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Author Topic: Miller's Breakdown  (Read 95777 times)

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Offline blueshome

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Re: Miller's Breakdown
« Reply #1920 on: July 21, 2018, 06:15:45 AM »
Basically Richmond Blues which is normally played out of A. So A well low Works fine.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Miller's Breakdown
« Reply #1921 on: July 23, 2018, 07:00:23 AM »
Hi all,
It looks as though everyone who intended to respond to the George Henry Bussey puzzler has done so by now, so I will post the answer. 

George Henry Bussey played "Looking For My Woman" out of A position in standard tuning, tuned a full fourth low, sounding in E.  A way you could differentiate from the sound of what he's playing as being in A position rather than G position tuned a minor third low is that in the 6th bar of the song's 8-bar progression, he goes to a V chord, hitting the low root of the V chord on the 6th string.  In A position in standard tuning, the low root of the V chord, E is available on the open sixth string.  In G position, standard tuning, the lowest note available on the 6th string is the VI note, E, so he couldn't have hit that low V note had he been playing out of G position in standard tuning, tuned low.

One thing I remember being impressed by in the George Mitchell recordings was that the musician most commonly covered by the musicians that George Mitchell recorded was Blind Boy Fuller, and this was not just by musicians from the Carolinas, but also players from Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Memphis.  Mitchell's recordings really made clear what an enormously influential musician Blind Boy Fuller was.

Thanks to all who participated and I hope you enjoyed the song.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Johnm

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Re: Miller's Breakdown
« Reply #1922 on: August 05, 2018, 05:21:37 AM »
Hi all,
I've come up with a new puzzler for all who are interested.  It is Robert Curtis Smith's "Calvary", and it can be heard on the attached link, courtesy of Stefan Wirz, who put up the link four months ago.  I was fascinated to hear it, because I didn't know that Robert Curtis Smith had been recorded in the years since the '60s when he had an album come out on Prestige Bluesville and several tracks come out on Arhoolie, as well.  It turns out that Robert Curtis Smith had re-located to Chicago, and at the time when the recordings on the link were made, he had made a decision to play only religious material.  I've very much enjoyed this newer material, as I had his blues.  "Calvary" begins at 11:38 on the attached link, and runs to the end of the link.  Here it is:



INTRO

REFRAIN:  Calvary, Calvary
Calvary, Lord, Calvary
Calvary, Calvary
Surely He died on Calvary

REFRAIN:  Calvary, Calvary
Calvary, Lord, Calvary
Calvary, Calvary
Surely He died on Calvary

Can't you hear Him, calling, "Father"?
Can't you hear Him, calling his Father?
Can't you hear Him, calling his Father?
Surely He died on Calvary

REFRAIN:  Calvary, Lord, Calvary
Calvary, Lord, Calvary
Calvary, Calvary
Surely He died on Calvary

SOLO

REFRAIN:  Calvary, Lord, Calvary
Calvary, Lord, Calvary
Calvary, Calvary
Surely He died on Calvary

The questions on Robert Curtis Smith's version of "Calvary" are:
   * What playing position/tuning did Robert Curtis Smith use to play the song?
   * Where did Robert Curtis Smith fret his IV and V chords for the song?

Please use only your ears and your guitars to arrive at your answers and please don't post any answers before 8:00 AM on Tuesday, August 7.  Thanks for your participation, and I hope you enjoy the song.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: August 17, 2018, 03:55:34 PM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Miller's Breakdown
« Reply #1923 on: August 08, 2018, 06:01:32 PM »
Hi all,
Any takers for the Robert Curtis Smith puzzler?  Come one, come all!
All best,
Johnm

Offline Prof Scratchy

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Re: Miller's Breakdown
« Reply #1924 on: August 09, 2018, 02:11:19 AM »
This is a tough one. Iíll say standard tuning round about F sharp, with a B9 for the IV and Cs9 for the V.


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Offline Old Man Ned

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Re: Miller's Breakdown
« Reply #1925 on: August 09, 2018, 12:48:06 PM »
It certainly is a tough one. At the moment, I'm at G, standard tuning, but that my change as I've no idea on the positions of the IV or V chords yet.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Miller's Breakdown
« Reply #1926 on: August 09, 2018, 03:32:19 PM »
Prof and Old Man Ned,
Good on you guys for breaking the ice on this one.  It is indeed a tough and unusual position/tuning identification--it's not just your imagination!  My advice would be to hang in there and listen in particular to what Robert Curtis Smith hits in the bass.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Old Man Ned

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Re: Miller's Breakdown
« Reply #1927 on: August 12, 2018, 08:15:54 AM »
I've not got a lot further with the Robert Curtis Smith puzzler but if pressed now I would say, without much confidence, Dminor though I haven't got a clue about the IV and V chords.

Offline Prof Scratchy

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Re: Miller's Breakdown
« Reply #1928 on: August 13, 2018, 05:53:59 AM »
Still a mystery to me, I'm afraid!

Offline blueshome

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Re: Miller's Breakdown
« Reply #1929 on: August 13, 2018, 07:54:09 AM »
Iím hearing Vasterpol at Eb with the usual 1st position IV and V chords.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Miller's Breakdown
« Reply #1930 on: August 17, 2018, 03:44:48 PM »
Hi all,
It seems like a good time to post the answers to the Robert Curtis Smith puzzler on "Calvary", since the most recent response came in four days ago.  Here are the answers:

For Robert Curtis Smith's performance of "Calvary":
   * His playing position was G position in dropped-D tuning, tuned a half-step low, so that he was sounding in the key of F#.  The steps in establishing that as his playing position will be outlined below. 
   * Adjusting for Robert Curtis Smith's having been tuned a half-step low, Prof Scratchy's response in his first answer was spot on, for Robert Curtis Smith played both his IV chord and his V chord as ninth chords, fingered X-3-2-3-3-3 and X-5-4-5-5-5, respectively.

The easiest aspect of the song to hear, I think, was the two ninth chords that Robert Curtis Smith played for his IV and V chords.  The use of them would suggest that he was either playing in G position or A position.  In fact, the melody, which he phrases right underneath his singing, sits in a beautifully convenient and economical way in the left hand, when playing in G position, going from a hammer from the third to the fifth fret on the fifth string, continuing up to the third fret of the fourth string, moving upward to the fifth fret of the fourth string, and upward from there to the third fret of the third string.  You can fret all of these melody notes by using your index finger to fret the notes at the third fret and your third or ring finger to fret the notes at the fifth fret.  When he resolves to a full I chord, around 11:45 on the attached link, he plays it as a 7#9 chord, fingered with the Root, G, played at the fifth fret of the sixth string, and the remainder of the chord fretted as follows:  X-5-4-6-6.  Up to that point, and through most of the first verse, it seems plausible that he was simply playing in G position in standard tuning.  At 12:08, though, near the end of the first verse, he plays a little ascending line on the sixth string going from a low V note up to a bVII note.  Were he playing in G position in standard tuning, that low V note would not be available, so the only other possibility given the other chord positions that he played is that he was playing in G position in dropped-D tuning, which would make that low V note available.  I should add that I think that Robert Curtis Smith almost certainly fretted that low root at the fifth fret of the sixth string with a thumb wrap. 

Is the Lonnie Johnson/Bo Carter DGDGBE tuning, and using it to play in G position a possibility?  Not really, because Robert Curtis Smith voiced both his IV and V chords with their roots on the fifth string.  The DGDGBE tuning would require him to finger them at X-5-2-3-3-3 for the IV chord and X-7-4-5-5-5 for the V chord, making them implausible knuckle-busters.

I don't know how many of you have listened to all of Robert Curtis Smith's songs on the link that had "Calvary" on it, but he plays every single one of those songs in dropped-D tuning, a playing position and tuning he never employed on either his Prestige Bluesville album or the tracks of his that were released on Arhoolie.  Of these later recordings on the link, all but two were played in dropped-D tuning in D position.  The other two were played in dropped-D tuning in G position, and those songs were "Calvary" and "Milky White Way" which immediately precedes "Calvary" on the link.  Robert Curtis Smith's tuning is a bit rough on some of those tracks, but they are definitely worth listening to, and his sound in dropped-D tuning was all his own.

Thanks to Prof Scratchy, Old Man Ned and blueshome for participating in the puzzler, which I think might have been the toughest in the whole series.  I hope folks liked "Calvary" and found these later tracks by Robert Curtis Smith as exciting as I have found them.

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: August 17, 2018, 11:26:45 PM by Johnm »

Offline Prof Scratchy

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Re: Miller's Breakdown
« Reply #1931 on: August 18, 2018, 12:49:34 AM »
Wow! A puzzler indeed. I donít think Iíd have worked that out in a month of Sundays, but it seems obvious when explained!


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Offline blueshome

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Re: Miller's Breakdown
« Reply #1932 on: August 18, 2018, 01:05:02 AM »
May have been tough but it proves yet again that Iíve a tin ear to be so far off.

Offline Old Man Ned

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Re: Miller's Breakdown
« Reply #1933 on: August 18, 2018, 01:30:29 PM »
For me, that was the toughest puzzler yet. My gut feeling was that he was playing out of G, but the dropped G tuning I would never have got. It still messes with my head that Mance Lipsomb has played in A out of a dropped D tuning. I good lesson learnt though, and a reminder to me why I love this music so much. These guys like Robert Curtis Smith are so inventive. I love that G7#9 chord.

Thanks, as always, for the detailed explanation John.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Miller's Breakdown
« Reply #1934 on: August 18, 2018, 05:13:12 PM »
Hi all,
I hope that all of you who are interested in the song will try to work it out in G position in dropped-D tuning, working from Robert Curtis Smith's recording.  Remember to get in tune with him first, approximately half a step down from standard tuning--otherwise it is way too confusing to try to reproduce what he's playing a half-step away from where he is sounding.  The trickiest move in the song, which he does a couple of times, involves moving quickly from the G he is fretting at the fifth fret of the sixth string up to a Bb, played either at the eighth fret of the sixth string or the first fret of the fifth string, then resolving upward into the C note at the third fret of the fifth string.

As it turns out, playing in G in dropped-D tuning has some real advantages, in addition to having that wonderful sounding low root for your V chord.  If any of you have heard my second Blue Goose album, "How About Me", I played the title track out of G position in dropped-D tuning.  I later discovered that dropped-D works exceptionally well for a host of positions, including F, C, and A, as well as G.  One of the nicest features of playing in dropped-D for positions other than D is that it enables you to play a low root on the sixth string for chords played out of the D position up the neck.  Give it a try--you might find that you really like it.  And you don't have to necessarily play the sixth string with a thumb wrap if that is uncomfortable for you.  You may find that either the third or fourth finger can work well fretting the sixth string, too. It really makes a lot of things available that are not reachable in standard tuning.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: August 18, 2018, 05:16:38 PM by Johnm »