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Old 01-13-2019, 01:42 AM
Tomaz Tomaz is offline
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Default What to study next as a fingerstyle player?

Hey guys, I play acoustic guitar since 2008, I can play some advanced stuff in the likes of Andy Mckee and Tommy Emmanuel. The problem is: I can't incorporate any of that into my own playing. I mean, I definitely can do harp harmonics and stuff like that no problems, I just don't know how/when to do it when it comes down to my own arrangements. My arrangements always sound "correct", in the sense that the melody is played with the right chords. But it doesn't sound awesome just like the songs I can play from these guys.

To illustrate what I'm trying to say, let's take this arrangement as an example:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGSnZmg1b14

I can definitely mimic and play this song pretty much exactly like he did. The thing is, if I were to make an arrangement for this song, it wouldn't ever sound so good like this one. I would make a decent arrangement, using the right chords and getting a correct sound, but I can't experiment with the harmony like the guy in the video is doing, because I have little knowledge in this subject.

So, basically, what books or methods or whatever should I be studying in order to spice up my arrangements? I feel like music harmony books always tend to focus more on a jazzy aproach and that's not quite what I'm looking for at the moment. I enjoy more suspended chords, like Andy Mckee uses a lot, Pierre Bensusan, Mateus Asato as well to some extent. I definitely understand most pop songs' harmonic structure and I understand harmonic field to an intermediate level, I believe. So what should I be looking for next?

Which also leads to another question: I don't enjoy standard tuning all that much, the fingerstyle arrangements I find the most beautiful are always in alternate tunings and do explore a lot of harmonics. The thing is: is there a reasoning behind playing a song with a said tuning? For instance: are there songs that are more suitable for DADGAD instead of Open A tuning? Because when I see an arrangement of a popular song in alternate tuning it generally uses natural harmonics to highlight some important melody notes, which gives me a feel of "this tuning was picked for this song" rather than "he simply played the song in this tuning because he arbitraty elected it". So, what do I have to study in order to know how to adjust tunings to a specific song?

I hope that I've made myself clear, as I know my english is not the best out there.
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Old 01-13-2019, 02:12 AM
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rick-slo rick-slo is offline
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IMO most of the time melody is king. If you are arranging a existing melody or composing one from scratch, first do everything to
support that, with harmony, and variations thereof. Then add the fill ins and frills. Experiment with different chords and rhythms.
You don't really need theory for this, just use your ears.
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Old 01-13-2019, 09:32 AM
JonnyBGood JonnyBGood is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tomaz View Post
Which also leads to another question: I don't enjoy standard tuning all that much, the fingerstyle arrangements I find the most beautiful are always in alternate tunings and do explore a lot of harmonics. The thing is: is there a reasoning behind playing a song with a said tuning? For instance: are there songs that are more suitable for DADGAD instead of Open A tuning? Because when I see an arrangement of a popular song in alternate tuning it generally uses natural harmonics to highlight some important melody notes, which gives me a feel of "this tuning was picked for this song" rather than "he simply played the song in this tuning because he arbitraty elected it". So, what do I have to study in order to know how to adjust tunings to a specific song?
Yes, you choose the tuning the suite the song, absolutely. I play a few Andy Mckee pieces, and materials by other modern fingerstyle players and the tuning used, certainly for arrangements, is selected *and adapted* on purpose. In fact you have given one reason above, if you want to use natural harmonics for a particular phrase but the tuning doesn't work, you might need to tweak the tuning so that it does. Its really a matter of trial and error.

Certain keys favour certain tunings of course - eg. DADGAD is great for tunes in D obviously and its related minor (Bmin) plus others. You ask what you should study and that would be a good starting point - familiarising yourself with a few standard alternate tunings and the keys that work well with them. Also take a look at arrangements by the players you like and you might find that they are often close to one of these tunings but maybe with one or two strings different. Work through the music and ask yourself why they changed something, might be to make the fingering easier, to use open strings/harmonics for melody as above, or maybe extending the bass range.
(With their own compositions the approach is slightly different, as inspiration can often arise from experimenting with, and being inspired by, a particular tuning).

Example - fingerstyle genius Mike Dawes (used to hang out on AGF) started out arranging this Gotye tune in DADGAD, his 'go-to' tuning. However part way through the process he realised he needed a lower bass note and so the tuning became CADGAD:



Another example would be Andy McKee's arrangement of Africa, which is in DGDGAD (capo 2). It almost works in DADGAD but not quite!
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Old 01-13-2019, 10:52 AM
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TBman TBman is online now
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I was thinking about this topic just recently. Learning to mimic someone else exactly takes skill and practice. The greater talent though is the original composer. They use their skills to convey what is in their head to their fingers. You are composing what you hear in your head and then doing the same. Of course you are not your guitar heros, you are you. Therefore what you write is representing you, not them.

What you have to do is take one moment in time of your "advanced" playing, one "hook" as I like to call it, and build a few measures from that and then see where you are.
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Old 01-14-2019, 12:51 PM
ezcawi ezcawi is offline
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For figuring out fun harmonies in other tunings, something I do is make a fretboard chart with every note written out. Then I'll circle the notes belonging to the I chord in a color, the notes of the IV chord in a different color, etc. You can do a similar thing but for suspended chords, 7ths, etc.

I like Muriel Anderson's book https://www.amazon.com/Building-Guit...GK7MYZGDE2Q24Q

Mark Hanson and Howard Morgen also have good fingerstyle arranging books.
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Old 01-15-2019, 09:00 AM
Bikewer Bikewer is offline
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I don’t know if you’d call what I do “fingerstyle”....

I play mostly chord-melody arrangements using (essentially) classical-guitar technique.
This is not theory-heavy stuff; I follow Joe Pass’ advice on a little video he did...
“Figure out the melody and find chords that sound nice.”

I have a repertoire of “standard” jazz chords.... My old fingers don’t like super-stretches or forms like Ted Greene shows....

My goal has been to improvise freely while using that chord-melody format. Sometimes it works...
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Old 01-15-2019, 11:24 AM
dkstott dkstott is offline
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I'm in a similar state of playing as bikewer

I too play "chord melody" / fingerstyle.

I'll steal arrangements off the internet, Youtube or Realbook and then use bits and pieces of each until I have a full song. (At age 63, I no longer the desire to write my own arrangements. )

Once I have the song embedded in my brain, I'll start playing around with improvising off a chord or trying out using the same chords in different locations on the fretboard.




Quote:
Originally Posted by Bikewer View Post
I don’t know if you’d call what I do “fingerstyle”....

I play mostly chord-melody arrangements using (essentially) classical-guitar technique.
This is not theory-heavy stuff; I follow Joe Pass’ advice on a little video he did...
“Figure out the melody and find chords that sound nice.”

I have a repertoire of “standard” jazz chords.... My old fingers don’t like super-stretches or forms like Ted Greene shows....

My goal has been to improvise freely while using that chord-melody format. Sometimes it works...
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