Fahey, Konitz, Brevity & Taste

Sep 28, 2020

So the plan was simple. I was going to show up live yesterday, spend a little time talking about finding chords up the neck, take a few questions about the membership, then exit stage left, escorted by the angels of Brevity and Taste.

And all went well, for a while. I had made a new Dominant Dozen handout of twelve essential D7 voicings, and we applied that to "Trouble in Mind" in the the key of A. Next, we got into a few questions about the membership, some of them creative, some of them logistical. But then, as more questions kept rolling into the chat, I found myself getting further and further afield. Skimming through the playback after, I see we touched, to some extent or another, on:

Why palm muting doesn't sound like John Fahey
Improvising on the form of John Hurt's "Richland Women Blues"
The four chords separating Blind Boy Fuller and "Indiana"
Advice from Lee Konitz on how to be hip
The long view of practicing
Sneaking I-VI-II-V's into the blues
How to practice pulloff technique
Transcribe, less of it, mostly Charlie Christian

And this is by no means a complete and inclusive list. No wonder by the time I closed things down, Brevity and Taste were already long gone, no doubt three drinks into the after party down the block.

Since this was more of a Q&A session than some previous streams, I made sure to follow the chat more carefully than usual. But I kept getting distracted – first by how far-flung the audience was (Iran! Portugal! Round Rock, Texas!), next by all the cross-talk and high-fives going on as existing members greeted each other like long-lost friends, and finally, by the discovery that people who hadn't even made much of a ruckus in the forum were now chiming in to say how much they had learned in the past six or twelve months of The Fingerstyle Five. Things like:

"David has helped me make my fingerstyle so much better. Thank you, sir." – Charlie T.

"Just stay with it month by month, you'll be amazed what you learn. This is the place." – George V.

"I"ve learned soooo much from David... not just great technique, things like syncopation, which I didn't even know what that was, but blues history, style and why they played the way they do..." – Jim L.

"I've been a Fiver for a year. Really excited for every new month. Great lessons and materials but the Livestreams are pure gold. Seems overwhelming but David makes it understandable." – Piker99

These are guitarists like you, folks who just signed up to learn some tunes, some licks and maybe get a little perspective on how to play a bit better. I've found myself talking a lot more this time around about how learning is a long ramp, and how knowing what and how to practice is ultimately about having a practice – an ongoing pursuit of sitting down with your guitar and moving just a few pebbles from one pile to another. How over time, small, repetitive but thoughtful actions not only make for deeper, more solid skills but also for a more grounded, confident state of mind around music and your relationship to it. The Fingerstyle Five, with its weekly assignments and monthly, cyclical nature is my effort to make a path like that available to you, a means of playing the long game while learning more about this music we all love so much.