Acous­tic

Stu­ar­tRyan ex­am­ines­the­p­layin­go­fa­su­perb­singer, bassist,elec­tric­gui­tarplayer,pi­anist,com­poser–and de­cep­tivelyablea­cous­ticpicker:SirPaulMcCart­ney.

Guitar Techniques - - • Contents • November 2014 • -

Stu­art Ryan ex­am­ines the var­ied and won­der­ful acous­tic style of Sir Paul McCart­ney.

acous­tic­track­slike Yes­ter­dayandBlack­bir­dare cov­eredthe­worl­dover,but lis­ten­car­e­fullyand­mostof thetimeyou’ll­hearthat peo­plearen’trecre­at­inghis part­sac­cu­rately­atall.

Partofthechal­len­geof McCart­ney’sid­iosyn­cratic playingishis‘thum­band strum’ap­proach­which bor­row­sheav­i­lyfrom ukuleletech­nique.This in­volves­thethumb pluck­ingth­e­bass­note­sas usual,whilethe­firstfin­ger per­form­sanup­wards stroke­to­catchthe­higher strings.In­prac­tice,this makesforarelaxed, ef­fort­less­ap­proachto fin­ger­style­bu­tit­does make­his­part­srather­hard torecre­ateac­cu­rately–I learnedthis­my­selfyears agowhile­tran­scribin­gand record­ingYes­ter­day­for GT!Inad­di­tion­tothe thum­band­strum ap­proach,Paulwillalso usethe­back­sofhispick­ing handfin­ger­nail­sto­brush sev­er­al­stringsatonce,and allofthis­meansthat play­inghis­part­snote-fornote al­so­sureyou’dfind­thathe nev­er­playsthe­same­thingtwice.

McCart­ney’sstyle­canbe­split­in­totwo broad­camps–hisstrum­ming,which­takes the­back­ground­to­hisvo­cals,and­his­more in­tri­catefin­ger­picked­partswhich­bringthe gui­tar­tothe­fore­and,in­cas­es­likeBlack­bird, can­ac­tu­ally­stan­don­theirow­nas in­stru­men­tal­pieces.

In­spired­byBach’sfa­mousBour­réeInE Mi­nor,Black­bird­has­be­comea­s­tan­dard amon­grockand­popfin­ger­stylist­san­disa great­studyin10ths(3rds­butwith­the­higher noteanoc­tave­above).Theas­cend­ing­bass and­melody­fig­ures­made­foradis­tinc­tive piece­ofwrit­ingth­at­set­sMcCart­neya­part fromhisacous­ticpeersinthe­p­op­world–it wasan­actof­ge­nius­touseBach’sin­flu­ence tocre­ate­such­abeau­ti­ful­vo­cal­piece.

This­con­sid­eredap­proach­canal­sobe found­i­na­piece­likeMichelle,which­fea­tures ade­scend­ing­bassline­playeda­gain­sta­chord fig­ure–an­oth­erex­am­ple­ofhowhe­would con­sid­erthe­full­range­ofthe­gui­tar­rather thanjust­takingone­chord­sha­pe­and­sit­ting onit.Yes­ter­day,along­with­MotherNa­ture’s So­nandRock­yRac­coon,on­theother­hand, show­case­his­more­straight­for­ward‘thumb and­strum’ap­proa­chofout­lininga­chord pro­gres­sion­with­the­clas­sic‘bass-chord’ sys­tem.I’vetried­toin­cor­po­ra­teele­mentsof allthe­se­piecesin­toth­is­month’sstudyto givey­outhewidest­pos­si­ble­viewofhisstyle. Butremem­ber,thebest­thingis­to­gob­ackto these­clas­sic­sand­tran­scribehiso­rig­i­nal parts–try­play­ingBlack­bird­note­fornote andy­oumaybesur­prise­datwhatat­e­ch­ni­cal chal­lengeitac­tu­al­lyis!

PaulMcCart­ney: playedBlack­bird on­hisMart­inD-28

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