Archive for the ‘Songs You Should Know’ Category

Video-Of-The-Month: Fernando Sor

Posted by Brian on 1st November 2012 in Classical Guitar, Journal, Songs You Should Know, Technique, Video of the Month

Video-of-the-MonthNovember’s Video-of-the-Month features a tune that I have just started working on.

I started guitar lessons a month ago (after not having formal lessons for over 30 years) and this is the second tune that my teacher gave me to work on. It’s a tough one! The thing that I like about this piece is that it is forcing me to use voicings that I would not typically use on my own. It also has some very cool counterpoint (bits that complement the melody and harmony).

Here is Stephen Kenyon playing his interpretation of the tune, which differs from the version that I am learning in the way that he approaches the grace notes.

If you would like to learn the piece, here is a free transcription.

And here is another video that better represents the version that I am learning:

Fernando Sor on Wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fernando_Sor

Video-of-the-Month: Doc Watson

Video-of-the-MonthDoc Watson (1923-2012)

I have pre-empted my regularly scheduled Video-of-the-Month to pay tribute to one of the great guitarists of all time, Arthel Lane “Doc” Watson, who passed away on May 29th at the age of 89.

Having lost his eyesight at an early age, Doc first learned to play the banjo on an instrument that his dad made. He switched to guitar while attending a school for the blind. He went on to become one of the great “flatpickers” of all time.

This video (actually, audio only) is from the Newport Folk Festival, 1963, where Doc caught his first “big break”. Here he plays two of his signature pieces: “Doc’s Guitar” (a.k.a. “Tickling the Strings”) a fingerpicking tune, and “Black Mountain Rag” a flatpicking tune.

Rest in peace, Doc.

(The original Video-of-the-Month for June will appear on June 15th.)

Wikipedia: Doc Watson

Songs You Should Know: Classical Gas

Posted by Brian on 10th April 2012 in Fingerstyle Guitar, Guitar, Journal, Songs You Should Know, Uncategorized

Classical Gas“Classical Gas” by Mason Williams is easily the most popular and successful instrumental guitar tune ever written. Written during a weekend break from his day job as a writer for the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, the tune was released in February 1968 and climbed to the top of the charts, winning three Grammy Awards that year. It has since been performed by countless people and ensembles playing a wide variety of different instruments.

Years ago, my guitar teacher tried to teach me how to play “Classical Gas”, but I was more interested in 3-chord rock at the time. Years later, after hearing Lisa Simpson playing it on an episode of The Simpsons, I decided that it was time to revisit the tune. Its not wildly difficult, but the timing is tricky as it changes time signatures several times throughout the piece.

Here is the original recording:

And here is Tommy Emmanuel’s take on the tune (note the nods to the Ventures and Elton John mid-way through):

And here is the official “Classical Gas” website:  ClassicalGas.com/home.html

Video of the Month: Richard Gilewitz

Posted by Brian on 15th August 2011 in Fingerstyle Guitar, Guitarists, Songs You Should Know, Video of the Month

The second video of the month for August is a tune that’s fun to play and very accessible to fingerstyle players of moderate ability.

Years ago, Richard Gilewitz recorded a tune called “Echoing Wilderness”. I’ve never heard the original, but I’m told that it was eight minutes long. In 1986, Leo Kottke covered the last section of the tune and titled it “Echoing Gilewitz”. In this video, Richard Gilewitz plays Leo Kottke’s version of his own tune.

The tune is in Open D (DADF#AD) and is fairly straightforward. The right hand plays a steady thumb-index-middle-thumb-middle-index pattern, with the thumb playing melody, primarily on the third and fourth strings, and the fingers droning the open first and second strings.  Make sure you let all the notes ring for as long as possible and if you’re playing through an amp, crank up the reverb. Have fun!

Richard Gilewitz’s website: www.RichardGilewitz.com

Richard Gilewitz’s YouTube Channel: www.youtube.com/user/gillazillamusic

Dune

Back in March, I posted a feature on Bob Evans and I mentioned that I would be seeing him play live on May 1st. I did, indeed, see him play, and it was a great show. One of the tunes that he played was “Dune”, probably his most famous tune (if a fingerstyle guitarist can have a “famous” tune – maybe “famous-among-guitar-geeks” would be more accurate). He also mentioned that a free transcription was available on his website… So, on May 2nd, I started working on the tune. Now, here it is in late July and I almost have the tune down, except for one bar at the top of page 5, and I’m pretty sure that a few more hours spent with my trusty metronome will have it beaten into submission.

Here is Bob Evans playing “Dune”

Bob Evans – “Dune”

(If the link doesn’t work, you can listen to it here.)

 

Bob Evans’ Website

Bob Evans’ YouTube Channel

Video of the Month: Ben Kammin

The second video of the month this month is a nice tune called “Sleepytime” played here by Ben Kammin and written by Alex DeGrassi. If you are a decent fingerstyle player and have ever wanted to try DADGAD tuning then this tune is a great place to start. This was the first DADGAD tune that I ever learned and it was from watching another video of Ben playing an excerpt from “Sleepytime” that I was inspired to learn it.

The tune is pretty straightforward, except for the bridge section where you need to get a “four-over-three” feel. Otherwise this tune is all about creating a mood – there are no flashy pyrotechnics – you just need to play cleanly and let the notes ring for as long as possible. Transcriptions are available from Alex DeGrassi’s website.

Ben Kammin is a graduate of the Fingerstyle Guitar program at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee.  He lives in Flagstaff, Arizona where he teaches guitar and does research for UWM.

Ben’s Website: www.benkammin.com

Ben’s YouTube Channel: www.youtube.com/benjaminkammin

Alex DeGrassi’s website: www.degrassi.com

Songs You Should Know: Watermelon Sorbet

Posted by Brian on 12th May 2011 in Fingerstyle Guitar, Guitar, Making a Living, Songs You Should Know

This tune by Eve Goldberg is the tune that we would all love to write. It was picked up and used for several years as the theme song for Bill Richardson’s afternoon radio show on what is now CBC Radio One. As I understand it, the income that was generated by daily national radio play allowed Eve to do what we all want to do – quit her day job at Borealis Records and play music full-time.

As fingerstyle tunes go, this one is pretty accessible. It uses familiar open position chords and a strict alternating bass line throughout. And it sticks in the listener’s ear for hours!

Have look at the video and see if you can figure it out!