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  • 30 Days to Better Guitar Playing

  • 30 Days to Better Guitar Playing

  • dylan leblanc

    Riff of the Week: If The Creek Don't Rise by Dylan Leblanc

    by Simon James

    The riff of the week today comes from bright young country star Dylan Leblanc whose blend of Nashville Folk Blues shows a maturity well ahead of his years. I have been fortunate enough to see him perform on two occasions in London and have greatly enjoyed his debut album Paupers Field.

    In this lesson we will be looking at the main guitar part to If the Creek Dont Rise. The song is in D minor and is a slow finger picked folk tearjerker based around a Dmin, C, G chord progression.

    When it come to finger picking it is very important to assign each finger to a string and to stick with it for each song or riff that you play. This ensures that there is no confusion or second guessing whilst your are playing. For this riff I have assigned the fingers as follows:

    p (thumb): Strings 6,5,4

    i (index): String 3

    m (middle): String 2

    a (ring finger): String 1

    This is a general rule of thumb (excuse the pun!) that I use for most finger picking and although it can vary depending on the song or material that you are playing, it works well for this riff.

    In the first bar begin by building a D minor chord and then commence the riff with the open D and a pull-off on the 1st string from F to E with p and a, before playing the arpeggio in reverse using m and i. On the second beat repeat the pull off and root note but stop on the D on the 2nd string with m.

    In the 3rd and 4th beat the picking pattern becomes slightly more syncopated. The C on the 5th string and on the 2nd string are played simultaneously using p and m and then some nifty work from your index finger (i) on the open G and your ring finger (a) on the high G is needed before finishing the bar with a D to E hammer-on on the 4th string played with your thumb (p). Make sure that you are really specific with your picking fingers at this point. Start by practicing the C chord riff very slowly because if your fingers are not assigned correctly the riff will not flow properly when you speed up!

    In bar 2 we now play the G. Use p to play the G on the 6th string and m to play D on the 2nd string. As by now your fingers should be correctly aligned with the strings you should be able to play the open G with i and open D with p.

    dylan leblanc if the creek don't rise  

    In this riff you will notice some key elements that are commonly used in finger picking folk music. Notice the clever use of hammer-ons and pull-offs, the slight syncopation in the picking pattern and the descending arpeggios. The riff is noticeably empty to complement the content of Leblanc’s lyrics which is useful if you want to learn some of these techniques because it requires your picking to be accurate and encourages you to play the notes cleanly.

    If the Creek Dont rise is a fairly simple folk riff to master, so long as you have your picking fingers are well organised. Remember to be extra careful how you assign your fingers as it is a very important step in developing your own finger picking technique. In this study I have outlined one of my most common finger picking patterns, but feel free to use you own, so long as you make it logical! Try to avoid playing separate strings with the same finger consecutively and try and keep your thumb for the 6th, 5th and 4th strings.

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    4. Riff of the Week: Belief by John Mayer