Jerry Garcia's phrasing - scales or chord voicings?

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by Marshall_Stack, Mar 13, 2014.

  1. Marshall_Stack

    Marshall_Stack Friend of Leo's

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    I have never been able to follow Jerry's melodic runs of single notes. For those of you who can - is it more a matter of learning more scales, playing mixolydian or learning chord inversions all over the neck and sketching out the shapes?

    Both right?

    I loved how tuneful and well constructed his passages were - like the one below from the intro to Simple Twist of Fate - reminds me of Hoagy Carmichael the way it swings. And the way he could build drama without volume or grabbing a note and bending the heck out of it for 16 bars. Although I do like that as well. And the little chords he would play up the neck.

    Jerry's phrasing, solos and passing notes have always been out of my grasp. Didn't study theory - major and minor pentatonic worked on most everything else I played. Lately that has been bothering me at the ripe age of 54. Because I love how it sounds and how it feels when he hits that note that you didn't see coming but it fit so well.


     
  2. hymiepab

    hymiepab Tele-Meister

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    I watched this lesson a while back.
    It's a pretty good analysis of Jerry's style.

     
  3. Marshall_Stack

    Marshall_Stack Friend of Leo's

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  4. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire

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    Jerry thought like a jazz guitarist. Lots of chromaticism and modal playing.
    If you read old GP interviews he always mentions that when he got 'stale' he'd buy a new guitar method book and go through it - hopefully finding something that would spark his creativity.
    Jerry also new a lot about music theory and how to read music (none of those books in those days had 'tab').
    Jerry always hit the chord tones when the chord changed ... ALWAYS.
     
  5. Califiddler

    Califiddler Friend of Leo's

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    One of my favorite guitarists, both electric and acoustic.

    I love how, in his solos, he implies the melody rhythmically. He plays notes whose pitches don't necessarily have anything to do with the melody, but because the rhythm is close to the rhythm of the melody, it's like you're feeling the melody. Great dynamics, too.

    I read somewhere that he usually composed on piano, not on guitar. Again, like some of the jazz guys - Coltrane, I think, and others, who weren't primarily pianists, composed on piano.
     
  6. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    Without listening right now to anything specific, my general impression has always been that he plays a lot scale-like patterns, such as: C D E C D E F D E F G E and D C E D F E G F A G B A. These are like Hanon exercises for the piano. I could see someone falling into such patterns if they go through various books from time to time.

    I'm reminded of a story that some junior engineer type guy decided to comp a solo out of several different live versions of a song. The person relating the story said that it wasn't used on record, and that it didn't sound much like Garcia.

    They were a band of such unusual tastes and interests. I am starting to gain a deeper appreciation for Phil Lesh's expansive playing.
     
  7. harmonicon

    harmonicon Tele-Meister

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    I think that video covers the basics. In my opinion, the guy was a genius, so there's no way to copy that, but groups like Dark Star Orchestra definitely get the gist down.

    I think there's also some element in his playing that comes from his bluegrass days. He was never a great bluegrass guitarist, but a more than competent bluegrass banjo player, and he played with some of the best soloists (Vassar Clements, Tony Rice) in that genre. So, there's the element of playing over chord changes in a quasi-modal way that's distinct from jazz playing (which he could also do well).

    EDIT: To Larry F; something I never noticed about Lesh until someone pointed it out to me, is how he almost avoids playing the root. There's constant movement in his bass lines, as he's almost always playing something like a counter melody. If you check out almost any version of "Friend of the Devil," the "bass" is generally handled by the guitars, while he'll travel all around.
     
  8. bloomz

    bloomz Tele-Holic

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    The Dead worked SO well with 2 drummers.

    That's why they really needed a second bass player to hold down the bottom (maybe play the root?) so Lesh could noodle about.

    I've seen the Dead around 75 times, and listen to them a fair amount on XM Channel.

    The bass gaps and empty spaces? He'll hit a good note (probably the root) once n a while and hold it for a second or two and my subs boom and I go "Oh yeah!" then the bass disappears into noodling again, and you have another 30 second gap with no bottom, dangit

    Something I love about Pink Floyd is there's virtually never a space without a bass line being held, and sliding between notes to avoid those awkward empty gaps.

    I love the Dead, just wish they had someone who could hold down the bottom - that was the weak link.
     
  9. Califiddler

    Califiddler Friend of Leo's

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    Funny - I've been listening to the GD for 35 years, saw them about 22 or 23 times, and never noticed a lack of bottom end. Maybe I just enjoyed Lesh's playing so much I never noticed. I recall many times, during extended jams, when a friend said to me, or I said to a friend, "Listen to Phil!"
     
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  10. adjason

    adjason Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    In the end I tend to think that he could always hear and play the melody of the song. The other player that comes to mind who does this is Willie Nelson. This is where natural ability really shines and I for one do not have it. My advice is pick up some of his tabs and then work backwards- learn to play a few and then think about what scale etc he is playing in.
     
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  11. brbadg

    brbadg Tele-Afflicted

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    Well,before us deadheads take over tdpri,I found a piece of software called the Amazing Slowdowner works quite well for slowing Garcia down.That and I use you tube to give me the position he's in,and there you go.I also use the guy at Grateful Guitar Lessons.He's quite good,and although he may seem a little steep,he is right on the money.There are several lessons that can be gotten cheap,and they are the real bargain.Lastly,about Phil ,on a good stereo,there is no bottom dropping out.The idea is like a roller coaster,so it makes the bottom notes much more effective when Phil lands there.The idea is to listen to the interplay.He is basically chasing Garcia around if you really listen.
     
  12. Marshall_Stack

    Marshall_Stack Friend of Leo's

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    BRILLIANT!! That is so right on. I never spent a whole lot of time digging Willie's leads since I didn't play them. Then I learned one of his songs (actually he didn't write it) to play on my wedding day and the solo was poetry. The song was "Hands On the Wheel" - it was suggested by someone here. The solo is brief but melodic, using slides and slurs in an almost vocal sound. Much like the Jerry stuff I have been digging lately.
     
  13. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    Reading one of the Dead bios, they were ready to fire one of the later keyboardists (not Godchaux, I don't think; maybe the guy after him?), who developed the habit of echoing Garcia's ideas. I could see how irritating that could be.

    Also, in one of these books (maybe this one by Phil), it is said that Garcia didn't like Weir's playing. Personally, I have always been enamored of his rhythm work, which always seemed a little Freddie Green-like.
     
  14. Paul in Colorado

    Paul in Colorado Telefied Ad Free Member

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    It was Keith who used to just play what Jerry did during his later years with the band. That was one of the reasons they got rid of him, the other was that they wanted an instrument with more sustain and Keith had little interest in playing organ. That's why Bobby took up slide.

    I once read an interview where Jerry said that the first thing he did was learn the melody and as some one else has pointed out his phrasing was based on the melody. According to Steve Parrish's book (Jerry's guitar tech) he played a lot of '40's music, show tunes and pop stuff (music he heard growing up) and listened to Django, too. I hear bits of Louis Armstrong in his phrasing, but I could be hallucinating.
     
  15. eddie knuckles

    eddie knuckles Tele-Afflicted

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    I find many Jerry-isms in the major pent and phrigian modes. Of course, as others have said he is all over the neck, and the melody (as well as the melodic timing) is vitally important to his style.

    Phil - I always marvel at the apparent "orchestrator" of the Dead and love to hear his contributions and his seemless counterplay with the drums as well as Jerry.

    Bobby - I have probably studied Robert the most of any of the band - he is well rooted in jazz, and it is pretty obvious. I learned my (+2) chord voicings and "C" shape major/minor colored chords up and down the neck and have never been the same since...

    I LOVE the Grateful Dead Listening Guide linking shows to the Internet Archive (a great resource for all sorts of music, speeches and historical audio). I can't believe how many cool shows are out there for us to enjoy! Great stuff!!!

    http://www.deadlistening.com/

    :eek:)
     
  16. stealyerface

    stealyerface Tele-Afflicted

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    I too was always a fan of Bobby's fills, and there is something magical about a chord, placed just right, that ought to actually not be there, that makes me smile when it hits the pocket.

    Whoever mentioned that Jerry did not like Bob's playing was half right. Jerry mentioned a few times that Bob could play the acoustic well enough, but wasn't sure he actually knew how to play electrically. I thought that was kind of funny, as Jerry thought of the two as totally separate instruments. In fact, they thought of replacing him as the band went to mostly electric venues, and Bobby really struggled to learn his parts on the electric guitar.

    Personally, I love watching him shape chords that fill in the gaps of the rhythm, and his knowledge of the fretboard is of legend. That little "Chunka-Chunka-chinnnnnng" that he lets ring has to be heard to appreciate, but the brilliance of the entire blend, although annoying to the very gifted Jerry Garcia, made me a huge fan of his style.

    I never even knew half those chords existed, and one thing I will forever yearn for is the knowledge and theory of why notes work with one another, and how to express that within the confines of the frets.

    For a diagnosed dyslexic, that struggled with the words, he made his mark on the band's epic brilliance for sure.

    ~syf
     
  17. Paul in Colorado

    Paul in Colorado Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I agree! I spent a lot of time at Dead concerts by the stage in front of Bobby, intently watching his hands. I owe him a lot when it comes to playing rhythm guitar. I had a friend, that before the bottle got him, could do a lot of Bobby's right hand grooves. While he didn't have the chord vocabulary, he was a lot of fun to play with. I wish we could have done more before he crashed and burned.
     
  18. TBrady

    TBrady NEW MEMBER!

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    What do you mean when you say you have learned your " +2 chord voicings and 'C' Shape major/minor colored chords " ??

    Please let me know
    thanks
     
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  19. TBrady

    TBrady NEW MEMBER!

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    What is the secret OR Chord tone He likes to use when in SAy Mixolydian ?

    And isnt Mixo that he uses most ?
     
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  20. steve v

    steve v Tele-Holic

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    I've had to take the time to learn solos (from my favorite versions of the songs) essentially note for note and improvise a bit from there. I just don't have the ability to phrase things way Jerry does. My attempts to solo over the chord changes or in a particular key sound rote. Recently I played a great improvised solo, playing essentially in E, and later realized that the song was in D (or visa versa).
     
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