Learning Difficult Material:

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by supersoldier71, Jan 28, 2016.

  1. supersoldier71

    supersoldier71 Tele-Holic

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    I'm away from home on business, so aside from work, gym (which I go to at work) and school-[work], I've got some time on my hands to once again attempt to learn Hendrix's version of "Little Wing".

    I feel like there's a technique, or more accurately, an approach that I'm missing that might make it easier to get the piece under my fingers and through the guitar.

    I know that it's a bunch of chord embellishments, so do I start with the harmony and figure out embellishments that capture the essence if not note-for-note accuracy (which I don't go for, generally, anyway).

    So based on that approach, I'd figure out what chords and what voicings, then embellish those.

    Accepting that this is a challenging song, for me at least, I feel like there's some homework I'm not doing that, while it won't make the fretboard gymnastics any easier, will at least help me to more organically know where I should be and what I'm trying to accomplish.

    What are some of your techniques for learning challenging material?
     
  2. Bill Hell

    Bill Hell Tele-Meister

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    I would think to really learn Hendrix's feel then the thumb over the neck doing those Floyd Crammer/Curtis Mayfield fills would be the key here. I have small hands and I just don't like the thumb over the neck but I'm finding that in some songs that I play fingerstyle that it does come into play and that it is the best way to voice certain chords just to keep from using the index finger bar thing. My 2 cents worth anyways.
     
  3. ndcaster

    ndcaster Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    I've learned that if I don't know the chords, I won't know the leads

    that I can't play fast what I can't play slow

    that embellishments are best understood as ad libs

    that nothing should break the groove

    that most wank sails right over the heads of the ninety-five percent.

    So I work on all that. My current woodshed is "Bryant's Bounce," worked out in multiple positions. I just take it slow and let things sink in. Head is done. Should be set to improv on the changes next week.

    It sounds like Hendrix approached soloing over those changes by thinking of specific target notes to dance around. People pay too much attention to the decor.
     
  4. JayFreddy

    JayFreddy Poster Extraordinaire

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    Some good replies so far.

    I agree that it helps to learn the underlying harmony/chords first. The chords provide the context.

    Below is my simplified transcription of the Intro. No timing info, but I think it's pretty close. For the rest of the tune, many of the fills are based off phrases found in the Intro.

    The Roman numerals are suggested positions, i.e., the fret closest to the 1st/index finger, so you know which fingers to use. Hope this helps!

    Code:
            X
            X            V/VII    V        
    1e---x--12s\----------------------------------
    2B---x--12s\----x-x---------------------------
    3G---x--12s\----x-x-------0-------5--5--------
    4D--------------x-x---------------5--5h7s\----
    5A--------------x-x-----------5h7-------------
    6E-----------0--------5s/7--------------------
    
        III
        G                        
    1e------3h5p3--3-------------------
    2B------3------3----3---3----------
    3G----0-------------4h5-5p4-5p4----
    4D---------------5-------------5---
    5A---------------------------------
    6E--3------------------------------
        Play 3 in Bass w. Thumb
    
          V              
          Am7                           Em
    1e------------------------------------------
    2B------------------------------------------
    3G----------5--5h7-5-5----------------------
    4D----------5--5---5-5h7----5---------------
    5A-------5h7-7----------5h7-------5---------
    6E----s/5---------------------5h7----0------
    
    
        VII                
        Em                     (15 seconds!)
    1e------------------------------------------
    2B--8h10p8----------------------------------
    3G--7-----7-------7-7-7---------------------
    4D----------------7-9-7---------------------
    5A---------7--7-10------10-7----------------
    6E------------------------------------------
    
        VII                 VI     V      
        Bm7                 Bb     Am7       (Csus)
    1e-----9--10--9-----7------------------------------------
    2B-----7--7---7--10-7------------------------------------
    3G-----7--7---7--7--7------7------5--5-5-5-5-5--5-5-5----
    4D-------------------------8------7--9-7-5-5-5--5-7-5----
    5A-----------------------------------------8-7-----------
    6E--7-----------------7--6-----5-------------------------
    
    
               IIIs/V III    I                      V
                G            F   C                  D
    1e----------5s/7---5--5--3--------------------------------
    2B----------3s/5---3--3--1-----1-1-1h3p1-1----------------
    3G----------4s/6---4--4--2-----0-0-0-----0--0----7-7------
    4D----------5s/5---5--5--3------------------2----7-7------
    5A---------------------------3------------------5---------
    6E--5h7--3------------------------------------------------
    
    
         VII
                Dsus     D
    1e--------------------------||
    2B--------------------------||
    3G---7---7-----------7------||
    4D---7h9-7-----------7------||
    5A----------10-10-7--9------||
    6E--------------------------||
     
  5. supersoldier71

    supersoldier71 Tele-Holic

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    Precisely! I learned my dumbed down "Life Without You" but learning how the song "goes" (the chords).

    I feel like if I can crack the code to this song, I'll be able to crack Axis: Bold as Love, Yellow Ledbetter and a more complete "Life Without You" as well.
     
  6. zimbo

    zimbo Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I didn't have a big problem with Little Wing. The Hendrix embellishment I've always had trouble with is hammering with the little finger once the chord is down. That takes some real practice. Axis Bold as Love is a challenge.
     
  7. prebend

    prebend Tele-Holic

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    +1 on knowing the chord progression cold. All of the embellishments come right out of the chord forms and associated scale.

    A good place to start is to figure out all the little double stop hammer-ons, pull-offs and slides in the pentatonic scale surrounding a give chord. This will give you an idea of where these fills come from. For example the G major pentatonic at the third fret. But even this isn't the full story as Hendrix hammers from the 3rd to the 4th when playing over the G chord as JayFreddy's tab shows. That little bit falls outside the pentatonic scale.
     
  8. Tim Bowen

    Tim Bowen Poster Extraordinaire

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    Speaking generally, not so much specifically to "Little Wing" - when I really want to get inside a recorded tune or piece:

    • Listen very intently and critically, several times, prior to ever picking up an instrument. The intense listening is not just to the part(s) that I'm interested in picking up, but to the entire arrangement.

    • Chart it. Chord progressions and song form.

    • Relate all melodies and parts to chord structure and form.
     
  9. rand z

    rand z Friend of Leo's

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    I choose to listen carefully to the song, getting a "feel" for the harmonic flow of the chord structure and for the general sentiment.

    Then...

    Start at then beginning and SLOWLY learn then chord structure in small segments... about 4 bars each.

    And, finally SLOWLY piece it all together.

    To be honest I'll start in on a number of songs that I want to learn (usually around 3 or 4) and stay with the one/ones that seem to come naturally for me. I'll disguard the other's as the ones I didn't CONNECT with.

    BTW, when I learn new songs these daze, it's usually to perform them in my show, and I don't normally pick material that's way beyond my grasp. I have to connect with the stuff that fits my style and is right for me to SING, as well.

    Finding songs that I can sing well is much more of a priority...
     
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