For one of our assignments at college this term we have to learn and perform 3 different songs that we have picked with the guidance of the tutors.
There are 3 different categories that we have pick songs to fit, the categories are;
The purpose of the different categories is so that we challenge ourselves and push our skills and our playing abilities. For example, the technical song is a song that is challenging and complex and something that you wouldn’t normally play for me this would be a finger style song because I am mostly a rhythm guitarist and I do open mics and busk so I play a lot of strumming songs. The expressive piece is a song that creates a lot of emotion in the listeners and the player and shows a different side of someone and opens them up to make them vulnerable to the audience which isn’t an easy thing to do. This song doesn’t necessarily have to be complex it can be just a simple song but played perfectly with feel. Finally, the experimental song is something completely out of your comfort zone or something completely different to the songs you would typically learn like for example a different genre.
The 3 songs that I have chosen are;
- Black Flies – Ben Howard
- Deep The Water – Lewis Watson
I have also put the acoustic version up too below.
- Gone In The Morning – Newton Faulkner
The reason why I have changed 2 of my songs is that I felt that they weren’t fitting and they weren’t challenging enough because I knew the structure of the songs and knew how some of the songs were played so I changed them to 2 that I don’t know very well.
Before Christmas and over the holidays I had started doing warm ups on the guitar that I had never tried before because I never really thought about it and how much it could help. I am generally a rhythm guitarist and mostly just like to use block chords such as bar chords just because I find it easier and I’ve never really pushed myself out of my comfort zone like I have with the songs I have chosen for my recital.
Week 1: January 9th – 13th.
On the 9th of January, I took to the internet to find the tabs and tunings for the first song I was going to start learning which is Blackflies by Ben Howard. The pictures below show the tab that I have been going off which is an amazing app that I’ve been using for years called “ultimate guitar”.
I’ve spent this week like I said before, I’ve been learning blackflies. Each night I spent 2-3 hours sitting and listening to the song and reading the tab and playing along to it. At the beginning, I found the song and the style of fingerpicking quite difficult because it isn’t something I would generally do.
On Monday I spent 2-3 hours looking at the tab and making sure that I had the correct tuning and the capo was in the right place because if these things are not right it can cause some problems which I have run into. The problems I have encountered are that the gauge of my strings aren’t heavy enough because of the tuning that the song is in it causes fret buzz if the strings are too slack and this occurs when your strings are too light. Also, another problem I have come across is that my capo does not clamp tight enough on the strings so that is also causing the buzz on certain strings.
One thing that I am struggling with most ith this song is the timing and where the vocal comes in and how ben phrases the verses. This is my goal for next week.
Week 2: January 16th – 20th.
This week overall I think that I have spent around 5 hours practising my songs for the solo recital.
I carried on learning Blackflies by Ben Howard at the beginning of the week so I could get the timing of where the vocal comes in at the start right because I have been having some trouble with coming in because it is in odd timing. To also help with this I have been playing along to a live session of Ben Howard himself playing the song so I can get the right tempo.
The part I’ve found hardest about this song is the hammer-on and pull-offs on the D string from 6th fret to 4th fret because it’s done quickly and because I’m not used to the style of playing so I am having to do a lot of warm-ups before I play just to get used to it.
Also this week I worked on the vocals for black flies. I found the first verse tricky because of the timing of the song I can never seem to come in the right time but then the rest of the song I have no problem.
Another song that I have started looking at in the song by Lewis Watson ‘Deep The Water’. This song is the one I have chosen for my expressive piece because it is about falling in love and it creates a lot of emotion just but the guitar parts played because it is in a different tuning of DADGAD nd it is all open chords that fit beautifully together.
I plan to carry on learning this song properly in week 5.
Week 3: January 23rd – 27th.
This week I haven’t practised as much as I would have liked to. The main things I worked on this week were the vocals for ‘Blackflies’ and making a start on the Lewis Watson song.
I made a good start on the lewis Watson song this week, I got the tuning figured out and the 1st verse plus chorus. I am mostly using the live version of the song to learn the song whilst looking at the tab I have, the tab is very useful for the phrasing of the lyrics because it puts the lyric over where it comes in.
My goal for next week is to look at my third song which is Gone In The Morning by Newton Faulkner and also get the blackflies lyrics down.
Week 4: January 30th – February 3rd.
This week I continued to work on the Ben Howard song and also the lewis Watson song but also I looked further into the newton Faulkner song.
One thing I think I may struggle with in this song is keeping to the style because it is fast and the placing of the notes is strange and some of the chords don’t sound right but they fit. I feel that this is the hardest song that I have chosen because of the fast pace and quick changing pattern of notes.
Week 5: February 6th – 10th.
I decided to swap my song ‘Colour Me In Gold’ by JP Cooper for ‘Deep The Water’ by Lewis Watson because I just didn’t feel like I could do the song any justice and I wasn’t really connecting with the song. The reason I chose the lewis Watson song is because it creates a lot more emotion and I connect deeply with the song. Also, I find it a lot more interesting to pay.
This is the tab for the song.
The song is in the tuning of DADGAD but I am going to get sone new heavier gauge strings because again I have had problems with the fret buzzing because the strings are too loose.
This video shows the tuning and how the song builds with dynamics and creates a lot of emotion. Furthermore, this song in difficult to what I would typically play but also there is a lot of technique in the vocal and making sure you’re in time with the parts being played and you have to create a lot of feel with your voice and make the audience feel what you are and make them believe what you’re playing.
The vocal in the verses can either be sung higher or lower so I am going to alternate between them by singing the first verse lower like on the track and the second higher when the dynamics have built up.
Week 6: February 13th – 17th.
Week 7: February 20th – 24th.
This week in our half term holiday I went to Hull and did a couple of hours practice through the week and did some more warm-ups for both guitar and vocal. I also went busking and played my 3 pieces just to get more used to the fact of playing in front of lots more people even though I am comfortable with playing in front of people I wanted to see how them 3 songs.
The main thing I am struggling with on ‘Gone In The morning’ is where the strumming comes in and have to move continuously up and down the neck, with every time I am playing I get more used to playing this part.
Week 8: February 27th – march 3rd.
This week for my recital I am spending my time perfecting my songs and making sure they’re best they can be and figuring out what I am going to say between my songs to keep the performance perfection.
- Deep The Water.
- Gone In The Morning.
- Black flies.
Overall I feel like everything has gone well and I am prepared for the performance next Tuesday.