Archive for April, 2010

“Love at First Sight”…

Posted by Brian on 14th April 2010 in DADGAD tuning, Fingerstyle Guitar, Practice

… among other things, is a solo fingerstyle guitar piece by Laurence Juber, a guitarist best known for being the lead guitarist in Paul McCartney & Wings. It is a piece that I have decided to learn how to play. I’ve been working on learning songs in DADGAD tuning and, so far, I’ve pretty much mastered Alex deGrassi’s “Sleepy Time” and I’ve made a good start on Pete Huttlinger’s arrangement of “‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus”. (DADGAD tuning is one of the more popular non-standard tunings for guitar. Basically, the first and sixth strings are tuned down a whole tone to D and the second string is also tuned down a whole tone to A.) I thought it might be fun to chronicle the journey of mastering a new piece – assuming that I get there.

April 14, 2010 – Day One.

During today’s practice time I spent two 10-15 minute blocks working on the first 8 bars of the tune. During the first block, I just worked out the notes and fingerings playing through the first 12, or so, bars a couple of times. Basically, bars 9-12 are the same as the first four bars so I decided to focus on the first eight bars. I then took a break from this tune, worked on the Pete Huttlinger arrangement a bit, played “Sleepy Time” and then returned to “Love at First Sight”.

This time I got out my metronome and worked on timing. The song calls for a tempo of 92 beats per minute (bpm) and I found that 80 bpm was a good tempo to start working at. I was able to get a feel for the tune and by the end of the session, was able to play the first eight bars reasonably well at the reduced tempo.

You can hear Laurence Juber playing “Love at First Sight” on YouTube.

The first post: The Democratic Nature of the Guitar

Posted by Brian on 13th April 2010 in Guitar, The Instrument

I’ve subtitled this blog ‘Musings on “the most democratic of all instruments.”‘ In his book “Guitars: A Celebration of Pure Mojo”, David Schiller describes the guitar as “the most democratic of all instruments.” I’m here to second that opinion.

The guitar really is a remarkable musical instrument. It ranks among the greatest inventions ever – right up there with Lego and the bicycle. A simple instrument (who hasn’t, as a child, strung an elastic band over a Kleenex box and proceeded to bring down the house with an impromptu performance?), the design of the acoustic guitar has not changed substantially in over 150 years and its ancestors, which can be traced back for millenia, bear striking similarity to the modern instrument.

As for its democratic nature, most North Americans can procure a new, decent quality guitar for roughly a day’s wages, making it one of the most easily obtained musical instruments on the planet. And what an instrument! Within a few hours, almost anyone can learn their first three chords and, if they are willing to open their mouths and sing, perform their first song. At the same time, the person who meticulously studies the guitar for a lifetime will not ever find themselves reaching the limits of possibility for the instrument.

Like a piano, the guitar can be used to play melody, or accompaniment, or both; and among popular instruments, only the piano has a wider usable frequency range – and try carrying a piano on your back or throwing one in the trunk of your car. Also like a piano, the guitar is equally suited to both solo or ensemble performance – whether your desire is to quietly play a classical piece by yourself in your room or to strum along with a dozen or more fellow guitarists at the local jam, the guitar will suit your social mood or temperament.

One also has a difficult time coming up with a musical genre in which the guitar is not comfortably at home. Bluegrass, jazz, classical, rock and pop are all well suited to the guitar, so, chances are you can find something to play on your guitar that is to your particular taste – no matter how particular that taste might be.

As you can tell, I’m a big fan of the instrument. And I hope that with this blog, I can ignite, or re-ignite, your enthusiasm for playing “the most democratic of all instruments”, the guitar. I don’t know how regularly I’ll be able to post, but check back now and again – you never know when something here might “strike a chord”.

Here it is… the blog:

Posted by Brian on 6th April 2010 in Guitar

I’ve long been intrigued by the idea of having a blog. A forum for my own opinions, of which there are many. I’ve been playing guitar since about 1977 and teaching guitar since 2003, and there are few subjects that I’d rather talk about – religion and politics maybe, but those topics are well covered by people more educated and articulate than me. Perhaps this topic is too, but here it is…