A Modern Picking-Hand Study by Muriel Anderson

Posted by Kelsey Holt on

Posted by Muriel Anderson

Excerpted from the August 2018 issue of Acoustic Guitar

“Night Lights” has rich instrumentation, with Anderson playing sparkling arpeggios, the flamenco guitar duo Tierra Negra handling melodic chores, and Take 6’s Mark Kibble adding sweet vocal effects to the proceedings.

“Night Lights” also works well as a solo piece, as Anderson demonstrates on harp guitar on her most recent album, Eclipse. And taken on its own, the accompaniment part for “Night Lights” is a satisfying picking-hand study—one that will have you breaking out of familiar patterns.

The Game Plan

The picking hand’s role in “Night Lights” is quite involved, especially in section A, in which Anderson plays harp harmonics in the manner of Lenny Breau and Chet Atkins. (For more on harp harmonics, see the February 2017 issue of AG.) But once you’ve learned each of the composition’s three different picking-hand patterns, it should be fairly easy to put everything together.

If harp harmonics are new to you, start with one of the more straightforward portions of the piece, section B. The basic concept here—and throughout the piece—is to hold down each chord shape for as long as possible, while letting the notes ring together. In bar 9, fret the Am(add9) chord with your second, fourth, and first fingers on strings 4, 3, and 2, respectively. Then add the picking pattern shown between the staves—remember, p = thumb, i = index, m = middle, and a = ring.

Keeping the Am(add9) shape held, practice the pattern slowly, striving for  evenness of attack and note spacing. Increase the tempo gradually as the picking pattern becomes ingrained in your muscle memory. Once you feel confident with the pattern, extend it to the other chords in section B.

 

Excerpted from a lesson by Muriel Anderson in the August 2018 issue of Acoustic Guitar:

 

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