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The piece ended with one of the slide solos that only he could play - sure and skilled, sensitive and moving. If there wasn't to be more of Blind Willie Johnson's guitar and his voice, it would be difficult to think of a more fitting way for his music to fall silent - Blind Willie Johnson, last recording described by Sam Charters

Author Topic: Robert Belfour's Guitar Playing--Tips and Queries  (Read 6022 times)

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Offline robertbidochon

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Robert Belfour's Guitar Playing--Tips and Queries
« on: December 21, 2006, 07:07:23 AM »
I was looking the Robert Belfour perfomance of his song "done got old" and I just try to play the song but i'm not really sure for the tuning. I think it's in standard tuning but I know he plays often in open G tuning, so if someone can help me it will be cool. I got the same question for the RL Burnside song "black name a-ringin".

Thank you.
« Last Edit: July 05, 2018, 06:21:31 AM by Johnm »

Offline markm

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Re: Tuning question
« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2006, 09:07:12 AM »
If I remember correctly Robert's Standard tuning is actually that, tuned down 3 half steps and the same goes for the open G stuff.

Mark

Offline Johnm

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Re: Tuning question
« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2006, 09:21:00 AM »
Hi Robert,
Robert Belfour's tunings are as Mark described them.  I just dug out "Done Got Old" and he plays it in standard tuning ("natural" in Robert Belfour's parlance), down a ways.  You can tune to his sixth string to get in tune with his recorded version.  Welcome to Weenie Campbell!
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: December 21, 2006, 09:22:29 AM by Johnm »

Offline robertbidochon

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Re: Tuning question
« Reply #3 on: December 22, 2006, 03:22:47 AM »
Thank you very much :)
I got some parts of the song now an I will work the other this week.

Offline Norfolk Slim

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Robert Belfour's Guitar Playing--Tips and Queries
« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2007, 01:33:37 AM »
Having seen Robert play in Norwich, UK, last night, I got to thinking about one of the peculiarities of his style.

He often, when playing the IV chord (and sometimes I think the V) plays a shuffle rhythm alternating bass against the treble, but beginning with (and the accent on) the higher note; i.e. 4th string - 6th string - rest- 4th - 6th - rest.

To my ears this creates an unusual, wonderful, jarring effect- in contrast to the more common straight alt bass used by many, or sometimes a shuffle bass on the IV (as used by Lightin Hopkins for instance) but with the low string always coming first - ie 6th-4th- rest etc.

I hope my limited technical; 'vocabulary' is clear enough!

Are there are other players who do this regularly?  I think it may be unique in my cd collection. 

Offline robertbidochon

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Re: Robert Belfour's bass
« Reply #5 on: April 24, 2007, 04:42:31 AM »

Offline Norfolk Slim

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Re: Robert Belfour's bass
« Reply #6 on: April 24, 2007, 02:39:05 PM »
Thanks for that- but im not sure I hear the thing im thinking of there.  Ill try and find an example.

Offline waxwing

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Re: Robert Belfour's bass
« Reply #7 on: April 24, 2007, 08:02:55 PM »
Hey Simon,

I'm a little confused by all that you're putting together here.

Separating things out a bit, I have heard the technique of playing the fourth string on the accented beats, say one and three in common time, and the sixth string on the unaccented beats, two and four, called "back picking". I can think of a few possible examples of this, like MJH's Candyman and the RGD version of Delia taught by Stefan Grossman, and I'm pretty sure Mance does back pick now and then when he's not dead thumbing. I'm sure there are other examples.

Next, you seem to be talking about a shuffle beat with the accent on the third beat of the triplet, I think. Normally the shuffle beat is DUMP (rest) ba-DUMP (rest) ba-DUMP (rest) ba-DUMP (rest) ba-, with the accented note falling on the beat. What you seem to be describing, the accent on the fourth string and the first of the two notes I would see as: pah (rest) OM-pah (rest) OM-pah (rest) OM-pah (rest) OM-. The ear is probaly going to shift the beat to the accent and translate this with more of a waltz feel than a shuffle, which would certainly be jarring. I don't remember Robert doing anything rhythmically like that last summer at PT but I may not have noticed.

What would make more sense to me would be if he was back picking but staying in a normal shuffle with the accent falling on the sixth string. In a normal shuffle, alternating sixth to fourth, the accent falls on the fourth string on the beat, but if back picked, fourth to sixth, the fourth string would be picked on the "3" count of the triplet and the sixth string on the "1" count, with the accent.

Does this make sense, and am I interpreting what you are saying correctly? Or am I just muddying the water?

You also mention that he only does this in the IV or sometimes the V chord, bit I'm going to assume that he is playing in a shuffle rhythm throughout and not shifting from common time in the I chord to a shuffle for the IV? I'm giessing that you're referring to the back picking as the real difference and being in a shuffle rhythm what makes it seem unique. You may be right.

Hopefully someone more adept at understanding this than I will come along, perhaps with some examples.-G-

All for now.
John C.
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

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Offline Norfolk Slim

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Re: Robert Belfour's bass
« Reply #8 on: April 24, 2007, 11:27:47 PM »
Yeah- im not suggesting that the rhythm changes- just that the sort of "reverse" alt bass (or backpicking if that is what its called) is used both in shuffle rhythm songs as well as others where the rhythm is straighter.

You have the point in your second para- but I will see if I can find time tonight to locate an example. 


Offline FrontPage

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Re: Robert Belfour's bass
« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2007, 10:39:23 AM »
Simon:
Could you perhaps rephrase your question in the context of one or two pieces that are included on either of Robert's Fat Pussum recordings? I'm a big fan, and have spent a lot to time listening and watching him play (Robert has been to Port Townsend twice). I know John Miller is also a fan, so he may be able to shed some light on your question, particularly if you can put it in the context of a recorded reference point for common listening.
While Robert has a distinctive "sound" (in fact, I would describe him a one-man wall of sound), much of his playing style is similar to other north MS players like R.L. Burnside. For me, Robert's singing is at least as big a part of his sound as his guitar playing style.
Cheers,
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Offline Johnm

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Re: Robert Belfour's bass
« Reply #10 on: April 26, 2007, 04:55:31 PM »
Hi Simon,
I know that in "Black Mattie", once Robert Belfour gets through his initial riffing and starts singing, he goes to a IV7 chord, and alternates his bass backwards (treble toward bass), but it is not in a shuffle rhythm so that must not be the effect of which you spoke.  Can you remember any specific songs from his concert sets you saw that ran the shuffle bass backwards as you described it?
Incidentally, I wish I could have made it to the European Weenie week-end on Guernsey.  It looked like a lot of fun and kudos to Richard for putting it together.
All best,
Johnm

Offline GhostRider

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Re: Robert Belfour's bass
« Reply #11 on: April 26, 2007, 07:10:56 PM »
Howdy:

If my ears aren'tdecieving me, I hear Funny Papa Smith occasionally do this, mainly in the I parts of this Standard tuning tunes in A (ie. Howling Wolf Blues), where he alternates open A string to open E string. No shuffle though.

Alex

Offline Norfolk Slim

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Re: Robert Belfour's bass
« Reply #12 on: April 27, 2007, 12:54:51 AM »
Things are rather busy at the moment so ive not had time to do a search through the cds.  Will try to do so after this weekend- and will probably find I'm imagining the shuffle bit  :D

Its the reverse alt bass that intrigued me as much as anything.  Its such an obvious thing to do, and yet I don't think I've heard it elsewhere.  And, having tried it, its very tricky to try to do without some practice when your fingers are so locked into the more common ways of playing the alt bass.

I dont have any burnside or funny papa smith recordings- but sounds like the answer to my question is that - yes- there are some others who do similar.


Offline Coyote Slim

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Re: Robert Belfour's bass
« Reply #13 on: April 28, 2007, 11:58:37 AM »
And here I thought the thread was about fishin'!   :D

I love Belfour's work, and kinda know what you been about his picking... guess I'll have to watch some footage in order for the posts to make sense, though.
Puttin' on my Carrhartts, I gotta work out in the field.

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Offline robertbidochon

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Re: Robert Belfour's bass
« Reply #14 on: April 28, 2007, 12:07:49 PM »

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