Waaaaaay back in December 2000, I recorded 10 cover song arrangements I'd worked up, putting them all on a CD-R as a Christmas gift for my mother. A few years later, at the encouragement of a few friends and family members, I opted to offer this personal collection as a readily-available CD, titled INTERPRETATIONS, on my site.
Since its official release in 2004, the disc has (thankfully!) been praised by some neato publications, including:
Since some guitar aficionados seem to enjoy the wealth of accompanimental and solo guitar approaches presented on this discfrom complex Travis Picking passages and a host of other fingerstyle touches, to jangly, unorthodox chord voicings, walking basslines, Hendrix-style rhythm work and moreI figured it might be cool to turn one of the techniques I used on the CD into an actual lesson :)
At the midpoint of my INTERPRETATIONS CD (Track #5) sits an arrangement of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah (dedicated to Jeff Buckley). About 2/3rds of the way through that song, I play a fun guitar solo/interlude using a technique (based upon hybrid picking) which I like to call double plucking. I'm not really sure what prompted me to start experimenting with this approach, but it definitely yields a unique sound, IMHO. And what's more, the basic technique is pretty simple! I've since used it for a bunch of things...
Without further ado... In this lesson, you'll cut your teeth on this fun little double plucking technique through a few basic exercises, then explore the approach in-depth through a full transcription of my Hallelujah acoustic interlude. Sound fun? I hope so! But before we get started, you might want to take a couple minutes revisiting the subject of hybrid picking...
All of the examples presented in this lesson are played (and notated accordingly) using pick-and-fingers technique, a.k.a. hybrid pickingan approach that combines elements of fingerstyle and pick-style techniques. In contrast to traditional classical fingerstyle technique [where the thumb (p) is usually responsible for plucking the bottom three wound strings, while the index (i), middle (m), and ring (a) fingers are reserved for strings 3-1, respectively], in hybrid picking the pick is viewed as a replacement for the plucking hand's thumb, while the middle (m), ring (a), and (sometimes) pinky (c) fingers are used to pluck the higher strings.
The following graphic should help clarify the various plucking hand terms and symbols you'll see between the notation/TAB staves in this lesson:
So why hybrid picking, instead of pure fingers only pluckin'? For starters, many steel-string acoustic stylists use pick-and-fingers technique as an alternative approach for traditional fingerstyle playing simply to minimize the risk of shredding their fingernails (if they also play nylon-string, for instance). Further, in the likely event the songs they play also contain standard strumming moves, funky riffs, or lead lines, having the pick already in hand provides more flexibility! 'Nuff said!
In a nutshell, my double plucking technique involves using either the pick and middle (m) or pick and ring (a) fingers (simultaneously) to pick/pluck two strings at once. This is often done while holding down a familiar chord shape, allowing all the chord's notes to ring together (e.g., let ring throughout). To minimize any confusion about this (stemming from the weird looking TAB numbers that result from plucking only two notes at once), in each of the examples in this lesson, a chord frame will appear overhead at the occurence of each new chord shape.
Now you're ready to practice getting the basic coordination down. First, try your hands at Fig. 1an open position G chord, which uses an alternating double plucking pattern featuring the right hand's middle and ring fingers plucking in alternation. (Note: The pick is always used in downstroke fashion, on the lowest string of each string pair.)
At first, you might find it easiest to just stick to using the pick and middle (m) fingers (throughout) for each note pair. However, with practice, you might feel alternating with pick-and-middle (m) and pick-and-ring (a) fingers produces a smoother sound, and promotes relaxation in your plucking hand. (Further, not alternating will prompt your hand to bounce away from the strings at higher temposfor what it's worth, creating the possibility of a percussive effect that's quite cool!)
Now try using this same approach, using your alternating double plucks in the context of an open-position C-D(add2/4) progression [Fig. 2]. (Note: Dadd2/4 is just a fancy name for an open C chord moved up two frets, with the open 1st and 3rd strings still allowed to ring open.)
Now you're ready to test drive the motherload!
Below is a note-for-note transcription of the original interlude I performed in the middle of my version of Hallelujah. NOTE: On the original performance, I played the entire song with a capo fixed across the 3rd fret (to put the song in a more comfortable vocal range). However, to facilitate quick learning, the transcription below is written for a capo-less guitar. Further, I re-recorded the section exclusively for this lessonwithout the capoat REGULAR and SLOW speeds, making it easier to hear what's going on. I hope you like!!!
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featuring me performing all the instruments (voices, guitar, bass,
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If you're hankerin' for more pluckin' passages, there are several fine books out there that are designed to help get your fingers flying. Here are some fun ones:
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