Picking Up "Danger Girl"

One of the most frustrating things is coming up with a part that you cannot play right off the bat. "How can I write something that I cannot play?" But, these are the times that we really move forward, charting new territory. The subject of this column is one such example.

After coming up with the first 4 measures I began hearing the melody in my head. I started by singing the part. I thought - well I can overdub the melody over the moving bass but then I can't do it live - since my band is a trio. It then became a challenge to make the two parts work together.

This example makes extensive use of "Hybrid Picking" (see my column "Picking Carrots and Grapes"). The trick is to make each part sound distinct, thus creating the illusion of two players.


For a printable PDF version of the music, please click for Page 1.

A general rule of Hybrid Picking is: low notes are hit with the pick and higher pitches are hit with any combination of your right middle (m), ring (a) and pinky fingers.

The left hand starts in the 5th position; moving down as needed. Play the wide interval string skipping by using the pick on the lower notes and using the "a" or "m" finger of the right hand for the higher pitches. I have provided suggested fingering in the transcription.

The right hand is relaxed and approaches this with a bouncing quality.
I perform the piece with a percussive feel achieved by sounding muted strings, (This is tough to notate and can best be learned by listening.)

MP3 - Slow
MP3 - Fast
MP3 - With Band

This riff developed into the tune "Danger Girl 2001" (from the CD "Room 137"). "Danger Girl 2001" took second place in the jpfolks.com Awards for "Instrumental Song".

For further listening, check out Chet Atkins; he was a master at creating two distinct parts played at the same time.

I hope you are able to use some of these ideas to improve your playing.

Curtis, a guitarist and composer from Playa del Rey, California, has a long-term goal to write and record great music and share it with as many people as possible.

His eponymous debut CD features thirteen instrumental tracks and two vocal numbers.


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