Tips on spicing up 3 chord songs.

Discussion in 'The Sound Hound Lounge' started by radiohead625, Apr 2, 2013.

  1. NyteOwl

    NyteOwl Member

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    :agree
     
  2. Carmour

    Carmour Member

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    if you can't make a 3 chord song sound good what hope do you have in making a 20 chord song sound good..

    It's in how you play and approach each one, note about the chords themselves and how many of them there are..
     
  3. StompBoxBlues

    StompBoxBlues Member

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    Haven't checked out the responses, but...

    Chord VOICINGS. That is THE key. Many songs have the same three chords even, but sound totally different because of where and how the chords are played. Even some song (and this always amuses me) have the SAME three chords, but the chorus (with the same three) sounds DIFFERENT than the verse.

    So, if the chords are D, A, E, say you play D as an "e shape" chord up on the 10th fret, then down to an open A chord, then E as a D-shape two frets over the normal D...

    I often play around with "Hey Joe" (5 whole chords!!!) where I play a different version of one or more chord, than the previous round. Just doing voicings, sometimes even just hit ONE note (the main note).

    Also see how many notes you can leave out and still sound the chord.

    Strum UP instead of down on the first strum-beat.
    strum the chords (right hand) way up the neck, or way down by the bridge.

    Have the bass player play the root of the chords, while you do a fifth?

    There are TONS of things, arranging wise and technique-wise you can do, and if you make a game of finding out how many you can try...

    it can be a lot of fun.
     
  4. Allen in San Jose

    Allen in San Jose Member

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    This is good advice, I think...
     
  5. cardamonfrost

    cardamonfrost Member

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  6. Norlo

    Norlo Member

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    My advice is to try and get a recording of the song down if you can and listen back to it and see if it really sounds boring or you just getting bored playing the same thing over and over and over... and over... If the original artist can make it sound cool with just those chords, why can't you? I noticed that I tend to thing things are boring and need a change when I play them but when i listen back to it its really not that bad. There are so many songs out there where its just the same chord progression and no one notices or cares. Like someone else said as long as the singer is killing it not one will notice.
     
  7. bigtone23

    bigtone23 Member

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    I agree on boring. If it doesn't move ya, it's not worth playing.
    Otherwise, the usuals to help a 'simple' song:
    dynamics-including drop outs and tonal changes of the other instruments to keep it interesting
    great vocals can always connect to a general audience
    key changes
    smooth transitions into other (hopefully less boring ;) ) 3 chord songs a la medley
    a flaming guitar getting smashed while drums being kicked over
     
  8. ChampReverb

    ChampReverb Silver Supporting Member

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    What would _______ do?

    Johnny Marr
    James Honeyman Scott
    Edge
    Buddy Miller
    Duke Levine
    Jimi Hendrix
    Etc.

    -bEn r.
     
  9. Probos

    Probos Supporting Member

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    A horn section.
     
  10. es335td

    es335td Member

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    There are lots of good suggestions here. I'll add a couple. Play a rhythm part like Steve Cropper would to give the song some movement after you've established the tune in the first verse/chorus. Add a riff, or counter-melody that compliments the melody line. Harmonize the melody line occasionally. Use dynamics to give the song a clear beginning, middle and end.

    Have fun!
     
  11. clintb

    clintb Member

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    I listened to the song on YouTube and I noticed the dynamics of the song. But it appears you've already addressed that.

    Personally, I wouldn't worry about the guitar part being boring. There are lots of songs I've played where the guitar part is mind-numbingly boring, but it serves the song so I just deal with it. Sometimes "spicing" up a song, ruins it. As long as the song itself is not boring, I wouldn't worry about the guitar part being boring.


    Right now you said your "band" is currently a singer and yourself on guitar. I had a project like that once (girl sang, I played guitar). I suppose I could've taken the easy route like many others that do similar gigs and just strum chords, but I find that kind of boring to play and boring to listen to. So I would try to spice it up by creating finger style arrangements where I would mix a bass line and chords together.

    To add a little more dynamics and energy to the mix, I bought a Porchboard Bass to add some foot stomping sounds to the mix.
    http://porchboard.com/RP.html

    Here's a demo I found on YouTube:


    If you are bored strumming guitar, you could try getting out of your comfort zone by playing the song on keyboard instead (like the original). Or maybe you could try adding backup vocals.
     
  12. Baxtercat

    Baxtercat Member

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    'Not many chords in this tune boys; we gotta spice up the show.'
     
  13. deanmass

    deanmass Member

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  14. teleman55

    teleman55 Member

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    Rhythm. James Brown used it to make a one chord song work...real well.
    Lyrics. You got great lyrics, the rest of the song just follows.
    Melody. Got a great melody? Three chords, ten chords, two chords, who cares.
    Then, like other posters said, voicings, etc.
    Or some songs just work as straight through, three chord songs.
    Remember the old saw about country music...three chords and the truth.
    And sometimes, just a lot of space in the arrangement.
     
  15. Dave Decadent

    Dave Decadent Member

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    The obvious one: clean then dirty. Always works for me.
     
  16. Ladhilbluesband

    Ladhilbluesband Member

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    Has someone suggested playing more chords?
     
  17. voodoochile

    voodoochile Member

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    Some of these mentioned alreayd, but dynamics and inversions are a key. A lot of the old holwlin' Wolf stuff actually has only one chord and it sounds different all the time due to the emphasis and accepts put on it.

    Inversions let you use the same notes of the chord, but using those notes elsewhere on the fretboard to give some different flavor and feel.
     
  18. voodoochile

    voodoochile Member

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    one more thing... cowbell.

    Need more cowbell.
     
  19. FirstBassman

    FirstBassman Member

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    THIS !
     
  20. Poppa Stoppa

    Poppa Stoppa Member

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    There is no point adding superfluous **** to a cool song. Play it for what it is and make the groove work overtime.
     

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