Calling All Fairport Convention Fans

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by SolarPsych, Feb 15, 2012.

  1. SolarPsych

    SolarPsych Member

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    Fairport Convention. One of the greatest folk rock ba- no wait, one of the greatest bands ever. So fantastic and yet hardly anyone knows them. I would really like some advice on how to get the guitar sounds they had. I'm not sure whether it's Nicol's or Thompson's playing which I'm after because I'm not sure who did what.

    There is one main guitar sound from them that I want to incorporate into my playing. The snaking, medieval, rolling hills lead guitar which wanders through the album Uhalfbricking. I tend to think of Jerry Garcia as the master of weaving his lines but the Fairport guy gives him a run for his money.

    I'd like to know what tunings they tend to use, chord progressions, favored keys, and scales would be useful.

    I typically use combinations of minor pentatonic and dorian for minor keyed songs and mixolydian/major pentatonic for major keyed songs.

    Thanks so much,

    -SolarPsych

    P.S. - My youtube channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/UHaulEverybody
     
  2. Rob Sharer

    Rob Sharer Muso-Luthier

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    Last edited: Feb 15, 2012
  3. JonR

    JonR Member

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    I know one track well - "Who Knows Where the Time Goes", which is key of E major, and Thompson solos with the E major scale, in what I guess is standard tuning. There's a fair amount of E major pent (on the E chord anyway), but otherwise he's playing off chord tones (with passing notes) in normal fashion; he does play a lot of double stops, which is quite a distinctive sound. And a pure clean tone of course. There are tasteful decorations, such as plenty of hammer-ons and the occasional pre-bend, which is nicely done.
    There's just one chord in the song that's not in key and that's Am - but he just plays arpeggios on that, as he does on most of the chords behind the vocal.
    IOW, it's not the scales or chord sequences or tunings (which are nothing unusual), it's his taste, phrasing and note choices.

    If you want tab for any favourite lick, from this song or any other track, let me know (with a youtube link with precise timing). But RT himself is a friendly guy, and you may even get tips from the man himself if you go to his very informative and nicely designed site (see above).
     
  4. SolarPsych

    SolarPsych Member

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    Excellent!
     
  5. A-Bone

    A-Bone Montonero, MOY, Multitudes Gold Supporting Member

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    His site is an excellent source of information.
     
  6. Jon

    Jon Member

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    From watching Richard Thompson when I was younger, his tone seemed to be a combination of Strat, Fender amp, compressor and delay - his lead tone was pretty clean but the compressor seemed to give it some bite and sustain.

    In terms of technique, hybrid pick & fingers technique would help, and use mostly natural minor scale but learn to bend notes other than the usual bluesy ones, and try using open strings as drones.
     
  7. huw

    huw Member

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    Other posters have hinted at this by basically ignoring Nichol & talking about Thompson. For your clarification then, Simon Nichol was (& remains) basically a "chords guy", whilst Richard Thompson was the lead guitarist. It was a very clear rhythm/lead split - heck, if RT was in MY band, I'd just play rhythm too! :)

    In those days IIRC Thompson didn't really use open tunings, and certainly not usually on electric. It's only as he has done more solo accoustic gigs over the years that he has really developed that side of his playing. There may have been the odd time he'd drop the low E string to D, but I think most of his electric lead playing was in standard tuning.

    Stylistically he was influenced by the traditional folk they were re-interpreting, and he'd try to incorporate violin or bagpipe style melodies.

    He used very light strings on electric and played with a very light touch, which is part of the sound. Also he would use unexpected interval jumps to make lines sound more outside that they are - loads of times I've tried to work out some "outside" sounding note in a run of his, only to discover that it's just a normal scale tone, unusually phrased.
     
  8. SolarPsych

    SolarPsych Member

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    Inspired! It must have been cool to see him in his prime. Thanks for just talking, that should help. :)
     
  9. PosterBoy

    PosterBoy Member

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    I used to live near the guys. They have their own festival in Cropredy in Oxfordshire. Chris Leslie's daughter is in an all girl punk/pop band Evarose
     
  10. entraind

    entraind Supporting Member

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    I saw him a few months ago, he is still in his prime! Go see him if you get the chance...
     
  11. SolarPsych

    SolarPsych Member

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    I would love to!
     
  12. JonR

    JonR Member

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  13. snarkle

    snarkle Member

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    If anything, he's getting better...

    I recently picked up the three-volume Richard Thompson songbook and was surprised to see how much of his music is in standard tuning, or standard with a dropped D in the bass....I'd been playing several of those tunes in DADGAD and had assumed he was, too.

    FWIW, one of Thompson's occasional collaborators and I were talking about RT's sound and both came to the conclusion that a lot of it has to do with string gauge. (The part of it that doesn't have to do with Thompson's freakish ears and outsized talent, anyway...) We're both "heavy gauge" guys, but decided that we were each going to string a Strat with .008s and see what happened.

    Haven't gotten around to it yet, though!
     
  14. Jon

    Jon Member

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    I'd disagree to some extent with the '& remains' comment - once Richard Thompson left the band Simon Nicol took over full guitar duties for a while and played some pretty good lead stuff (although not quite a distinctive as Thompson's playing) including solos and lead on various jigs & reels.
     

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