Does this riff of Chet's have a name?

Discussion of history's greatest guitar player.

Does this riff of Chet's have a name?

Postby mark reinhart » Tue Jun 04, 2013 9:29 am

I've got a question relating to my book project that I would like to throw out to all of you. One of the songs I'll be discussing in the book in "Good-Bye Blues," which Chet recorded with the Beasley singers in 1951. Though it is by no means one of Chet's best-known records, I find it important because it seems to be the first time he used double-note harmonics in one of his recordings. (The liner notes to the RCA compilation album A LEGENDARY PERFORMER mentions that "Chinatown, My Chinatown" was the first song that Chet did this -- but I think that those notes are wrong about that, because "Good-Bye Blues" was recorded earlier.)

Anyway, the question I want to ask all of you is this -- do any of you use a name to describe the funny little descending riff that Chet often does against a G chord that is very dissonant? The riff I'm talking about occurs at about 1 minute, 24 seconds of Chet's second version of "Oh, By Jingo" -- and Chet used it in quite a few other songs over the years, including "Good-Bye Blues." It always makes me laugh, because it is such an in-your-face, crazy-sounding jumble of notes that it seems to say to the listener, "Are you still with me here? We're about to hit a bit of musical turbulence!"

I'm just wondering if that riff has any sort of nickname a la the super lick, or if it is based on any particular scale. Also, I'm wondering whether Chet came up with it, or if he grabbed it from another player. If anyone has any thoughts on this, I'd love to hear them.
mark reinhart
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Re: Does this riff of Chet's have a name?

Postby Norm » Tue Jun 04, 2013 10:05 am

Chet, like all of the great instrumentalists, looked at the way other instruments applied themselves to music. The double string harmonic and plainly noted combination is something we know he 'borrowed' from steel players.

That riff you refer to is something I always figured he took from honky-tonk or ragtime piano players because that's what it sounds like. He does use variants of that quite often and they are fun and easy to apply.

As far as I know it doesn't have a name. You might ask a piano player (one who understands ragtime) and see if they have a name for it.

btw (he suggested gently)... including a link to specific songs you refer to (if available) helps everyone stay on your same page.
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