Trixie Whitley and Unlikely Cool Chords

I'm always looking for new chords, new voicings and sounds. And I'm convinced, if you keep your mind and ears open, you can pick up new ideas from all sorts of players. Trixie Whitley is a fantastic musician with a beautifully soulful voice. I first heard her in a little club in L.A. (with surprise guest Daniel Lanois backing her up on guitar!) and was struck by a number of things, not the least of which was her simple, funky way of moving around the guitar neck. Check out this video of her singing a cover of an old blues tune called "I'd Rather Go Blind":

Solo version (you can see the chords best here)

Version with guitar, drums and cello; dripping with groove (Bonus: you get to see Daniel Lanois dance/direct).

In E minor, she lays down a cool part on guitar, basically sliding around a power chord shape, just going with the open strings which are sometimes dissonant, and it sounds great. Lets take a look at the chords:


| Em      G      |  A5              |

Stock, open Em voicing down low on the neck. Moves a finger up to take the bass note G (kind of G chord-ish, mostly Em/G) and then slides up to an A power chord shape letting the open strings work some magic (implied Am9 chord for the theory inclined).


C5         |  G5          | B5       | F5          |

This is cool. She just slides around a power chord shape built off the sixth string. Now, there is some finesse involved so don't just nail the open strings (don't mute them necessarily either - its a feel thing), but here are the chords:


| A5         |  B5          | C5       | D5          |

Kind of the same thing going on here. Power chord shapes move up the neck. Also, there is a short section of three descending chords that happens right before this. Same shapes. Can you figure it out?

So, check it out. Its not technically challenging but a good reminder that music doesn't necessarily have to be to work well. 

Anyway, keep your ears open for unusual sounds and fresh approaches to things you think you already know. Those open strings give the simple power chords all kinds of great chord extensions and color. And go listen more Trixie Whitley.


Cool Flamenco Chords

A beautiful part of practicing your instrument is discovering new musical ideas, tricks, etc. Sometimes you come across these great little ideas, even by mistake, that really inspire you. Well, as I'm always coming across something, here's what happened this week:

I love flamenco music,  especially the guitar playing. They take a nylon string guitar to another level. The sound, tone, chords, etc. Its so raw and beautiful. One of my favorite flamenco guitarists is Vicente Amigo (link). I was checking out his Solea, Mezquita, from his album, Un Momento en el Sonido, and was struck by some beautiful chords. Check this out:

Beautiful, dark, E chord (no third) with a flat 9 (the 'F'). In fact its that flat 9 that gives it that biting sound as its a half step away from the E and rings against with a beautiful dissonance. You hear in all the time in flamenco music. 

Play with some of the notes around it like this (somewhat reminiscent of a bit what Vicente plays at the beginning of Sting's track, Send Your Love):

Take it a step further and lead it into another great E with a flat 9:

The above is close to what Vicente plays around :37 in Mezquita. Listen here.


Here are a couple more versions of the chord around the neck:

Have fun with it,