I recently did an arrangement of "Sunshine of Your Love", it came together pretty quick and not too bad. It's quite groovy to play, check it out on youtube. I say it's "quick and dirty" because that is all that I have time for - there are no embelishments - there is no solo, no bridge or break, it is just the guts of the verse and the chorus and that is it. I figure that I don't have time for all the fruit, and it is better to finish something to a point, than to never finish something at all. Maybe one day when I have ample time on my hands I will revist these things, and give them the proper embelishments they deserve.
Doing that song was an inspiration from seeing another guitarist play it on youtube (jazzguts), and that I had once attempted it without success. These days my arrangements are becoming a bit more formulaic, which is good and bad - good because it is easy, good because I'm starting to have a more distinct style, good because I'm enjoying myself...nup, can't think of anything bad! :)
Last Friday I had a bunch of mates over, and after a few amber muscle relaxants I invariably pull the guitar out and play some tunes. An old mate of mine, whenever this occurs, _always_ says " all you play is old stuff no-one can sing to, you should play some Def Leppard." Okay, so he's a Def Leppard 80's diehard, I've never held that against him, I can't talk I'm a 70's Pink Floyd tragic.
To be honest, many years ago I learnt the Def Leppard song "Hysteria". However it was a long time ago and it was a "normal learning of a song by a guitarist". This means you learn the main riffs, the solo, and maybe some chords - but it isn't an arrangement, it doesn't hold itself together, it's just pieces of a song you can play. One could almost say it is a waste of effort except that you need to do these things when you are young to get the years of playing that sort of stuff behind you.
So last night, I googled a tab for the song to re-aquainted myself with the chords and riffs and set about arranging it, to spite my mate th enext time he pipes up ;)
Straight up I recognised it's going to sound best in Drop D tuning, being very D-centric. The main riff is the hook into that song, but by itself just doesn't fill up the guitar - a song needs to be completely balanced throughout; you can't play a riff, then strum, then go back to the riff, it just sounds stilted; there is no fluidity and continuity. So I threw in a very basic bassline, just the chord root note 4 beats a bar to beef it up. It will be enough, considering I'm going to be playing the melody on top of the riff as well.
As with most things, the song is in chords, but the main verse/theme chords aren't a normal chord, Dropped D tuning helped a bit and playing it in the non-open position helped a bit as well. Once I had that sorted the melody basically played itself, all the melody notes were right there somewhere nearby. I was pleased :)
But now here's the rub - my missus was in the room at the time (and tolerating me playing the same thing over and over and over again) so I asked for some feedback.
I had isolated two ways of playing it, one was very classical/thumb independence, the first thing I nutted out, basically all the notes required, plucked individually. The second was in the style that is starting to become more of a signature in my arrangements; rather than just plucking out notes I flick downstroke across partial pieces of chords on the on-beat. To me it adds a nice percussive direction, rather than a bass-bass-bass-bass it is more like bass-snare-bass-snare; but at the same time it has the notes required. To me it adds a huge dimension to the sound of the arrangement, creates so many more subtleties to just the primary fundamental frequency of the note you are playing - and performing it is starting to come quite natural to me.
"I like the first one. The second sounds wishy-washing."
Arghh! How can you say that! It's the direction I'm heading, and you don't like it! (It's not the first time when asked she's always picked the non-JAW style version).
"It sounds like you are turning it into a country folk song or something. The first one accentuates the main feel and emotion of the song."
Now I'm just hurting ;)
So, here is the two versions of the signature riff. Unfortunately flicking the strings doesn't tab out well, I've gone with 045xxx meaning a light downstroke flick with your three fingers, basically each finger on each string, giving a slightly percussive sound but still striking the right note/chord in the riff:
Drop D tuning
So, to the 3 people who will read this blog entry, which one appeals more to you? :)