Some­thing in the way he grooves (here comes the pun)! Stu­art Ryan checks out the dis­tinc­tive chord work of Bea­tle Ge­orge - The Quiet One.

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENT -

Stu­art Ryan is in­trigued by the chords and changes in Ge­orge Har­ri­son’s post-Bea­tles work - his ‘All Things Must Pass’ era...

Learn any­thing by any of The Bea­tles and it’s vir­tu­ally a mu­sic les­son in it­self – three dis­tinct guitarists all with their own styles and quirks. What’s more, the les­son doesn’t stop af­ter The Bea­tles dis­band: the var­i­ous solo al­bums by John, Paul, Ge­orge and Ringo con­tain gui­tar play­ing gems and un­usual chord pro­gres­sions that can take your play­ing in dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions from just one les­son. And so it is that this month we will fo­cus on the gui­tar style of ‘the quiet Bea­tle’, Ge­orge Har­ri­son. Ar­guably the most ‘gui­tar fo­cused’ mu­si­cian of the band, Ge­orge’s acous­tic play­ing is full of char­ac­ter and in this study we’ll see how un­ex­pected chords can re­ally bring a piece to life.

John Len­non and Paul McCart­ney are, of course, known for writ­ing the ma­jor­ity of the band’s hits but The Bea­tles were a clas­sic ex­am­ple of the sum be­ing more than its parts – take Ge­orge’s clas­sic gui­tar ideas away from the tracks and you’d cer­tainly miss them. What’s more, he wrote some of their most dis­tinc­tive songs – it’s im­pos­si­ble to imag­ine their back cat­a­logue with­out Ge­orge-penned clas­sics like Here Comes The Sun, While My Gui­tar Gen­tly Weeps and Some­thing.

Ge­orge Har­ri­son was born in Liver­pool on Feb­ru­ary 25 1943. His for­ma­tive in­flu­ences were the rock and roll leg­ends of his time – prin­ci­pally Buddy Holly and Lit­tle Richard. How­ever, like most guitarists he was also drawn to the more ‘tech­ni­cal’ play­ers of the era and so de­vel­oped an in­ter­est in rock­a­billy leg­end Carl Perkins, gypsy jazz ge­nius Django Rein­hardt and blues­man Big Bill Broonzy. With such a di­verse pal­ette of in­flu­ences it’s no sur­prise that he be­came the band’s ‘lead’ gui­tarist. How­ever, even through his solo ca­reer you can hear el­e­ments of all th­ese play­ers, not least in his un­ex­pected chord pro­gres­sions where jazzy di­min­ished 7ths could ap­pear when least ex­pected.

I’ve cov­ered Ge­orge’s ‘Bea­tles’ style so for this study we’ll fo­cus on his All Things Must Pass phase. This solo al­bum was re­leased in 1970 and was a triple af­fair con­tain­ing songs that Ge­orge had not man­aged to get onto the band’s records. It fea­tured a plethora of mu­sic leg­ends from Eric Clap­ton to fel­low Bea­tle Ringo Starr. In this study you’ll en­counter some un­usual chord moves that will serve as a great ex­er­cise for the fret­ting hand. The pick­ing hand will fo­cus on tight, rhyth­mic strum­ming and clean arpeg­giated chords.


NEXT MONTH Stu­art looks at the style singer­song­writer-gui­tarist Tracy Chap­man

Ge­orge: here pic­tured at the 1971 Con­cert For Bangladesh

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