Today I’d like to talk about a song off the newly released EP “Nothing Normal” in a different way than I normally would - it’ll be a little more directed towards guitar technique. Get ready to geek out!
Writing this song has really inspired me to start using my acoustic guitar in more creative ways. I think this is something that can really set a song apart from the rest. I always aim to write songs that are interesting to the pop market and to the serious musician. Just like any other artist, I want my work to have all the parts: relatable and original lyrical content, a catchy melody or hook, and understatedly interesting guitar work (it’s important not to overwhelm the listener). That was my goal with this Change My Mind, and it seems to have come off well thus far! Yay!
As a young guitarist I was raised on a more percussive style of playing, so it’s no surprise that Change My Mind starts off with literally using the guitar as a drum (sort of August Rush style). To be honest, I try to avoid just strumming power chords. There is nothing wrong with a nice and simple song, but there is something about a song that can stand all on it’s own and still be interesting from a guitarists viewpoint. I find that using the guitar as a percussive instrument and playing with rhythm can go a long way!
There are a few ways to go about using the guitar as a percussive instrument. The first and most simple is by using the palm of your right hand, resting it against the bridge of the guitar and muffling the strings as you strum. I normally would only do this when using a pick. This way, you hear the sound of your pick attack as much as you do the notes. However In Change My Mind, I chose to abandon my pick altogether…
Over the years I’ve resorted to a technique makes for a more percussively interesting style. I was inspired by the flamenco method: abanico or “fan”. This involves flicking down on the strings rather than using a pick or your index finger. When I play Change My Mind, I do something similar (not exactly the same) to that, holding my right hand close enough to the strings to where I can strike and mute the lower strings with the fleshy part of my hand, and still let the higher strings ring out by flicking down on them with my nails. A little added bonus: since I no longer need a pick in my hand to get the same (and probably a little extra) tention, I now have an easier transition from strumming into fingerpicking. Of course, if you really want to have fun you can do a combination of both - which is what happens in the chorus of Change My Mind.
Experimenting with rhythm has been a huge interest of mine in the last year as well. I can’t pretend like I know anything about music theory. 90% of the time I have no idea what I’m actually playing… But to be honest, one of the biggest tips I have is to study the band Tool. Although my music sounds nothing like theirs, they have certainly inspired me to start using rhythm in unexpected ways. You don’t necessarily have to be a huge fan to benefit from their style. I encourage you to go on YouTube to check out “Axe of Creation” and his Tool tutorials. Even learning a couple of their main riffs and sequences can go a long way! watch it integrate itself into your writing, put your own twist on it and let it expand your musical horizons!
All this talk about creativity has get me going - I’m off to do some more writing! Thank you so much for reading and I hope you visit my page again soon xoxo