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Dealing with Difficult Chord Progression

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Moving up the neck (27)
Chord Req: chords to play funky? (13)
Turn Mudcat around now! (43)


Little Neophyte 16 Nov 99 - 02:08 PM
Margo 16 Nov 99 - 02:23 PM
Gary T 16 Nov 99 - 02:25 PM
Vixen 16 Nov 99 - 02:27 PM
McGrath of Harlow 16 Nov 99 - 02:38 PM
T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird) 16 Nov 99 - 02:46 PM
Songster Bob 16 Nov 99 - 04:31 PM
John in Brisbane 16 Nov 99 - 06:26 PM
DonMeixner 16 Nov 99 - 06:38 PM
sophocleese 16 Nov 99 - 06:43 PM
Brakn 16 Nov 99 - 07:00 PM
Little Neophyte 16 Nov 99 - 07:38 PM
Little Neophyte 16 Nov 99 - 07:49 PM
catspaw49 16 Nov 99 - 10:19 PM
Rick Fielding 16 Nov 99 - 10:21 PM
Little Neophyte 16 Nov 99 - 10:49 PM
catspaw49 16 Nov 99 - 10:51 PM
Chris/Darwin 17 Nov 99 - 02:53 AM
murray@mpce.mq.edu.au 17 Nov 99 - 03:56 AM
Brendy 17 Nov 99 - 04:03 AM
catspaw49 17 Nov 99 - 07:37 AM
Neil Lowe 17 Nov 99 - 10:27 AM
Little Neophyte 17 Nov 99 - 10:41 AM
Little Neophyte 17 Nov 99 - 11:09 AM
catspaw49 17 Nov 99 - 11:15 AM
Vixen 17 Nov 99 - 11:23 AM
Vixen 17 Nov 99 - 12:25 PM
Vixen 17 Nov 99 - 12:27 PM
M. Ted (inactive) 17 Nov 99 - 12:57 PM
Little Neophyte 17 Nov 99 - 02:01 PM
Bert 17 Nov 99 - 02:28 PM
Rick Fielding 17 Nov 99 - 03:51 PM
ScotsBard 17 Nov 99 - 04:16 PM
Neil Lowe 17 Nov 99 - 04:37 PM
Little Neophyte 17 Nov 99 - 04:54 PM
Dan Duryea 17 Nov 99 - 04:59 PM
M. Ted (inactive) 17 Nov 99 - 05:29 PM
Little Neophyte 17 Nov 99 - 07:02 PM
Brendy 17 Nov 99 - 07:31 PM
Bill Cameron 17 Nov 99 - 09:10 PM
Little Neophyte 17 Nov 99 - 09:59 PM
Rick Fielding 19 Nov 99 - 10:15 PM
Little Neophyte 19 Nov 99 - 10:41 PM
Neil Lowe 20 Nov 99 - 12:36 PM
Little Neophyte 20 Nov 99 - 01:11 PM
Rick Fielding 21 Nov 99 - 12:05 AM
_gargoyle 21 Nov 99 - 10:32 PM
_garoyle 21 Nov 99 - 10:45 PM
Pete Peterson 22 Nov 99 - 11:17 PM
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Subject: Dealing with Difficult Chord Progression
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 16 Nov 99 - 02:08 PM

Bare with me, Music Threads are not my specialty but........

If I have composed a song with a difficult chord progression, and I have strategically positioned my fingers to allow ease of chord changes(Fielding Fingering). Is it possible with lots of practice, I will get the piece of music to flow or am I better off chosing less desirable chords so I can more easily play the tune.

Does this make sense?
Let me know if I should just stick to composing BS Threads.

Little Neo


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Subject: RE: Dealing with Difficult Chord Progression
From: Margo
Date: 16 Nov 99 - 02:23 PM

Little Neo, I encourage you to practice the difficult progression. I think maybe you're wondering if you've set your sights too high. Well, you won't know until you try to master that chord progression. How long do you try before deciding maybe you're tackling something too hard? That's up to you. But you've got to give your muscles a chance to "learn" what you're asking of them. Go for it! Margo


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Subject: RE: Dealing with Difficult Chord Progression
From: Gary T
Date: 16 Nov 99 - 02:25 PM

I'm not a songwriter, but here's the question that comes to me: Is it more important to you to create the song or to play the song?


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Subject: RE: Dealing with Difficult Chord Progression
From: Vixen
Date: 16 Nov 99 - 02:27 PM

Little Neo--

Run this idea by Rick, because I am no expert in guitar instruction. However, having said that, it's been my experience that all you need to do is SLOWLY practice the chord changes over and over and over and over and...you get the idea. Don't overdo, because you don't want to strain anything. Just allocate 2 minutes of every practice session to those chord changes. After some length of time, the chord changes will become easy and automatic. What this does is teach the cerebellum (the not-too-bright part of the brain that handles voluntary muscle control) how to control those muscles in that pattern of movement. I learned this when I learned how to teach people with damaged cerebella how to control their bodies. (the cerebrum, by the way, is where we think abstract thoughts like how to get the cerebellum to do what we want, like dribble a basketball, ride a horse, or "walk like an Egyptian!")

Good luck! Let me know how it works out.

V (who had to learn barre chords this way, because she wrote them into her songs...)


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Subject: RE: Dealing with Difficult Chord Progression
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 16 Nov 99 - 02:38 PM

I always tend to mess around with the capo until I find an easier way to get the same effect. The less effort I'm putting into the playing, the more I can put into the singing.

I reckon if people notice the backing too much, it's too far forward.


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Subject: RE: Dealing with Difficult Chord Progression
From: T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird)
Date: 16 Nov 99 - 02:46 PM

Little Neo,

I'm still fairly new to the guitar--even SIMPLE chord progressions still give me trouble sometimes. As I continue playing, though, they seem to be getting easier, sl--o--o--o--o--o--wly. It's a reasonable inference that I'll eventually be able to master trickier progressions as well.

Maybe there's someone on-list who is an experienced teacher, who can give you tips to save you time and error. But even if there isn't, I have confidence that Vixen's method will work for you at least as well as it seems to work for me.

T.


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Subject: RE: Dealing with Difficult Chord Progression
From: Songster Bob
Date: 16 Nov 99 - 04:31 PM

It partly depends on what's difficult about the chords (are there lots of barre chords or long reaches, etc.?). If you're modifying the chord fingerings for ease of playing the individual chords, you may be doing yourself a disservice. Concentrate on fingering the chords so that the transitions are easiest. Songs are not successions of chords so much as successions of chord _changes_. Also consider using different inversions (formations) for the chords, so, fo example, if you need a Bb chord in a song in D, try using the D that's barred at the 5th fret ("A" position above the barre) so you're only one fret away from the barred Bb position (6th fret barre, "E" above the barre). Thinking things out ahead of time can make all the difference.

The suggestion to use a capo is a good one, too, if it turns out that a majority of the problem chords would "go away" if you were capoed, even if it changed some of the basic chords to more difficult positions.

Good luck. I tend toward simpler chords for my songs, partly because it's easier to put a song over if you're not struggling with the instrument, and partly because I want other folks to feel like playing my songs, and the harder the chords, the less this is likely.

Bob Clayton


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Subject: RE: Dealing with Difficult Chord Progression
From: John in Brisbane
Date: 16 Nov 99 - 06:26 PM

Neo, the only advice I'd add to the above is a basic philosophy to keep changing your approach to the chords over time - continue to raise the bar a little bit higher - if you're using a capo now then try it without (or vice versa). And practice regularly and frequently.

Regards, John


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Subject: RE: Dealing with Difficult Chord Progression
From: DonMeixner
Date: 16 Nov 99 - 06:38 PM

Neo,

I asked Livinston Taylor this question at a show I EmCeed and he said " Play as hard, be controled, and as slow as you can, over and over. Speed and ease will come when you need it." I must admit that i tried it and it worked for instrumental stuff quite well. It reenforced muscle memory quite well.

Don


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Subject: RE: Dealing with Difficult Chord Progression
From: sophocleese
Date: 16 Nov 99 - 06:43 PM

Bare with you Neo? You taking that thong OFF? In THIS weather?


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Subject: RE: Dealing with Difficult Chord Progression
From: Brakn
Date: 16 Nov 99 - 07:00 PM

What are the chords?


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Subject: RE: Dealing with Difficult Chord Progression
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 16 Nov 99 - 07:38 PM

Now you are making sweat Brakn

I'm playing the banjo in G tuning
Capo on 5th fret
played in G or C? can't figure that part out too well
Mix Match of Different Picking Styles
G/G/G/G/ (some kind of scale)
C/Am/D/G/
G/G/G/G/ (somd kind of scale)
Am/C/Barred 7th fret G? or is that a C?
F/C/G/G
C/Am/Barred 7th fret G?/G/
G/G/G/G/ (some kind of scale)
C/D7/G/G/
Barred 2nd fret D (plus 3rd finger, 3rd fret,2string, 2nd finger 4th fret,1st string)/Barred 2nd fret D/Barred 7th fret G?/G
F/C/G/G

Rick HELP!

I'm so confused Brakn
Tried my hardest
Little Neo


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Subject: RE: Dealing with Difficult Chord Progression
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 16 Nov 99 - 07:49 PM

Sophocleese, I appreciate your concern but I'd be greatful if you would leave my thong underwear at the other thread. I started a serious discussion here and I have to keep focused. The musicians are being extremely helpful and I don't want to scare them away.

Little Neo


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Subject: RE: Dealing with Difficult Chord Progression
From: catspaw49
Date: 16 Nov 99 - 10:19 PM

Hey Phyte....Remember it works both ways? Some music in BS threads, some BS in music? Most of the folks on this thread are either completely capable of ignoring a wisecrack or are also excellent and inveterate BSers themselves. Relax. Nobody is going to leave this thread because Sophie put up a one liner. Believe me, these people are ready to help and "ain't nuttin' gonna' stop'em."

SO...............What's Rick say? He's one of the best pickers around here and you take lessons from him...so what's his take? I'm not a tenth the picker he is, nor a lot of these guys, but I satisfy myself. And I will say that so far here you've gotten excellent advice. Don's comment was quite good as was John's and Bob's...especially the part about thinking it out and working it slowly. On Hammered Dulcimer, it is very important to work out and modify the hammering patterns to get things right and then to give it repetition to enforce the "memory" of the pattern....then begin to increase the speed. Same's true for you here.

I sense that part of your frustration may also come from doing a comparison of yourself with Rick. I remember that on another thread you commented about a performance anxiety in front of him. Stupid. First, Rick is certainly no task master with his students and there is no way you're going to pick things up as quickly and effortlessly as Rick seems to. But he's been at it a long time and has more hours on that fretboard than are imaginable. But I know he works on things in the same way as we all do...he just gets there a lot faster! Relax and slow down, you'll get there.

One last story........I knew a guy 30 some years ago who would sit and work on a particular lick or some chord progression and when the frustration level hit a certain point, he'd stare at the fretboard and you'd hear him saying, "It's on there somewhere." I kinda' took that as a piece of advice...just keep methodically working it up.

...and if your underwear are on the other thread, what are you wearing here? I'm not wearing any myself, but,uh...........................

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Dealing with Difficult Chord Progression
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 16 Nov 99 - 10:21 PM

Hi Neo. Help on it's way. But first, reasons why starting a music thread is a good idea.

1. It will keep you from becoming an instant member of Gargoyle's Gang of 12. (you'll probably still get there, but it'll take longer)
2. You need no longer be silent from a musical point of view. Your progress has been astonishing in such a short time, so ya might as well start stealing from the rest of us!
3. As much as the "thong" and "bra" jokes are diverting, they can haunt you in almost every thread you post for months (see Catspaw = possum) and by then they've lost any actual wit that might have been there in the beginning..but you're stuck with 'em.
4. When someone does a check on your threads and posts back a few months...they'll know that you're a PICKER!

Practice those chords! SLOWLY!! All I can show you from now on is the easiest fingerings for what you want to play and hear. The larger the bank of chords you have in your noggin, the more options you'll have when composing your own music.
Way to go Neo.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Dealing with Difficult Chord Progression
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 16 Nov 99 - 10:49 PM

I never expected so much help
Thanks everybody

Would I sell more CDs if I wore my coconut bra and thong underwear to my first professional performance?
If I can't play as well as Rick, I've got other tricks up my sleeve to become popular.

Many, many thanks everybody

See Catspaw, you are a gentle dolphin

Luv
Little Neo


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Subject: RE: Dealing with Difficult Chord Progression
From: catspaw49
Date: 16 Nov 99 - 10:51 PM

Sorry I said anything...the "Master" has spoken!.......and of course he's right.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Dealing with Difficult Chord Progression
From: Chris/Darwin
Date: 17 Nov 99 - 02:53 AM

Hi Neo

One really good reason for persisting with something really difficult - as long as it's a good song - is that for the next 20 years you get a real buzz out of performing it. Persist! It's worth it!

Chris


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Subject: RE: Dealing with Difficult Chord Progression
From: murray@mpce.mq.edu.au
Date: 17 Nov 99 - 03:56 AM

Little Neo. What's wrong with re-doing several versions of the song. Make a version with simple chord changes. Enjoy singing it and meanwhile practice the harder changes and as you master them, make a version closer to your ideal. That way you always have the song in your repetoire and you provide yourself with a motivation for practicing.

I am not forunate in having a song writing ability; but when I try to learn somebody else's song I always have two versions of the accompanyment going at the same time. One is the one I can play fast enough to sing with and the other is an "instrumental" which is closer to what I hear the other guy doing, but which I don't even try to play at a speed to sing to.

Murray


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Subject: RE: Dealing with Difficult Chord Progression
From: Brendy
Date: 17 Nov 99 - 04:03 AM

Hi Neo
I sometimes use DBGDGD when playing. As you probably know, the same chord can be played in many different positions on the fretboard. The 'trick' is to find the chord position that takes the least effort, taking into account what octave you want your 'dominant' note in. This leads to some very interesting chord positions, a lot of which can then be modified to suit the different nuances of the tune/song.
Whether you are on a run up the board, or down, a G banjo player once told me, it is important to make the transitions between chords as fluent as possible.
This can be achieved in quite a straightforward way.
Find your 'start-off' position/chord.
Without moving the position of your fingers, move the hand up the fret-board one fret at a time, and listen for something that is close to what you have in your mind. In order to find that chord, you may have to adjust a little your fingers. That's OK, you may have to replace one finger for another on a different string, as long as the transition time doesn't affect too much th fluency. If it feels too much then find another combination.
I am assuming here that you do use a 'G' tuning like the one I am talking about, (minus the bass D, of course)
This tuning, beloved of bluegrass pickers, is designed to enable the chromatic progression, and digression, of chords. It's the same rules that apply for the guitar.

However, if the tune is in a key other than 'G', a capo is the simplest way out. The same rules apply of course, except 1 or 2 etc frets ahead.
After that, as everybody else has said, just keep at it, slowly, slowly, gradually as your confidence in your fingers, and their new positions, increases, it will come. It's a bit mantra-ish.
I'm sorry if none of what I have written makes any sense; but it's quite difficult to explain something when you don't know how to explain it.

le grá

Breandán


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Subject: RE: Dealing with Difficult Chord Progression
From: catspaw49
Date: 17 Nov 99 - 07:37 AM

Two things...no make that three, THREE things..........

Murray, now that you mention it, I wonder how many of us do the same thing without thinking about it? Now that you mentioned it, I realize that I do it...just never occured to me. Then again, I'm a congenital idiot.

Phyte---If you use that tuning, you must wear the special glasses (well, somebody had to say it). And I think its "Genial Dolt" not "Gentle Dolphin."

And do you have really big coconuts? Okay FOUR things......Yes, FOUR things................(apologies to MPFC)

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Dealing with Difficult Chord Progression
From: Neil Lowe
Date: 17 Nov 99 - 10:27 AM

Hi Li'l Neo.....

That's one of many benefits of a uniquely helpful and educational forum like this...you can ask a question and the pros more than willingly share their expertise - expertise gained more often than not a millimeter at a time through long and arduous hours of practice - at a price that other, less gifted professionals charge exhorbitantly for.

As I am not in either category, I don't purport to be of much help to you. But your thread sparked some thoughts and observations - revived a smidgeon of otherwise copiously dormant grey matter - and for that I am always grateful.

I figure over the millenia the cowboy chords have been done to death, so anything I aspire to contrive with these chords is going to fall far short of "listenable." Not to say that something fresh can no longer be achieved in the G-C-D genre; I defer to the more creative amongst us to accomplish that.

Therefore, my approach to the fretboard is to try to uncover one of the myriad, as yet undiscovered chord progressions that lurk somewhere just below the surface of my perception: sort of like 'Spaw's friend, I know it's on there somewhere, I just have to find it. Odds are I won't ever hit pay dirt, but the fun is in the searching.

To that end, I consciously twist my fingers into pretzels in an attempt to forge a new chord, or purposely modify and juxtapose two aberrant chords whose attraction to each other is as unnatural as the like charges of two magnets. Most times what is wrought is the aural equivalent of a gondola with a "flat wheel" rolling through a railroad crossing. Occasionally, I get rewarded.

Sometimes when I pick up the guitar and contemplate the fretboard thusly, I am reminded of an apropos observation made by one of the great chess champions (Spassky or Kasparov? Maybe Fisher...currently experiencing a mild CRS or CRAFT attack). Anyway, aforementioned chess whiz was pondering the chessboard before the first move and waxed philosophically: It's all there - all the mistakes just waiting to be made. *BG*

If playing a musical instrument competently were something acquired with relative ease, then we wouldn't be so much in awe of those such as world-renowned thumbpicker Chet Atkins (or any other accomplished musician in any other musical genre, for that matter. I only mention Chet because he was worshipped as a god around our house when I was growing up) playing 9ths and 11ths and 13ths with suspended 4ths, flatted 5ths, major 6ths, diminished 3rds and the kitchen sink thrown in for good measure, making it look as easy as breathing and smiling serenely as if he were casually fishing off a pond bank on an early September sunny afternoon. Maybe in his mind that's exactly what he's doing. In my mind a personification of ultimate musical integrity and professionalism.

In the unlikely event (yeah, right) that I never discover a unique approach to guitar playing, I'd settle for a dram of ability, or talent.

In search of the Lost Chord, Neil


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Subject: RE: Dealing with Difficult Chord Progression
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 17 Nov 99 - 10:41 AM

Murray & McGrath, I'm not focused much on singing lately as I am on instrumental. But the advice is good and when I do start chirping, I'll keep it in mind.

Breandan, your suggestions are very clear and helpful. I am playing in a G tuning right now, but I do enjoy switching around my tunings. I've stop doing that for the moment so I can become familiar with chords, notes and hand positions on each tuning before progressing to the next one.

I have another question...........

I know to achieve fluency it is essential to develop good hand positioning for chord transition but is part of the challenge the actual instrument I'm playing? Do banjo chords resonate for a shorter time period than if I were playing an acoustic guitar, thus making fluency more challenging?

Jonathan Livingston Catspaw, what special glasses are we talking about?
If you want to know how big my coconuts are, ask Rick.

Little Neo


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Subject: RE: Dealing with Difficult Chord Progression
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 17 Nov 99 - 11:09 AM

Dear Neal,
Now you have got me thinking.
Catspaw's friend is inspiring "I know it's there somewhere" and your approach to finding undiscovered chord progressions is reassuring, because I'm constantly trying not to make a mistake

What do you think about my approach. You may think this is crazy but, when I'm creating a tune I play the banjo as if I have my hands on an ouiji board. For some odd reason my fingers seem to know where to go and I don't question it much. When I make a mistake, I'm learning that my fingers are saying, "that wasn't a mistake, yep, put your finger there", and oops, another mistake, "nope, no mistake silly, pick that, ya that, over there". It may seem very odd, but this is how I develop a tune

Many thanks for your creative thinking on this thread.

Little Neo


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Subject: RE: Dealing with Difficult Chord Progression
From: catspaw49
Date: 17 Nov 99 - 11:15 AM

That's quite a good question Phyte! The timbre and sound clarity of a banjo is greater than a guitar, but the sustain is much less for obvious reasons. And its very true that some things come out better on different instruments. It doesn't mean you can't play a song on banjo, simply that you might want to go for a different "arrangement" or picking pattern more appropos to the instrument.

You'll notice I wrote the above without making one of the infinite number of available wiseass comments that are so easy. Can someone get me a medal please? Or at least write down the date and time?

I'm sorry Phyte, but Rick cannot be trusted in these matters as old age is setting in on him and he can't tell a coconut from a peach pit anymore. When I'm in Toronto, I'll check them out for myself...........And BTW, the special glasses are needed because its a "3-D" tuning.....very old, very bad joke.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Dealing with Difficult Chord Progression
From: Vixen
Date: 17 Nov 99 - 11:23 AM

Little Neo--

From your last post, I'd say you've found "your" instrument. I have been wrestling with the guitar since I was 10, because I had one given to me as a gift. What I've wanted to play was the flute. I finally got a flute in July this year, and I'm already creating melodies with it. I've never had this kind of fluency on the guitar, or piano, or any other instrument I've attempted through the years. The flute feels "natural" to me, and even though I've had only 6 lessons, I'm playing by ear, finding notes by your "ouija" method. Somehow, magically, the are there and my fingers find them. The fingerings or breath control can be problematic, but I "know" where the note is on the instrument. What is delighting me even more than my newfound "musicianship" is that what I'm discovering on flute is actually "translating" onto the guitar, so my guitar skills have had a major improvement in the last 5 months.

Stick with it--you're going in the right direction, and probably at the right speed. Congratulations!!!

V


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Subject: RE: Dealing with Difficult Chord Progression
From: Vixen
Date: 17 Nov 99 - 12:25 PM

Little Neo--

From your last post, I'd say you've found "your" instrument. I have been wrestling with the guitar since I was 10, because I had one given to me as a gift. What I've wanted to play was the flute. I finally got a flute in July this year, and I'm already creating melodies with it. I've never had this kind of fluency on the guitar, or piano, or any other instrument I've attempted through the years. The flute feels "natural" to me, and even though I've had only 6 lessons, I'm playing by ear, finding notes by your "ouija" method. Somehow, magically, the are there and my fingers find them. The fingerings or breath control can be problematic, but I "know" where the note is on the instrument. What is delighting me even more than my newfound "musicianship" is that what I'm discovering on flute is actually "translating" onto the guitar, so my guitar skills have had a major improvement in the last 5 months.

Stick with it--you're going in the right direction, and probably at the right speed. Congratulations!!!

V


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Subject: RE: Dealing with Difficult Chord Progression
From: Vixen
Date: 17 Nov 99 - 12:27 PM

Sorry for the double-post...the computer said it couldn't find the server the first time, so I waited and tried again....

hmmmm

V


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Subject: RE: Dealing with Difficult Chord Progression
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 17 Nov 99 - 12:57 PM

Neo,

Just a small thought--I looked at your chord progression and noticed that you said "Mix Match of Different Picking Styles"--that may be your problem--try working through it staying with just one picking style--and keep it as simple and basic as possible (without leaving out any of the chords and such--keep in all the stuff that is important)

After you've got so that you can play it through well, you may want to go back and reinstate the changes in picking style--


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Subject: RE: Dealing with Difficult Chord Progression
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 17 Nov 99 - 02:01 PM

Thanks MTed, picking or changing picking styles seems to come with ease, it is the chord changes I am finding challenging to achieve fluency.
Vixen 'hit the noggin', I know where the note is, or where I would like to place my fingers but I fumble from lack of experience.

I love my latest tune and I'm being inspired by the people on this thread to persist with slow, controlled, good hand positioning and patients

I was hoping to get it 'down pat' before my lesson with Rick this Thursday. But I'm also learning from you guys not to push it, or strain my hand. Best to work at a steady reasonable pace. Things like that.

Little Neo


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Subject: RE: Dealing with Difficult Chord Progression
From: Bert
Date: 17 Nov 99 - 02:28 PM

The one thing that took me out of 'practice' mode and allowed me to go into 'performing' mode was, to conciously anticipate the chord changes and start moving the fingers 'before' the music told me to.

Of course, many in my audience wish that I'd never taken that step.

Bert.


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Subject: RE: Dealing with Difficult Chord Progression
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 17 Nov 99 - 03:51 PM

Little Neo. That Bert guy just spoke a "WHOLE MESS O' TRUTH! (his first sentence that is)


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Subject: RE: Dealing with Difficult Chord Progression
From: ScotsBard
Date: 17 Nov 99 - 04:16 PM

Lots of good advice above; practice for precision first and add speed later, revoice or refinger chords to make things easy on your self, and judicious capo application are all worthwhile when working up difficult new pieces.

When you mention "Mixed Picking" remember that not all fingers may not need to reach the new chord simultaneously. Learning to fret strings for only the precise time needed can be the hardest part of making the strumming to picking transition. Find some videos of good players (try Bela Fleck) and watch for the subtleties of which fingers press first, even when they are strumming chords.

Good Luck!


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Subject: RE: Dealing with Difficult Chord Progression
From: Neil Lowe
Date: 17 Nov 99 - 04:37 PM

Neo.......my God - sounds like divine inspiration...what composers mean when they say things like "I'm just a medium for the music" etc....it may sound hokey (a technical term, this "hokey" *BG*) but I don't doubt anything that works for anyone....much preferred over my "let's change one thing at a time and see what happens" method.

It appears your muse loves you unconditionally. You should feel fortunate. I am consistently surprised how your moniker belies your true nature.

Regards, Neil


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Subject: RE: Dealing with Difficult Chord Progression
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 17 Nov 99 - 04:54 PM

I know what you mean ScotsBard, by not needing all the fingers to reach the new chord all at once. Kind of like a jigsaw puzzle. Match things up and you save time, right?

What do you mean by learning to fret strings for only the precise time needed?. I've just been changing from strumming to picking or switching picking styles when they seem to flow into each other and sound in harmony. Am I missing something here?

'Judicious capo application' (good phrase, got to remember that one)
Little Neo


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Subject: RE: Dealing with Difficult Chord Progression
From: Dan Duryea
Date: 17 Nov 99 - 04:59 PM

The question boils down to: am I a singer who can play a little or an instrumentalist who sings a little. There are only a few who do both well, the rest of us have to decide. I decided a while back I wanted to be a singer, so I keep the instrument part as simple as I can make it. I've never regreted that. I and most peole prefer simplicity done well to complexity done badly. The easiest thing to spot on any stage is the performer who is reaching for something over their head.


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Subject: RE: Dealing with Difficult Chord Progression
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 17 Nov 99 - 05:29 PM

I am left handed, and have always been surprised when left handed people turn the instrument backwards when they learn to play it, because guitar, banjo. mandolin, etc are left handed instruments, in the sense that the thinking part of the activity is done with the left hand--

The right hand stuff is simple, repetitive, and formulaic(in a good way!), while the left requires thought and long term organization--

Here are a couple tips related to organizing those left hand fingers:

1. Learn your chord progression etc cold--so you know what chord, and how many counts, without having to think or fudge, because a lot of the problem with chord changes is in not being quite sure where to go and when, rather than anything else

2. Plot out and memorize the pattern that your index finger goes through as you play your song

3.Think about where you fingers are going to go two measures ahead of the time you actually move them

4. Try to move your fingers in the same order, every time--

Remember that playing speed has more to do with planning ahead than with finger response time, and in order to be done quickly, changes must be simple and economical--


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Subject: RE: Dealing with Difficult Chord Progression
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 17 Nov 99 - 07:02 PM

Hi Neil
'Change one thing and see what happens'

Kind of like life

The 'Big Boss', God, Universe or Whatever you want to call Divine Order looks down and says "Let's change one thing in Neil's life and see what happens.
Personally in my own life, I find sometimes I am thrown into change only to discover amazing new things. At other times, I sort of just know for some unknown reason where exactly to go.
With life that is.
As for composing music, I think this analogy has much to offer.

Little Neo


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Subject: RE: Dealing with Difficult Chord Progression
From: Brendy
Date: 17 Nov 99 - 07:31 PM

Yo!
I think what the 'Bard' was talking about, with the precise time kind a thing, was to not spend unnecessary time holding down strings when you don't need the sound of the note any more.
As for deciding which are you going to be, singer our instrumentalist. Don't be held back by any option. Go for it. Playng should never overtake the voice, because the story is more important than the than the book cover. But that doesn't mean to say that the cover shouldn't be tastefully decorated neither.

Bren.


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Subject: RE: Dealing with Difficult Chord Progression
From: Bill Cameron
Date: 17 Nov 99 - 09:10 PM

So LN if you're taking lessons from Rick that suggests yer a fellow Canuck?

When I was a young buck learning to play, I thought it was stylish to figure out really difficult fingerings for guitar parts. (The intro lick to "Brown Eyed Girl" comes to mind, for some reason I found a really convoluted way of doing it) Thought this would make me a better player--in a sense it did, maybe, but not a smarter, better sounding or more tasteful one! Gradually I discovered that the easiest way to get from point a to point b on a fret board is also the most graceful.

Anyway, after 10 years or so of playing, I took some lessons from a guy named Paul Bourdeau who showed me the real goods on chord voicings. One of the points he made was that the sound most pleasing to the ear in a chord progression, is what you get from just changing one or two notes at a time rather than repositioning your whole hand. This is good news for lazy types like me. Another useful tip was to make use of open strings as much as possible because they're the ones that sound the truest, particularly on the banjo I suspect. And the final useful tidbit--I'm not sure which teacher I got this from actually--was that you can play any note in any key as long as you don't dwell on the ones that aren't "right"--you just gotta end up in the right place. I think this is one of the secrets to learning to pick creatively.

Dang that was exhausting. Hope I can see you play some time.

Bill


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Subject: RE: Dealing with Difficult Chord Progression
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 17 Nov 99 - 09:59 PM

Bill thank you, I understand what you are saying and it's extremely helpful.
Expecially the complicated part. I think I do just that. Try to create complicated pieces to challenge myself which keeps me captivated in practicing them. I get so determined to play the tune better. But it doesn't mean the tune is pleasing or most tasteful to the ear.
I think my head right now, is as you said, focused on just becoming a better player.
Little Buck Neo


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Subject: RE: Dealing with Difficult Chord Progression
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 19 Nov 99 - 10:15 PM

Banjo Bonnie, formerly Little Neophyte, (yes, it was me who suggested she change her name...cause she's five foot eight at least and is no longer a beginner..she's a PICKER!) Well, to carry on..her newest banjo composition is quite pretty (no, she doesn't exactly know how she's comin' up with these things yet) so I took it to the synth and surrounded it with a late sixties Moody Blues type over the top arrangement, complete with strings and horns, and guess what? If it was 1968, Bonnie would have written a million seller!
Rick (beaming with pride)


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Subject: RE: Dealing with Difficult Chord Progression
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 19 Nov 99 - 10:41 PM

Hi Rick
I have no clue about the million seller, but right now you have made me feel like a million bucks!
I hope these guys realize whatever the heck I wrote as chords earlier on this thread is a far cry from how the tune really goes.

I put the notation you wrote out on my refrigerator door where all the good Arts and Craft work should go, right?
I'm so happy
Banjo Bonnie


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Subject: RE: Dealing with Difficult Chord Progression
From: Neil Lowe
Date: 20 Nov 99 - 12:36 PM

...so when Banjo Bonnie becomes a household word, we can all say, "I knew her when...."

Neil


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Subject: RE: Dealing with Difficult Chord Progression
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 20 Nov 99 - 01:11 PM

I'm already a household word Neil
Bonnie said "switch your salad oils to cold pressed"
Bonnie said "make sure you by a reverse osmosis water filter
Bonnie said "your stools should be big, bulky and floating"
Bonnie said "only use Echinachea when you really need it"
Bonnie said "keep the flax seed oil in the freezer"
Bonnie said "get rid of the chemical house cleaning products, use Borax, Baking Soda and elbow grease"
Bonnie said "the smaller the beans, the less the gas"

Banjo Bonnie RD


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Subject: RE: Dealing with Difficult Chord Progression
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 21 Nov 99 - 12:05 AM

See Bonnie, who needs therapy (or even a job) when ya got a banjo?


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Subject: RE: Dealing with Difficult Chord Progression
From: _gargoyle
Date: 21 Nov 99 - 10:32 PM

Bonnie - you have some confused information - in most areas of your life....I am sorry.

Chords have a variety of "voice-ings." The same, identical, 3or4or5 notes can be arranged in different orders to render the same chord....s

Also, in a "pinch" you can go to only 2-notes in a chord, or even the "tonic" "root" 1-note "chord" to get through a difficult/awkward portion of a piece...(what is easy for one instrument can be difficult for another.)

Realize, that the process of becoming a muscian is much more than hitting the right chords... it is MASTERING the "DIFFICULT" "Transitions" ... if your banjo playing is for recreation, skip the difficult portions and take the "easy way out."

If you expect to become a professional, however, (6-8 years of SERIOUS study) (phrasing, accents, accidentals, shortened/elongated empahsis, theory, theory, and theory).....

Then follow your teacher's advice and do not go looking "shortcuts."

It is vital that you communicate with your intructor YOUR personal goals...where do YOU want to be 2-5-10 years from now?


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Subject: RE: Dealing with Difficult Chord Progression
From: _garoyle
Date: 21 Nov 99 - 10:45 PM

On "other areas of you life."

"Smaller is less" I my experience "less is More"....I gleaned, out of the combine of an uncle, the smallest, most culled pinto-beans imaginable. These were cooked into a chili, with unexected gasses that almost blew the top off of a theatre....two hours later.

Also, realize that the "masses are asses" one out ten thousand in the audience can tell if you "cheated a chord" few are banjo players.

It is MUCH better to play a simple piece well, ie..flawlessly ....than to play a difficult piece with even a single flaw. The most ignorant of audience members will catch the mistake...few will appreciate the complexity.


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Subject: RE: Dealing with Difficult Chord Progression
From: Pete Peterson
Date: 22 Nov 99 - 11:17 PM

That sort of reminds me of Samuel Johnson's great line-- he and Boswell had gone to a piano recital, which was not too good. Boswell tried to excuse the pianist saying "that was a very difficult piece" and Johnson replied-- "Difficult, Sir? I wish it had been impossible!" (I think of this at banjo contests a lot. Tommy Jarrell once said that anybody who enters a banjo contest deserves to lose)


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