#1
Hey guys,
I'd like to play melodies like the intro in Passenger's "Let her go" or Nirvana's famous "Come As You Are". These are obviously melodies played with individual strings, as opposed to full chords. So is this considered "finger picking" or "fingerstyle"? Which one should I learn? I took a few online lessons in "fingerstyle". That is all very helpful and fun, but it sounds very folksy to me. They cover stuff like "Travis Style" fingerpicking, which I highly doubt Nirvana or Passenger used to play those famous melodies.

So basically my question is how do you go from playing open chords to playing melodies with individual strings? Do you learn fingerstyle, finger picking, licks or something completely different?
Last edited by bryanmcand at Nov 29, 2015,
#2
I'm sure others will correct me if I'm wrong but I don't think '"Come As You Are" is either. It's a riff played with the pick and therefor easy to move to the following chord parts.
#3
You might be able to call those examples "fingerpicking", but I don't think "fingerstyle" would be appropriate. Fingerstyle indicates a style of musical play (obviously mostly by fingers). Fingerpicking.....anybody can do. Savvy?

I never made progress in fingerstyle until I put effort into my alternating bass. That is the key. Once you've got the alternating bass down you are literally halfway home. If you know the chords you can always "fake it" with alternating bass and popping only chorded notes (and it sounds pretty good if you keep the beat) but if you want to play the song EXACTLY like it's played on the radio there is no way around it....practice, practice, practice.

Hop on in the fingerstyle boat, Bryan. It will only help make you a better guitar player overall.
#5
I'm still not sure what to make of it. So what did Kurt Cobain *know* to be able to create a riff like Come As You Are? What is the core technique to be able to do that? Was it purely by chance and random noodling that a riff like that gets created? or do you need to know a certain "pattern" like fingerstyle to create a memorable riff with some basis in music theory?

I'm not at all opposed to learning fingerstyle. In fact, I'm looking for a reason to do so when all the anecdotal evidence I'm seeing implies don't learn it. For example, I asked a bunch of guitar players at a guitar store if any of them knew fingerstyle and all said no.
Last edited by bryanmcand at Nov 30, 2015,
#6
Here are the things Kurt knew. 1) he knew the chords he would be using and the key the song was in, 2) he knew the beat, 3) he knew the pentatonic scale.

Probably he was noodling around and happened to come across that riff. I don't know, just guessing.
Last edited by TobusRex at Nov 30, 2015,
#8
I'm a bit confused about your...erm...confusion.

My personal interpretation of it is that, finger picking is playing with your finger which covers a broad range of style and finger-style is a specific playing style utilising playing both bass and melody on one guitar (think Mark Knopfler and Chet Atkins).

However, to me, what you seem to be asking about is more simple lead playing and lead based riffs. I'm guessing you'd like to learn more picking stuff rather than simply playing chords? So stuff like Hotel California (Eagles), What You Give (Tesla) and Day Tripper (Beatles)? If you're looking to play those type of songs then I guess you should start by learning those types of songs but if you're asking from a songwriting point of view then someone else should be able to give better advice than me.
#9
Quote by bryanmcand


I'm not at all opposed to learning fingerstyle. In fact, I'm looking for a reason to do so when all the anecdotal evidence I'm seeing implies don't learn it. For example, I asked a bunch of guitar players at a guitar store if any of them knew fingerstyle and all said no.


Here's the thing with fingerstyle, it's much more advanced and difficult and so less people play that style.

There are many great players who play fingerstyle, but they are rare in certain genres, like metal, mostly for tone reasons.

Check out these players:

Mark Knopfler ( rock/country)
Jeff Beck ( rock/prog)
Andy Mckee ( acoustic instrumental)
Lenny Breau ( jazz insanity)
Paco Delucia ( latin )
Bruce Cockburn ( singer/songwriter - his recent acoustic material, not the 80's cheese)
Lucky Peterson ( blues)
Gabriela ( from Rodriguo y Gabriela)
Richie Kotzen ( metal/rock/prog)
#10
I would imagine that the distinction made by many is this....."Fingerpicking" is often used to describe "Travis picking" or "pattern picking"....That simple, repeating-pattern style of play that was so common among folk and folk-rock players.
Bob Dylan...."Don't Think Twice" the classic example.

Fingerstyle would be the more advanced systems. Classical method, Complex jazz fingerstyle playing, Brazilian jazz, Flamenco-influenced Latin material... That sort of thing.
Mostly centered around classical guitar technique, if not content.
Last edited by Bikewer at Nov 30, 2015,
#11
Quote by bryanmcand
I'm still not sure what to make of it. So what did Kurt Cobain *know* to be able to create a riff like Come As You Are? What is the core technique to be able to do that? Was it purely by chance and random noodling that a riff like that gets created? or do you need to know a certain "pattern" like fingerstyle to create a memorable riff with some basis in music theory?

I'm not at all opposed to learning fingerstyle. In fact, I'm looking for a reason to do so when all the anecdotal evidence I'm seeing implies don't learn it. For example, I asked a bunch of guitar players at a guitar store if any of them knew fingerstyle and all said no.



It's not random. The guitar isn't the source of the ideas. The brain is. When you think of a sentence, you think of what you want to say, and the keyboard of your computer is the tool that lets you send the thought to me, and the forum.

Guitar is like that. He has a guitar, and he uses it to convey the idea he has. I don't like the term "random" because it's really seldom random. But sometimes people make mistakes, or just noodle around and strike something that spawns an idea. I don't know how 'come as you are' was written though.

As far as fingerstyle, or fingerpicking, I use them nearly interchangeably, just in different contexts. Like "I was fingerpicking" not fingerstyle. "I play fingerstyle" not fingerpicking. I guess fingerpicking is more the verb and fingerstyle a noun. I reserve travis picking for travis picking, although some people use those terms to mean that, to me travis picking is just one sort of fingerstyle or fingerpicking, and lots of guys that play fingerstyle don't travis pick.
Last edited by fingrpikingood at Nov 30, 2015,
#12
^^^^ I was thinking along the lines of the noun-verb thing. Also, you don't often hear "I'm a fingerstylist", more like an adjective with the noun assumed, as in "I play fingerstyle (guitar). The Wikipedia article puts fingerpicking as a subgroup of fingerstyle, related to some traditions of American origin, mostly about the way the words have been commonly used.
#13
Thank you for all the answers. Truly helped me understand the distinctions and context.

What I was really trying to get at was, what do I need to learn as an aspiring songwriter? Someday I want to be able to create an original riff like Come As You Are, or Hotel California's intro for example. Today I only know how to strum chords. So what do I learn next to go from strumming chords to being able to design an original melody line? Is fingerstyle the answer? Will investing time in learning fingerstyle (specifically Travis) enable me to create such melodies? Or can such melodies be created by learning something else (e.g. the pentatonic scale)?

Again, I don't just want to play those songs. I want to create my own melodies. So what I'm trying to find out is whats the best thing to learn to write melodies like Come As You Are, Hotel California, Let Her Go etc.

thank you!!
#14
Dunno, I think there are lots of ways of skinning the melodic cat. You could go either flatpick or fingerpick, but you will need a good grasp of melody as well as chords.

Here's a legendary flatpicker who understands melody:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ELfaivU_7U

This is one of many versions, he never seems to do it the same way twice - brilliant improv.
#15
Quote by bryanmcand
Thank you for all the answers. Truly helped me understand the distinctions and context.

What I was really trying to get at was, what do I need to learn as an aspiring songwriter? Someday I want to be able to create an original riff like Come As You Are, or Hotel California's intro for example. Today I only know how to strum chords. So what do I learn next to go from strumming chords to being able to design an original melody line? Is fingerstyle the answer? Will investing time in learning fingerstyle (specifically Travis) enable me to create such melodies? Or can such melodies be created by learning something else (e.g. the pentatonic scale)?

Again, I don't just want to play those songs. I want to create my own melodies. So what I'm trying to find out is whats the best thing to learn to write melodies like Come As You Are, Hotel California, Let Her Go etc.

thank you!!


Sounds to me like someone has mentioned fingerpicking to you and you've assumed that all melodies are made that way. As mentioned before, I think come As You Are is played with a pick.....at least it is when I play it.
As for creating your own melodies, well a little bit of theory wouldn't go a miss. A start would be to decide on the key, find out which chords fit in this key (if you learn your theory then you'd be able to construct them) and which scales. You could try recording your chord progression and then play it back whilst using your scales to make melodies.
It's a little trial and error to begin with but stick with it.
#16
Bryan I'm still pretty new to fingerstyle, but I learned the pentatonic and blues scales last year when I was on my Rocksmith 2014 kick. I play a song I call "the Aminor song". Yeah, cheesy title. Basically I just pick the pentatonic scale around A minor, switching up with A7, then I switch to D7 and do the same thing. It makes for good practice, but I learned that I can hop around that scale and improvise some pretty cool sounding stuff. Really impressive to non-players, btw, lol. The point is that I think a lot of times guys are just noodling around with the scales and found a combination of notes that sounded great.

I'm fleshing my practice song into a real song I call "CoonDog". Am, Em, D7. Easy stuff, but when you play it fast it sounds pretty cool. But I'd have never come up with it if I hadn't noodled around on Aminor.

Oh yeah....my fave was left off the reverb66's list of fingerstyle guys. Bad reverb66!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YSh-YsyjpXk
Last edited by TobusRex at Nov 30, 2015,
#17
That's funny, I've never considered what differences there are between the two.

All the concepts in music intermingle a bit. And while some would say all the inspiration is in your head, nah that's wrong. Techniques are inspirational in themselves. You can play a melody a lot of ways and however way you play it will have a big influence on how the melody is interpreted. Here's a good example https://youtu.be/TgCo0_4LxgA
http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Q0AJUoR5cmc

I couldn't find the first guy playing It normal, and the second guy changes some shit, but what I'm saying is the first guy's use of ragtime leads to the melody being syncopated. Same melody but totally different sound.

And that's just a minor difference. You could play the same melody by just buzzing the top string. But then you would need someone else to play some harmony since you totally left that out.

Like I said things intermingle. You can fingerpick a ton of things. You can't, however, flat pick a lot of things meant to be finger picked. When you are actually playing something finger "style" it doesn't mean you're finger picking a riff like Can't Get No, with one finger on one string. It means extending the melody to include more rhythm and harmony through the use of using multiple fingers to play multiple lines.

I think I understand why you would be mentioning come as you are. That song is flatpicked, but it does resemble in some ways a fingerstyle riff, with it's rhythmic use of multiple strings. And that's something fingerstyle encourages. Sometimes when you flatpick, you end up sounding too linear. Too many notes on one string, and no under lying intersection of patterns.

Noodling around with a thumb and finger, as opposed to a flatpick, and yeah, you'll probably come up with different sounding riffs. Sometimes a technique will bleed into your head. So that even if a melody came all from your mind, it will still be a melody best suited for a certain technique. Listen to a solo with a lot of sweeps and chances are the next thing you come up with will sound sweepy.

Regardless of whether you play it with fingers or picked, as it can be played both ways, learning that riff will have an influence on other things you come up with whatever technique you use.

When it comes to writing 'melodies' well, we're really talking about writing riffs, right? A ton of riffs really did come straight from the fingers of players. You get familiar with certain finger patterns and picking techniques, a moment in time when the drummer or whoever does something, and you just play how you feel. Get come as you are in your head, maybe something else a bit different, have the drummer play a different pattern and tempo, focus on different chords and just play. With experience your influences will inspire you to do something similar but new at the same time
#18
Quote by bryanmcand
Thank you for all the answers. Truly helped me understand the distinctions and context.

What I was really trying to get at was, what do I need to learn as an aspiring songwriter? Someday I want to be able to create an original riff like Come As You Are, or Hotel California's intro for example. Today I only know how to strum chords. So what do I learn next to go from strumming chords to being able to design an original melody line? Is fingerstyle the answer? Will investing time in learning fingerstyle (specifically Travis) enable me to create such melodies? Or can such melodies be created by learning something else (e.g. the pentatonic scale)?

Again, I don't just want to play those songs. I want to create my own melodies. So what I'm trying to find out is whats the best thing to learn to write melodies like Come As You Are, Hotel California, Let Her Go etc.

thank you!!

To be a song writer or a good composer... U need to learn chords, scales, arpeggios no matter what style u choose
#19
I honest to gosh think y'all have made a semantic mountain out of a terminology molehill here.

I think if I simply put down the pick, I should be permitted to say, "I play finger style", no matter what my level of expertise or musical genre encompasses.

Alternating bass notes is called "Travis picking", and it's "finger style" also. So is classical, so is flamenco, so is gypsy jazz, and so is just putzing around because, you lost your pick, you left your pick at home, or you're just playing around with the guitar, fingers only.

You can actually do a fair interpretation of simple Travis picking, with a pick. If we want to split hairs, that could also be called "cross picking".
#20
Quote by Captaincranky
I honest to gosh think y'all have made a semantic mountain out of a terminology molehill here.

I think if I simply put down the pick, I should be permitted to say, "I play finger style", no matter what my level of expertise or musical genre encompasses.

Alternating bass notes is called "Travis picking", and it's "finger style" also. So is classical, so is flamenco, so is gypsy jazz, and so is just putzing around because, you lost your pick, you left your pick at home, or you're just playing around with the guitar, fingers only.

You can actually do a fair interpretation of simple Travis picking, with a pick. If we want to split hairs, that could also be called "cross picking".


Yeah for me, fingerstyle has always been the playing of melodies and bass lines together. regardless of wether you sue thumb picks/normal picks/just fingers what ever.

It does seem to have taken on a life of it's own here though.
#21
I finally figured this out!

"Finger picking", goes with beer, While "finger style", goes with wine or champagne.....:sothere:
#23
^^^^ So I guess that would make Sungha Jung the "nail boy" at the salon, and me just a run of the mill allergy sufferer...