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impossible chord for me to play - what to do?

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 pab
(@pab)
Estimable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 103
Topic starter  

i'm trying to learn winter wonderland from mark hanson's fingerstyle christmas guitar. beautiful but tough song to learn and probably beyond my capabilities (he lists it as an advanced piece) but i'm having some fun (and a good amount of frustration) trying to learn it.

i've come across a chord that i know i can't play now and something that i don't believe i ever will be able to play. for any of you that have his book, it is in measure 27. it is listed as Dm11, and is fretting the 6th, 4th, and 3rd strings of the 10th fret, and the 2nd string of the 8th fret.

i've tried it multiple ways. mark hanson indicates that he frets the 6th string with his thumb and then is able to fret the other strings with the fingers. while i can do this on a number of chords, my hand is just not large enough to make this work for this chord. i've tried middle finger on the 6th sring, 3rd finger on the 4th string, pinky on the 3rd string, and first finger on the 2nd string (probably the more classical way of playing it). unfortunately, my fingers are too big for this and with the smaller frets up the neck, there just isn't enough room. i've tried using a partial barre with my 3rd finger over the 4th and 3rd strings, but the accuracy needed not to touch the 2nd string isn't possible for me (at least at this time).

now, i can leave out one of the middle notes of the chord (3rd or 4th string) and it doesn't sound bad but I can hear the difference. my teacher used to talk about having to change up songs based on limitations because this is "hobby" guitar (not professional guitar). my question is, what do you do when this happens? also, if anyone can answer based either on personal experience of knowledge, what do professional guitarist do when this happens (i'm assuming it has to happen to them too where something is written that they are not able to play as is). i'm thinking that if muriel anderson (smaller hands) tried playing some of tommy emmanuel's stuff (bigger hands), it might be difficult or impossible in certain places for her. as a side note, what is absolutely impressive is how django was able to do what he did with his limitations!

Thanks,

paul


   
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 Nuno
(@nuno)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 3995
 

Hi Pab,

I don't know what the pros do. I'm answering because I have a couple of Hanson's books and I agree, some pieces are challenging. In fact I only finished one of them. The second is a book with carols, but I think it is the other one (Hanson has two books on carols). I only study the simpler ones.

Sometimes I had a lot of problems with the songs or studies. I remember I asked several months ago a similar question because it seemed absolutely impossible to do it. Somebody answered he also had problems and that solution was the famous "keep practicing". I needed more than a month but I finally got it.

Probably all your approaches are good. I was trying to see a fingering while I was reading the first paragraph and you described all my alternatives. I don't know, probably I'd try the half barre. I'm not able to do that with my fingers but some people can bend it "backwards" (I'm sorry, I don't know how to describe it or if there exists an English word for that).

Good luck! :D


   
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(@davidhodge)
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Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 4472
 

Nuno's got good advice.

Another approach would be to look at the notes involved. You've got (high to low)

G (2nd string / eighth fret)
F (3rd string / tenth fret)
C (4th string / tenth fret)
D (6th string / tenth fret)

And then find a place where you can reach these particular notes a little easier. Since you've got big hands, you might want to try this:

G (1st string / third fret)
F (2nd string / sixth fret)
C (3rd string / fifth fret)
D (4th string / open) or (5th string / fifth fret)

Of course, playing in this position may cause you to make other shifts as well in the chords immediately before and after, and that's part of fun of working this sort of thing out. I can't speak for all pros, but when faced with the situation that you can't play a piece "as is," you kind of have to make adjustments and play it "mostly as is" or "as is as best I can with the equipment I've got." In this particular case, should you have performed Winter Wonderland in front of an audience and dropped out the middle notes, chances are likely that not one of your listeners would know that you changed the arrangement. Provided, of course, you hit all the notes you did hit correctly, cleanly and in time.

Hope this helps and good luck with it. I can't play all Mark Hansons' fingerings for the life of me (with my small hands, I'd never be able to to this thumb-wrap). But it's a great work-out.

Peace


   
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(@rahul)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 2736
 

Great advice by Dhodge and Nuno.

And even though I maybe able to play a certain 'not so easy' chord in barre, I still prefer playing an 'open' version of it. 8)


   
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 pab
(@pab)
Estimable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 103
Topic starter  

thanks for the posts! dave, your version works great. i am going to see how it works within the framework of the surrounding chords but the sound is the same. for example, the following notes are 6th string 8th fret, 6th string 7th fret. those of course work better on the 5th string now. the hard part though will be moving from high frets to low frets, but that is something that is required throughout this song (or low frets to high frets) so just one more spot to have to do this in.

nuno, the bending it backwards is something i can do with the middle and the 3rd fingers. it is something i worked on and is very helpful when the odd occasion comes up when it can be used. the accuracy though of just doing it with 2 strings just isn't there.

thanks again!

paul


   
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(@ignar-hillstrom)
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Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 5349
 

The lamest way to play the chord would be [x x 0 0 1 1] I guess (D G C F) But there's a huge chance the F will conflict nastily with the melody. Try for yourself.


   
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(@k5koy)
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Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 45
 

Dang! You guys are waaaay over my head. Jeez, Im having trouble with an F chord!

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(@hanging-chord)
Estimable Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 87
 

This is OT (but in context), so hopefully I can get a quick answer without derailing the thread :wink:

The chord is described as dm11, but only includes the root, flat 3, flat 7, and 11. My understanding was that the 11 meant that every odd interval was included in the chord (excepting the unimportant 5). So from the notation I would have expected this chord to have included the high E (though I suspect it would sound bad with the flat 3rd).

The chord listed I would have expected to see marked as dm7(add11) instead. Am I mistaken, or is this just a loose interpretation of the chord?


   
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(@fretsource)
Prominent Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 973
 

This is OT (but in context), so hopefully I can get a quick answer without derailing the thread :wink:

The chord is described as dm11, but only includes the root, flat 3, flat 7, and 11. My understanding was that the 11 meant that every odd interval was included in the chord (excepting the unimportant 5). So from the notation I would have expected this chord to have included the high E (though I suspect it would sound bad with the flat 3rd).

The chord listed I would have expected to see marked as dm7(add11) instead. Am I mistaken, or is this just a loose interpretation of the chord?

11th chords often omit the 9th and are still considered 11th chords. 13th chords often omit both 9th and 11th. Although in theory they are included, in practice, (like the 5th) they are often considered not essential (or even undesireable).


   
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(@hanging-chord)
Estimable Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 87
 

OK, thanks for the info.

And now, back to your regularly-scheduled thread... :)


   
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