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Thread: Can someone recommend a book for me?

  1. #1
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    Can someone recommend a book for me?

    As I work my way through learning theory my goal is to learn how to arrange some great melodies on guitar. Here is a style I really like by Guy Van Duser.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDzmUR2u9KE

    I have no idea how the evolution of learning will take me to a point where I can begin to arrange something like this but I am hoping that someone can recommend a book that will help me move in that direction. At this point, although I have played guitar by ear for48 years, I guess I am just moving beyond in the basics in theory. I know it is not easy. After watching a DVD that Tony Rice did, he talked about how long it took him to find the chord he was looking for in Georgia. I guess that is what keeps us all involved in music. We can never arrive at the place we want to go.

    Thanks for the help.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gilcarleton View Post
    I have no idea how the evolution of learning will take me to a point where I can begin to arrange something like this
    I don't have experience with books on the subject myself.

    On the other hand, I think if you understand the basics of what's happening (the melody played in the treble, with the chords played underneath, arranged in an alternating bass style), it might be instructive to pick a very simple tune and try it...

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    Quote Originally Posted by walternewton View Post
    I don't have experience with books on the subject myself.

    On the other hand, I think if you understand the basics of what's happening (the melody played in the treble, with the chords played underneath, arranged in an alternating bass style), it might be instructive to pick a very simple tune and try it...
    Hi Walter,

    Thanks for the help. I thought I would get flooded with recommendations of some good books on this subject but it must be more complicated than I thought. Chord melodies have always amazed me because there are so many variations but maybe it will make sense someday. Thanks again for the help.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by gilcarleton View Post
    As I work my way through learning theory my goal is to learn how to arrange some great melodies on guitar. Here is a style I really like by Guy Van Duser.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDzmUR2u9KE

    I have no idea how the evolution of learning will take me to a point where I can begin to arrange something like this but I am hoping that someone can recommend a book that will help me move in that direction. At this point, although I have played guitar by ear for48 years, I guess I am just moving beyond in the basics in theory. I know it is not easy. After watching a DVD that Tony Rice did, he talked about how long it took him to find the chord he was looking for in Georgia. I guess that is what keeps us all involved in music. We can never arrive at the place we want to go.

    Thanks for the help.
    I don't know of books either.
    What I can say is that that arrangement is in an alternating bass style, aka Travis picking; rather than conventional jazz chord melody style.

    The process - and I once did a very similar arrangement of that same tune, many years ago - begins by learning the melody. The way I did it was by reading it in a songbook (I can read notation, which helps ). That gave me the chords too, of course, so I had to work out a key in which I could play the tune while also playing an alternating bass line. (I think I did it in E, or maybe drop D.... the guy in that video is doing it in A, tuned down a half-step.)
    Then it was just a question of practising it phrase by phrase; working out fingering, trying different positions - this is the stage where I'd try different keys to see which sat under the fingers best, and maybe different tunings if that made it easier.
    Obviously the melody is the thing: you need to be able to play that with fingers only (or largely fingers), to leave the thumb free for the bass.

    As I said, I did it myself many years ago (so long ago I forget the key I did it in!*). I'd been playing alternating bass style for maybe a few years, and it was a challenge to see if I could arrange a well-known tune in that style rather than just transcribe recordings. I got it working OK (probably not as well as the guy in the video!), but then moved on to other stuff and basically forgot it.
    I'll stress I knew practically nothing about music theory then, and I certainly read no books on how to play like that (there were none in those days!). I could read music, and I could transpose a chord progression; and I had a reasonable knowledge of the fretboard. My ear was not very good, but good enough to work out recordings by ear if I slowed them down (with a 2-speed tape deck); that's how I learned alternating bass, just by listening and copying. And lots of practice of course!

    It goes without saying you need to be highly skilled technically to manage something like this. You need to not only know plenty of shapes, in various places on the neck, for any one chord; you need to be able to shift quickly and smoothly between various voicings too. And of course have full independence of thumb and fingers. (For the usual jazz "chord melody" style the latter is not quite so important: you don't often need to keep a 4-beat bass line going all the way through, regardless of what the melody is doing!)

    (*I've just experimented now, and it seems to work well in A - as that guy plays it - but I can also do it, after a fashion, in E and C, although the bridge is tricky in any key. One of the problems with this tune is it has quite a big range - as well as the rapid melodic flow, with arpeggios in the bridge. In contrast, the A section is pretty straightforward: simple chords at least.)

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonR View Post
    I don't know of books either.
    What I can say is that that arrangement is in an alternating bass style, aka Travis picking; rather than conventional jazz chord melody style.

    The process - and I once did a very similar arrangement of that same tune, many years ago - begins by learning the melody. The way I did it was by reading it in a songbook (I can read notation, which helps ). That gave me the chords too, of course, so I had to work out a key in which I could play the tune while also playing an alternating bass line. (I think I did it in E, or maybe drop D.... the guy in that video is doing it in A, tuned down a half-step.)
    Then it was just a question of practising it phrase by phrase; working out fingering, trying different positions - this is the stage where I'd try different keys to see which sat under the fingers best, and maybe different tunings if that made it easier.
    Obviously the melody is the thing: you need to be able to play that with fingers only (or largely fingers), to leave the thumb free for the bass.

    As I said, I did it myself many years ago (so long ago I forget the key I did it in!*). I'd been playing alternating bass style for maybe a few years, and it was a challenge to see if I could arrange a well-known tune in that style rather than just transcribe recordings. I got it working OK (probably not as well as the guy in the video!), but then moved on to other stuff and basically forgot it.
    I'll stress I knew practically nothing about music theory then, and I certainly read no books on how to play like that (there were none in those days!). I could read music, and I could transpose a chord progression; and I had a reasonable knowledge of the fretboard. My ear was not very good, but good enough to work out recordings by ear if I slowed them down (with a 2-speed tape deck); that's how I learned alternating bass, just by listening and copying. And lots of practice of course!

    It goes without saying you need to be highly skilled technically to manage something like this. You need to not only know plenty of shapes, in various places on the neck, for any one chord; you need to be able to shift quickly and smoothly between various voicings too. And of course have full independence of thumb and fingers. (For the usual jazz "chord melody" style the latter is not quite so important: you don't often need to keep a 4-beat bass line going all the way through, regardless of what the melody is doing!)

    (*I've just experimented now, and it seems to work well in A - as that guy plays it - but I can also do it, after a fashion, in E and C, although the bridge is tricky in any key. One of the problems with this tune is it has quite a big range - as well as the rapid melodic flow, with arpeggios in the bridge. In contrast, the A section is pretty straightforward: simple chords at least.)
    Thanks Jon. I guess that once I started to understand theory I would be able to calculate notes, create chords and note combinations (is that the correct term when you are just referring to playing two notes and not creating a chord) by some kind of theory or mathematical formula. I guess that my ultimate goal is to be able to duplicate the music I create in my head and move it to the fretboard. I often wonder how people come up with various chords to fit into a song. As an example, Doc Watson's version of Deep River Blues starts off in an E6 chord. Now I know that he took that chord from Merle Travis who used it in I Am A Pilgram but how did either ever come up with that? When I put in the fingerings for the chord that follows the E6 in a chord calculator it spits out about 4 different chords.

    I guess I am discovering the limitations of how much music theory can do. Maybe I should find some jazz instruction on chord melodies. I am not really motivated enough to study jazz, even though I enjoy listening to it, but jazz guitarists seem to know something that the rest of us don't regarding putting together melodies with chords.

    Alternating bass has been the style I have played most of my life. If you remember, I stopped playing for about 9 years and just started back at the end of last year. My playing is coming back together but I just wanted to move towards more of a ragtime style rather than country blues.

    Your reply got me to thinking. I usually try to find my chords when creating a song withing the first 5 frets. I think that I am limiting myself because I cannot always play the melody line from those chords. I think I will look for some alternate chords farther up the neck that may put me in a better position for the melody line.

    Let me ask you something. What does voicings mean? I see that used a lot but it was not covered in the book I studied and I am not sure of the meaning.

    The guy in the YouTube is Guy Van Duser, I saw him in a small club just south of Birmingham, AL 34 years ago. I had never heard anyone play like that before and he made a lasting impression on me. I thought he would be as big as Chet Atkins one day. It just goes to show that marketing goes before talent. I understand he is a part time teacher in the music department at the University of Berkley.

    One incredible arrangement that he did was Stars and Strips Forever. This is him playing it but it does not show him playing it.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-HmRKfX_jmQ

    This is Chet Atkins playing Guy's version and you can see how it is played but I don't think Chet plays with the same intensity as Guy.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V8BDYETDM5c


    Oh, BTW I found a great guitar reference site if you are interested.

    http://all-guitar-chords.com/index.php

    It seems to offer about anything I ever need. Give it a try and see what you think.

    Thanks again for all of the help Jon. Back to the drawing board.

  6. #6
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    Little more on finger picking, aka Travis picking.

    Seems to revolve around the chord and then the P-i-m-a finger pattern more than the chord tones. Course the P-i-m-a pattern is playing the chord tones, but, there are a zillion P-i-m-a patterns that can be used.

    The first few pages of my Classical guitar book gave me four patterns to master.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 03-28-2012 at 05:15 PM.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malcolm View Post
    Little more on finger picking, aka Travis picking.

    Seems to revolve around the chord and then the P-i-m-a finger pattern more than the chord tones. Course the P-i-m-a pattern is playing the chord tones, but, there are a zillion P-i-m-a patterns that can be used.

    The first few pages of my Classical guitar book gave me four patterns to master.

    You know, I had to go to the net to find out what P-I-M-A was. I have never heard of it. When you say P-I-M-A patterns, you mean pick patterns? It is interesting what fingers various players use. I have always used P-I-M but Doc only uses his thumb and index finger. I cannot believe he can move his index finger can recover fast enough to find the next note in some of his songs. I see that Keb Mo uses P-I-M-A.

    If you are interested I have found two sites where you can buy DVDs or downloads with great artists actually doing the instruction. You can learn slide guitar from Roy Rogers (not the cowboy) Doc, Tony Rice and Norman Blake are all on homespuntapes.com. It seems that a site by Stephan Grossman has better ragtime instruction and I am going to order one this week. That site is http://www.guitarvideos.com/. Both sites offer a wide variety styles to choose from. I was thinking that if you are trying something new, you may find something there to help you.

    I am thinking about buying an electric guitar the next time I am in the U.S. They have always felt so foreign to me. It seems like most of the DVD instruction I have purchased so far has all been geared up for electric guitars and I am getting interested. The licks they teach just don't sound good on an acoustic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gilcarleton View Post
    What does voicings mean?
    Voicing refers the specific way a chord is played...for example theory tells you a C major chord is comprised of C, E, and G, but there are many ways to play a combination of those notes on the guitar - in different order, in different octaves, doubling/tripling up notes, etc. - all different "voicings".

    (You might try an exercise I saw Tuck Andress talk about in an instructional video - pick a chord, draw a fretboard diagram mapping out all the locations where its notes are found, and see how many ways you can find to play the chord...)
    Last edited by walternewton; 03-29-2012 at 12:31 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by walternewton View Post
    Voicing refers the specific way a chord is played...for example theory tells you a C major chord is comprised of C, E, and G, but there are many ways to play a combination of those notes on the guitar - in different order, in different octaves, doubling/tripling up notes, etc. - all different "voicings".

    (You might try an exercise I saw Tuck Andress talk about in an instructional video - pick a chord, draw a fretboard diagram mapping out all the locations where its notes are found, and see how many ways you can find to play the chord...)

    Thanks Walter. That is simple enough. I think I will try that exercise tomorrow. I think it would be a good learning experience.

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    Hi Malcolm,
    How is the classical guitar coming? It seems like all of the instructional DVDs that I purchase are geared toward electric guitar so yesterday I finally bit the bullet and bought a Jimmy Vaughn Stratocaster off Ebay. I will return to the U.S. in a couple of months and pick it up. I still enjoy my Taylor a lot but I am looking forward to learning how to play an electric.

    We were talking about Merle Travis once and I just found out last week that Thom Bresh is his son. He is a very versatile entertainer in addition to being a great guitarist but I never connected him with his father.

    Once you reccomended a book to me that I could download and I got to the download part but never read it. My computer died and I purchased a new one but I have looked thorough all of my threads that I can find but cannot find the link to download it again. Would you mind giving me that link again? I thought I would start reading that today but realized that I no longer have it.

    I hope all is well with you.

    Wishing you the best,

    Gil

  11. #11
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    Not sure which one I recommended. I have several in my download section of my laptop, but, no way of tracing them back to the original source.

    Getting to Fingerstyle Guitar by Jonathan Adams is the book I'm devouring right now.

    You may find something here. http://www.ibreathemusic.com/forums/...ote=1&p=150120

    http://www.freeguitarvideos.com/clas...-concepts.html There is a $4.99 download on this site -- sounds like something I would have done, at any rate I have a paper on Classical Guitar Beginning Concepts and I think it came from this site.

    As I see another pattern I write it down. At this point I have too many patterns and have decided to go back to Getting to Fingerstyle Guitar and get some of those into muscle memory. Muscle memory seems to be the answer to all this and I now think four or five patterns well learned should do what I need.

    How is it going? Slow but sure.........

    I've been to a Thom Bresh performance in either Branson, MO or Mountain View Ark, not sure which. Great performer. From the little I've done already I think basic Travis Picking can be in my future, of course nothing like the Pro's do but ....... got the rest of my life to work on it.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 06-09-2012 at 02:00 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Malcolm View Post
    Not sure which one I recommended. I have several in my download section of my laptop, but, no way of tracing them back to the original source.

    Getting to Fingerstyle Guitar by Jonathan Adams is the book I'm devouring right now.

    You may find something here. http://www.ibreathemusic.com/forums/...ote=1&p=150120

    http://www.freeguitarvideos.com/clas...-concepts.html There is a $4.99 download on this site -- sounds like something I would have done, at any rate I have a paper on Classical Guitar Beginning Concepts and I think it came from this site.

    As I see another pattern I write it down. At this point I have too many patterns and have decided to go back to Getting to Fingerstyle Guitar and get some of those into muscle memory. Muscle memory seems to be the answer to all this and I now think four or five patterns well learned should do what I need.

    How is it going? Slow but sure.........

    I've been to a Thom Bresh performance in either Branson, MO or Mountain View Ark, not sure which. Great performer. From the little I've done already I think basic Travis Picking can be in my future, of course nothing like the Pro's do but ....... got the rest of my life to work on it.
    Hi Malcolm, I was just about to write you that I found the download. I is Exercises in Melody Writing. Hot water heater went out today but I hope to start reading it tomorrow.

    Travis picking is not that difficult but is a little intimidating at first. That is one thing I am pretty good at. I tired to learn it for a long time and a friend recommended that I just play the base and use my middle finger. I started out on Freight Train by Elizabeth Cotton. After a couple of weeks the index finger will just want to join in naturally. I know Merle and Doc only use the index finger but I have no idea how they do that. It is much easier to use two fingers for the high notes.

    Honestly I have never used other patterns. It seems like most of the music I enjoy use the alternating bass pattern. James Taylor makes some wonderful music and he certainly uses another pattern. I have to agree with you that muscle memory is the most important thing.

    Hopefully I can find some good blues backing tracks in various keys that I can use when I pick up my Strat. I really need some music to practice with so that the scales will make sense.

  13. #13
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    Yep, our brand new home is now 16 years old. Hot water heater was the first to go, then the dish washer, the new dish washer looked so good, granite counter tops and tile floors in the bath rooms were added. That led to new carpet in the rest of the house. After that the air conditioner decided to die. Then the deck needed painting - deck is 12' by 40' with a lattice roof, so beyond my skill level, too old for ladders. Somewhere in there a new roof was added; 3 months after I wrote out the check a hail storm came through and all the neighbors got new roofs paid for by insurance. O'h well.....


    Isn't it great to be a home owner ....... ..... seems that I'm doing a great job of stimulating every ones economy. Haven't you felt it?

    Blues backing tracks..... http://www.dolphinstreet.com/backing_tracks/
    Last edited by Malcolm; 06-09-2012 at 05:13 PM.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malcolm View Post
    Yep, our brand new home is now 16 years old. Hot water heater was the first to go, then the dish washer, the new dish washer looked so good, granite counter tops and tile floors in the bath rooms were added. That led to new carpet in the rest of the house. After that the air conditioner decided to die. Then the deck needed painting - deck is 12' by 40' with a lattice roof, so beyond my skill level, too old for ladders. Somewhere in there a new roof was added; 3 months after I wrote out the check a hail storm came through and all the neighbors got new roofs paid for by insurance. O'h well.....


    Isn't it great to be a home owner ....... ..... seems that I'm doing a great job of stimulating every ones economy. Haven't you felt it?

    Blues backing tracks..... http://www.dolphinstreet.com/backing_tracks/
    I know what you mean. I keep waiting for the day when I can just sit down in my back yard and say, "I just don't see a darn thing to do around here". I don't think it is going to happen.

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