A Few Good Chords


When I picked up the guitar tonight, it just felt right, felt like it was going to be fun playing tonight.  It isn’t always like that, sometimes ya miss by just a little, the notes just don’t seem right, things seem a hair off.  Not tonight, and like I said, I could tell.

The notes started slow and sonorous,  an C5/D5/E5 with a few minor third riffs built into something resembling a song ring out.  The tone and timbre of the notes seemed for some reason deeper and richer than usual, sounding very much like there was a subtle reverb added underneath.

The beauty, the richness of the notes almost spoke to me, asked me to play something new.  New usually means starting somewhere I know, a riff that I am familiar with, and taking it somewhere it has never been.  I find a few chords and decided to alter things a bit.  The riff has a blues feel to it, straight 12 bar blues, but that’s where I decide to change things up for myself.

I break down the A7 and D7 chords into single note lines, add an open note or two, and decide it’s good, and play it a few times, altering a note here and a note there, adding a major 9th here, a few double stop 4ths there. Then I break out some semi-chromatic riffing, with the occasional double stop chromatic run tossed in for good measure.

Puts a smile on my face.

That works for a few minutes, but I’m feeling like I want to play something else.  As much fun as that riff was, I want something else, there is another riff under  my fingers and in my head that wants out, and I haven’t quite found it yet. But I’m looking.

A 2+ octave descending minor third run in A minor.  No.   It’s fun and easy, I’ve been there 10,000 times before, but that is what I’m trying to avoid. I want something new.

Then a novel thought strikes me.  I decide to do something that I rarely do.  Pure simple rhythm guitar work.  No single note lines, just chording.  No riffs, just chords.  I usually play songs of mine when I do chord work, but there is always an element of lead guitar work mixed in.  Single note lines mixed in, secondary riffs that are played along with, and that alter the chord work within the song.  But plain chording is a rare enough thing for me to do.

So I do it.  It was wonderful.  The simplicity, the strong, sweet, loud guitar work sings in a way that the more complex single note lines cannot compete with.  First I play some of my older songs, with the riffs stripped out of them, just bang out a few chords, just the basic structure.  Usually these songs started out as single note lines and the chords structure follows.  Now hearing just the structure, unadorned, adds something, makes it plain that there are possibilities in the chords that are larger than the single note line that was, and is capable of having better riffs within it.

Then I start to play with blues constructs, just to do it.  This is fun, just pound the guitar like it was meant to be pounded, then adding chord variations, just to see what they sound like.  Chords without names, combinations that I’d not played in a dog’s age, or ever in some cases.

I should have recorded it.  Words do this no justice, but words are all I have.

It was fun, made my day, made my week.

_________________________

That’s it from here, America.  G’night.  Politics tomorrow, methinks.

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