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Morning Blues: Fingerstyle Arrangement
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from Rick Payne’s Fingerstyle Fusion
Morning Blues is a tune in the style of the great Bert Jansch. For those who may not have heard of him, Bert is a Scottish fingerstyle guitarist who has influenced several generations of guitarists from Nick Drake to Johnny Marr. Listen to Bert’s “Blackwaterside” and Jimmy Page’s “Black Mountain Side” back-to-back to see just how far his influence spans.
This piece features a monotone bass and the use of partial chords, which are hallmarks of Delta blues, although Morning Blues definitely comes across more English-sounding. Think of the Beatles doing “Matchbox.” It’s still Carl Perkin’s rockabilly chestnut, but it sounds more Mersey than Memphis.
The first two measures set the tone for the rest of the piece, and they begin with a partial Em chord on the B and E strings, with a droning, quarter note bassline on the low E.
Next, we move to the A chord, paying close attention when going from Amaj to Am, again keeping a constant bass until getting to the G – add a bit of vibrato, and don’t be afraid to bend it. Measures 5- 6 are a variation of the Em riff from before, only up around the 12th fret since we’re in Am. Moving onto the IV chord, we have a Bsus4. Typically we would encounter a B7 here, but the Bsus4 gives it a more open, contemporary feel, and is precisely the kind of thing Bert Jansch would do over this chord.
Measure 9 begins with a traditional A7 shape to kick off the turnaround. Two dynamic effects, a slide and a bend need to be articulated well in order to give the phrase some panache. The lick is based on a long A shape, which requires stretching the pinky up to the fifth fret while holding the A.
Measures 11-14 use moving minor inversions against the constant bass, all of which are on the B and E strings and should be plucked with the index and middle fingers. This part can be tricky as the inversions don’t all occur on the same beat as the bass line. The following two measures maintain the same inversions, but move the bass to A suggesting an A minor. This is a great feature of these partial chords as you can change the tonality simply by changing the bass note.
Once we get to measure 17, we encounter the Bsus4 from earlier in the piece, followed by the A7 turnaround. The contrast between the two should be very pleasing to the ear. This is followed by a variation of the main theme encountered at the beginning of the tune with some quarter-step bends thrown in to add some bluesy goodness.
At measure 21, we run into a variation of the Am played at the 12th fret, which is followed in measure 23 by the trickiest part of the tune. The double stops may need some practice to get them to sound smooth, but the result will be worth the effort. The end of the tune begins at measure 25 and contains a classic, all-purpose chromatic chord finish. Although it may sound familiar, it is still effective.
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