Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Sounds of Believin'

Since this seems to be the week for short updates on stuff I'm doing, I thought I'd cover the guitar.

It's been a year and eight months since we started learning the guitar, and I'm still annoyed with my level of ability (or lack thereof). But I can see improvement, so that gives me hope and keeps me going.

I'm currently working on three very cool pieces of music.

The first is Bon Jovi's "Wanted, Dead or Alive." It's an awesome song originally played on a 12-string and musically it's just a great piece. It has taken a while to get the very recognizable intro down and we still have to play it somewhat slowly, but it's definitely there. Now we're adding in the body of the song and it's actually going pretty well. The toughest part is that the strum pattern is a little funky and there are some more complex fingerings in between the chords. It's taken me three weeks to get to where I can properly strum and finger the first set of D and D Suspended 4th chords, but today I totally nailed it (once) and it sounded great. I'm trying not to think about the guitar solo.

The next piece we're playing is Simon & Garfunkle's "The Sounds of Silence." It's not a tune I'd have ever thought about on my own, but our teacher wants us to learn to switch between two of the hardest barre chords - the F and the B-flat, and Sounds of Silence is filled with them. We're making progress, but ugh, those chords are tough. After more than a week of practice, we're not quite where we need to be either on forming the chords correctly or on switching between them, but it's getting better. And man, "Sounds of Silence" sounds awesome on the electric guitar. I'm really surprised that there's never been a popular cover of it with some heavy guitars, though Jack Blades and Tommy Shaw did a nice acoustic cover on one of their Blades/Shaw albums.

Lastly, we're taking on Journey. Specifically, the song "Don't Stop Believin'." It's an old favorite, and it just happens that a friend of my daughter's recently played it at a piano recital. After hearing her friend play it, my daughter just had to play it herself, so I got her the music. And look at that - it's got the guitar chords, too. What's even more serendipitous is that it uses exactly the chords my son and I have been learning for the last month - the Am7, Dm7, plus the Barre-F and Barre-B Flat. Five weeks ago, we wouldn't have known those chords (well, we knew a cheater-F chord and technically we'd learned B Flat back when we learned Paul McCartney's "Yesterday," but we definitely didn't know those minor-sevenths). Granted, we don't have the tablature so the guitar accompaniment we play doesn't sound anything like the guitars in the recorded version of the song, but I figure "Wanted, Dead or Alive" is enough of that sort of thing to work on for now anyway.

In another month or two, we'll start thinking about spring and wishing for summer which is, of course, Renaissance Faire season. I imagine we'll pick a lot of our folk, celtic and renn-faire songs back up again and give them some more play time to help get us in the mood.

But for now, we're Believin' in the Silence, Dead or Alive. And, as always, trying not to suck too badly.

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