Loading...

Follow Taplature on Feedspot

Continue with Google
Continue with Facebook
or

Valid
Here's how I get beginners doing basic chord changes in double-quick time while ensuring they don't get stuck with the common problems I regularly help cure in frustrated guitarists.
Changing between A, D and E Chords
Strum, Lift, Slide, Drop!
We'll be working with 3 "easy" chords here; A, D and E. Once you cancomfortably change between them you're able to play millions of songs to a basic but functional level (the "3 chord trick")!. Just follow the sequence "Strum, Lift, Slide, Drop" as demonstrated below to make sense of all of the possible changes among these chords.
(I'll assume for the purposes of this lesson that you can read a chord diagram, know which number finger is which and can sound each of the chords A, D and E correctly. If not, then to save me reinventing the wheel, take a look at the excellent Justin Sandercoe's very popular beginner course here.)
(Click to play)
1) Changing between A and E
For those of you who've only learned the "123" fingering for an A chord instead of the "213" layout shown below you'll need to spend a few minutes becoming familiar with this new fingering to benefit from the ideas used here.
Your brain loves patterns and the trick to remembering chord changes as quickly as possible is to find links between shapes. Here the blue arrow highlights that our index finger is on the G string for both chords; at fret 2 for the A chord and at fret 1 for the E chord.
Here's a guaranteed way to get this A/E chord change into your subconscious, presented of course in Taplature form where we'll tie the actions required to the foot tap (this ensures things are executed exactly the same every time which is how you "program" yourself).
I've written instructions below. Follow through the list as slowly as you need to go to ensure everything is correct. It may help to say "and" out loud as you lift the foot each time ready to tap again.
(See video 01:41)
1) Strum the A chord. Tap your foot and say "Strum"
2) Lift off fingers 2 and 3. Say "Lift"
3) Slide finger 1 to fret 1 of the G string. Say "Slide"
4) Drop fingers 2 and 3 to make the E chord. Say "Drop"
5) Strum the E chord. Say "Strum"
6) Lift fingers 2 and 3. Say "Lift"
7) Slide finger 1 to fret 2 of the G string. Say "Slide"
8) Drop fingers 2 and 3 to make the A chord. Say "Drop"
After step 8 you're ready to start again. I defy you to complete this sequence ten times as described without having learned this chord change (it's never happened in lessons anyway)!
To the Proving Ground!
When you can do the above with just your foot tap and the count for company you're ready to try it in time with a beat! Anything on guitar only really works when you can do it perfectly in time with a metronome or backing track. (A good free online metronome is on offer at drummers-pulse.com and for those of you with Windows PCs I recommend "Chordpulse Lite", a free to download fully functional virtual backing band!)
(See video 03:02)
As with all things on guitar if you monitor progress you'll be able to see when your practice is working and when it's not. To help with that I've added some progress sheets for each of the chord changes discussed here in the appendix of "A Crash Course in Taplature", free to download for all subscribers to the Taplature blog. Keep track of the top speed at which you can manage each of the examples shown here. It's fun to see yourself improving!
Strum the Night Away!
With A and E under your belt you can now join me to play a version of the Mavericks classic "Dance the Night Away"; just alternate these two chords along with me in the video (from03:53)! As the change gets easier you'll be able to keep each chord ringing for longer before preparing the next. You'll also be able to keep up for longer as I increase the speed! Once you've got it try playing along with the original (you'll need a capo at fret 7 to make our chords match the key it's played in!).
The Mavericks - Dance the Night Away
(click to play)
Changing Between A and D Chords
We can use the same 4 steps Strum, Lift, Slide, Drop to get between A and D. This time it's finger 3 that will do the sliding. A painfully common error when moving from A to D is to focus on placing fingers 1 & 2 first and to overlook the massive waste of movement that's usually induced in finger 3 when doing so (see video 06:03). Here we'll train in the most efficient way to learn to move between the two chords.
Here's that change laid out in Taplature:
(See video 08:59)
1) Strum the A chord. Say "Strum"
2) Lift off finger 2. Say "Lift"
3) Slide finger 3 to fret 3 of the B string. Say "Slide"
4) Drop finger 2 to complete the D chord. Say "Drop"
5) Strum the D chord. Say "Strum"
6) Lift finger 2. Say "Lift"
7) Slide finger 3 to fret 2 of the B string. Say "Slide"
8) Drop finger 2 to complete the A chord. Say "Drop"
Now we can combine our A/E and A/D changes together to give an easy guitar version of the Beatles "Hey Jude". Strum only on the first beat of each bar as shown above.
(see video 09:43)
I've added the first verse lyrics which include some fairly tricky semiquaver timing, explaining which would make for a lesson on its own. For now I'll play the melody and you can strum along. Again we'll start slow and speed up!
Changing Between D and E Chords
Our final building block! Here it's the first finger that slides again to give the link that will help this change bed in quickly. The instructions are similar to the change between A and E but most find this to be physically trickier as there's a bit more movement and work involved in rearranging fingers 2 & 3.
(See video 12:00)
1) Strum the D chord. Say "Strum"
2) Lift off fingers 2 and 3. Say "Lift"
3) Slide finger 1 to fret 1 of the G string. Say "Slide"
4) Drop fingers 2 and 3 to make the E chord. Say "Drop"
5) Strum the E chord. Say "Strum"
6) Lift fingers 2 and 3. Say "Lift"
7) Slide finger 1 to fret 2 of the G string. Say "Slide"
8) Drop fingers 2 and 3 to make the D chord. Say "Drop"
Ready to Roll!
With these 3 chord and the changes among them under your belt you can find a ton of songs you like to help cement things in place. Click here to run a Google search for "songs with a d e chords guitar". Anyone can find some favourites using just these 3 chords and we've covered all of the possible combinations here to let you play them, at least to this basic level!
I cover a few famous examples in the video from 12:43 mentioning in particular a few songs which I'd still struggle to play without using the fingerings and efficient movements covered above.
Onwards and Upwards!
Use the same approach with any other chords you come across while trying out different songs. I'd expect most of you to get the fastest results with the 3 chords covered here, but it's all good to keep leading you forward!
Once the things covered here are easy your next challenge will be changing chords while strumming. The quickest way to do this is to learn a simple strum pattern but without worrying about changing chords, and learning the "next level" of chord changes but without worrying about a strum pattern.
Sounds cryptic? It's all covered in this blog article here.
Enjoy!
Old Swanner.
Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
In at the Deep End!
"What time are we on?", asked our piano player via telephone from 30 miles away just 10 minutes before we were due to perform at a local charity day. With no chance he'd make it in time our band was all but reduced to a power trio for the gig (thankfully our singer is a top harp player) and I was to endure our set that day feeling like a rug had been pulled from under me.
Guitar parts that had worked well for years with a piano filling out our band's sound were suddenly laid bare. They didn't work any more and I didn't have much luck trying to work things out on the fly. Our 45 minute slot felt like a very long shift as a big hole in my playing was rubbed in my face.
(Companion Video. Click to play)
Today's Challenge - Gimme Some Loving!
Here's an example considering the following very basic guitar part I had used back in the 90s and which had functioned fine with a piano also taking up space but which just doesn't cut the mustard in a power trio situation. The song is "Gimme Some Loving" (of Blues Brothers fame).
(see video above @ 2m:10s)
A few years back I joined a true power trio with some friends as a side venture and "Gimme Some Loving" was to be one of the songs in our set. I sat down with a pen and paper and gave myself a guitar lesson on the art of filling out my sound.
The Top Line
Aside from the riff shown above the other big part of the song I wanted to get in was the main theme (instrumental melody), which fills 4 bars and goes like this:
(See video above @ 2m:42s)
You can see that the melody here incorporates semiquavers (beat 3 of line 2). If you have any problems playing this section correctly be sure to take the Taplature approach to quick success. Semiquavers are covered in this blog article and also in the free Taplature Crash Course sent to all subscribers.
It's Fingerpickin' Good!
Experimenting with getting our bass guitarist/singer to play the low riff while I played the theme (even fattened out with some chord tones) left a lot to be desired. Ideally I wanted to be able to play both lines together.
Taking a fingerstyle approach we could simply overlay the two parts and hey presto, two independent lines of music!
(See video above @ 3m:20s)
Bring on the Beef!
This fingerpicked version works, but more meat was definitely required! Taking the same framework and adapting to allow for some aggressive picking action along with some fulI sounding partial chords I finally settled on the following:
(See video above @ 4m:5s)
This arrangement still gives the impression of two guitars playing but offers a lot more punch and guts than the fingerpicked version. Using a heavy pick, the drive the song demands is evident.
Slow Down, Break Down, Exaggerate!
The stumbling block for most will likely be the semiquaver section and unless this makes instant sense it's recommended to use the "Million Pound Challenge" approach to get things programmed in correctly.
Practise until you are able to move your focus between each of the two independent parts, hearing each as separate entity. That ability tells you it's now strong enough to hold up in the true test; a performance situation! Here there's no chance to think; you have to switch off your conscious brain and just do it!
Enjoy!
Old Swanner.
Any questions or comments on this article? Join me at this thread in the Taplature forum!
Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Easy Money!
Winning the "Million Pound Challenge" is easy; so easy a beginner can do it! Oh ... and in the over ten years since I devised it not one of my students has managed to win it yet!
Roll up Roll up!
Here's the deal, I give you a comprehensive but simple set of instructions to play a small piece of music (a single bar or less) mechanically correctly. The challenge is to follow the instructions to the letter five times through, taking as long as you need to get it right. If you manage it you win the notional (I'm not that rich) million pounds in my freshly opened imaginary briefcase.
Let's take an example. These 2 beats form the foundation of my favourite tale to tell about this challenge. To win the challenge you have to follow every instruction correctly, including the foot tap (written underneath - red for down foot blue for up foot) and the count (also written underneath), to be spoken out loud.
Today's "Million Pound" challenge.
We begin by placing fingers 3 and 2 as shown, on the 7th fret of the D string and the 6th fret of the G string respectively. They can stay there throughout.
Breaking it Down
There are four separate steps to play the full two beats, each having multiple requirements to be executed simultaneously. You're allowed to pause for as long as you like before executing any of the steps so you can visualise the requirements before proceeding.
Step 1
- Tap your foot.
- Say "One" out loud.
Step 2
- Pick up on the D string held down at fret 7 by finger 3.
- Lift your foot.
- Say "and" out loud.
Step 3
- Place your 4th finger at fret 7 of the G string.
- Pick down on the G string now held down at fret 7 by finger 4.
- Tap your foot.
- Say "Two" out loud.
Step 4
- Lift your 4th finger from fret 7 of the G string.
- Pick up on the G string now held down at fret 6 by finger 2.
- Lift your foot.
- Say "and" out loud.
Anything there you can't do? Thought not. How about doing it correctly five times through? The only real demand on you lies in overriding the desire to see this as "music" and instead disciplining yourself to slow right down and even stop if necessary so that you get everything correct every time. That's how you program yourself to make things easy enough that they soon become music!
A Cautionary Tale
Here's the story behind that pattern. I first used it in a lesson in about 2014. An older student (a guitarist of over 30 years and an academic professional of well above average intelligence) was seen to be having problems playing "across the bar" ie. keeping a note ringing from one bar of music into the first beat of the next bar. I figured a familiar and basic representative example we might use to work on this issue would be the theme from Status Quo's "Caroline".
Although he knew the main lead line and could hazard a recognisable rendition of it, when it was put to the test along with a backing track its timing fell sadly apart. In looking to help him build up to playing that full part correctly I wrote out and presented to him the half-bar pattern shown above. He couldn't keep it locked in with a backing so there was work to be done!
First we made sure he fully understood every detail of what was shown and then set him to attempt the "Million Pounds Challenge". It certainly wasn't his first, but he had yet to win one.
Oops!
Fifteen minutes later we were still awaiting even a single correct run through, both of us suffering his regular and widely varying deviations from the instructions on the sheet. Two perceptual problems seemed to be blocking the path to success:
1) A need to view the instructions laid out in front of him as "music". Despite my repeated suggestion that he slow down, and stop if necessary to get things right, he'd set his foot going far too fast and try to play in time. The "trick" is to forget this has anything to do with music and focus purely on the mechanics.
2) Frustration arising from a preconception that being a Status Quo number this must be easy. Of course nothing on guitar (or in life) is easy until you can do it right every time or, as the saying goes, "until you can't do it wrong!"
Ultimately everyone needs to work things out for themselves so I said I would bow out of commenting further and just leave him to it. I would however keep a tally chart of every failed attempt.
Come Mr. Tallyman.
Another 15 minutes and almost 70 failed attempts later he looked up and said, "I think I know what you're saying now." His eyes returned to the instruction sheet and what followed comprised one of the most painfully deliberate, teeth grinding, "steam from the ears" attacks on a piece of music I've had the pleasure to witness.
It took him about three more minutes to get through the 2 beats five times correctly but get through he did. By the end a big smile was present ... but on my face not his! He was just relieved; and frazzled after some of the hardest learning I'd put him through.
The Endgame
After a quick breather and a pat on the back I said "Right, now you understand it!". It was time to put things to the test. I started up a plain "A major chord" backing track on the computer and he began playing his new party piece at 30bpm. Hallelujah it worked!
Every time he got to repeating it comfortably I added 5bpm to the speed of the backing. The "magic" kicked in at about 80bpm and it was clear that he'd now bypassed the programming process and was now playing the pattern freely as music. We eventually made it to over 170bpm, somewhat above the speed of the original, before the wheels finally flew off.
The Bottom Line
If the mechanics aren't correct the music can't be right. Here, we were dealing with mental rather than physical mechanics but the principle applies just the same.
Try the Million Pound Challenge with the music you find mentally tough. Break it down and focus right in on the hardest parts, in tiny sections like we've seen today if necessary. Often merely the act of writing problem parts out in Taplature form can offer a breakthrough.
Translating your bugbears into Taplature and executing them completely robotically with a correct foot tap and an out loud count offers the highest level of practice for mental issues and offers the straightest and quickest route to success (although it may not feel like it on those first runs through!). Watch out for the "magic" after a certain number of perfectly correct repetitions when things start moving from the methodical and plodding left side of the brain where we do the programming, into the free and musical right side.
Epilogue
There was no real reason my student couldn't have won the Million Pound Challenge in his first 3 minutes of trying. Of course he could have theoretically done the same over 30 years prior which would have saved him carrying this piece of baggage his whole guitar playing life!
"You know", I said as our hero left me that morning, "I could have got a beginner doing that in 5 minutes". A wry grin was the reply but a lesson had undoubtedly been learned.
Enjoy the Million Pound Challenge!
Old Swanner.
Everything in Taplature is a Million Pound Challenge! Subscribe below today for workouts of all levels and your free Crash Course!
Related Post: Tommy Emmanuel's "Day Tripper"
Prohibitively difficult unless approached correctly
You too can make this tricky skill look easy!
Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Taplature by Old Swanner - 3M ago
A Common Stumbling Block
Key to the mental side of strumming on guitar is programming the strumming hand to keep moving automatically but I've lost count of the number of frustrated beginner and intermediate guitarists I've met who never made it beyond that early hurdle. Happily it's a quick and easy fix to cure things using the Taplature approach shown below.
(Click to play)
The Basic/Campfire/Island Strum Pattern
Here's what we're aiming for ...
(See video 00:14)
You've heard this rhythm countless times before and you can use it to play any song that has 4 beats. What's more, once you've got this down it's easy to build from those strong foundations in whichever direction (style) you choose.
Breaking it Down - Beat One!
We can view the "Basic Strum" as being made up of different building blocks, each of which includes a down and an up movement with the strumming hand. The first of those looks like this:
Over the years I've seen quicker and better results from replacing the count here with the word "Egg", but split into two syllables as you can hear me demonstrate in the video. If you prefer to use just the count that's fine too.
(See video 00:40)
There are two steps, each made up of the following sets of instructions, to be executed simultaneously: Prepare an E chord and let's go!
1) ~ Strum Down through all 6 strings.
~ Tap your foot.
~ Say "E" out loud.
2) ~ Lift your strumming arm up across all
six strings without touching them.
~ Lift your foot.
~ Say "gg" out loud.
See how the arm and foot move together? This pattern is the key to "programming" yourself to strum. Imagine your arm and foot are joined together by a metal bar and move them up and down together as robotically as you can!
Beat Two!
The second building block works similarly but this time we are going to catch a few strings with the strumming hand as the arm moves up. After playing those strings you'll continue the arm's movement up as before, moving over the other strings so it's ready to strum down again when required. Here I like to use the 2 syllables of the word "Chi-cken" to represent the down and up.
(See video 01:02)
For this beat the instructions are:
1) ~ Strum Down through all 6 strings.
~ Tap your foot.
~ Say "Chi" out loud.
2) ~ Lift your strumming arm across all six strings,
playing the top two or three on the way.
~ Lift your foot.
~ Say "cken" out loud.
Building the First Half of our Basic Strum
Now try alternating beats one and two as demonstrated in the video!
(See video 01:23)
Not only can you now confidently answer the question of which came first (the chicken or the egg!), you're now playing the first half of the basic strum. This works on its own as a fully functional strum pattern, but let's keep going for the extra dimension the full thing offers!
Beat Three - An "Upside-Down" Egg!
Building block 3 (beat 3 of the basic strum) is where most come unstuck although the framework remains exactly the same, featuring one "down" and one "up" movement. This is the building block which always seems to benefit the most from being given a name. I call it "Knee and". The recommendation is that instead of just missing the strings on the beat you also hit your knee (upper leg) with your strumming hand as your foot taps on the floor.
The instructions for this beat are:
1) ~ Move your strumming arm down across all six strings
without touching them and hit your knee (or leg).
~ Tap your foot.
~ Say "Knee" out loud.
2) ~ Lift your strumming arm across all six strings,
playing the top two or three on the way.
~ Lift your foot.
~ Say "and" out loud.
(See video 01:50)
Strumming Off the Beat
What we're playing here is called the "offbeat". The foot tap is on the beat and the lifting of the foot (to tap again) is off the beat". The beat is the stronger part and not hitting the strings while strumming down can feel a little weird to begin with (of course "offbeat" as an adjective in the English language means strange/unusual so that's probably to be expected).
Feeling your foot tap on the floor while you hit your knee is a very strong way to mark what is always the most confusing part of this strum and the harder you hit your knee the stronger the effect! Of course, this knee hit is just there for initial learning purposes, like stabilisers on a bicycle!
Adding in Beat Four
Beat 4 is the same as beat 2, another "Chi-cken". Now we build together beats 3 and 4 to give the second half of the basic strum pattern:
(See video 02:10)
If you know the song "O-Bla-Di" by the Beatles compare the rhythm of the strums played here to the rhythm of the lyrics "O-bla-di, O-bla-da, Life goes on" (hint: they're the same). We're not just learning a strum pattern here, we're learning "rhythmic vocabulary" which can be used in any musical situation, and we're learning it in a way that we understand it inside and out.
The Full Thing!
When you can play each half of the basic strum correctly and comfortably you're ready to bolt the two halves together to make the whole, however you may need to slow right down to initially do so and if there are any problems, then viewing this as a "Million Pound Challenge" (click for explanation) will be of benefit.
(See video 02:39)
Now the True Test!
Anything on guitar only really works when you can do it perfectly in time with a metronome/backing track. A good free online metronome is on offer at drummers-pulse.com
and for those of you with Windows PCs I recommend "Chordpulse Lite", a free to download fully functional virtual backing band.
Once you can do the basic strum with just your foot tap and the count for company the next step is to take it to the proving ground where we tie your foot tap, arm and count tightly to the metronome or backing! How slow do you have to go to make that work in a way that you know everything's correct?
I've included progress charts and tabs from the video in the appendix to my free "Crash Course In Taplature" sent to all subscribers (click here to subscribe!). Keeping track of the top speed you can execute things at and being aware of whether that's improving puts you in control of your practice and. See yourself progress up to my recommended target speed with a single chord before you start trying to change chords while strumming.
Related Issues
Here we've only considered the mental aspects of strumming. If you're struggling with pick issues (usually on up strums) take a look at this video of mine from 2008 when I relearned the guitar left handed (from 3m:10s in) for the quickest cure you'll find!
(Click to play)
We also haven't discussed how to change chords while strumming. When you're ready to do that check out my 2017 video "What They Never Told You About Chord Changes", which shows you exactly how everything fits together.
(Click to play)
Don't be Shy. Speak Up!
Finally, don't overlook the importance of the out loud count. There are three levels of practice when dealing with anything relating to mental issues on guitar.
1. Notes only - Weak
2. Notes and foot tap - Strong
3. Notes, foot tap and out loud count - Strongest!
Whether it's "One and two and ...." or "E- gg Chi- cken ..." there's a whole extra level of complexity involved when speaking out loud while executing the instructions and as I like to say, "If it's not hard work then why would it make you better?". Yes it will slow you down to begin with because it's forcing you to do things right but I've proven a thousand times over with my own students that it's by far the quickest way to "program" yourself to do it easily.
What do you think? Anything not clear? Bring any questions or thoughts to this thread in the Taplature forum! Oh and let me know if you can think of any other famous songs/licks/riffs/melodies you can think of that are built from the "basic strum" rhythm (like the ones shown in the video from 03:30). I'll add the good ones to my Crash Course and give you a shout out in there too!
Enjoy!
Old Swanner.
Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Timing, bending, semiquavers and more!
In this blog post and accompanying video I run through the standard problems that crop up regularly when working through the guitar riff from Led Zeppelin's "Black Dog" with students in lessons.
There's a big difference between memorising the notes that make up a guitar part and *really* getting them learned. You'll know that already if you've ever tried playing something that's weak in front of other people. My recommended method shows you how to make things strong enough to hold up in any situation!
Here's the video ...
Black Dog Lesson - Timing and more!
Click to play
The issues raised in the video are not only relevant to this particular riff but have to relate to just about anything you'll ever play. Strengthen your skills on this song and see them strengthen for everything else too! We're not just learning another lick, we're gaining *real* improvement!
Two sections
Today's challenge includes the two main (strongly related) sections from Black Dog. I usually call them the "A section" and the "E section" referring to the chords each fits over. The "A section" is covered to some depth in the video, and more so in the coaching sheets provided to subscribers in the appendix of my free . Below I'll be concentrating mainly on the notorious "E section" which gave me the most trouble for the longest time!
Overthinking things?
If you Google "black dog strange timing" (click to view) you'll find quite a lot of discussion of this section and it can appear very complex. Without doubt the easy way to learn the riff is to view the whole thing as a straight 4 count! If you want to think of it differently once you have it learned that's up to you, but I'd say it's first necessary to understand it as suggested here.
Bash for cash!
While at university back in the mid 1980s I was challenged by a guitar playing friend that I couldn't play this "E section". At that point I agreed he was right but accepted a bet to learn it by the next afternoon. The amount staked was £10, a sizeable sum for an impoverished student back then so the pressure was on!
Disappointed to find that I could make zero sense of the timing, I set about repeating the notes parrot fashion hoping to etch it in well enough to stand up under examination. By the next afternoon following at least 6 hours of brute force repetition I felt ready. When my friend came to test me out he was more than a little surprised to find me playing it with apparently no problem, but good to his word he paid up. I knew I'd got away with it, but wasn't quite sure how!
What had I learned?
I won the money, but felt no other benefit from the time and effort I'd put in on this riff. Soon afterward I'd lost the ability to play it (the way I'd learned it makes for a very short term "fix") and 10 years later when this started coming up in lessons I realised I still had no idea as to its structure and was thoroughly unable to explain it to others.
One day I made the effort to sit with a slowed recording and finally made the sense of it which I'm outlining here; however it wasn't until I began using Taplature in lessons that I found I was able to get others doing it too!
Building blocks!
As ever the Taplature approach is to chop things down into bite sized pieces and learn them well before building them into the whole. When practiced as recommended, with the foot tap and out loud count as the foundation, things become properly absorbed into the correct part of the brain so that they stick strongly ... forever! What's more, they become "vocabulary" you'll find you now understand how to use in other situations!
The accompanying video (at 11:20) shows the four lines making up the "E section". Once you can play each in isolation, looping back into itself, you can begin bolting them together. If the whole feels too complex try pairing line 1 with line 2 as a loop, then line 3 with line 4 as a loop before finally putting these two halves together to make the full four lines; however to get the rock solid understanding we're after, it's essential to examine each from different angles like so ...
"Leading in"
I talk in the video about the "lead in" or "pickup" taking us to beat one of the "A section". The technical term for this is "anacrusis".
In the video at (03:10) I demonstrate the following loop.
"A Section" - Line 1
Here we've taken the anacrusis (ringed in red) that leads into line 1 and put it in place of the last three 8th notes of line 1. This basic idea allows us to create any number of relevant loops and is a powerful way of gaining the focus we need to absorb patterns deeply, getting to know how everything fits together inside and out!
We can use this approach with any piece of music to examine the "links" that glue each line into the next, giving a greater level of insight into how things fit together and therefore a higher measure of mental strength!
All angles covered!
I've added plenty of examples of this way of twisting and turning lines to dig deeper in the free Black Dog coaching sheets available to all subscribers of the Taplature blog.
These free coaching sheets break things down further and let you
track your progress as well as offering further advice.
Watch yourself improve!
Once you can play all the examples in the coaching sheets you'll know the tricky bits of both sections like the back of your hand meaning that when it's time to perform, they'll flow out easily!
Enjoy!
Old Swanner.
Any comments, problems or questions relating to this article?
Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Taplature by Old Swanner - 3M ago
The very start.
It all began back in 2007 with a particular student in his twenties (let's call him AB) who'd taught himself a few basics but who couldn't play anything correctly. AB seemed happy enough noodling about with no real end product but as a teacher I knew I needed to make him improve. How to do it though?
( Click Image for a Lesson on the 3 Principles!)
I kept making things simpler and simpler in my effort to find something he could do correctly. Eventually I suggested he put his guitar down for a moment and just tried tapping his foot in time with one of his favourite songs.
Instantly the root problem became obvious. AB's foot tap bore no obvious relation to the beat of the music. Here was our first port of call!
By George he's got it!
After a crash course in counting out loud in time with the beat, and then building a new foot tapping regime on top of that, we reintroduced the guitar. Notes were mechanically placed on top of the newly strengthened foundations and all of a sudden AB could play in time, nothing complex yet but this was the breakthrough! Staying with a metronome beat or backing track had been elusive up to this point, but now we could incorporate these tools for everything he wanted to work on.
Name that tune!
On the tabs I used in those lessons I would draw a crude looking foot, in a shoe, complete with laces as I recall, going up and down to formalise the foot tap. I imagine AB still has those early prototype images safely filed away, though I haven't seen him since he disappeared without trace after getting married some years later. Should we cross paths again one day I hope to get copies of those sheets to post here.
In Bloom
After this hint to the power of the foot tap as the cornerstone of practice and improvement I began incorporating it into all my lessons. Progress became much quicker for every student and lessons became more enjoyable, both for them and for me! The unwieldy looking clodhoppers I used to draw evolved quickly into the streamlined symbols for down and up foot tapping seen on today's Taplature.
Name that tune!
Using it regularly, I developed many interesting ways of using the new system, allowing us to see deep into the problems my students were facing, and offering effective ways to deal with them. Furthermore, although I'd been playing for over twenty years by this point, I began spotting major problems with my own foot tap. Consequently everything I learned from lessons was taken into my own practice, initiating a revamp from the bottom up, and my practice was transformed forever.
Ahem!
Talking about this with a bandmate around that time, I was surprised to be told .. "Oh yes, we've always laughed at your foot tap!". That sent me off to practice even harder of course! At the risk of a little public embarrassment I'll post these two videos that I think reveal a little of the hidden side of the sort of improvement I wanted.
Two hotels ... on a lonely highway
Shot five years apart, the big standout difference is the comparative lack of dumb faces in the second video. The 2007 version was recorded before the invention of Taplature. I certainly wasn't aiming to pull so many "guitar gurns", and didn't even pick up on them until the comments started rolling in.
The camera isn't low enough in that video to show any foot tapping but this was definitely before I'd consciously considered it as an intrinsic, if not the most important part of the music. This version was only my second upload to Youtube, and hidden from view, it took me over 100 attempts to get through!
Five years after
The 2012 version, although not sounding majorly different, I'd say demonstrates a lot more ease in getting through the same solo. Either I just didn't have any need to pull the faces any more, or there was enough space left in my brain to actively concentrate on not making them. I think the former, due to the extra (mental) ease attributable to having strengthened my "rhythm muscle" with 5 years of foot tapping investigation. Looking in closely, even here my foot tap isn't perfect all the way through.
One other thing, this only took four or five attempts to get a version I was happy with down, compared to the 100+ for my first effort!
As for AB, if he's still playing, at least his rhythm muscle is in good shape!
Enjoy Taplature!
Old Swanner.
Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Taplature by Old Swanner - 3M ago
Eight beats a week!
Today's challenge will keep both your mind and fingers busy for a while. Tommy Emmanuel's version of "Day Tripper" was brought to my attention recently by a student looking to learn it and I've enjoyed digging in at home myself to get the key section shown below burned in.
Feels out of reach? Keep reading!
Patterns like this can remain off limits for a lifetime, however if approached in the manner described below using Taplature, I'd expect most looking at this for the first time to be able get it running within a week!
The man himself!
Here's Tommy Emmanuel talking about and demonstrating his version of Day Tripper (starting at 0:55). He describes creating it as "one of the greatest mental conundrums of my life"!
Click to play
In one way its simple rhythmically as we're doing something on every foot tap and on every foot lift, so the notation shows straight 8th notes. The riff played on the bass strings however is not consistent, and missing mental mechanics can keep this sort of thing from ever becoming easy. Here's how I've both taught and learned it using Taplature.
Click to play
Little by little!
There's great benefit in stepping back from the riff itself and focusing purely on the picking hand. Here's a powerful way to simplify things by sticking to open strings and using only the low E string for the bass part. Now we're staring directly in at the core skills required.
Four distinct picking patterns are used throughout. First we'll look at the repeating rhythm made on the treble notes without any bass note played. This occurs in the full riff on beat one of the second line.
Pattern A
(see video 2:15)
Two events make up this single beat, each comprised of three actions, to be executed exactly together.
1. Pluck the open top E and B strings with the
index and middle fingers of your picking hand,
tap your foot and count "One" out loud.
2. Touch the top E and B strings (to mute them) with the
index and middle fingers of your picking hand,
lift your foot and count "and" out loud.
Repeating this exactly as described may feel tough initially but it won't take long until it becomes easy.
Half a teacup
Now let's examine how we add in bass notes to make the other 3 patterns used. First we'll add a bass note on the beat (tied to the foot tap).
Pattern B
(see video 2:30)
Everything remains as before, but on the beat we now have the extra requirement to play the open low E string with our picking hand thumb. As before, repeat all the instructions shown perfectly (with foot tap and out loud count) until this becomes easy.
Pay special attention to the bass note ringing when you mute the treble strings on the offbeat - you may have a tendency to want to mute here with the thumb too, especially when we start building the patterns together shortly! Focus on "recycling" (aiming) the thumb as you mute, ready to pick the low E string again on the next beat.
... and the other half!
Compare the last pattern with the following one, in which we play our bass note on the offbeat rather than on the beat.
Pattern C
(see video 2:54)
This time focus on the bass note ringing as you tap your foot (and pluck the treble strings and count out loud "One"). The thumb hit on the low E string should happen exactly as your fingers mute the top two strings (and as you lift the foot while counting "and"!). You'll now be "recycling" your thumb as the foot taps!
Double Trouble!
There's one more combination of bass notes in Day Tripper; picking with the thumb both on the beat and on the offbeat!
Pattern D
(see video 3:22)
To achieve this the thumb now has to be recycled between foot movements. If this pattern doesn't come naturally I'd recommend examining in semiquavers (16th notes). Here's a zoom in on the recommended timing of just the thumb for this beat, recycling on the "uh" and the "a", between foot movements (you can also see me in the video using the same part of the beat to recycle my picking fingers on this pattern).
For a primer on semiquavers discussing very similar patterns to this thumb movement see my blog post here.
Build it up!
The following Taplature puts the four patterns A, B, C and D in the order they occur in our Day Tripper challenge ... BCDDADCD. Although we've replaced every bass note with the open low E string the rhythm played in the bass part is still recognisable. It should be obvious that if you have any problem playing this simplified version then running the full thing is probably still out of reach.
(See video 3:52)
Even if the four patterns themselves are easy individually, addressing these two full bars is likely to feel like a big step and it's recommended to slow right down and not try to see the big picture too soon. I've added examples to help with this in the coaching sheets appendix to my , free to download for subscribers.
These free coaching sheets break things down and let you
track your progress as well as offering further advice.
Watch yourself improve!
Time to start fretting!
Once you can run these two bars comfortably it's time to begin thinking about adding in the fretting hand and to start aiming for the full pattern. It's recommended to again learn each beat in isolation before building them into pairs giving half a bar, then joining the half bars together to make the whole bar, and finally joining the two bars together to make the finished product!
Many a mickle makes a muckle
Your free coaching sheets provide this breakdown, and also include space for "benchmarking" your top speeds so you can monitor progress and easily see where your practice is best focused. to download!
Although this challenge is by no means easy I maintain that most of you will be able to get the full riff going in a week or so if you follow the Taplature approach to the letter and manage half an hour a day's practice. By the time you've learned this first section you'll have a good grip on how to deal with the rest of the song, or indeed anything else that's ever scrambled your brain when trying it!
Don't think you can do it? Any comments? Chase me up here in the Taplature forum!
Enjoy!
Old Swanner.
Click to learn more about
what Taplature can do for you!
Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Show Me Where I Start!
Albert Lee's Country Boy is a true classic, originally recorded with Head Hands and Feet (1971) and re-recorded on his Album "Hiding" (1979). Here's an easy way for you to learn it, and if you download the free coaching sheets for this challenge (see below) you can see how you measure up against Albert's insanely fast and fluid style!
Like many I learned Country Boy from a tab in the UK's Guitarist Magazine back in the 1980s. I think their article on the song may have tied in with the BBC having broadcast around that time Ricky Skaggs in concert, showcasing his impressive chops on a variety of instruments. Here's his version of Country Boy which seems close to the version I learned:
And here's Albert Lee performing it some years beforehand:
And both of them together!
I may talk like a bank teller!
I ended up with a mixture of various versions and although I've never gigged this one it's always remained one of those things of interest as just out of reach to me. Occasionally I return for another look, as in 2010 when I made this video running through the way I'd learned it at 30bpm and with the camera close in.
At the same time I put my skills on this one to the test, playing it at a variety of different speeds to see how it held up. As you can see here I was close, but not close enough!
I'm just a <....> at heart!
In the 8 years since I've not really looked at it. Although the intention back then was to finally try and crack it, without the need to do so for gigging purposes the incentive just wasn't strong enough. It's always on the back burner though and should the need ever arise to get it up to gig level I'll be using the Taplature approach to do so!
This week I tried a remake of the slow and close up run through. Here it is, now in glorious Taplature!
Country Boy - Slow and Close Up!
Pushing Facts in a File!
At this speed anyone can learn to play Country Boy. Focus on the awkward bits (beats) individually and there's nothing here you can't do! Notes foot tap and count together program everything into you the way it needs to be to become easy. It's an ideal candidate for monitoring your progress with, and these coaching sheets in the appendix of my free Crash Course in Taplature let you do exactly that with some of the trickier sections of this one.
Click image to subscribe and download!
These free coaching sheets break things down further and let you
track your progress as well as offering further advice.
Watch yourself improve!
The Taplature blog and free crash course show you exactly how to deal with this challenge, or any piece of music you want to learn!
Subscribe below and stick around! In upcoming blog articles perhaps I'll be demonstrating the Taplature approach with my own further investigations into finally (after 30 years) trying to bring this one up to performance level!
Enjoy!
Old Swanner.
Click here to learn more about what
Taplature can do for you!
Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Giving it some stick with the Sam Powell Blues Band (2017)
33 years of playing and 20+ years of teaching tell me that what comes out when we improvise is comprised only of the musical ideas we possess which have a certain level of strength or above. I call this our "improvisational vocabulary". If you're one of those who goes completely blank when called upon to improvise (or is reduced to tentatively throwing out a few scale notes) then it's likely you could use some more!
To add to our improvisational vocabulary we need to be able to move musical ideas into this arena of strength and from my experience I'd say this is something most struggle to do. In layman's terms we need to not just learn, but to *really* learn our licks!
Your secret weapon - Taplature!
Taplature forces us to fully understand any new vocabulary we want to assimilate. It's just not possible to play something while counting the beat out loud and keeping the correct foot tap unless every piece of the jigsaw is in place, both physical and mental. I've lost count of how many times I've had students become aware of the major weaknesses in their playing simply by asking them to do this with things they thought were strong!
Once this stage is reached we can then repeat things to burn them in and monitor progress. There's a point at which things begin to feel easy and until something reaches this level it's very unlikely it will come out during improvisation ,when only the strongest of our musical vocabulary appears.
Give your practice some purpose!
First understanding, then familiarity. It works for everything! We won't have to hope that our new vocabulary begins to appear in our improvisation, we'll expect it to! The examples below show one way of digging deeper inside a lick to help this process along.
Today's challenge and the concept of "displacement"
Here's an idea you can take and run with. Let's begin with a simple looking lick using the E blues scale.
As ever, the challenge posed by Taplature is to play through the bar repeatedly. counting out loud as shown, and with the correct foot tap as shown. We're in 8th notes (quavers), so rhythmically it's not especially complex, each note played on the guitar coinciding with a down or up movement of the foot.
I'll leave you to decide on picking directions but it's recommended to follow the foot with the pick while initially tackling the bar, ie. if your foot is tapping down then pick down, and if your foot is coming up then pick up! This keeps what I call the "directional vocabulary" as simple as possible while you're learning the pattern.
Two for the price of one!
Well almost. Let's see what happens if we "displace" this lick by half a beat to the right. What would seem to be a tiny tweak transforms the whole bar! The note that falls off the end of the bar as we push things to the right "wraps around" to come back in at the left.
Everything that was previously played on the foot tap is now played on the offbeat (up foot), and vice-versa. One particular point of interest is that we now "finish" the lick on beat one with a hammer onto the beat. This can offer a bit of head scratching if you've never done this before. Focus on the hammering finger hitting the fretboard at the same time the foot taps down on the floor.
I begin the video below by isolating the "hammer on to the beat" so you can see up close the mechanics required. Notice how I have the pick recycling on each down foot in sync with both foot and hammering finger. Everything moves together, as it will in the full lick.
Then I play through the full displaced lick first slowly (0:22),
and then faster (1:02).
The half beat displacement means that your pick directions will need to be reconsidered; it's still recommended to follow the foot tap up and down with your pick to begin with. You'll see this actually changes things quite a lot from the first pattern!
Wow .. it's actually eight for the price of one!
Even just sticking to 8th notes (we could go a lot deeper!) there are six other places we could displace our lick to. Here's the next 8th note shift to the right.
I'll leave it to you to examine the other five possibilities. Each displacement gives the same notes a different shape/sound/feel/end result.
Make it your own!
You can take this idea and use it with any piece of musical vocabulary (guitar lick) you're interested in. By digging through in this manner you can take a lick from your favourite solo, and make it your own with a tweak here and a twist there. When you understand it fully (as described above) you can try applying it to as many different musical situations as possible. By mixing and matching your new vocabulary with your old the combinations are endless!
Approaching things this way means that we aren't just learning licks for use in one situation or solo. We're finding out how things fit together so that we can take building blocks from one piece of music and use them in any situation we choose! How does this compare to the way you've practiced up to now?
Enjoy!
Old Swanner.
Click to learn more about
what Taplature can do for you!
Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Here are some quotes from the comments left on Justin Sandercoe's popular video How To Sing And Play Guitar At The Same Time
on Youtube. I've corrected a few spelling mistakes.
- "I've been playing for about 1 year and the song I want to sing I can play with my eyes shut and in the dark though the second I start (to) sing I lose it :("
- "you can't teach this to someone"
- "Still having problems in singing and playing at the same time! :-( Is it possible for every guitar player?"
- "I'm not a beginner but not I'm not Hendrix either and I just can't play some songs and sing! It's the rhythm I think? My brain can't seem to do both..That said I can play Stairway and sing at the same time! So why can't I play Wonderwall and sing?"
- "it's that the guitar and the vocals are 2 different rhythms and its hard for me to connect those 2 together and how they work together"
If singing while playing guitar seems out of reach to you then keep reading! This is a skill rather than a talent, meaning you can learn to do it. Today's challenge walks you through the five steps that guarantee you success in singing while playing any guitar part, however complex!
You can walk out! Let Taplature guide you!
We'll use a simple example, the first line of Elvis's "Suspicious Minds" to demonstrate this powerful approach that you can use to master any problem you'll ever come across relating to combining a guitar part with a vocal line.
Click to play ... Disclaimer: There's a reason my vocal "skills" are usually confined to backing duties only. Ride at your own risk!
The five steps to success. Here we go!
Step One
Make sure that you understand exactly where the syllables of each word fall in relation to the beat. Write them out on a line of Taplature. This can be the toughest part for some and can often throw up a surprise or two!
In our example each syllable falls on a foot tap or up foot (beat or offbeat) though this isn't always the case in other songs. Your first challenge is to get so you can sing the bar repeatedly with just your foot tap for company!
See video (1:00)
Step Two
Add the guitar part to the Taplature. Here I've added a standard "basic strum" pattern (D-DU-UDU) also known as a "campfire strum" or "island strum" (see here for a quick lesson on how to play this pattern properly!). We'll look at something more complex later in this article but this strum always makes for a good initial test with any song you're learning to sing.
(see video 02:04)
All the instructions you need to follow are now in place and the temptation is to jump right in to try the whole bar. Unless doing so is instantly easy however, you'll benefit greatly by following through the further steps described below.
Step Three
Make sure you can execute each beat in isolation, to a level strong enough that you can loop it perfectly in time with a metronome!
In the accompanying video you'll notice I'm speaking rather than singing the words. At this stage we're focusing purely on their timing. If you prefer to sing in pitch that's fine too!
Beat 1 (see video 03:12)
Beat 1 is the simplest of the four. Tap your foot while you strum down on the beat then lift your foot while you "ghost strum" up
(a "ghost strum" is moving your arm just as if you were strumming but without hitting the strings).
Beat 2 (see video 03:29)
Beat 2. Tap your foot while strumming down, then lift your foot while strumming up and saying "We're".
Beat 3 (see video 03:45)
Beat 3. Tap your foot while you ghost strum down and say "caught", then lift your foot while strumming up and saying "in".
Beat 4 (see video 04:04)
Beat 4. Tap your foot while you strum down and say "a", then lift your foot while strumming up and saying "trap".
Step Four
Once you're happy that each beat functions correctly on its own you can start building them together. First we'll pair beat 1 with beat 2 giving us the first half of the full line and beat 3 with beat 4 giving the second half. Now it's important to begin singing rather than only saying the words.
1st Half (see video 04:29)
2nd Half (see video 04:57)
Although we're still only dealing with small sections, it may at first be necessary to slow down to almost zero miles per hour to ensure that everything is functioning correctly.
Each time you get it perfect it gets easier.
How slow do you have to go to be sure
tthat everything's happening correctly?
Step Five
Finally we bolt together the two halves to give the full bar.
The finished product! (see video 05:27)
Even if you can do the two halves easily, you'll probably need to slow right down when putting them together to make sure you get the whole bar perfect. Keep getting it correct and it soon comes up to speed! Monitoring your top speed over time on awkward sections will let you know for sure that your practice is working, or otherwise!
As you improve I predict you'll find there's a certain speed at which some "magic" happens and you move from consciously thinking about things to simply doing them! Working with students I can often hear this shift taking place as something in their brain clicks into gear once it's been "programmed" with enough correct repetitions. This is what we're aiming for!
The Real Deal
Here I've taken the same vocal line but this time added the famous guitar part from the original Elvis recording.
Just like Elvis! <ahem> (see video 07:25)
Although this is more complex, the approach outlined above will work just the same for this example. The biggest difference is that the guitar part now uses semiquavers (16th notes) on beat 3. If this stops you in your tracks, there's help in myCrash Course in Taplature, sent to all subscribers, which includes examples of both vocal and guitar parts using semiquavers.
Remember - This Works for Everything!
Take this approach and apply it to anything you've ever struggled to sing while playing guitar. Make up your own Taplature or download ready made sheets here in the Taplature Shop.
We've only looked at a single bar today, but of course all music is made up of single bars. Find where your problems lie in the songs you want to sing and pull them out like we've done here. Each time you learn a new combination it becomes part of what I call your "rhythmic vocabulary", meaning that over time there will be fewer and fewer combinations that cause you trouble. Whenever you meet one though you'll know how to deal with it!
Enjoy!
Old Swanner.
Anything in this article not clear?
What's the toughest thing you've ever
found to sing and play on guitar?
Got a challenge you think this method can't solve?
Bring your questions and thoughts to
where we can go even deeper!
Click here to learn more about
what Taplature can do for you!
Read Full Article

Read for later

Articles marked as Favorite are saved for later viewing.
close
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.
Start your free month
Free Preview