Saturday, 6 July 2013

Confession #25 - Fret Hand Muting!

Back in Confession #20 - Palm Muting! we learned about palm muting and how it can be used to get a chunkier sound and to create rhythm patterns by selectively muting certain beats in a measure.

In this confession, we'll learn about another kind of muting, fret hand muting.


As it's name suggests, fret hand muting means using your fretting hand to mute the strings and stop them from sounding.


One way that we can use fret hand muting in our playing is when we want the notes or chords we are playing to be staccato.  A staccato note / chord is one that is played and then immediately silenced.  A good example of this would be Roxanne by the Police.

To play a fretted note or a chord staccato, pick/strum the note/chord and then immediately release pressure on your fretting hand.  You want your finger(s) to still be touching the string, but you also want to release enough pressure that the note/chord is no longer fretted.

In music notation, a staccato note is indicated by a little dot below the note.  This should not be confused with a dot beside the note which would affect the note's duration (e.g. a dotted quarter note).


Another way that we can use fret hand muting is to make string clicks.  To do this, finger the note or the chord you want to play, but do not push down and actually fret the string.  Now pick the note or strum the chord.  The resulting sound is mostly percussive and has very little tonal content.  A good example of this would be Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana.


Here is a chord progression and rhythm pattern the uses fret hand muting to play some chords staccato and to play some string clicks.

The chords I'm using are root 6 barre chords for the A and G chords (see Confession #11 - Learn Root 6 Barre Chords!), and root 5 barre chords for the C and D chords (see Confession #12 - Learn Root 5 Barre Chords!).

One Minute Jam - Rhythm Guitar
(Click to Enlarge)


You may recall from Confession #14 - Know What Chords to Play! that there are only 3 major chords in any particular key, but this progression uses 4 major chords.  Despite not residing in only one key, this progression still sounds good.  Let your ear be your guide.

Where the presence of 4 major chords in the progression becomes an issue is when you wish to play some lead lines over this progression. While you can find a scale that will work over 3 of the chords, it may not work over the fourth chord.

Think back to Confession #15 - Find the I, IV, V in any Key! This progression can be viewed two ways:
  • G is the I chord, C is the IV chord, D is the V chord, and the A chord is outside the key
  • D is the I chord, G is the IV chord, A is the V chord, and the C chord is outside the key

So this progression could be in the key of G or the key of D.  These keys consist of the following notes:
  • G - A - B - C - D - E - F# - G
  • D - E - F# - G - A - B - C# - D

The only difference between the two keys is that the key of G has a C natural, and the key of D has a C#.

So, if you want to play some lead lines with this progression, you can avoid C and C# and be safely within either key.

Alternatively, you can still use both these notes, but you'll have to be careful where you use them in the progression.  If you play a C# against the C chord (notes are C - E - G), its not going to sound very good.  Similarly, if you play a C against the A chord (notes are A - C# - E), its not going to sound good either.

Next Week's Confession - One Minute Jam!

No comments:

Post a Comment