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What you want with a rooster, he won't crow 'fore day? What you want with a man who won't do nothin' he say? - Charlie Patton, Banty Rooster Blues

Author Topic: What do you play and why?  (Read 1312 times)

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Offline blueshome

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What do you play and why?
« on: February 24, 2010, 02:15:18 PM »
In a sense following on from Johnm's "What do you want to hear" post, I wonder what makes the players amongst us choose the songs we play/attempt. Is it the whole song, the lyric, the guitar(or other instrument) part, or the original artist?

Offline Stumblin

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Re: What do you play and why?
« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2010, 03:15:04 PM »
In a sense following on from Johnm's "What do you want to hear" post, I wonder what makes the players amongst us choose the songs we play/attempt. Is it the whole song, the lyric, the guitar(or other instrument) part, or the original artist?
That's a fantastic, thought-provoking question.
Unfortunately, or fortunately who can tell these days, I'm 3 gins & 3 Js into an evenin' with Lightnin' Hopkins  ;D

Offline Norfolk Slim

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Re: What do you play and why?
« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2010, 04:37:44 AM »
For me, I think there are generally two alternative processes that lead me to arriving at something I play.

Quite often I am taught something, shown something, or find something noodling; a snippet or a key lick or change in a tune I know.  That lick becomes part of general noodling and, maybe 6 months (and in some cases several years) down the line it dawns on me that I've got half a tune down without ever intending to.  Then I figure its worth putting in a bit of proper time to have a full tune.  So the process can be pretty random at times- the benefits of having a guitar in reaching distance of my pc at all times.

On the occasions where I specifically decide to set out and teach myself a partiuclar song, its usually because the original (or, often, actually a cover) I've heard has really struck me in some way. That usually means that it was either a mightily powerful performance which id just love to try to replicate, or because there is something unusual or exceptional about it. 

It tends not to be lyrics for me- but rather an unusual guitar part, or sometimes just that powerful performance.

I play a couple of Ishman Bracey tunes primarily because they are so darned weird and different (though I was introduced to Bracey by John M's class in Northampton some years ago).  Ive been working on blake quite a lot because I adore the rhythm of the originals and want to try to recreate that.

Offline uncle bud

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Re: What do you play and why?
« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2010, 07:43:47 AM »
I didn't post in JohnM's "What do you want to hear?" thread because so many others had already eloquently covered most of what I would have said. Something I don't remember being covered there, however, is listening for material not played by others.

This isn't a sole guiding principle for me in my playing or anything, but when I'm listening to country blues, one of the things I listen for is what might be categorized as rarity. Have I ever heard anyone play this song? If it is a compelling song that has somehow escaped the notice of players, that holds a real appeal for me. While I'm sure there are some songs I play or might want to play that are also done by Ernie Hawkins, Paul Geremia, six different guys at the Port Townsend workshop, 8 Weenies, and 10 different guys on Youtube, if that is the case, the likelihood of my maintaining interest in playing the song diminishes.

There's other material that I play that doesn't fit that bill of course. Some of it I try to play just because it's damn fun to get even remotely close to what the original players were doing, like Big Bill's Long Tall Mama stuff or some Blake material I keep going at like Sisyphus.

Offline David Kaatz

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Re: What do you play and why?
« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2010, 12:13:57 PM »
For me, it can be the groove of the original performance, trying to replicate that, even if it is a simple song.  A cool or complex guitar lick can capture my interest - Blake or Blind Boy Fuller come to mind for me.  For jazz/swing tunes, a melody I love will be enough that I may try to create a solo arrangement.  Often only to give up as beyond my abilities, but sometimes I work through to a finished arrangement.
Since I don't consider myself a vocalist, vocals aren't of a factor for me.  An unusual lyric may pique my interest, but rarely do I try to learn a tune based on that.

D.

Offline RevGeo

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Re: What do you play and why?
« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2010, 07:19:41 AM »
Since I do a duo act with my wife and since she sings 75-80% of the material most of what I play is backup to what she wants to sing. We do a lot of varied stuff, but mainly blues, rags and jazz stuff from about 1890 to 1920. She likes to arrange the tunes to fit her style and tastes so I spend a lot of time coming up with guitar and banjo parts.
Of course I spend a lot of time researching material and combing the web to get lead sheets, lyrics and recordings.
I also do a lot of instrumental rags and jazz tunes so I'll choose those tunes mainly based on how they adapt to the guitar or banjo. And, of course, how much I like 'em!

RevGeo
Never stop playing if a fight breaks out, unless you have to shoot somebody....Chuck West

Offline blueshome

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Re: What do you play and why?
« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2010, 07:56:39 AM »
I know it's the easy way out, but it is so - What Uncle Bud said just about covers the ground for me.

I do add some chestnuts into my live performances occasionally as they are useful to fall back on if I need to regain  composure if things have gone wrong.

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