What I can do with a guitar

As I have previously squeed about, O Internets, I just had a delightful time scampering up to BC again to see De Temps Antan! This time though there were specific opportunities to make musical noises myself in a house that happened to contain three of my favorite musicians–even aside from André’s workshop, there was also the after-concert session, and I did in fact wind up making noises on both my flutes and my guitar.
Trust me when I tell you that the prospect of making musical noises of my own in any room that contains these boys is simultaneously deeply exciting and nerve-wracking! I’m comfier on my flutes since those are my native instrument–so that did help. And so did the knowledge that I had the General with me. Because you better believe that if I was going to show up in Éric Beaudry’s proximity with a guitar, I was going to bring the good guitar.
Not that I actually played in the same room as Éric, and I don’t really have enough play-by-ear fu yet to be the backup guitar for a full roaring session. But I did wind up hanging out in one of the other rooms while I was chatting with Aussie Ian, and noodled around a lot on various songs I know. Because as will surprise none of you, I get the General in my hands, I start playing Great Big Sea.
And if you want to have an idea of what else I’m likely to do with a guitar in my hands, here now though is a roundup of Stuff I Can Do With the Guitar.

Songs that I can play and sing at the same time:

  • “Lukey”, by Great Big Sea. Key of G, though if I’m singing it without playing along with any of the GBS recordings, I’ll sometimes capo up to A or B flat because then I can actually sing it better.
  • “Trois Navires de Blé”, by Great Big Sea. Also key of G. Same note as previous.
  • “The Elf Glade”, by Meg Davis. The recording of this is actually B flat minor–chords in A minor but capoed up 1. I usually lose the capo, unless I’m playing along with the recording.
  • “Old Black Rum”, by Great Big Sea. Recorded in F, with D chords on capo 3. I usually lose the capo. D’s a friendly key for me.
  • “Jack Hinks”, by Great Big Sea. Also in F. Same capo remarks as previous.
  • “Captain Kidd”, by Great Big Sea. Also in F. Same capo remarks as previous.
  • “The Night Pat Murphy Died”, by Great Big Sea. Recorded in A, with chords in the key of G capoed 2. I’ve actually transposed this into D, so if I sing it I’ll usually do it in D.

Songs that I can reliably play all the way through, but which I’m still working on being able to sing while playing:

  • “Fame and Fortune”, by Elvis Presley. Recorded in B flat. Chords in G but capo 3, I usually do it without the capo.
  • “Home is Where the Heart Is”, by Elvis Presley. I THINK this is in the key of C but I’m not entirely sure.
  • “Ordinary Day”, by Great Big Sea. Key of F. As is usual with GBS ditties in F, they do key of D chords capo 3 for this. Same capo remarks as above for anything in F. REALLY want to be able to sing this one reliably while playing–and I may actually have finally figured out how to do it. Because not only is this my favorite GBS song, I want to also be able to sing it in French.
  • “When I’m Up”, by Great Big Sea. I THINK this is in C.
  • “Mari-Mac”, by Great Big Sea. GBS recorded this in E minor and those chords are easy–but if I’m actually trying to sing it, without playing along with the recording, I’ll transpose it into A minor instead.
  • “Goin’ Up”, by Great Big Sea. Key of G.
  • “Clearest Indication”, by Great Big Sea. Key of A. Not entirely sure I like this key yet for my voice, and haven’t yet found a better key for my range. But I haven’t transposed the chords yet either.
  • “Ferryland Sealer”, by Great Big Sea. GBS recorded this in F# minor–chords in E minor but capoed 2.
  • “Jolly Butcher”, by Great Big Sea. Key of G. Which I’m putting here because I don’t actually have reliable chords for the bridge yet, even though I can play the verses and choruses just fine,
  • “Au rang d’aimer”, by La Bottine Souriante. Not entirely sure of the key here yet.

Which is a total of 17 songs. More than I expected, actually!
I’m not counting other songs I’ve successfully played with the chords in front of me, just because they don’t really count yet as songs as I know. This includes stuff like Jonathan Coulton’s “Skullcrusher Mountain”, Elvis’ “Suspicious Minds” and “Follow That Dream”, Alexander James Adams’ “Pirate Bill and Squidly”, S.J. Tucker’s “Come to the Labyrinth”, or Betsy Tinney’s “The Dryad’s Promise”. Or songs that I REALLY want to learn, like Julia Ecklar’s “Horse-Tamer’s Daughter” and “Children of the Fall” (which is one of the songs off the Elfquest tape, A Wolfrider’s Reflections.
I want to learn Stan Rogers’ “Witch of the Westmereland” and “Barrett’s Privateers” as well. The former because I really like Alec’s take on it, and the latter not to drive people crazy with those lyrics, but rather, so I can do the L.A. Filkharmonics’ version, “The Last of Grand Moff Tarkin’s Crew”.
And I DEFINITELY want to learn De Temps Antan’s “Adieu donc cher cœur”, because yum.
Last but not least, I have designs on learning “Banned from Argo”. Muahahaha.
Chord-wise, since the vast majority of things I know how to play are in fact Great Big Sea (anybody surprised by this? ;) ), this means the vast majority of things I know how to play involve real simple chord changes. I do a lot of G, C, D, Em, Am, and Bm. Those are easily my primary six chords.
However, I start flinging in more chords depending on what other songs I’m playing. “When I’m Up” and “Jolly Butcher” and “Elf Glade” all add F to my arsenal. “Lukey” gives me D7 and A7. “Elf Glade” throws me some E, and “Jack Hinks” also gives me E as well as A7. That puts my chord count at nine.
“Paddy Murphy” is recorded in A but GBS actually plays the chords in G, capo 2. So the chords there are pretty much the same chords as “Lukey” and “Goin’ Up”, both of which are in G. Song category “Four Chords No Brain”.
“Captain Kidd” is even simpler. A whole helluva lot of D, G, and A. Which puts the chord count to ten.
“Fame and Fortune” is easily the most complex song I know, chord-wise. In addition to my standard six chords, it ALSO throws me Am7, Cm, Em7, and a funky chord that I THINK is D7-9, and which I’ve been playing 054545. Which puts me at 14.
“Home is Where the Heart Is” gives me D minor. 15.
“Clearest Indication” gives me F#m, as well as Asus2 and a particular C chord I’m spacing on the name of, but which lives up in the first and second frets. Which puts me at 18 chords.
All in all not too bad a showing for somebody who’s been noodling around on the guitar for… wow, 13 years now. I’m about ready to take it up another notch, though. I have GOT to take a guitar to Camp Violon Trad. :D Until I do that, though, I’ve got plenty to play with!

3 Replies to “What I can do with a guitar”

Comments are closed.