13 July 2012

Get Your Fingers Round This

Have been trying to get to grips with a guitar chord.  It’s pictured above, symbolised by the three big dots, and features in a song by KT Tunstall called Heal Over.

Now, it may look easy.  But having recently been afflicted in my left hand with something I’ve decided to call Sheepshearer’s Fingers, I can tell you it’s quite a stretch.

Here’s how you do it.  (Seasoned guitar players may wish to rejoin us in paragraph seven.)  Breathe in.  Put your fourth finger on the 9th fret of the fifth string.  Put your index finger on the 6th fret of the fourth string.  Breathe out.  Then put your fifth finger on the 9th fret of the third string.   Rest for a moment, sip some water, and savour the view from here.  Now play the chord, just to make sure the index finger hasn’t got bored and slid off sideways, and voilĂ .  An E add 9 chord.

Or is it?

Well, the jury appears to be out.  In checking that font of knowledge, You Tube, one guitar teacher states that this is a C add 2 chord.  Another says it’s an E diminished

So what’s a confused girl to do other than go to theguitarbuzz.com.  There you can plop your notes down on the diagram of strings and it will tell you, visually and aurally, what chord you are playing.  Result.  It’s an E add 9 . 

So far so intriguing with the first chord of the song.  There’s further disagreement on You Tube over the third chord.  One expert claims that it is a simple B.   It’s not a simple B in the original version! I want to shout.  There’s something else going on! 

In fact, the theme there’s something else going on has all too frequently raised its ugly head.  I used to own a book of Beatles songs that were spookily easy - because they were just a tad wrong.  Most of the chords had been simplified to plain C, or common-or-garden G: the musical equivalent of being forbidden from using anything in your palette other than primary colours.  Which can certainly be exciting territory, until the illicit discovery of flatted fifths, augmented 6ths and add 9s.   These are the stray notes, the guesting notes, the tone-mixing notes.  The notes  that have driven up in a limo, elbowed their way through security, helped themselves liberally to nibbles and sour cream dips, and now are stubbing out their cigarettes on the carpet.  

The notes that have come with the express purpose of slapping that plain old chord around  

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