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Old 05-27-2022, 09:21 PM
b1j b1j is offline
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Default Resourceful fingerpicking recording trick

I’ve been preparing to cover Asleep At Last by the Wailin’ Jennys, which features an intricate, complex fingerpicked acoustic part behind the vocal trio.

I learn by ear, so I popped it up on our Bose mini speaker and went to work. I soon saw that it will be a slim chance for me to perform the part. Eighth notes at 138 bpm, tightly syncopated, and laced with minor second intervals. How did they do this, I wondered.

Enter headphones. I was struck to notice that they played the three lower notes “thumb” on one guitar (panned L) and the three higher notes “fingers” on a different guitar (panned R)! Go check it out for yourself on YouTube.

What are your thoughts on the production technique? Seems like cheating to me, but on the other hand this cheat puts a mesmerizing guitar part within my reach.
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Old 05-28-2022, 07:13 AM
Rudy4 Rudy4 is offline
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Originally Posted by b1j View Post
I’ve been preparing to cover Asleep At Last by the Wailin’ Jennys, which features an intricate, complex fingerpicked acoustic part behind the vocal trio.

I learn by ear, so I popped it up on our Bose mini speaker and went to work. I soon saw that it will be a slim chance for me to perform the part. Sixteenth notes at 138 bpm, tightly syncopated, and laced with minor second intervals. How did they do this, I wondered.

Enter headphones. I was struck to notice that they played the three lower notes “thumb” on one guitar (panned L) and the three higher notes “fingers” on a different guitar (panned R)! Go check it out for yourself on YouTube.

What are your thoughts on the production technique? Seems like cheating to me, but on the other hand this cheat puts a mesmerizing guitar part within my reach.
It doesn't sound like "cheating" to me.

I'd say it's simply the ability to have a more complex composition by having two guitars available. It's the reason why musicians often choose to perform in a band vs. solo performance. It can be done just as easily in the studio by recording the two parts separately, of course.

You might not be able to copy the complexity of two guitars as a solo performer, but there's nothing stopping you from using a more complex pattern using one guitar.

Last edited by Rudy4; 05-28-2022 at 07:23 AM.
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Old 05-28-2022, 10:06 AM
jpmist jpmist is offline
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Enter headphones. I was struck to notice that they played the three lower notes “thumb” on one guitar (panned L) and the three higher notes “fingers” on a different guitar (panned R)! Go check it out for yourself on YouTube.

What are your thoughts on the production technique? Seems like cheating to me, but on the other hand this cheat puts a mesmerizing guitar part within my reach.


I like it! I haven't finished my coffee yet to work it out, but I like the song and will learn it. I'm guessing they have at least two guitars panned R & L using capos playing in different keys. My first stab at it is the low notes left side is capo on 2nd fret key of G [oops make that C] and the high notes are capo on 5th fret key of A. [or capo on 7 key of G]

I applaud you for putting that on the "to learn" list, but don't let their arrangement put you off. I rather like the richness of two guitars playing off each other in two different places on the neck. I'm sure you or I could come up with an "unplugged" version, one guitar covering about 90% of what they're doing. And who's to say simpler wouldn't be better?

I like the guitar playing and production and thanks for mentioning a band I haven't stumbled on yet. I'm hoping I got the right track? https://duckduckgo.com/?q=Asleep+At+...%3DzSPts1dt3-k
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Old 05-28-2022, 11:18 AM
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Bob Womack Bob Womack is offline
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Reminds me of this one:



That's one of about a dozen songs I banged my head up against around 1972 when I was a wee laddie, thinking I had to reproduce it all on one guitar in one pass. Lunatic.

But what a wonderful learning experience it was when I finally listened to it on headphones after developing a credible transcription of all that crap into one performance.

Bob
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Old 05-28-2022, 11:39 AM
jpmist jpmist is offline
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That's one of about a dozen songs I banged my head up against around 1972 when I was a wee laddie, thinking I had to reproduce it all on one guitar in one pass. Lunatic.

I feel your pain there. I think I was the last person to find out that Allman Bros "Little Martha" wasn't in standard tuning. 🤷🏻 I came close but, no cigar . . .

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Old 05-28-2022, 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by jpmist View Post
Enter headphones. I was struck to notice that they played the three lower notes “thumb” on one guitar (panned L) and the three higher notes “fingers” on a different guitar (panned R)! Go check it out for yourself on YouTube.

What are your thoughts on the production technique? Seems like cheating to me, but on the other hand this cheat puts a mesmerizing guitar part within my reach.


I like it! I haven't finished my coffee yet to work it out, but I like the song and will learn it. I'm guessing they have at least two guitars panned R & L using capos playing in different keys. My first stab at it is the low notes left side is capo on 2nd fret key of G [oops make that C] and the high notes are capo on 5th fret key of A. [or capo on 7 key of G]

I applaud you for putting that on the "to learn" list, but don't let their arrangement put you off. I rather like the richness of two guitars playing off each other in two different places on the neck. I'm sure you or I could come up with an "unplugged" version, one guitar covering about 90% of what they're doing. And who's to say simpler wouldn't be better?

I like the guitar playing and production and thanks for mentioning a band I haven't stumbled on yet. I'm hoping I got the right track? https://duckduckgo.com/?q=Asleep+At+...%3DzSPts1dt3-k

Yes, that's the song. They do it in D, so a 2nd-fret capo played in C would get you there, but it wouldn't be the easiest to fret.

I would play the low notes un-capoed starting on D on the A string: this lets me take advantage of open-string minor- and major-second intervals. For the high notes I'd use the capo on the 7th fret and play in Cowboy G formation.

However, I'm going to record this with my wife singing the two upper vocal parts, so we need to transpose everything down a fourth, and we'll be playing it in A (not everyone is the Wailin' Jennys!). This will retain the advantage of open strings, in fact actually providing one more crucial open string in the chorus. This will also put the lower voice part in my range. So it'll be low notes starting with A on the E string. In this key, the repeating 8th-note figure is {A on E string — C# on A string — open D string}. Capo on 2 for the high notes, still in G formation.

I've made separate MIDI guide tracks for the low and high notes to help me practice. Just need to find the time to practice now.

To your and Rudy’s musing about a single unplugged version: yes, I can manage a decent approximation (at least I did when it was in D; we'll have to see about A, or maybe find some other capo position. So far it actually feels more freewheeling that way, so it has open-mic possibilities. I might try to polish it more after taking care to match the original first.
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Old 05-28-2022, 11:49 AM
b1j b1j is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Womack View Post
Reminds me of this one:



That's one of about a dozen songs I banged my head up against around 1972 when I was a wee laddie, thinking I had to reproduce it all on one guitar in one pass. Lunatic.

But what a wonderful learning experience it was when I finally listened to it on headphones after developing a credible transcription of all that crap into one performance.

Bob
Bob, nice Doobies flashback! Thanks. I think we can also listen through the intro of I've Just Seen a Face for more material like this. I guess this little technique is not so new.
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  #8  
Old 05-29-2022, 04:38 AM
OldFrets OldFrets is offline
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Having two guitars playing different parts is an extremely common recording technique across many genres. If they're cheating, then so is just about everyone else.
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Old 05-29-2022, 06:19 AM
Howard Emerson Howard Emerson is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by b1j View Post
I’ve been preparing to cover Asleep At Last by the Wailin’ Jennys, which features an intricate, complex fingerpicked acoustic part behind the vocal trio.

I learn by ear, so I popped it up on our Bose mini speaker and went to work. I soon saw that it will be a slim chance for me to perform the part. Sixteenth notes at 138 bpm, tightly syncopated, and laced with minor second intervals. How did they do this, I wondered.

Enter headphones. I was struck to notice that they played the three lower notes “thumb” on one guitar (panned L) and the three higher notes “fingers” on a different guitar (panned R)! Go check it out for yourself on YouTube.

What are your thoughts on the production technique? Seems like cheating to me, but on the other hand this cheat puts a mesmerizing guitar part within my reach.
They're making a record, and anything goes if the artists feel it serves the song.

It's really meaningless whether or not they could play/reproduce that effect live because, obviously, the audience would all have to have headphones to get the same effect. Between a guitar and a banjo they'd have a veritable facsimile thereof, but that's them.

They're astounding, but I digress....

Aside from that if the voices & lyrics don't swallow your attention, then they've failed miserably.

If you're going to cover this song you should strive to make it your own by coming up with part that has the aural gist of what you enjoy about the original. It's really a pretty easy pattern, overall, but it is definitely 2 guitars playing two very simple, but different parts.

The droning high root note coupled with the rhythmic rolling pattern is what I think you're hooked on, therefore I would try something in open D tuning, and then capo as needed for your ultimate key necessities.

Best of luck with it in any case!

Howard Emerson
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Old 05-29-2022, 09:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by b1j View Post
I’ve been preparing to cover Asleep At Last by the Wailin’ Jennys, which features an intricate, complex fingerpicked acoustic part behind the vocal trio.

I learn by ear, so I popped it up on our Bose mini speaker and went to work. I soon saw that it will be a slim chance for me to perform the part. Sixteenth notes at 138 bpm, tightly syncopated, and laced with minor second intervals. How did they do this, I wondered.

Enter headphones. I was struck to notice that they played the three lower notes “thumb” on one guitar (panned L) and the three higher notes “fingers” on a different guitar (panned R)! Go check it out for yourself on YouTube.

What are your thoughts on the production technique? Seems like cheating to me, but on the other hand this cheat puts a mesmerizing guitar part within my reach.
Except for Milli Vanilli ,,,,, there is no "cheating" if it serves the performance .....go for it

BUT maybe I am jaded about cheating

Behold "KevWind and The Twin Clone Band" and speakin' of Waylon Jennings
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Old 05-29-2022, 10:16 AM
jpmist jpmist is offline
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Yes, that's the song. They do it in D, so a 2nd-fret capo played in C would get you there, but it wouldn't be the easiest to fret.

To your and Rudy’s musing about a single unplugged version: yes, I can manage a decent approximation (at least I did when it was in D; we'll have to see about A, or maybe find some other capo position. So far it actually feels more freewheeling that way, so it has open-mic possibilities. I might try to polish it more after taking care to match the original first.


Well, I've tried it in a couple keys and places on the neck and boy was it fun to work out. I like the writing and melodies quite a lot. Finding a spot in the middle of my vocal range is gonna be a challenge. That little walk down during the chorus makes a great hook. Old folky fingerstyle songs like this fall right into my wheelhouse so thanks again for posting. Scanning iTunes now for more. . .
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Old 05-29-2022, 11:18 AM
Glennwillow Glennwillow is offline
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Wow, that is a lovely song. As Howard comments, and to me as well, it's the voices and lyrics that carry this song and the finger picking is just the structure that helps hold the song together.

The finger picking does have a bit of a drone-like character. The accompaniment reminds me of an early Simon & Garfunkel piece, shown below.



Back to The Wailin' Jennys, this is a lovely song, and I've got to say I love that lady's voice! I thought I had all their albums, but I don't have this. I'm going to have to get that album! What a wonderful discovery!

- Glenn
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Old 05-29-2022, 04:36 PM
b1j b1j is offline
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Glad to see folks picking up on this gem of a song, both listening and maybe covering. Points well taken:
  • Yes, the vocals are really central here. But the guitar pattern gives the song drive.
  • Good advice to try to make it my own instead of slavishly duplicating their version. Still, knowing me, I’ll first try to copy it and let it “soak in” later so I can capture the essence without concern for perfection. For now, I’m tempted by those rhythmic minor-second intervals.

I had to go out of town for a week, so I’ll be back to it next week.
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Old 05-30-2022, 10:58 AM
Glennwillow Glennwillow is offline
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Originally Posted by b1j View Post
Glad to see folks picking up on this gem of a song, both listening and maybe covering. Points well taken:
  • Yes, the vocals are really central here. But the guitar pattern gives the song drive.
  • Good advice to try to make it my own instead of slavishly duplicating their version. Still, knowing me, I’ll first try to copy it and let it “soak in” later so I can capture the essence without concern for perfection. For now, I’m tempted by those rhythmic minor-second intervals.

I had to go out of town for a week, so I’ll be back to it next week.
I often find it educational and informative to copy someone else's style. You may not want to perform the song in that style in the end, but there is nothing wrong in learning from someone else.

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Old 05-30-2022, 06:42 PM
DupleMeter DupleMeter is offline
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Originally Posted by b1j View Post
I’ve been preparing to cover Asleep At Last by the Wailin’ Jennys, which features an intricate, complex fingerpicked acoustic part behind the vocal trio.

I learn by ear, so I popped it up on our Bose mini speaker and went to work. I soon saw that it will be a slim chance for me to perform the part. Eighth notes at 138 bpm, tightly syncopated, and laced with minor second intervals. How did they do this, I wondered.

Enter headphones. I was struck to notice that they played the three lower notes “thumb” on one guitar (panned L) and the three higher notes “fingers” on a different guitar (panned R)! Go check it out for yourself on YouTube.

What are your thoughts on the production technique? Seems like cheating to me, but on the other hand this cheat puts a mesmerizing guitar part within my reach.

It’s common to do things like that to create texture & width. I wouldn’t consider it cheating. That’s a very textured album. The only way to get that kind of texturing is with double & triple tracking (or more) parts.

Heck, a lot of classic albums have way more doubling than you’d expect.
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