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Michael Johnson >> Folk Guitar Legends >>
Lesson Subject: Folk Guitar Legends
What you learn: James Taylor Style
Teacher: Michael Johnson

Michael: Hello class, this is our first lesson in the series on Acoustic Folk Guitar Legends. This lesson features in the style of James Taylor who happens to be one of my favorite folk artists! In this series we'll cover chords, rhythms, fingerpicking and more. James Taylor is a master at fingerpicking. The lesson sample will give you an idea of the techniques you will learn:

Lesson Sample

Michael: Let's start with the first section of the lesson sample, in this section we will finger pick various chords:

Part 1

Michael: You can see the main chord structure, A, G, D, A, G, D. Here's the jam track for this section:

Looping Jam Track 1

Michael: Most of the picking technique is illustrated in the picking video. You use the thumb and the 1st and 2nd fingers mostly for this part. It'll take some of you a little time to get use to alternating between these fingers, let's try an exercise that concentrates on sliding between the chords based on the 1st - 3rd strings. In this exercise we start with the A, G, D and A.

Michael: Notice how the 2nd finger (3rd string - G) is used to lead the sliding between the chords. Now in part 1 you also play a series of notes that are related to A. Try playing these chords.

Michael: James Taylor will use a grouping of chords like this to make a single chord sound more interesting. Let's go to the next part:

Part 2

Michael: In this section you are basically a strumming pattern using the A sus2 and then adding your thumb to add the F# of the bass. Strumming up and down naturally allows you to alter various notes of the chord. Here's the jam track:

Looping Jam Track 2

Michael: Now I'm using my fingernails as a pick, this frees up the fingers so I can switch between fingerpicking and strumming. Try using your fingernails as well to practice this pattern. Let's jump to the next part, in this section you will use the D chord and a ascending/descending bass line, check it out:

Part 3

Michael: OK, in this section you hold the D chord and can play notes using the A Mixolydian scale which is relative to the D Major.

msg: Sounds like Led Zeppelin.

Michael: Great ear msg! Page uses a lot of cool folk guitar techniques! Here's the scale:

Michael: You can try experimenting by holding down the D with the 2nd and 3rd fingers on the on the 1st and 2nd string, while you try playing the scale using the 1st and 4th fingers. Here's the jam track:

Looping Jam Track 3

Michael: Notice the notes ascend the scale the 1st and 2nd time through, and then it descends the last time. Each time you resolve on the Asus2 each phrase. Let's jump to the next part. In this section we will start in A and play off chords that are related:

Part 4

Michael: Now there are a series of "polytonal" chords that relate harmonically to the A. Try playing these positions.

Michael: These chords sound great together and used by many folk guitarists to make standard chords sound more interesting. Here's the jam track for this part:

Looping Jam Track 4

Michael: Here's the next part, this is basically like Part 3, but subtly different:

Part 5

Michael: This section has a descending bass line the first few times and then ascends the last time through. Notice the hammer-on on the A towards the end of each phrase. This is a signature technique James Taylor uses often.

Michael: Here's the jam track for this part:

Looping Jam Track 5

Michael: Well that's it for the lesson. I hope to see you all next week!

Stratman: good lesson

Michael: Thanks, see you next time!

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