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Michael Johnson >> Folk Guitar Legends >>
Lesson Subject: Folk Guitar Legends II
What you learn: Joni Mitchell Style
Michael: Michael Johnson

Michael: Hello class, our interactive lesson is on the style of Joni Mitchell. Joni has to be one of the most respected women musicians in popular music, she has literally played with most of the top musicians in the industry. Joni uses some very interesting fingerpicking patterns, chord combinations and even open tunings, however we will use standard tuning for the lesson. Check out the lesson sample of what you learn in this lesson:

Lesson Sample

Michael: Let's start with the intro lick:

Part 1 - Intro

Michael: Our first lick starts with a descending arpeggio run using E Maj. Notice how you pick the 2nd string (B) hammering from 4th to 5th fret, and using the thumb to play the open 5th string (A) at the same time. The 5th string rings while you play the descending and then ascending arpeggio.

dave: Is the second 4th pick?

Michael: Good question Dave, I am actually using my fingers and thumb to play each chord, I'm kind of clawing the strings, but you can pick the strings as well. Let's jump to the chord section next.

Part 2

Michael: Notice the "Min7" chords towards the end of the phrase, it's better to fingerpick the notes so you can avoid playing the 5th string (A), you can mute the string with the thumb as well. Notice how you barre the 4th, 3rd, 2nd strings with the 1st finger and the thumb wraps around the neck to play the note on the 6th string. Here's the jam track:

Looping Jam track 1

Michael: You might notice the Minor 7th chords have kind of a jazzy feel. One note I would like to make about Joni Mitchell's style is she uses a lot of open tunings, many of them are not regular open tunings as well. Joni uses a Roland VG-8 guitar system live, you can preset as many custom tunings you like and play standard chord fingerings and the guitar will be transposed to the desired open tuning. Let's continue to the next section:

Part 3

Michael: I really like the E chord and how it moves to the E with a 6 & 9 in the chord. You might notice we're playing the Minor 7th chords again, but this time you have a different fingering due to allowing the 1st (E) & 2nd (B) strings to ring open after playing each of the Minor 7th chords. Also notice how you play the C# and B chord with the 2nd string (B) droning open. Here's the jam track:

Looping Jam track 2

Michael: Joni would often utilize using open drone notes whenever possible, the open strings ring out much nicer than fretted notes. In our next section we will get into more open strings that drone, here's the next part.

Part 4

Michael: You are actually using the A Dorian pattern on the 3rd string (G) while playing a drone 4th string (D) over each note until you get towards the end of the phrase and pick the D chord. Here's the jam track:

Looping Jam Track 3

Michael: Here's the correct jam track. This brings us to the next section where you play standard D chord fingerings higher in the upper fret positions.

Part 5

Michael: In this segment you might notice the D chord fingering shapes I mentioned earlier. You simply start with D, move the fingering to the 7th fret position and then the Dm fingering on the 10th fret. Then you play the D fingering on the 9th fret. You then play the D sus4 fingering and then slide the D fingering to the 7th fret again. Here's the jam track:

Looping Jam track 4

Michael: In our next section we will use more sus4 chords.

Part 6

Michael: You might notice how you use the "sus" chord fingering on the 5th fret and then lifting the 4th finger to play the F chord fingering at the same position. This is basically an A chord and various related voicings. You shift the hand to the 3rd fret position and repeat the fingering pattern. After that you play the D chord with the F#, and A bass notes. Here's the jam track.

Looping Jam track 5

Michael: In our next section we will use more chords, but this time with the drone notes on the 4th string D.

Part 7

Michael: You use the perfect 4th to Maj 3rd intervals along with the open 4th string (D) for the beginning 3 bars.

troy: The perfect 4th to Maj 3rd intervals are what's happening on the 2nd string?

Michael: Troy, yes, that is correct. The picking thumb with play the open 4th string (D). you then play the 5th, to b5, Maj 3rd intervals in the 4th bar and resolve with the D chord. Here's the jam track.

Looping Jam track 6

Michael: Well that's it for our lesson. I'll see you next lesson!

dave: Thank you that was great

Michael: Thanks, bye!

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