Two Pop Mountain - A Sliding Country Blues Riff.
Two Pop Mountain - The lesson explained.
Here is the first of a few lessons I'm going to do on this Dropped D slide figure, motif, theme …whatever you want to call it. It's something that happens easily in the key of D and it's a lot of fun to play and a very handy thing to know when looking for a neat rhythm part in D.
It is in fact a variation of a very familiar blues-rock sound that's usually played under the chord as a bass line with the bass alternating between a fifth and a sixth. (Take hold of a good old E chord and start moving that fifth-string-second-fret up to the fourth fret and back again and you'll hear what I mean. That sound can be expanded to become a movement between the I chord and the IV chord, so -- still thinking E -- it's like alternating between an E chord and an A chord.)
But we're in D in this lesson and it becomes a movement between the D chord and a G chord.
That slide position up at the 7th fret is where D is. Imagine an open A chord moved up the fretboard 5 frets. It becomes D up there. A couple of times I play a full three-note D triad, but even when I only play one note, the chord is still D.
The open string notes are the G chord. Imagine an open G chord and those three open strings are a G triad. Again, I only play the root and third, so it's not a full G chord, but it's G anyway.
So this little ditty is a series of D to G moves, back and forth: D, G, D, G, D, G, but because I'm using just selected notes from those triads, it sounds a whole lot more interesting than just playing the chords back and forth. There is another D happening apart from the slide at the 7th fret. It's more of a double stop than a chord -- those two notes that keep appearing between the open string G chord. They're the 3rd and fifth of a D chord down there near the nut. Those normal, fretted, notes add to the texture and also (because they're fretted) are right in tune. The slide notes can often be a tiny bit out of pitch because of the nature of sliding that brass tube half way up the fretboard. No matter how precisely you target that tiny little spot on the string above the fret wire, you can never get right on the money every time and it amy be a tiny bit flat or sharp. But when it's intermingled with good, solid, fretted, in-tune notes, it keeps the overall piece pleasant to the ear. Constant sliding can start to get very sour after a while no matter how adept the player. So I always intersperse my sliding with good old fretted notes just to re-set the pitch.
The timing also adds to the interest, and that's what I'll be showing in the next couple of lessons: how you can change the feel of it by changing the timing.
I know how tricky this seems and how fast it's all ticking over but take it very slowly at first (there's a half speed version that will help you break it down into its elements). Play each element on its own, get the sequence right in your brain and fingers, and pick up the speed when you're confident that you've got it. You'll see that the open string G chord gives you that little window of time to get your left hand fingers to the next D move. It is in fact those open strings that enable this whole thing.
I do a quick move to an A chord near the end, nothing too trick there, and don't worry about the little prelude I play in the beginning. I was just getting my hand in before the real lesson.
(Two Pop Mountain refers to the place where I live. It's a 2000 ft high plateau that rises up from the coastal plain. My ears pop twice on the drive up and down.)
As always, have fun.
Guitar Lesson by Kirk Lorange
As well as putting together these free 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.