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  #1  
Old 06-10-2021, 09:31 PM
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elninobaby elninobaby is offline
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Default Trying to improve my playing—and everything

Like a lot of us, I’ve been playing the guitar much more the past year. My skills topped out about 45 years ago, when I was twenty. I’ve learned a lot about music since then, and life, but as a guitarist, I’ve only ever been a strummer. A good strummer, but terrified to play leads and insecure about fingerpicking. Everyone else just seemed so much better.

I learned via the old Mel Bay series. I got through the first four or five books when I was a kid. I bought a new version of the complete series and have been working through them. It’s been my main learning tool. (I also use TrueFire and some fingerpicking instruction books.)

I spent six months on Mel Bay’s arrangement of “Beautiful Dreamer.” Wow, that was tough. Then a friend sent me a Mel Bay arrangement of “Till There Was You,” which is not in the MB instruction books but must have come from a special collection of standards. Easier than “Beautiful Dreamer,” but still quite a challenge. Anyway, I got inspired to do my own arrangement. I picked my favorite Gershwin song, “Someone To Watch Over Me.” Mel Bay is all about the flat pick (he calls it a plectrum), and I think my arrangement is similar to what he might have done.

Let me know what you think of the arrangement. I don’t play it expertly, because I can’t, yet. I believe in writing beyond what I can play, as a stretch. Feel free to comment on my playing, too. I’m trying to get better. Also, I’m trying out a new mic. I bought a Shure MV88. I’d only used the internal iPhone mic on videos in the past. Trying to upgrade all around!




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Old 06-11-2021, 10:14 AM
rick-slo rick-slo is offline
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Nice arrangement. The question would be can you learn to play that arrangement smoothly without so much time gap between chord changes. If go great and if not you might consider some changes so that you can.
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Old 06-11-2021, 10:36 AM
Sean0913 Sean0913 is offline
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Excellent job! I really liked that. It's only going to get better, with time.

What approach did you take in creating your arrangement? I think a lot of people would love to understand how to create their own melodic chord arrangements.

I thought it was quite good, and Gershwin is no slouch in the challenge department!

Last edited by Kerbie; 06-11-2021 at 11:52 AM. Reason: Edited.
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Old 06-11-2021, 10:42 AM
TBman TBman is offline
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That's a hard arrangement. To cut down the time gap that exists in some chord changes, as Rick pointed out, you might want to

1. Consider transition notes
2. Change some of the full chords to triads that still carry the melody.

I think its better to "dumb things down" to get something entertaining for a listener. You can always work on the harder version at your leisure.
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Old 06-11-2021, 11:11 AM
mr. beaumont mr. beaumont is offline
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You're doing just fine with that...keep practicing. It's a very nice arrangement. Definitely do not "dumb it down"--yet-- you're well on your way.

Something like that, the chords are the most important thing, and good feel on those trumps strict time. I'm going to try and learn the first few bars from your video and post an example because I'm not sure that makes a whole lot of sense in type.
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Last edited by mr. beaumont; 06-11-2021 at 11:19 AM.
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Old 06-11-2021, 11:16 AM
TBman TBman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
Definitely do not "dumb it down," you're well on your way.
I disagree. You have to have musical flow. He can "drop in" the other notes later on.
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Old 06-11-2021, 11:27 AM
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elninobaby elninobaby is offline
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No need to disagree. My playing definitely needs better flow. I said up top that my playing is imperfect. If I were doing a gig and wanted to play this, I would have to simplify. If I were making a video for anything other than what I was trying to show in this thread, ditto. I’ve made good progress on this arrangement, which I could barely play at all when I created it a couple of months ago. I think another few weeks with it will help. Only a mule would create arrangements he can’t play, and I’m in my mule phase, stubbornly getting a little better every day.
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Old 06-11-2021, 11:42 AM
mr. beaumont mr. beaumont is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TBman View Post
I disagree. You have to have musical flow. He can "drop in" the other notes later on.
I don't think we're disagreeing actually-- ill try and do my video later today. Its not about necessarily dropping any of the notes, but it is about not putting all notes on equal footing as far as importance. Its stiff right now, but my guess is that its written that way as well.

There's a case for something a bit more rubato here...
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Old 06-11-2021, 05:44 PM
mr. beaumont mr. beaumont is offline
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Here's my attempt to explain what I was saying...

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Old 06-11-2021, 08:24 PM
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elninobaby elninobaby is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
Here's my attempt to explain what I was saying...

I love this! Thank you so much! I created the arrangement just as an exercise, to see if I could do it musically, and then to see if I could learn to play it as a guitarist. The harmonies all come from Gershwin: I worked from the piano-vocal and just assigned notes, for the most part. I didn’t think it could be a performance piece really, just an exercise. But your playing shows me that with a little bit of rethinking, it could be enjoyable in performance. Thanks for that and thanks for your gracious teaching manner. I bet you’re a very good teacher.
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Old 06-11-2021, 11:19 PM
TBman TBman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
I don't think we're disagreeing actually-- ill try and do my video later today. Its not about necessarily dropping any of the notes, but it is about not putting all notes on equal footing as far as importance. Its stiff right now, but my guess is that its written that way as well.

There's a case for something a bit more rubato here...
Yes, we were saying the same thing
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Old 06-12-2021, 05:30 AM
Andyrondack Andyrondack is offline
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Hi elninobaby,
Nice arrangement, must have taken a lot of work but doing this stuff is what really teaches you about music as you have to take the different elements appart and reasemble.
As you suspect the timing needs attention. Try playing to a metronome and make sure that the strong beats which are the first beat of the bar are occuring where you expect them to, if you're not sure which are the first beats then listen to a full band arrangement with all the bells and whistles and tap your foot along to the beats, the big strong taps are the first beats and that's where the chords go, they don't need to go everywhere.
I don't follow your philosophy of creating a more difficult arrangement than I can play and working to improve on it, experience has taught me that once I get habituated to adding rest beats or losing beats etc I find it very difficult to recognise that there is even a problem with the timing, so the approach which works for me is to start with the simplest arrangement which is just play the melody to a metronome beat and gradually add some chords to harmonise the strong beats, where a strong beat is silent in the melody you can mark it's passing with a bass note just to acknowledge it.
As others have pointed out to make life easier you can use smaller three and four string chords, if you want to retain something of the harmony of a more complex arrangement with 4 and 5 note jazz chords do some research on what the most important notes of a jazz chord are considered to be and make things easier by ditching the rest, save the full chords maybe for notes that last two beats or more.
But it's all pretty close I think, just needs a bit of work and maybe simplification , you can allways increase the comlexity of the harmony once the timing is consistent but getting the timing perfect must come first.

Last edited by Andyrondack; 06-12-2021 at 10:40 AM.
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Old 06-14-2021, 08:23 PM
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Really nice job, guys!! Jeff, you are just excellent in your approach, skill and knowledge!
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  #14  
Old 06-16-2021, 05:07 PM
Retired1 Retired1 is offline
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Hi - one technique you might try to incorporate is playing with your eyes closed - I notice you often shift between looking at your left and right hand - that can actually distract the brain - give it a little time and see if it's helpful - regards.
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