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Working out "Londonderry Aire" one note at a time

PostPosted: Sun Feb 03, 2019 6:22 pm
by Doug Working
I'm assiduously working out Londonderry Aire, from Chet's "Alone" album. When it comes to playing chords, I am so used to the standard way of striking the strings, each finger assigned to an individual string, what we all know as the free stroke, but It occurs to me, as I listen to Chet's recording , that one of the secrets to his beautiful tone, and a reason that it's so hard to imitate, is that he often, when playing triads, will use a simple up strum with the index finger. I am almost positive he is employing the technique in this recording, yet it's very subtle.

You have to listen real hard and replay each phrase repeatedly to catch it. And even then, I'm not exactly sure about all spots where he is using it. Some places I am left to guess.

Anybody else ever work this recording out and come to that conclusion? That up-strum with the index finger on triads seems to be a mainstay of his technique. Chet was so DARN good at it. So polished.

I've made good progress in working it out, but I'm getting cold feet about some of the chords he is using up in the higher register at certain sections of the tune. I'm afraid I might get so far, then suddenly get stuck because I just can't figure the durn thing out totally by ear..he often uses moving voices within the chords. Those moving voices chords are so freakin' hard to nail. Especially when he's doing it up at the 12'th fret and beyond.

Actually, the middle arpeggio section of the tune I figured out years ago, and I can do that part in my sleep. I figured it out the hard way. The "old fashioned way," by placing a penny on the tone arm of the phonograph, thus slowing it down just enough to hear what he was doing. Ahhhhhhh! Those were the good ol' days!

Now all I have is a CD, my vinyl album long lost, and I can't slow the CD down, and at normal speed, a lot of those licks fly by REAL fast! It takes me hundreds of repeats to match on my guitar to what my ear is hearing. Patience, patience, patience...and tons of persistence.

The first time I heard the arrangement, as a young kid, I was astonished and enamored of the beauty of it. Decades later, I still feel the same. I know I'll never get it as perfect as Chet, but maybe I can get kind of close. (Providing I can figure out what he's doing on the upper register with the moving voices.)

There's method to my madness: I'd like to get this one down good to be able to do it as a solo in church. "Londonderry Aire," "Danny Boy," and finally "He looked beyond my faults and saw my need" was by Dotty Rambo, if my memory serves me. The last one justifies me being able to do it in church!

If it had remained "Danny Boy," my pastor could reject it as not appropriate for church. But when you add the gospel lyrics (same tune!) then suddenly I'm golden. So that gives me extra motivation to really work it out till I nail the whole thing.

It's on my list of Chet tunes in my head I've toyed with learning for years, but just never knuckled down and did it. 2019 is gonna be different!

Re: Working out "Londonderry Aire" one note at a time

PostPosted: Sun Feb 03, 2019 9:32 pm
by Doug Working
Searching on Y'tube to find someone doing a cover of the arrangement, (to give me some fingering hints) I strike out. Many covers of Chet's arrangement from "Solo Sessions," but zero from the "Alone" album arrangement.

I must be in unchartered territory. Looks Ike I will be the Lone Ranger if I figure it out.

Re: Working out "Londonderry Aire" one note at a time

PostPosted: Sun Feb 03, 2019 10:36 pm
by DagerRande
Doug, I've been playing it for a long time. I was inspired by Chet's version but I have my own jazz harmonies that I like to incorporate in my arrangements.

Re: Working out "Londonderry Aire" one note at a time

PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2019 5:40 pm
by Doug Working
Lol! I got to figure the durn thing out first before I can think about adding extra harmonies! :)

Actually, though, I stayed up till the wee morning hours last night, guitar in hand, lucubrating on this, and dog-gone it, a little persistence pays off. I actually got most of it actually figured out. The only thing I have left are a few chords and notes at the end.

And as for Chet's final harmonics on the song. I'm pretty whipped. I'm just not great at harmonics. I can do some, but most of Chet's harmonics techniques are way above my head. I suppose I can just end the tune with straight notes.

Now knowing the chords and notes as Chet played them is one thing. Getting to the point of playing it smooth is another.

But I'm a worker. The scripture says "The hand of the diligent tendeth to plenty."

I do hope I can figure out the other maybe 5% that I haven't nailed yet, then as good ol' Bob Ross always said "I think we have a finished painting."'

I'm double challenging myself. After I get the arrangement down pat, I plan to work on his arrangement of the tune from Solo Sessions. Then I'll be able to officially dub myself "Master of Danny Boy." :)

I counted, and I found no less than FOUR arrangements of this melody that Chet played throughout his career. For some odd reason, Chet always leaves me in the dirt.

I'm still dissapointed that not a single soul on Y'tube bothered to learn the arrangement from "Alone."

Maybe that's why Chet called it "Alone?"

Re: Working out "Londonderry Aire" one note at a time

PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2019 9:17 am
by BillB
Maybe it was mentioned somewhere in this thread, but Chet teaches this song on his instructional video, "Guitar of Chet Atkins." Maybe it's not the same arrangement as you are looking for, but it seems like there would be something useful there. That video is still available from Amazon and probably other places as well.

Bill B.

Re: Working out "Londonderry Aire" one note at a time

PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2019 9:37 am
by Hendrik
Doug, YouTube can slow down videos without losing pitch. I always do that if I'm learning a new song (and if it's on YouTube..). Here is Londonderry Air from the Alone LP. Click on the cogwheel icon, than 'Speed' and there you can select to slow down the video at 0.5 or 0.25 speed.

Re: Working out "Londonderry Aire" one note at a time

PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2019 6:16 pm
by Doug Working
Lol. I'm pretty familiar with the video. I was the poster!

Anyway, thanks for the tip about slowing it down. I'll try that.

Actually, I took the recording off my CD, (ironically same CD that I posted that to Y'tube) and recorded it again open mike on my portable audio digital recorder. It allows me to slow down and to also do a point A to point B thing where I can listen to selected short clips. That really saves time when the passage you are trying to figure out is in the middle or at the end of the tune.

I pretty much have the arrangement nailed now, as far as figuring out the fingerings. Just gonna take time before my fingers can execute it smoothly. That is, without a hitch.

There are a couple places that are really tricky where the melody moves up and the bass line also moves up, (50) & (2:28) but separated by one string. Those licks are tricky as all get out to get smooth.

This morning I also started on his other arrangement from Solo Sessions. That one is titled as "Danny Boy," while the first one is "Londerry Aire." Same tune, though!

Re: Working out "Londonderry Aire" one note at a time

PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2019 6:27 pm
by Douglas

The arrangement for the “Alone” version (my favorite) is included in the Hal Leonard publication “Chet Atkins Guitar for all Seasons”. Transcribed by John Knowles, Dave Whitehall, and Byron Fogo. The book is out of print but I checked and found copies on and eBay.


Re: Working out "Londonderry Aire" one note at a time

PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2019 6:38 pm
by Doug Working
Oh wow!!

That's a super tip!

Now that I've got 'er figured out, it would be really fun to check my ears against the ears of John, the master transcriber!

I'm really sure I got it right, but I'm deadly curious to juxtapose my solution against John's That way I could grin from ear to ear and pat myself on the back and say "You got 'er, boy!" It would do wonders for my confidence and might even stroke my ego a bit, too. (Lol!)

I know for a fact that John, METICULOUS as he s in transcribing can be trusted to get it right. I mean, when John transcribes, you can take it to the bank.

We all owe him SO MUCH for his work over the years in lovingly transcribing what Chet's hands were doing.

Re: Working out "Londonderry Aire" one note at a time

PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2019 7:16 pm
by Doug Working
I'm using that tip you gave about slowing down on Y'tube to listen to the scales on Chet's "Cattle Call."

That's really a great feature! You can actually slow it down to a crawl.