July 11, 2010

So What Have I Been Working On? Part II

I spent a very warm Sunday afternoon in the studio knocking out some very quick sketches of the acoustic-guitar-developed ideas that have been floating around for a while. I thought that having done a medley of the piano ideas, it was only fair to record the guitar ones too. They are very rough – single pass most of them and with no mixing or mastering afterwards, but it: a) keeps my promise to record and upload something every week, and b) fixes the ideas to give me somewhere to start further work from.

As an exercise in getting over writer’s block (or “engineer’s block”, or whatever!) just sitting down and recording some ideas and saying “to hell with fidelity” is pretty liberating…


This is another piece that grew from my interest in arpeggiating with a mixture of open and mid-neck strings. The initial idea came from a simple shape – a B minor chord with and open D string in the middle… (Actually, played like this, there’s no B in the ch0rd at all, just two 3rds and two 5ths. But harmonically, it’s definitely a B minor!) The piece is (currently) in 6/8 and it’s arpeggiated in a very straight forward manner – 5,4,3,2,3,4,etc… The whole idea is to keep that D-string droning, so the pattern slides down two frets to an A, raising the third to make is Major. With the D, this is an Asus4… Then it slides down another two frets, in the Major shape to a G. The D-string is now in unison with the D on the A-string making an interesting texture.

From here I go to E7 (still with that open D-string!) before jumping to A, Am (a definite stylistic favourite of mine, Major-minor chord changes), Gsus4, G, Gsus2, F, E7 again and that’s the sequence – back up to the B(open D) to start again.

It’s got some potential this one – I like it (which is obviously important) – again, I just need to work out where to take it and how to best arrange it. It may also get lyrics – actually become a song – it kind of has that vibe at the moment and I do have some ideas floating around, so we’ll see!

“Awash In G Minor”

I think I probably played these two chords (Em, FMaj7, capo on the 3rd fret) over and over for about 10 minutes when I first hit on this little riff – it’s just a really nice sound. The hook in to motif is keeping the high C fretted when moving back from the FMaj7 to the Em, effectively making it a CMaj7/E (but, harmonically an Emaddb13). A little run up the B-string with an upstroke catching the E-string on the way back from Em to FMaj7 is cute too. (The FMaj7 is fretted with an open A-string in the middle of it too.) Other little licks have developed in it too – it’s a really nice piece of rhythm playing…

But I’m not sure where it can go. I’m probably going to find that eventually it’ll be a four-bar passing section in some other entirely different piece and the soporific, lazy wash that it is now will all but disappear. It’s so often the way with music, that it effectively writes itself into places and you just have to go with it – trying to shoe-horn an idea into somewhere it doesn’t want to go rarely works out well!


This is another idea which developed from the triads idea. This time it has a bit of a “Green Day” feel to it, particularly when played with a slightly overdriven electric guitar sound. There’s a full verse/chorus structure already (but no bridge) and some interesting harmonies, particularly in the bass… It has a danger of feeling a little clichéd, but then it’s a pop/punk song – it’s unlikely to be pushing the boundaries of harmony and structure, is it?

I really like this sketch, and I definitely want to keep developing it. I think it’s going to need lyrics, and while I have plenty of ideas there, I’m pretty much even more terribad at focusing on writing words than I am on music at the moment, so we’ll see how it goes!

“Dire Triads”

This idea came from playing some Dire Straits tunes a while ago… Knopfler’s finger-plucking technique tends to lead him to play a lot of double-stops and triads as rhythm accompaniment, and “Dire Triads” is a rhythm riff using just triads on the 3rd, 4th and 5th strings. Harmonically, it’s pretty straightforward and simple, remaining in F major with only an A Major chord thrown in at the end to create a push into the riff again. It’s pretty uptempo and upbeat for me, so in that alone it’s interesting and something I think I’d like to continue developing. It already has the verse structure developed, and some form a chorus too, so really it just needs… lots more work!


The original idea for this riff came from a song by Heather Nova – hence the working title. It’s a pretty simple vamp from Em, EmM7, Em7, Em6, Cmaj7/E with a bit of a whip-flourish at the end. The chorus takes it off into G (so clichéd!) before repeating.

I’d definitely not sure about this one, if only because the good bit is stolen and my bit is really hackneyed and not particularly interesting at all. Still, with some development, it may have legs, so it stays here for the time being!

“Bass Heavy”

This was the first riff I played when I got my (then new) Taylor 614CE home. The broadness of the Grand Auditorium body coupled with the brightness of the brand-new Elixir strings just cried out for something chunky and slappy on the bass strings, and that’s exactly what this is… Power chords and pulling off to an open-E regularly give this some balls. And it’s great fun to play!

That said, I’m not sure it’s going to make a whole song…

July 11, 2010

3 Comments on “So What Have I Been Working On? Part II

Mu-ling… « benzoblog
July 18, 2010 at 17:46

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[…] So What Have I Been Working On? Part II « benzoblog […]

A (Much Need) Update… « benzoblog
October 12, 2010 at 18:32

[…] you remember back to So What Have I Been Working On, Part II, you may recall “D-D-Droned”, and I have actually been working on that piece recently. […]


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