How to make the guitarpart exciting

How to make the guitarpart exciting

Hi,

I’m learning to back up with guitar, and I play in both DADGAD and dropped D tuning. I know how to play pretty much all of the chords needed. BUT I find it quite hard to come up with stuff that’s not just D-G-A etc.

Let’s just take Silver Spear as an example. I also play bass runs and stuff like that, but it would be nice to get some suggestions on what to play over the fist part. For instance, I would play something like this:

| D | D A | D | Em A |
| D | D/F# | G D/F# | Em A |

What would you play?

Some help would be great!

Lyargutten

Re: How to make the guitarpart exciting

Looks/sounds perfectly OK to me — I play almost always in DADGAD.
I think, however, it’s easy to get a bit too caught up in trying to make the accompaniment "exciting," and I’ll readily admit to sometimes being guilty of that.
One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was from Chris Newman, who said (you have to imagine the Yorkshire accent): "The trooble with guitah players is, they get awl hoong up on deciding ‘Which chord do ah play? Should ah go for a D-minor-suspended-9 or an E-minor-sustained-whatever’? When all the flute player or the fiddler wants to hear is ‘tucka-ta-tucka-ta-tucka’ or ‘tucka-tucka-tucka.’ It doosn’t mean the chords _aren’t_ important, but you better make sure you get that ‘tucka’ right."

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Re: How to make the guitarpart exciting

Amen to what sts says, focus on being a good accompanist, and the excitement will come from the music as a whole. Go to the profile for session.org member coyotebanjo. There you will find links to his website, and info on his book regarding accompanying this type of music. It comes with a CD, and if you do everything in the program, you will have lots of "tools" to choose from to keep things interesting.

Re: How to make the guitarpart exciting

sts is right. You make it exciting by getting the tucka right and accenting the tune in the right places. You could also try a few rhythmic tricks like hammer-on triplets etc.

Re: How to make the guitarpart exciting

Hi L,
Good for you.

If I can offer anything, it would be not to fall for the relative minor trick.
So many people do this, so often, that its predictable.

Re: How to make the guitarpart exciting

Speaking of Chris Newman - if you’d like to see how well he can do "tucka tucka tucka" then take a look at the www.cairdenacruite.com - Chris is playing on sunday 24 June - venue isn’t confirmed yet.

If you like Harp or guitar or both then don’t miss it.

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Re: How to make the guitarpart exciting

Setting the instrument on fire and smashing it is a good little show stopper.

Re: How to make the guitarpart exciting

Substitute the relative minor in place of the root chord once in a great while. For instance on the last time thru the B section

instead of: D | G A | G D/F# | Em A

try : Bm | G A | G D/F# | Em A

Use this trick sparingly. Like once every 3rd set or it’s gets old fast. Other relative minors are:

G=Em
C=Am etc. Just 3 steps below the root (or the VI chord)

Also get some recordings and listen to what people are doin and steal those chord voicings.

Re: How to make the guitarpart exciting

"Setting the instrument on fire and smashing it is a good little show stopper".
Indeed.
But don’t forget to use an accelerant, please.

Thanks.

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Re: How to make the guitarpart exciting

I think the ’70s rock bands covered that number pretty well, but there’s always room for variations.
I note that at least one of the contributors is a guitarist, so presume at least some element of self-effacement.

Re: How to make the guitarpart exciting

As a *very* intermediate melody fluter, and a (IMO) respectable backer, I think the backing should be, as it’s name implies, in the "back" — i.e. not obvious, not "exciting", really just — there — like the canvas, or the slight sweeps of color the artist puts on the canvas before the real painting begins.

Just MHO,
YMMV.

Re: How to make the guitarpart exciting

why does it need to be ‘exciting’? learn the tunes, so you can actually compliment them and not play the same sequence over everything. keep it light, you shouldnt be laying down a silly chord structure(or rythym) you should be following the melody/rythym of the actual tune and playing along some parts and harmonizing some riffs of the tune, using counterpoint etc. i think what im coming to is-buy a bouzouki.

Re: How to make the guitarpart exciting

yea; exactly fyffer

Re: How to make the guitarpart exciting

The most important bit is the rhythm, and that’s the bit many people guitarists never quite get. An important point that if you’re in DADGAD and you’ve got the top A and D aways on then your chords are more complex than you say they are - Amaj would be Amaj add11 as there’s a high D in the chord. Which is why DADGAD can sound samey, because similar chord extensions are always used.

Firstly, the ability to play the three chord trick and put the three chords in the right place is a massively underrated skill and one from which it is much easier to get the rest of it. From that, look to your inversions and creating chords that have notes that follow the melody and/or create a riff/simplfied tune. Droning a chord for a part is also a commonly used trick.

Kinda been said but, if you’re in a session then you ain’t there to play something exiting. And if you’re doing arrangements then you won’t learn anything by asking for other people’s, better deconstruct the guitarists you admire.

And, erm, Chris Newman isn’t from Yorkshire (as doesn’t have a Yorkshire accent) although he lives there at the moment.

People guitarists, as opposed to say, elephant guitarists who are notorious for playing a fifth flat.

Although their sense of rhythm, as they fret with the trunk and use the other four legs for rhythm, is widely accepted as the best.

Re: How to make the guitarpart exciting

I think it’s really easy to get trapped in an approach. Yeah, those exciting Doyle parts are fun to listen to, but not all the players whom you are trying to compliment want that kind of accompaniment. Some do.

So you listen to the easiest parts of the easiest Doyle accompaniment, and BOOM all of your parts are John Doyle jr. That is gonna get old quick, but, hey, you gotta start somewhere. And in the meantime you write some snazzy parts. But I think the most important part you’d be missing is all the subtle things that John (I’m only using him as an obvious example, there are many like him) does in his arrangements. You should learn how to do the softer prettier melodic things too. *The exciting stuff only looks exciting if it can stand out from other textures*

So i guess what i’m saying is, trust me, learn how to play tunes. I didn’t for a long time and had a lot of catching up to do, meanwhile I was stuck in a rut for parts and style. Once you know how to play tunes you’ll have learned a whole new set of skills to make your parts interesting, just like all those other guitarists had to do.

And listen to Ian Carr.

Re: How to make the guitarpart exciting

hate in-your-face-intrusive accompaniment wouldnt encourage people to aim for that

Re: How to make the guitarpart exciting

I totally agree on the tucka-tucka thing. As a fiddler, you could play nothing but dead-string "chop chords", and I’m happy.

Getting some interesting chords in there as well is a bonus, and I wouldn’t worry much about their being exciting. They shouldn’t be WRONG, mind you, but a simple 1-4-5-ey kind of backup with a great rhythm is wonderful. I wish more session guitarists understood that. You’ll be wildly popular!

Re: How to make the guitarpart exciting

twit has the right idea… learn the tune, but you sure don’t have to buy a bouzouki to play some melody.

You can actually mimic a lot of the bowing of a fiddle for example with some subtle slides onto notes and hit at the same time…. that is exciting yet extremely subtle… be with the melody, interweave a bunch of notes, partial melody. It takes practice and the exercise to be able to do this, it is not rocket science, but it does take patience…. pick out the melody of whatever tune you are learning to back. Know the melody… build the chords AROUND the melody, make up partial chords. Start with something easy and do it in sections to experiment. Home alone, thank you!

One section of a tune at a time, do not overwhelm yourself. It isn’t hard if you take pieces rather than look at the whole tune at first. Then you piece it together.

I know… too slow, it will take forever to learn to back this way. But trust me, backing will be a lot easier if you know the tune. And the more tunes you learn, the easier it will get to learn lots of other tunes. What you learn on one or two or five, you can apply to many others, it becomes habit.

To me that’s exciting… sliding where the bow slides, tapping a string where a whistler tongues a note, these are subtleties…. hitting a bunch of notes along with the melody then touching on a chord, then going back. Lowering the intensity or volume of playing, then raising it when the melody player adds some sudden punch.

I love backing…can you tell? I can play melody, used to play mandolin. I can play fingerstyle tunes too on guitar, but prefer backing, there is just so much more challenge in it somehow, the fact that there is less note for note structure than a tune (unless playing a tune that is) and you can make it up as you go, IS the exciting part.

Learn the tunes and a whole new world of possibilities and excitement will open up. Go beyon the D G A Em. Start there but build on it, learn the tune, where there is a note you like, add another note and make up a partial chord, don’t worry about naming it, I find that slows me down. Exciting… to me, more than melody playing.

Honestly, I end up chording not so much as noting. I play fingerstyle, learn the tunes, and build on them. You can flat pick or cross pick and do this too.

backers or accomanists tend to think chords too much. Knowing the key and the basic chords is important, but you can’t apply the generic formula to all tunes in a given key. They are all so different.

I was working with The Chorus Jig earlier… that tune is crazy all over the place. Nightmare, throw the backer kind of tune. But not if you learn the melody. Changes happen so fast in that tune and many others, it goes into chords/notes I couldn’t begin to tell you the name of. Ear player… but where there is a beautiful and unusual note, find where it lives on the fingerboard and hit on it just as long as the melody player does. Sometimes a chord doesn’t suit everything.

If you back someone a lot and know their tunes and techniques real well, a sort of telepathy develops, and you will at times suddenly stress the same notes… how exciting is that? Nothing tops it….!

Now go learn that tune, it’ll make backing make a lot more sense. Learn it from music if you have to, but feel it in your heart and gut and hear it with your ears, the emotions in a player can’t be written down. To my ear chords are very secondary to everything else you can do with backing once you learn the tunes.

OK…wrote too much as usual…sorry!

Re: How to make the guitarpart exciting

OMG… sorry twit! I didn’t mean you were a TWIT!! Silly typo!!

Re: How to make the guitarpart exciting

There isn’t a "guitar part" in most Irish trad tunes. Just like there isn’t a bodhran part.

Re: How to make the guitarpart exciting

Andy@Newcastle, I apologize! Must’ve had Yorkshire on the brain when I typed that. Of course I know Chris is actually from Purley…
Oops.

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Re: How to make the guitarpart exciting

"And listen to Ian Carr."

Questionable advice, MDuckett. The problem is, once you start listening to him, you’ll never stop.

Re: How to make the guitarpart exciting

"…(you have to imagine the Yorkshire accent): "The trooble with guitah players….""

sts - You left nothing to the imagination there. I think a Purley accent would be a little harder to caricature.

Re: How to make the guitarpart exciting

No guitar part…. but maybe one for piano on some sheet music somewhere? I can’t remember the "collection" it was an old book a friend had and she was thrilled it gave the piano parts for backing apparently. I don’t read, so it went out of my head. Very old falling apart music book of Irish tunes.

I think if you read a piano part could be of great help. You can, on guitar, do a lot of what you hear the really great piano backers doing, with a little improvising.

Isn’t that the beauty of backing (I know some will protest!) that many backing styles can fit, so why script out one. My way is to really follow the melody, to the point where you are playing a fair amount of the notes, and chording as an accent mainly. Others want more of a strum-along. To each their own. Some want none at all… we already know who you are.

Re: How to make the guitarpart exciting

Silver Spear:
|D - |G A|D - |F G|D - |Bm - |G D|C A:||:D - |Em G|F#m7 - |Em9 A|D - |Bm A|G D|C A:||

With wah and distortion, of course, and you can’t go wrong!

Re: How to make the guitarpart exciting

1/ Chordal variation (voicings of same chord, resolutions, appropriate yet different chords) 2/ dynamics 3/ interspersed bass note phrases 4/ rhythmic variation 5/ keeping rock-solid time with tune players 6/ fancy clothes (see cover of Frankie Goes to Town)

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Re: How to make the guitarpart exciting

irisnevins im in total agreement with your approach good stuff 🙂 and hahahahha drone.

Re: How to make the guitarpart exciting

Iris: "Isn’t that the beauty of backing (I know some will protest!) that many backing styles can fit, so why script out one."

Where would the modern revival be without the profusion of backing styles? Somebody will say, "Better off." It would certainly be different, anyway.

Re: How to make the guitarpart exciting

I hate to say this, because I love his playing, but I once heard John Doyle in a session setting, and didn’t like what he was doing, I thought what he was doing that day was too intrusive and busy for a group of people who didn’t all know each other well. In a group where everyone is in synch because they play the same tunes together, busy accompaniment sounds great, but in a session setting, less is more.

Re: How to make the guitarpart exciting

John Doyle is a great musician whether you like the style or not, but intrusive is never acceptable.

I have a busy style myself, and I know of some who don’t like it and have said so to my face. Most, politely, it’s just a style preference for strumming they have mainly.

I try to think of my backing in terms of harp backing, I do a lot of noting, fingerstyle, the odd chord, mainly partial ones, but try to be under the music. Back to the old, they should ideally forget your are there, but when you stop, say…HUH? something is missing.

You also, in my h. opinion, do not need to "drive the music" as some say. The music, esp. from a good melody player drives itself. Neither do you want to be insipid and too gentle, which equals boring. Fine line sometimes. Nor do you ideally want to be "Following". What it all boils down to, is learn the tune, have it in your head, know what’s coming so you can get there at the same time, be with the melody.

Try one simple tune, throw the chord chart away this one time. When you have the notes to just a few bars, build some chords around it, or partial (two note) chords… which I would call more a note with an accent, not a chord. Do it where it sounds good to your ear. Get the whole tune down this way and play it with a melody friend and ask what they think.

As I said, it sounds complicated this way. It is more complex than learning melody, because you then add more, but try it and it will become easier. My first line of attack in learning is learn the tune, not What Key is it in.

When I have a tune to back that has too many not usual patterns, as I said before, just touch on some of those notes and then back to a chord. It adds lots of subtle lows and highs to the sound too, lots of mood changes, but always under the melody. Too many backers I see want to be the star…. the melody is the star and if they don’t get that and get over that fact they will never get it about backing.

I think good backing is a lot harder than melody, there are no roadmaps and you have to learn the tune and then some more added on. it’s looser and very creative and you need a good flow with the music. Experiment, and enjoy. And realize some will not like your style and some hate backing period, and be ready to hear about it.

I listen too when a melody player, one I really think is a good player anyway, critiques my style (politely please). I think one was right in that I used to be too bassey. I have switched to smaller guitars (also have "guitar shoulder bursitis or something so they help), and though am still heavy on the thumb/bass, have added more mid range and treble strings/notes. I like it better. Others say they liked the bassey drone all the time. I like a more balanced sound now. Listen to what people think is good backing, you’ll get many opinions, and you can take a little from each.

OK…gotta run!! Too long winded again, LOL