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Michael Johnson >> Folk Guitar Legends >>
Lesson Subject: Folk Guitar Legends II
What you learn: Bob Dylan Style
Michael: Michael Johnson

Michael: Hello class, welcome to our class on Folk Guitar Legends II. This lesson features the style of Bob Dylan, a very important figure in the folk guitar movement! Dylan was best known for his lyrical content, but also for his chord progressions and strumming patterns as well. In this lesson we will cover these various patterns. Listen to the lesson sample to get an idea of what you will learn in this lesson:

Lesson Sample

Michael: Let's start with our first chord progression starting with the C#m:

Part 1

Part 1 - Picking

Michael: In this progression you start by barring the 4th fret with your 1st finger and hammering the 2nd, 3rd and 4th fingers to form the C#m chord. After that you play the A and B chord and then adding a G# bass note over the B by fretting the 3rd finger on the 4th fret/6th string (E). Notice that you use the 4th finger to the barre the 4th fret, this allows you to change to the B/G# easier. Here's the jam track:

Looping Jam Track 1

Rich: Do you deaden the fifth for the G#?

Michael: Yes you do Rich. Now Dylan would usually play a harmonica solo over the rhythm guitar, for this section I gave the scale and licks you might use on guitar as well. In this section I use the E Major scale.

Michael: Now you can uses the notes of the E Major scale and play the open 1st string (E) as well. Here's the pattern:

Michael: Let's try some licks that will work over the rhythm.

Part 1 - Solo

Michael: Notice I use my 2nd finger for most of these licks, this allows me to use more slides if I want to and it's pretty easy to play as well. You pick the 1st (E) & 2nd (B) strings at the same time while using the E Major scale pattern I gave you earlier. Later you jump to the notes on the 3rd string as well. Let's jump to the next section using a different strumming pattern for the C#m.

Part 2

Part 2 - Picking

Michael: Notice in the picking video that you emphasize the up strum pattern more than the down strum. This adds extra attack to the C#m making the chord sound more upbeat. The notation is simplified so you can get the basic strum and chord pattern down. You should then study the picking video to get down the speed and accents. Here's a looping jam track to practice over:

Looping Jam Track 2

Michael: OK, this strumming pattern might be a little difficult for some of you. I would suggest warming up on all downward strums, then up strums and the alternate strums. This helps condition your hand and then you can work on your timing as well. Strumming is a VERY important technique to develop, you should practice this technique often. Now we get into a common basic Dylan chord pattern:

Part 3

Part 3 - Picking

Michael: Notice you start with the Bm and descend the related chords down to G and back to A. The picking video and jam track will give you a better idea of the rhythm pattern:

Looping Jam Track 3

Michael: Notice some of the strumming pattern is muted, I slightly lift the fretting hand and strum to get this percussive effect. Try working on this technique while warming up on strumming exercises as well. Now Dylan also uses picking/strumming patterns where you can play an alternating bass note pattern and jump to strum the higher notes of the chord as well. Here's an example:

Part 4

Part 4 - Picking

Michael: You might notice this picking/chord strum pattern is used quite often in country music and bluegrass. Notice that I pick the open D string (4th string) and then strum the rest of the D chord, I then play the open A string (5th) and play the chord again. You then play the descending bass notes to jump to the G and then to the Asus4 and A7. Here's the jam track:

Looping Jam Track 4

Michael: Your strumming hand is always moving in an up and down rhythmic pattern to keep the beat. It's like your picking hand performs the job of a drummer to keep the rhythm going. Let's try another pattern that uses more bass note/chord combinations.

Part 5

Part 5 - Picking

Michael: In this section you play the root note of each chord and then strum the rest of the chord. This leads you into the next chord, making the transition sound smooth. Here's the jam track:

Looping Jam Track 5

Michael: This is another common rhythm technique used in country and bluegrass. Let's try another example using this technique starting with Em:

Part 6

Part 6 - Picking

This time we are playing 2 notes at a time for the bass notes and then jumping the the other notes of the chord. And then using ascending notes to tie into the next chord. The up and down strumming pattern allows you to vary the notes played in each chord, making the rhythm sound more complex than it really is. Here's the jam track:

Looping Jam Track 6

Michael: Here's our last example using a rake-picking technique.

Part 7

Part 7 - Picking

Michael: This strumming technique is very percussive & effective. Simply drag you pick downward and upward, this allows the chord to sound more like a arpeggio than a chord. Here's a jam track you can play over:

Looping Jam Track 7

Michael: Well that concludes our lesson.

Stratman: What is the difference in arpeggios and rakes?

Michael: "Raking" the pick allows you to turn a chord into an arpeggio, a chord and arpeggio consist of the same notes, only the chord is usually played all at once while the arpeggio is a sequence of single notes using in the chord. Bye!

grenn1: Thanks.

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