Lost in the land of harmonics

Discussion of history's greatest guitar player.

Lost in the land of harmonics

Postby Doug Working » Sun Feb 17, 2019 6:40 pm

I'm not very good at harmonics. Just not very good a all. They ELUDE me. To say the least, my harmonics leave a lot to be desired.

Needless to say, Chet excelled in harmonics. He was THE BEST.

I'm just looking for a starting place to learn them, the way Chet emoloyed them.

Surveying the vast landscape of all that Chet was able to do with harmonics, where do I start? I'm kind of lost. Like a kid in a candy store, yet still lost.
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Re: Lost in the land of harmonics

Postby Tom Workman » Sun Feb 17, 2019 7:06 pm

Hi, Doug... For sure, harmonics, especially cascading harmonics will seem very awkward at first. There are plenty of demos on youtube regarding guitar harp-harmonics as some call them. All I can recommend is the three "P's" as I call it: practice, patience & perseverance. When it becomes overwhelming, take a break and put the guitar down for a while, then keep coming back. As with all this finger-pickin' stuff, if it was easy, a lot more people would be doing it. I've had guys who already play with a flat pick ask me to teach them fingerstyle / Chet style and they always give up after a short time. I guess it comes down to how badly you want it. Regards, Tom W.
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Re: Lost in the land of harmonics

Postby Doug Working » Sun Feb 17, 2019 7:49 pm

You're right. I just need to find a starting point and knuckle down to it. Part of the problem is I'm just not sure of the technique (s) and how they are done.

But I'll hang in there.
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Re: Lost in the land of harmonics

Postby Doug Working » Wed Feb 20, 2019 6:49 pm

So I'm trying to get organized. First thing is to get it straight in my mind about which harmonic techniques Mr Guitar used.

I know there are natural harmonics played 12 up from the desired note. Then there are fret harmonics at 5, 7, NINE and twelve.

Then there are the cascading harmonics, of which Chet was the undisputed master.

But what about the kind of harmonics he's using in several tunes, such as "Truck Driver Blues?" What is he doing there to get that lovely sound? (Halfway through the tune: https://youtu.be/3z4kHleBBp8 ) sounds like two harmonics being played simultaneously! Incredible!

Since I'm working on "Londinderry Aire," and I've got it all down pat, ready to play in church EXCEPT for the pretty harmonic ending.

I'm working on that starting today, from the tab, and I see he's doing harmonics even at the 9'th fret. I didn't know there was harmonics at fret 9, but I just got educated!

So I'm working on it, and I'm thinking HOW DO I MASTER THIS? The whole thing about it is that you are jumping around on different strings from the 7'th, to the 9'th, to the 12'th BACK AND FORTH, in a SPECIFIC PATTERN! It's like playing that old "Simon" game with the colored lights. If you don't get the pattern PERFECT, it's messed up. It just won't work! So it seems more along the lines of a NEMORY TASK. You have to absolutey memorize that crazy pattern to be able to nail it. You can't wing it or improvise as you can when you are playing straight notes.

Boy, this is tricky!!

Plus, maybe it's just me, but the 9'th fret harmonics are difficult to nail, to get them to ring clear.

I have a loooooooooong ways to go.

But if I do the arrangement in church this weekend, I can do an alternate ending.
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Re: Lost in the land of harmonics

Postby emjaybee94 » Thu Feb 28, 2019 1:38 pm

Truck Drivin' Blues is a new one on me ... very tasty. I think Chet is playing harmonics and a natural notes together on the tune.
I went straight in the deep end to learn harmonics. I was helped by John Knowles excellent book "Note for Note". That gave me the incentive, and the rest was very hard work. I would certainly agree with the 3P's. I'd heard Chet play "Country Champagne" on the Yestergrooving LP. I think I must have spent about 6 months learning that from scratch as I had no transcription to work from. I never really mastered it, but did get to play it in front of John when he came to London in 1982. I'd like to think that it wasn't too amateurish.
It's worth persevering with. I occasionally play "When You Wish Upon a Star" at my local Acoustic night and it always gets a good reception .... gives me a good feeling of satisfaction and time well spent.

Regards
Mike
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Re: Lost in the land of harmonics

Postby DagerRande » Thu Feb 28, 2019 6:00 pm

Mike, I remember that on an old vinyl LP that I got when it was new. I agree that those harmonics were combined with fretted notes. That's a difficult technique and I knew I couldn't do it until I got better with the individual harmonics themselves.
Rande Dager

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Re: Lost in the land of harmonics

Postby Doug Working » Thu Feb 28, 2019 6:59 pm

emjaybee94 wrote:Truck Drivin' Blues is a new one on me ... very tasty. I think Chet is playing harmonics and a natural notes together on the tune.
I went straight in the deep end to learn harmonics. I was helped by John Knowles excellent book "Note for Note". That gave me the incentive, and the rest was very hard work. I would certainly agree with the 3P's. I'd heard Chet play "Country Champagne" on the Yestergrooving LP. I think I must have spent about 6 months learning that from scratch as I had no transcription to work from. I never really mastered it, but did get to play it in front of John when he came to London in 1982. I'd like to think that it wasn't too amateurish.
It's worth persevering with. I occasionally play "When You Wish Upon a Star" at my local Acoustic night and it always gets a good reception .... gives me a good feeling of satisfaction and time well spent.

Regards
Mike


Natural notes and harmonics at the same time. Wow. I can't possibly imagine how to pull off such a thing, but it sure sounds perty...the way Chet does it.

You can play "Wish Upon A Star?"

MUCH respect, my good man!
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Re: Lost in the land of harmonics

Postby DagerRande » Fri Mar 01, 2019 2:10 pm

Doug, it was with "When You Wish Upon a Star" that I first heard and worked on that technique of combining harmonics and fretted notes. Believe it or not, there are other more difficult songs using that technique, which made me feel glad that I had already learned it. Listen to Tommy Emmanuel's intro to "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". Even though I had the technique down, it was very difficult to pick up this one by ear but it was worth it!
Last edited by DagerRande on Sat Mar 02, 2019 12:38 am, edited 1 time in total.
Rande Dager

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Re: Lost in the land of harmonics

Postby Doug Working » Fri Mar 01, 2019 6:32 pm

Thinking about all that gives me cold feet! Chet and Tommy took harmonics into a whole 'nother world. A universe, when you really think about it.

What I'm doing is just sticking a toe in the water to test it before I plunge. I'm working on the simpler harmonics such as in some of these Carcassi classical etudes I'm learning, and in Londonderry Aire, and Yellow Bird. Simpler basic stuff first.

I think what I'll do slowly work my way up. That seems to me to be the most logical path.
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