The Faraway Girl - A Picking and Sliding Guitar Lesson.
This Lesson explained
This one is a double barrelled lesson. It started out simply as a finger picking lesson, then I added some slide and then decided to turn the slide part into a lesson too as I often get requests to tab the improvisations I often do at the end of these lessons. So you get both this time 'round.
My beautiful 9 year old daughter Georgia got a part in the Brisbane City Youth Ballet production of Enid Blyton's "The Magic Faraway Tree" last week. She was a pixie in one of the opening scenes. I named it after her.
The piece is in the key of A, keeps cycling through the I - vi - ii - V chords --- A - F#m - Bm7 - E7. You'll see that the B and E strings remain open strings throughout and those notes become the extensions you see in the chord names. You'll also see that the left hand does very little to change the chord flavors. That third finger remains anchored to the A note on the 3rd string until the very last chord when it drops down to a G#. The other fingers simply move from one string to another, always on the second fret. It's kind of neat the way that happens and it really only happens in the key of A. You'll hear that it's a familiar sounding progression.
The finger picking part
I know that trying to decipher the pattern by watching the video is a lost cause, but I put all the little dots onto the virtual fretboard anyway. Refer to the tab for the exact pattern. Apart from one double-pluck, it's all single notes with the thumb picking every second note. What you can get from the video is which fingers I use to do the picking. They are, of course, the logical choices, being the fingers that fall naturally over the strings.
I suggest that you spend a bit of time just playing the Amaj9 chord and lock the picking pattern into your muscles. Once you get it, keep it going and start changing the chords. Keep the picking steady as she goes. The pattern changes slightly on that last bar of E7, but you don't have to change it if you don't want to. This is a good pattern to know and can be used over any old progression.
The slide part
I kept the lines very simple for this part. Long notes, and fairly easy moves, although nothing about playing slide is easy when you start out. You will quickly find out that the most important aspect of playing slide, especially in standard tuning, is muting out strings you're not playing. Pay close attention to what my picking hand is doing in the video. You can clearly see how the thumb and the finger tips come down on those un-played strings and mute any sound coming from them. That really is the trick to it all, and something that you need to practice over and over until your fingers simply do it without any thought whatsoever. It has to become second nature. Notice at bar 37 when I play that Bm triad that only my thumb does the muting. I want all three treble strings to ring out there.
The touch required is the other thing you need to practice endlessly. Let the weight of the slide do all the work, don't push into the string. Not only will it sound ugly but it will damage the fret wires. Also, make sure the slide is directly above the fretwire of the target notes ... that where the correct pitch is, not behind the fret where you'd ordinarily put your finger. The virtual fetboard shows that well. Order my DVD on the subject for the finer points if you like, or the online version.
You'll see 16 bars of the picking, which is 8 bars repeated. At bar 17 the slide starts, there's a bit of a jog in the way the tab worked out.
All positions are those of the target notes. Some I slide up to, some I don't, some I slide down to, but the choice is yours. When you do slide up to them, make sure you never go sharp then come back down. That sounds awful. The opposite, however, sliding down to a note, going past it, then back up, is OK, even preferable. For some reason the ear doesn't mind slightly flat notes rising to the proper pitch, but hates slightly sharp notes dropping down to the proper pitch.
The notes circled in red are those played with the finger, not the slide.
For this lesson, I will be charging a small fee of US $4.95 for the Printable PDF of the TAB/Notation. Click here to order it.
Guitar Lesson by Kirk Lorange
As well as putting together these fingerstyle guitar lessons, I am also the author of PlaneTalk - The Truly Totally Different Guitar Instruction Package, which teaches a mindset, a way of thinking about music and a way of tracking it all on the guitar fretboard. Yes, there IS a constant down there in the maze of strings and fret wire, a landmark that points to everything at all times. I call it The Easiest Yet Most Powerful Guitar Lesson You Will Ever Learn and many testimonials at my site will back up that rather superlative description. If your goal as a guitar player is to be able to truly PLAY the guitar, not just learn by rote; to be able to invent on the fly, not memorize every note; to be able to see the WHOLE fretboard as friendly, familiar territory, not just the first 5 frets and to do it all without thinking about all those scales and modes, then you should read more here.