Past

The Strings You Choose

While you’re getting that B-flat lined up with the F-chord I’d like to get you thinking something about how you actually play those chords.

DAs we’ve been exploring this tuning we’ve found that some chords sound particularly fine when you play all six strings, like that home D-chord we started with.  We’ve also found that some chords sound interesting but acceptable when you play all six strings, like this G-chord which has an open A-string in it if you play all six strings.  (And A isn’t in a standard G-chord which would be made up of the notes G, B and D.  A high A-note would be the ninth note in a G-scale if you count these things, so technically all six strings in that G-chord make it a G with a 9th added, but you don’t need to know that to enjoy the sound of it.)  We’ve also found some chords that sound just plain wrong when you play all six strings, like this A-chord in fifths, that just isn’t right if you play the bass D-string.

GAs we keep working in this tuning there’s obviously going to be some use to playing some strings and not others.  Your choice might depend on what notes are available to you–if I don’t have a note that’s a part of that chord easily available on that string I don’t play that string.  Or which notes you play might have more to do with your taste and how you want things to sound–playing more strings sounds fuller, fewer strings sounds maybe more intimate, so I vary it depending on how I want that phrase or that song to sound.

So while you’re wandering through the F-chord and the B-flat maybe spend a bit of time noticing that you’re only actually playing three strings.  Compare how playing three strings for a while feels different from playing six strings for a while.  For instance you don’t have to cover as much ground with the right hand so the moves are a little tighter.  After a bit of doing you should be able to know what it feels like to play only three strings for a while, and be able to reproduce that approach and that feeling whenever you want to.

A (fifths)So wander around the guitar with that thought in mind.  It will be useful in some of the musical ideas we’ll come to as we continue to explore this tuning.