The­ory God­mother

Guitar Techniques - - Q&A -

Post your posers and teasers to: The­ory God­mother, Unit 5, Pinesway In­dus­trial Es­tate, Ivo Peters Way, Bath, BA2 3QS; or email me at info@ david­ - your ev­ery wish is Fairy God­mother’s com­mand!

Play It Like Guthrie? Dear The­ory God­mother

I’ve been watch­ing var­i­ous videos of Guthrie Go­van on YouTube and I’ve no­ticed that he tends to use fin­gers one to three to play reg­u­lar scale pat­terns on the guitar neck, sav­ing his fourth fin­ger for longer stretches. I was taught the old ‘one-fin­ger-per-fret’ sys­tem and I’m won­der­ing if I ought to re­view my style a lit­tle. Are there ben­e­fits to play­ing scales the way Guthrie does it?

Jed We’ll hear from Guthrie in a minute, Jed, so I’ll take a para­graph to il­lus­trate what you mean and add my own com­ments. In Ex­am­ple 1 I’ve taken a scale pat­tern and shown the fin­ger­ing in ‘one-fin­ger­per-fret’ con­fig­u­ra­tion. This is the more nat­u­ral feel­ing way of fin­ger­ing a scale and rep­re­sents good ba­sic train­ing for the fret­ting fin­gers. Ex­am­ple 2 is the same pat­tern us­ing just three fin­gers, with the ex­cep­tion of the B on the fourth string. Which­ever fin­ger­ing you use in the prac­tice room is fine, but re­mem­ber cer­tain licks, riffs or so­los are go­ing to call for some cus­tomi­sa­tion. As an ex­am­ple, the third fin­ger is bet­ter for bending strings so any­thing blues based is best worked out to fa­cil­i­tate this. There are other oc­ca­sions where what you do in prac­tice might need to be re­viewed in the real world. So use the fin­ger­ing that suits the mu­sic.

I’ll leave the last word to Guthrie: “I would urge you not to pay too much at­ten­tion to my fin­ger­ings: you’d al­most cer­tainly be bet­ter off stick­ing with your cur­rent sys­tem. I started play­ing a full­sized guitar when I was very young and there was def­i­nitely a pe­riod where only the big­ger fin­gers on my fret­ting hand were ca­pa­ble of sound­ing any good. Plus, I was play­ing a lot of blues-rock at the time and that genre isn’t ex­actly as­so­ci­ated with per­fect one-fin­ger-per­fret tech­nique! What you’ve ob­served in those videos is just a rem­nant of my shady (and en­tirely self-taught) past.”

A Page Un­turned? Dear The­ory God­mother

In Led Zep­pelin’s ver­sion of Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You there’s the chord that I’ve tabbed out and en­closed at the end of the main verse. The mu­sic says that this is a Dm add9 chord, but it sounds too dis­so­nant to me. Have




Thre8e-finA­grepre­vge­gr­sioiop­nick­ing they got this chord name right or is it some­thing else en­tirely?

Rick When a gui­tarist writes a song he will of­ten use per­sonal favourite shapes that might not seem that log­i­cal. GT’s editor Nev said he was sure Jimmy is not play­ing the tran­scribed shape but is cre­at­ing Span­ish style ‘dis­so­nance’ with the chord played in the open po­si­tion, not at the 5th fret. He said play ‘X-0-3-2-3-0’ and you’ll see that, af­ter the Am-Am7 (also open po­si­tion) it sounds right. How­ever, hav­ing too watched footage he now con­cedes that Jimmy does play it at the 5th fret. In terms of what to call it we’d say ‘Dm add9/A’, as it’s that open fifth string (A) and open first string (E) that give it dis­so­nance. Nev’s shape has the same two open strings, but while the other notes are the same they are in a dif­fer­ent or­der - F (b3rd) on the fourth string and D (5th) on the sec­ond, so the ‘clash’ be­tween F and E is less ob­vi­ous than in Jimmy’s shape, where the two notes sit di­rectly ad­ja­cent to one another. The bass note is def­i­nitely an A though, so we’d still say ‘Dm add9/A’ is a bet­ter call as re­gards nam­ing the chord.

The Lost Chord? Dear Theo4ry God­mother

som4ethb wá This is ing that as sweep­ing

tá through Face­book re­cently. Ap­par­ently from a pro mu­si­cal score, this chord is al­legedly im­pos­si­ble to playAon the guitar. I’ve ried to work out if there’s a way around it, but so far I’m floored. Firstly, can you think of a way of mak­ing the chord playable? And se­condly, do com­posers and/or ar­rangers ac­tu­ally make this kind of mis­take in pro­fes­sional scores?


EYes, Rob, some­times com­posers and ar­rangers get it wrong. Any­one who is un­fa­mil­iar with the way the guitar works as a har­mony in­stru­ment is go­ing to make this kind of er­ror ev­ery so of­ten. There are sto­ries of some very fa­mous com­posers who have ac­ci­den­tally writ­ten im­pos­si­ble chords in their pieces and so this par­tic­u­lar in­stance doesn’t sur­prise me. As far as the chord in ques­tion is con­cerned (Ex­am­ple 4) the prob­lem is that both the A and G note fall on the same string and the Eb on the fourth string means that the G isn’t avail­able here ei­ther. Fur­ther­more, the low F keeps the hand firmly planted down near the nut - so what’s the way out of this hole? I be­lieve the con­text in which this was posted on Face­book orig­i­nally was a sort of, ‘any­one got a so­lu­tion to this one?’ type of thing and I be­lieve I know a way around it - or at least a work­able so­lu­tion should the full chord be cru­cial to the har­mony.

One way is to miss out one of the of­fend­ing notes and hope no one will no­tice. In Ex­am­ple 5 I’ve shown the eas­i­est way out; a straight­for­ward F13, which omits the G - the 9th note of F13. A more el­e­gant so­lu­tion might be to play the chord as F13 sus2 but sound an A har­monic at the 12th fret on the fifth string, pro­duc­ing all the notes that the ar­ranger asked for (Ex 6). This would have to be done with the pick­ing hand in the man­ner of an ar­ti­fi­cial har­monic.

Of course, be­cause I’m not aware of the ex­act mu­si­cal con­text of the chord in ques­tion, faffing around with smartAlec fixes like this might be com­pletely un­nec­es­sary, but it sat­is­fies my OCD par­tic­u­larly well - and chimes well with the whole Zep­pelin chord shape and nam­ing de­bate. Plus it goes to show that guitar the­ory and tech­nique are never-end­ing sources of fas­ci­na­tion!

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