alternative tunings (DADGAD & Drop D); alternate & partial chord shapes / voicings further up the neck; playing melody on bass strings (haven't quite got the knack of intermediate treble string notes sounding right yet…); G Scales; capo on 2nd fret across top 5 strings; etc etc.

Think I bored my wife to death yesterday afternoon e.g. showing her the totally different sound of a D chord in std vs a D chord in DADGAD. Wow that D bass and voicing! Even the subtlety of the difference in sound between the A's on the 2nd & 3rd strings due to the 1 wound, 1 plain strings.

Just to experiment further, I even tried tuning the whole standard tuning down a whole 2 semitones (i.e. DGCFAD) to give a D on 1st string, whilst keeping std chord shapes……

You folks have really got me thinking!!!!

BTW M. Ted, I'm intrigued by your comments about 3 basic closed position scales that you can play anywhere up the neck that all really come out of G scale, and in your later post about each chord position being a universe of its own ref G E A and D – haven't got my head round those ones yet. Would you care to expand on them?

Mooh, I also took your idea of a fretboard map a bit further. What I'm part way through doing is making a fretboard map that you can key in any tuning for each string; key in what key you want to play in, and it will show you – on 6 separate guitar necks - all the notes of the root, IV & V major chords and the relative minors of each of those majors. Not quite complete yet (give me a couple more days), but if anyone is interested in a copy of it, PM me your e mail address, and when it's finished I'll send it to you (it's actually MS Excel based!).

I also looked a bit more closely at the melody & where high and low notes occur within the chords for just a few of the favourite songs that my wife and I sing. I found out that a lot of them are over an octave, and up to a full octave and a half, with widely varying chords used for the lowest and highest notes, e.g.:

-        No Man's Land (or Green Fields of France) by Eric Bogle – play in key of G; lowest note A (within Am chord); highest note D (within G chord);

-        Only Our Rivers Run Free – play in key of C; lowest note G (within G chord); highest note D (within F6 chord);

-        Fields of Gold by Eva Cassidy / Sting – play in key of A (G Capo'd up 2); lowest note A (within A chord – G shape capo'd up 2); highest note C# (within A chord – G shape capo'd up 2);

-        The Town I loved so Well – play in key of A (again G capo'd up 2); lowest note A (within A chord – G shape capo'd up 2); highest note D (within D chord and also Bm chord – respectively C and Am capo'd up 2);
        
-        Bonnie Maid of Fife (by Nick Keir of the McCalmans) – play in key of D (C capo'd up 2); lowest note A (within F#m - Em capo'd up 2); highest note B (within G chord – F shape capo'd up 2).

(Sorry if my choice of songs puts some of you off this thread... but I'm trying to illustrate the point of different chords used to suit similar tonal ranges….)

So, given Grab's comment, because of the range being over a full octave, I may need to also give some thought to switching between melody an low strings and melody on high strings within the same song …… Certainly, that idea never occurred to me as workable before – I guess I had a pre-conceived idea that it would sound kind of inconsistent. Must give it a try soon.

I reckon I've learned a truly huge amount this weekend, and I've only just scratched the surface of what you folks have suggested.

I've got the thirst for knowledge big style, and suddenly, the excitement of learning new tricks is there all over again, after a gap of probably 15 years of merely playing new songs the same old ways…

Thanks again 'Catters – you really are a fantastic source of inspiration!

Rgds

OF


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Subject: RE: Help with fingerpicking melodies
From: Nick
Date: 27 Jun 05 - 06:47 AM

One thought - have you tried playing around with any of the guitar software like Guitar Pro?

The reason I suggest that one is that it is easy to enter a tune via the virtual piano keyboard it has there and then to see it played back on a guitar neck. From that you can sort of plan where the melody would fall across the strings (if that makes sense).

It has a free 30 day period (which in fact works for a good deal longer than that) and it's main limitation is that you can't print out long pieces (plenty for a verse of a tune though).

It will also import from ascii and midi I believe but that is probably in a bought version.

Might be useful


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Subject: RE: Help with fingerpicking melodies
From: Nick
Date: 27 Jun 05 - 08:22 AM

(Not sure if last post worked so excuse duplication if it does)

The unregistered version of Guitar Pro will take up to 50 notes from a midi file (eg from Mudcat) and translate that straight through into a reasonable attempt at tab and show it on a guitar fretboard which is editable.

Might be useful hopefully


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Subject: RE: Help with fingerpicking melodies
From: Lowden Jameswright
Date: 27 Jun 05 - 12:30 PM

Just a thought along different lines - to play Barre chords easily it helps if you have a guitar with low action and a decent neck profile. Some guitars have necks like bloody cricket bats; not very thumb-friendly when you play rock-style OR classical style chords.

If your guitar's got a fat neck don't go out and buy a spokeshave though - better to trade it for a slimmer profile guitar. This is especially a problem with 12 string guitars, and why so many folk buy them then give up - even after investing in finger strengtheners. For slim, easy to play guitars that are reasonably priced and great value - Norman & Simon Patricks take some beating.


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Subject: RE: Help with fingerpicking melodies
From: OldFolkie
Date: 28 Jun 05 - 03:24 AM

Nick

Re guitar software, answer is yes - I have Finale Guitar, but don't have a midi interface (yet!) on my pc.

I do use it sometimes, to enter the melody via standard notation, then convert it to tab, whereby you can change which string you want the note to be played on, and it will determine the fret number on the new string accordingly.

However, it does have to be said, that whilst I haven't practiced scales until recently, I can usually mentally work out quickly where notes are on the fretboard.

Thanks for the idea.

Rgds

OF


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Subject: RE: Help with fingerpicking melodies
From: Nick
Date: 28 Jun 05 - 09:13 AM

Of the songs you mention the one I know best or play is The Town I Loved So Well - the version I do is based on something like how Trevor Lucas plays it on a Sandy Denny album. Yours may be different as I have heard slightly different chords used in the third line from the end of each verse (eg "Past the jail and down behind the fountain") where he played C A/C# D. This is one I tend to strum rather than fingerpick but I had a go this morning pre-work to work out how I'd pick it in G (I play it in G no capo though Trevor Lucas did it in F - too bassy for me).

This was done at work from memory so might be a bit iffy on some of it but it's not a million miles away

I reckon that it's not that easy to pick out the tune in G, it's probably easier in C just because of how the notes fall. In G you need to shift positions to play the higher notes by my way of thinking. You also need to play an F# against a C chord a couple of times which I always reckon feels slightly odd.

Simplified I make the beginning bit something like (without any twiddly bits or extra bass notes):

             * *                           * *   
       G    D       C       G         C       G          D      
--------------5--3--2--3--3--0------------0--2--3-----------------
--0--1--3--3--3-----------------3--0--3------------0--0--1--0-----
--------------2------------------------------------------------2--
--------------0------------------------------------------------0--
-----------------------3------------------3-----------------------
--------3-----------------------3------------------3-----------2--

I reckon the asterisked bits are the trickier bits.

Later in the tune it goes something like:

       C       D       G       Em       C    A/C#       D                     
--------3--3--3--5--7--8--7--7--5--3--5--7--8--7--5--3--2--0----
--3--3--------------------------------------------------------3-
----------------------------------------------------------------
-----------------0--------------------------------------------0-
--------3-----------------10----9--7--------------4-------------
--------------------------------------------8-------------------

And I reckon some of that is not easy especially if you want to add some extra flesh to what is just bare bones above.

One of the better guitarists here will no doubt suggest a better way or different fingering!

In C you can pretty much play it all at the bottom of the guitar - though I doubt you'll sing it in the key as it will go up to an F! And capoing way up is not really an option.

Not bad to fingerpick in E with capo at 4


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Subject: RE: Help with fingerpicking melodies
From: GUEST,Joe
Date: 29 Jun 05 - 12:31 PM

"As far as playing up the neck--there are three basic closed position scales that you can play anywhere up the neck--they all really come out of the open G scale--but that is another story--"

Presumably this is a reference to learning the different scale patterns - that are a must for anyone wanting to develop melody/lead playing, and play in any key (without a capo)? There's a saying "If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there"

Learning to play melodies without first studying and learning these patterns is like orienteering without a map. It's not just "another story" - it's THE story.


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Subject: RE: Help with fingerpicking melodies
From: Mooh
Date: 29 Jun 05 - 01:30 PM

I'm not sure what you mean by "three basic closed position scales that you can play anywhere up the neck". Using 3 notes per string, there are 7 basic closed position patterns, in 12 keys (major and related modes). There are other patterns of course. Even the ones coming "out of the open G scale" number more than three. Add more for minor(s), and various other scales (pentatonic, exotic) and "playing up the neck" isn't as simple as it is made to sound.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Help with fingerpicking melodies
From: M.Ted
Date: 29 Jun 05 - 02:02 PM

The fact that they all more or less relate to the G is the other story--I'll explain how that happens in a minute--

Before you play any scales, the basic idea is this--you play your scales from a fixed position(wqhich one depends on the key you want to be in)--you use one finger on each fret so that your hand covers a span of four frets. Each finger moves from on string to another, but stays only on the one fret--This way, you don't have to change the position of your hand, and you don't have your fingers confused about which one should play a specific note--

It takes a repeated practice to get this to work, because you have to build up strength in your ring and pinky fingers

Basically, the scales work like this--

G fingering scale:

Index finger(I)covers second fret
Middle finger (M)covers third fret
Ring finger(R) covers the fourth fret
Pinky (P) covers the fifth fret

G-Start scale with M on Low E string, 3rd Fret
A-P on Low E, 5th fret
B-I on A string, 2nd fret
C-M on A String,3rd fret
D-P on A String,5th fret
E-I on D string,2nd fret
F#-R on D string, 4th fret
G-P on D string, 5th fret


You should be able to figure out how to move it around for the keys of A,B, etc, etc.

Next is the A position scale--for this, you'll create an A chord by putting your index finger on the second fret (to cover the notes in an open A chord)If you haven't figured it out already, when you play an A chord, you are, in effect, barring that open string triad, DGB, that is in your G chord--


A-I on G string, 2nd fret
B-R on G, 4th fret
C#-I on B, 2nd fret
D-M on B, 3rd fret
E-P on B, 5th fret
F# I on HighE, 2nd fret
G# R on HighE, 4th fret
A -P on HighE, 5th fret


Got it?


Now, if you put that last pinky on the low E string, 5th fret, you can play your A scale in the bass--


A-P LowE 5th
B-I A 2nd
C#-M A 4th
D-P A 5th
E-I D 2nd
F#-R 4th
G#-(this is the one move--slide the I on the G string down to the 1st fret, then slide it back up to the 2nd for the A)


If you start this scale on the A string, 5th fret, it is a D scale, and you just stay put on the second fret for the Seventh step of the scale(which is C#)--I guess that means it should be in the D chord thread now, too, eh?

Anyway, now you've got it--oh, for fingerpicking, you should probably play the Bass strings with your thumb and the G with your index, the B with Middle, and the High E with Ring--or you can use only your index--

It should take only about ten minutes to master all of this, at which point, you'll be able to improvise jazz with any of these so-called hotshots from Berkelee or GIT:-)


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Subject: RE: Help with fingerpicking melodies
From: GUEST,Joe
Date: 30 Jun 05 - 06:06 AM

"It should take only about ten minutes to master all of this"

You mean 10 minutes to read & understand your post surely?


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Subject: RE: Help with fingerpicking melodies
From: OldFolkie
Date: 01 Jul 05 - 11:00 AM

This thread certainly seems to be keeping some good exchange of views going!

Thanks again for the vast amount of info from all who have contributed. There's enogh here to keep me, and I suspect a few others who may find this thead useful, busy for a long time to come!

Rgds

OF


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Subject: RE: Help with fingerpicking melodies
From: GUEST,Jim
Date: 01 Jul 05 - 11:39 AM

"Now, if you put that last pinky on the low E string, 5th fret, you can play your A scale in the bass--

A-P LowE 5th
B-I A 2nd
C#-M A 4th
D-P A 5th
E-I D 2nd
F#-R 4th
G#-(this is the one move--slide the I on the G string down to the 1st fret, then slide it back up to the 2nd for the A)"

Or you can hold onto a 4 fret pattern (WITHOUT sliding) as below:

1. middle finger on the root A (E string 5th fret)
2. pinky on B (E string 7th fret)
3. index on C# (A string 4th fret)
4. middle on D (A string 5th fret)
5. pinky on E (A string 7th fret)
6. index on F# (D string 4th fret)
7. ring on G# (D string 6th fret)
8. pinky on A (D string 7th fret)

You can follow through the next octave within the same 4 frets.


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Subject: RE: Help with fingerpicking melodies
From: M.Ted
Date: 01 Jul 05 - 12:16 PM

I was being droll, Joe, ironic, even--I even put a smiley at the end of the line--As I said earlier in the post, it takes repeated practice-you said it yourself, Joe--it is "The Story" the scale is what our music is made out of--so the repeated practice practice of these scales is the most important thing that any guitar player can do--You should practice them obsessively, til you do can play them smoothly, quickly, slowly, up, down, and starting from and ending on any note--



As far as Mooh's comment--it is perfectly true that there are lots of closed chord position patterns, but these three are enough to do most all of what you want to do, and when you get them down, on the odd ocassion that you need something else, you'll be able to find it easily enough--

As far as I am concerned, there is nothing worse than overloading yourself with unnecessary choices--


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Subject: RE: Help with fingerpicking melodies
From: M.Ted
Date: 01 Jul 05 - 02:53 PM

Jim--yes, you can start and A scale on the middle finger--that's the first moveable scale I showed--moved up one fret--this is a different position--starting on the pinky--

It is fair to ask, why play the scale starting with the pinky-- well, it offers a lot more options--

A)you can move from playing a scale to playing a chord without changing position--
B)You can move from an A to D scale (and chord) without changing position-
C)you can harmonize your melody or lead

The main reason for using different scale fingerings though, is that, some melodies are easier in one fingering than in another--so if your fingers get tied up in one position, you try it in the others til you find the place where it flows the most easily--this, incidentally, is what makes sight reading on a guitar is such a pain--


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Subject: RE: Help with fingerpicking melodies
From: Brendy
Date: 02 Jul 05 - 10:35 AM

If you can develop your thumb and little finger on both hands, you will find the job a bit easier. On the fingering hand, the thumb acts as the bass string barre, and can damp the A if necessary. The ability to bend your index finger backwards a little (for instance), can barre notes on the treble strings.
The little finger on the fretboard hand can cover notes while another finger can get into place for the next note.

B.


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Subject: RE: Help with fingerpicking melodies
From: OldFolkie
Date: 05 Jul 05 - 03:24 AM

Well folks, I am definitely making some progress.

Having started exploring your answers to the 'how to play' element, I now find myself faced with another hurdle to overcome - WHAT to play - i.e. which notes.

It seems that in most accompaniments to songs, the guitarist(s) aren't salvishly picking out the exact melody, but generally neither are they just picking out the same 'picking pattern' in every bar in different chords.

Also, having been a 'rhythm' style fingerpicker for many many moons now, I find that my fingers have this buring desire to put some note or other in on every 1/8th note, and I'm not certain whether this should be the case, especially if the melody consists of e.g. 1/4 notes, dotted 1/4 notes, half notes etc.

So I gues I've got to do some thinking, and get my head around these angles as well as all the other superb suggestions you folks have made.


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Subject: RE: Help with fingerpicking melodies
From: GUEST,Jim
Date: 05 Jul 05 - 04:33 AM

Quite right M Ted, and I agree wholeheartedly with your advice:

"the repeated practice of these scales is the most important thing that any guitar player can do--You should practice them obsessively, til you do can play them smoothly, quickly, slowly, up, down, and starting from and ending on any note--"

The scale pattern I posted re the A scale was in fact pattern No 2 of 5 you can learn to cover all major and minor keys. The beauty of learning all 5 is that they overlap each other seamlessly and offer total flexibility in mixing chord work with melody and lead improvisations. It might be useful to point out here that in learning a scale pattern in "C" it also doubles effectively as a Blues scale in "A" and a pentatonic scale in "Am" - if you include the appropriate flattened 5th (Eb)


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Subject: RE: Help with fingerpicking melodies
From: s&r
Date: 05 Jul 05 - 04:52 AM

Am pentatonic: A C D E G (A)

No Eb

Stu


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Subject: RE: Help with fingerpicking melodies
From: GUEST,Jim
Date: 05 Jul 05 - 05:07 AM

I was referring to the Blues scale - but I appreciate you making the point Stu


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Subject: RE: Help with fingerpicking melodies
From: Grab
Date: 06 Jul 05 - 08:26 AM

OldFolkie, it depends on how you want it to sound. If you want a more "spare" sound then just a few notes will do. If you want a full, lush accompaniment then the more notes the better! The trouble with playing some kind of arpeggio whilst keeping the tune going though is that you may submerge the tune under the "filler". You plays your songey and you takes your choice. ;-)

Getting stuck in one picking pattern is iffy though, bcos everything ends up sounding the same. You do get certain playing styles you like, but you've gotta be able to break out of them when you need to, otherwise it gets repetitive.

As a radical idea, have you tried playing some simple classical guitar pieces? If you're thinking about playing melodies, this is a great help. You don't need a classical guitar or anything, you can play it just as well on a steel string. And classical guitar will *really* break those habits of staying in the same old chord shapes and fingerpicking patterns. Guiliani, Carcassi and Sor wrote some great studies for classical guitar which aren't too difficult but sound lovely, and Bach pieces often sound good on guitar so there are lots of arrangements of those going round too.

Graham.


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