With this set of chords the 6th string is never played,. The chords are 4-voice chords based on the A-chord form. Another way to think about it is that you are playing the “inner” 4 strings (# 2,3,4 & 5) of the guitar, and not sounding either E-string (1st or 6th string).
For rock and all of its offshoots you need not worry that much about voicing. Most of the time you are looking for a powerful sound, or at least to sound in character for the genre.
Classical guitar music is composed and written out. To play that correctly, the starting point is to first play the notes written correctly and in their prescribed position.
For jazz, however, The first thing to avoid, as a rule, are using the open chord forms that all beginner guitarists learn, such as E, A, D, G, and C, formed within the first three frets.
This example show’s some interesting consonant/dissonant harmonies between the vocal and the accompaniment. The melody is simply a downward-arpeggiated A minor chord, with the added “B” note, functioning first as a 9, then as a 2. This note has a built-in dissonance in this context because it is one half-step from the defining minor third note (“C”). A good vocalist will clearly hear in advance, in his/her imagination, the A and C that surround it, and fit the vocal note in at the right pitch and volume. The resultant sound being perfectly on pitch, and exploiting that dissonance. The singer has to nail it right off. Sliding up or down to the note, or too much vibrato will spoil the effect. For example, listen to how Chet Baker does this so well.
Notice that the first note, “Now…”, has an easy, powerful, and great sounding vowel for a vocalist. As the note is held out, the crescendo sells the song. The rest of the line becomes a very natural-sounding decrescendo.
One thing I discovered on my memorize-away-from-the-keyboard experiment is that I can look at a page of sheet music and hear it a lot better than I used to be able to. I am not to the level of looking at a score, atonal music, or music with a lot of accidentals and getting very far. Mozart and Beethoven (carefully chosen) are not too hard.
I’m starting with Beethoven’s variations in A on the song “Quant e piu bello l’amor contadino”. This is a fairly simple theme and the variations don’t look too formidable. I think I have the theme and 1st variation nailed. Next step is to try it blindfolded.
I can say that this would be a good exercise to do for any musician, at least occasionally.
When I first sat down at the piano, I tried to center myself using my arms stretching out to each side of the piano. I tried to hit middle C and missed it. Got it pretty easily by ear, though, without too much hunt and peck. (The first to C’s of the first piano solo in Gershwin’s Concerto in F has burned the sound of C into my brain).
I first tried “I’ve got the world on a string”, and after some hunting around I found my first intro chord. Kinda flubbed the second chord of the verse, but got it pretty quickly. This is the point of doing this exercise. Using eyes, I was a little weak on the tactile distance between the 1st and 2nd chord. It’s better now.
Moved on to “If I only had a brain/Over the rainbow” medley I do. Again, a little bit of hunting for the opening F chord. From there, it went pretty well, until the Bb came up. This is the same issue as mentioned in the previous paragraph. I seemed to “lose” it, though, which proves if you have to stop and think while playing you are probably about to blow it.
I’ll try the same, next time see if there is improvement.
Day zero. Remember the blindfold taste-test TV commercial. Me neither. I’m borrowing my insomniac-wife’s extra blindfold and I intend to play piano or guitar with blindfold for 30 days…and see what happens.
Why, pray tell? First of all, some of the most amazing keyboardists and musicians ever were blind or visually impaired: For example, Art Tatum, George Shearing, Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder. In the classical world there is Joaquín Rodrigo, the Japanese phenomenon, 22 year old Nobuyuki Tsujii, first place tie in the 2009 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.
Secondly, I am a terrible real-time reader. In the classical realm, unless I’ve really been at it on a particular piece, my playing sucks. Conversely, I have a great ear. I learned by ear, and always fudged a bit when reading. So my ear got better and my reading only got sorta better, slowly and painfully. In jazz and pop, I can read melody lines and chord symbols and sound pretty decent. But with classical pieces, that paradigm is not really there (It used to be from ancient times through part of the 19th century).
My “Pepsi” challenge to myself is to see if I can play without benefit of sight, and without horribly flubbing, as well as I can sans blindfold.
So off I go, and I’ll be letting you know!
Day zero. Location, location, location, they say in the real estate world. In the playing-an-instrument-world, same deal (except nobody says location, loc….). In guitar playing, if your left hand is on the wrong fret, or right hand plucking the wrong string, or you hit the wrong note at the piano, yuk! Directions to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice.
I said in a previous post that I’m not the greatest real-time reader. So I thought I’d improve on my time management by making better use of my bedtime hours. Experts say you shouldn’t read in bed. Got it. And forgot it. Almost my entire life I’ve read in bed: novels, poetry, fiction, non-fiction, technical manuals, etc. And for the last year or so, I became totally hooked on Sudoku. In bed. And boy did I spend a lot of time on that (Got pretty good, though).
I’m one of those rare people who can cold-turkey just about any habit, and not look back. Well, I think the gods must be with me when that happens; I’m not sure how much is self-control and how much is just fortuitous timing. Probably the latter.
In any case, out with Sudoku and in with memorizing music.