Day #3 ~ Wednesday 29th August 2012

After the Tuesday night meal the group grabbed their acoustic guitars and descended upon the dining room for a late night jam session with plenty of beer and wine to hand.

The bash included: Dancing in the Dark – Bruce Springsteen, Route 66 – Chuck Berry, Wonderwall – Oasis, Space Oddity – David Bowie and Mr Tambourine Man – Bob Dylan, among many others.

The early morning session began with physical and technical warm up exercises, extended to include RH picking patterns in groups of 3, 4 and 6 notes. This warmed the group up nicely to recap the Jeff Buckley cover version of ‘Hallelujah’ (see Day #2).

After the morning coffee break, DADGAD was the order of the day with a session on the popular altered guitar tuning, often referred to as D sus4 tuning. The group experimented with a blues in D (I – D, IV – G, V – A).

Above: Harmonised Major Scale in DADGAD

Wednesday is a half-day and some of the students visited Saintes, a French commune located in Poitou-Charentes, in the southwestern Charente-Maritime region, and others have went for a long walk in the near-by beautiful countryside. Rest assured, everyone will be back for dinner at 7.30pm!

Day #2 ~ Tuesday 28th August 2012

Once everyone had run through their physical and technical exercises in the early morning sunshine the group reconvened in front of the black board at the music room for a session on diatonic triads (R, 3, 5). These three note chords form the basis of the intro to The Who track ‘Substitute’.

Download the full Diatonic Triads in D Major worksheet

After the morning coffee break the class honed their skills on the track ‘Substitute’; working on the intro, verse, pre-chorus and chorus sections and learning the song structure before lunch.

The afternoon session began with our first foray into the finger picking style. The group had chosen Jeff Buckley’s cover of the Leonard Cohen classic ‘Hallelujah’ as our focus piece.

Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley

The song is played in 6/8 time and in the key of C Major. Jeff’s cover version uses a capo on the fifth fret, but you can also play it with open chords without the capo, as follows.

Open chord version:

Intro/Verse  || : C | Am : ||
Pre-Chorus || F | F G | C | G | C | F G | Am | F | G | G#dim | Am | Am ||
Chorus        || F | F | Am | Am | F | F | C | G ||

Capo 5th fret version:

Intro/Verse  || : G | Em : ||
Pre-Chorus || C | C D | G | D | G | C D | Em | C | D | D#dim | Em | Em ||
Chorus        || C | C | Em | Em | C | C | G | D ||

Above: The class work studiously on Day #2!

Day #1 ~ Monday 27th August 2012

The first session this morning began with a discussion about the week’s personal goals and the songs the group wanted to learn; with a view to perform on the final day of the course.

The class then moved into the garden and basked in the morning sunshine while practising the physical warm up exercises for guitar players. After a session of stretches, the strummers gathered outside the music room for the technique expander class.

This session included:

  • Holding a plectrum
  • RH and LH positioning
  • Correct posture
  • Alternate picking (down – up)
  • Economy picking (down – up – down)
  • LH fretting exercises (fingers 1, 2, 3, 4)

After the morning coffee break all the students restrung their guitars; learning a trusted method of winding the string on to the peg that clamps the string and prevents slippage.

Step by Step Guide

1. Slide the string through the peg hole
2. Place thumb at the seventh fret and allow one thumb length of slack in the string
2. Wind the string anti-clockwise 180 degrees
4. Pull the end of the string upwards and continue winding the string another 180 degrees
5. At this stage be sure to wind the string above the peg hole
6. Continue winding and pass the end of the string below the string
7. Wind the remaining string on to the peg and snip off to length

During the afternoon session the group learned The Who classic ‘Substitute’ before splashing in the pool as the temperature rose to 30°C here in Bercloux.

Intro Riff: “Substitute” by The Who (Pete Townshend)

The riff is made up of triads (3 note chords) with the open D pedal note in the bass. This creates a rich chord texture for the A/D and G/D, synonymous with the powerful Pete Townshend sound of the 60s.

Substitute – The Who