Why is J Garcia stuff so difficult to play?

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by Blue Bill, Jul 14, 2019.

  1. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I'm not sure we disagree @Wally. I'm sure he knows his stuff. But I'm equally sure sure he wasn't sitting there at 250+ interminable concerts a year, high as kite, going "ok, here's were I throw in some G mixoydian and then I'll wow them with E phrygian, and bring it back with a chromatic turnaround". No way. He played what he heard in his head. Which I respect. His taste and style are not for me, but that is not a put down. Nor meant to say he's a hack.
     
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  2. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

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    I used to have fun jamming to Dead albums. Jerry is very, very modal. Tons of myxolydian, with blues, pentatonic, Phrygian, and Hungarian thrown in. Play an easy two chord jam like Fire on the Mountain, for example. Unlike bebop, but more like Miles Davis Kind of Blue or Irish music, you can jam away in a mode all day long. I would recommend you look for those long jams that hang forever in one mode and see if you can start to feel the groove of it.
     
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  3. davidge1

    davidge1 Friend of Leo's

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    From what I've listened to, he plays within the chords – using the major scale with passing tones (the notes in between the scale notes). Everywhere there's a chord, there's a scale. You switch scales as the song switches chords. Not as complicated as it sounds, but involves more learning and practice than playing blues, where you can use the same scale over all the chords in the song. This is how you play melodically – like a country player on a ballad.

    I recommend you study the CAGED system for learning this. Study that, and you'll learn A LOT. It will at least give you some insight into how Jerry Garcia played.

    Also, as others mentioned, he used the mixolydian mode frequently. This is just the major scale with a flatted 7th. Mixolydian works well over a chord progression containing a bVII chord (for example, a song in the key of A that contains a G chord, like Fire On The Mountain by the GD). The mixolydian mode can be played over all the chords – you don't need to change scales when you use that.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2019
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  4. LeicaBoss

    LeicaBoss Tele-Holic Gold Supporter

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    Jerry was an incredibly thoughtful musician. I don't believe he had the formal vocabulary of musical theory - but there's no doubt he both studied and internalized a ton of theory. His collaborations with some real heavy hitters were pretty wild and miles beyond modal wanking.

    You could always hear or at least sense the melody in his solos, he had a phrasing that's very hard to replicate. It's very easy to dismiss his playing - but it would be wrong.
     
  5. bcorig

    bcorig Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    That’s beautiful. Seemingly Effortless.
    Looks like he just stays with each chord.
    To me it always sounded, and even looked, so simple until I tried to play it. Zip.
     
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  6. solarpanelasses

    solarpanelasses TDPRI Member

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    To get into the style of jerry, you really have to put yourself into the mind set, its beyond practice, its all the acid and the changing times too! Keep in mind though, Jerry started off as a blue grass banjo player lacking a middle finger, meaning incomplete and unique finger methods, when i tried to learn to play Help on the Way/ Slipknot I had to practice the odd felling finger picked diminished fifths forever. Another thing about the dead to consider is the years of changing styles, through out it all they always held an idea of having music communicate with itself both between instruments and with their audience. Ranging from psychedelic blues, to prog jazz, to soul, Jerry had always manifested a prolific practice regiment.

    Personally, I learned to play Jerry style licks by starting with earlier pre 71 songs, to get the all around the neck rhythm/ lead feeling, then moved onto later stuff which I learned to play note for note. (Also, sometimes you just have to get a few friends pass around a joint and let it seep out of you to get his feeling going :) )
     
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  7. strat a various

    strat a various Friend of Leo's

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    You were on the right track, but you thought learning scales would make it easier. That's your problem right there. Ear training is key.
    Think about the guys that can hit a paper plate at 100 yds with a handgun. When you start out, you can barely see it clearly, but after enough practice, it's within your skill set.

    You need to bridge the gap. Get a few notes at a time ... and don't start with the hardest solos. Take a song, work at the edges, sing the parts, write down the notes. Work a little every day. It's like a muscle, you need to keep developing it, can't stop, or you'll lose what you've gained.
     
  8. RoscoeElegante

    RoscoeElegante Friend of Leo's

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    Not the song you're chasing, but general Jerry's-wizardry links can be very helpful. Really shows you how free the man was when he let his fingers fly.






    Dave Rawlings kinda reminds me of Jerry, and YouTube patience-mensch Eric Haugen does a great job unfolding Dave's own magic:
     
  9. burtf51

    burtf51 Tele-Meister

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    I wouldn't worry about it in the least. Tony Rice said in an interview that he had no interest in listening to someone who tried to emulate his playing style, it was simply that, what he heard. There was a time when any musician of any instrument couldn't play a single note/chord in the beginning but through years of listening to the originator's of genre's they cut their own path, putting it all together and playing what they heard in their mind.

    On a side note, I work alot on my acoustic and mandolin and I don't study modern day artist but from the beginnings from which the foundation was started. Playing is like building a house...do you start with the roof or the foundation. The travesty in some players are some are wanna b's and to me they just shot theirself in the foot for they're trying to start with the roof!
     
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  10. tvas22

    tvas22 Tele-Meister

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    I agree with the others about playing with his ears.

    However, in the documentary Long Strange Trip, they discuss at the height of his fame not being able to go out much, and so pretty much spending all his time in hotel rooms working on his scales. It seemed like he knew his scales intimately enough to be able to play what he wanted to play, and get the sound he was hearing in his head, without too much thought
     
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  11. Blue Bill

    Blue Bill Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Wow, some great stuff, thanks. I'm definitely feeling more encouraged and less frustrated, thanks, everyone.

    I'll work on getting more comfortable in Mixolydian mode, that's new territory for me. Also try to get a handle on how he manages to make a diminished 5th sound like it's supposed to be there.

    Davidge1, that's where I'm stuck, I'm slow and clumsy switching from scales to chord tones and back in one position. More practice! The CAGED system has been really helpful.

    Leica, I agree; I think he knew theory backwards and forwards. Sideways too. It's the phrasing I want to get a handle on; it's so distinctive.

    Bcorig, It looks effortless, but holy cow, not easy.

    Solarpanel, so, maybe a little plant medicine would help. It would be awesome if I could just channel JG and let him play.

    Stratavarious, ya mean all that scale work was a waste of time? :eek:

    Roscoe, thanks, man. I'll spend some time on those vids. At least there's a lot of instructional material around on the web. Remember when all we had was slowed down records and tab sheets from guitar magazines?

    Burt, That's me, a total wanna-be. It's a time factor for me, I'm afraid it will take so long to go back to the '60s stuff and start there, that I'll be 100 years old by the time I get to the finish line.
     
  12. Marc Muller

    Marc Muller Tele-Holic

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    Bird memorized Hawkins, Coltrane - Bird, Clapton - BB King, etc. Who did you grow up trying to play like? No matter who, bet you still have your own style. Learning, memorizing, emulating is just part of the never ending process.
     
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  13. burtf51

    burtf51 Tele-Meister

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    I'm 68, been playing since I was 11 years old. I've gone back much further than full circle, when I started working on jazz standards I realized real fast just how little I knew about music and now with the acoustic and mandolin I'm back in to 20's upward on acoustic and back to old Irish tunes on my mandolin and it is so much fun and rewarding for me, for I could care less in trying to impress anyone by trying to copy someone else.
     
  14. ndcaster

    ndcaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    Garcia spent countless hours jamming. (Have you? If not, give yourself a break.)

    What the countless hours mean is that he has completely and totally internalized pentatonic scales and chord shapes (particularly neighboring ones) on the neck. This has allowed him to develop a sure sense of where the other 'chromatic' notes are, between them. He has also listened to a ton of country from the 50's and 60's and absorbed its characteristic phrases and bends.

    In the first two videos that were posted here, it sounds like Jerry is playing around the roots of the chords. He's thinking "where's the new root?" and dances up to, beyond, and around it. I don't hear much Django in that. Maybe a little in the chromatic slides up. My impression is that Django's phrases, at least early on, danced around sixths and ninths. Garcia liked to get funky, and that often meant the dominant seventh. A mix of major and minor pents, as others have said.

    Wally nailed it by talking about Garcia's right hand. To me, Garcia's playing is "up" and always bouncing. That comes from two things: a swinging right hand (maybe that's where Django was most influential to him), and a casual tossed-off approach in the left hand that dances around chord tones when they're not sliding phrases up the major pent to some high bend. I don't hear him play many descending lines.

    Jerry's playing is bouyant. I like it, but I think the Dead's sound is all about the chipper rhythms, extended solos, and loose high harmonies.

    They've grown on me.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2019
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  15. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Ime, practice allows one to utilize the results of the practice without having to go through the momentary mental analysis of why one is doing what one is doing. I don’t know if I have the time today to watch all of what Roscoe Elegante posted above, but in the first video the demonstrator comes to the same conclusion that I voiced earlier. He is hitting certain chord tones in such a way that in effect emphasize the scale of the chord over which he is playing.
    To analyze what anyone does is one thing. To practice it until one doesn’t have to analyze from second to second is another thing. To play the results of all of that practice in a musical manner is the goal. I think Garcia thought about what he might want to do on an instrument, practiced it, and came to be able to present it in a very musical manner.
    And...I am sure that we are not disagreeing to any appreciable degree. (;^)
     
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  16. Chiogtr4x

    Chiogtr4x Poster Extraordinaire

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    Just an opinion,
    but I think part of the difficulty or mystique (?) of ' Playing Garcia correctly' is that he had ( on electric) high action AND is always using finger/wrist vibrato on that fretboard- not just on leads, but on his chords, and say the low string note ' growly ' riffs he is playing while singing. He is ALWAYS exciting those strings with his left hand.
    So that's giving him the phenom of always generating an acoustic sustain from this technique, but also EVERYTHING is a bit off pitch as with that vibrato he straddles between being flat and sharp on dang near every note he plays. Also love his half-step bends...

    Some folks hate this sound, I love it - listening to him just is like an 'open door' to me - the GD and Jerry, let me know it's OK to play ( and perform) whatever makes you happy.
     
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  17. P Thought

    P Thought Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    As soon as I saw this thread I thought about the "10,000 hours to mastery" rule. That's about five years of eight-hour days. Mr. G had those in, a couple-three times over, maybe.
     
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  18. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Here is an interesting take on an old song.....from their first album....different approach here....sort of a “hippie stomp” thing, eh?

     
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  19. -Hawk-

    -Hawk- Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    This interview offers great insight into Jerry as a player.

    https://www.guitarplayer.com/.amp/miscellaneous/gp-flashback-jerry-garcia-october-1978

    He played constantly - 2-6 hours a day - and invested a lot of time with technique and theory.

    I find myself more interested in his approach to rhythm than lead playing these days because he has such a neat way of incorporating fills and bluegrass runs into (for lack of a better term) rock music. That’s useful for me in my band.

    I don’t have the precision, timing, or fretboard knowledge he has, so I don’t hear much of him in my lead playing. I do try to look at solos more as a play on the melody than compiling licks though. It’s not easy to do.
     
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  20. Area51

    Area51 Tele-Holic

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    That's my view of a lot of jazz; chromatic with arpeggios thrown in in the right places.
     
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