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Fingerstyle Guitar in Open G Tuning

Sandy Shalk’s early musical interests include rock and roll, folk, and jazz including some of the great jazz guitarists of the 1950s and 60s: Wes Montgomery, Jim Hall, and Kenny Burrell. “A trip to see Buddy Rich perform at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia ignited what was to become a love of jazz for me.” Sandy began his professional career as a guitarist in the early 1970s with local top 40 and jazz music groups from Northern Delaware. “The lure of playing full-time was strong, and thus I left college to begin full-time career as a guitarist.” After studying with Philadelphia guitar teacher legend Dennis Sandole, Sandy toured the United States with Turning Point, playing contemporary popular music. The experience included an opportunity to play with oldies groups including Joey Dee and the Starlighters, who hit the charts in the 1960s with the Peppermint Twist.

After returning to Delaware in the late 70s, Sandy earned a B.A. in American Studies, an M.A. in English Education at the University of Delaware, and eventually his doctorate at Wilmington University. “Attempting to connect history to some of the literature I was teaching at the high school level eventually led to the publication of my book, Delaware: A Trivia Guide to the First State, (Heritage Books, Inc.).”

Sandy’s musical journey took new twist in the mid-1990s when his interests turned to fingerstyle guitar, and he was introduced to the music of El McMeen, Steve Baughman, Pierre Bensusan, and other guitarists who arrange music for the guitar in alternate tunings. “A lesson with El sparked an interest in arranging fingerstyle tunes and set me on a path with the ultimate goal of bringing jazz standards and DADGAD together.”

Along with guitarist Tim Alexander, Sandy released Giving Voice, a CD of fingerstyle guitar selections on the Piney Ridge label. Sing Out magazine referred to Giving Voice as “one of those rare albums of good guitar music, beautifully played.” Sandy’s solo CD, Newer Every Day (released in 2014) is a collection of folk, Celtic and jazz tunes played mostly in DADGAD. Minor7th noted that Sandy is “a fully realized musician who expresses rather than merely plays. His playing both sooths and swings, displaying both individual artistry and sensitivity to his listeners.”

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    Fingerstyle Guitar in Open G Tuning

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    There is much to love about playing fingerstyle guitar in the Open G tuning (DGDGBD). Ever since the sheet music for Henry Worrall's Spanish Fandango - written specifically for Open G - found its way into the guitar cases of parlor guitars in the 19th century, the tuning has grown in popularity. Guitarists of virtually all types of music - country, blues, folk, rock and slack key, etc. - have been susceptible to its charms. Because the guitar is tuned DBDGBD, simply playing all the strings without fretting, has a rich, appealing tone. The retuned bass strings in Open G bass enhances the guitarist's ability to play in the keys of G and D. Employing unique chord voicings adds interest to guitar arrangements in Open G.

    Open G is perfect for playing tunes by the great 18th century blind Irish harper Turlough O'Carolan. I've included an arrangement of his Blind Mary. Two tunes from the 19th Century are included: Stephen Foster's Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair and Sebastian Yradier's La Paloma. Open G is perfect for giving La Paloma a tango feel. There are two tunes from the fiddle tradition: The Girl I Left Behind Me and Off to California.

    My Romance by Rodgers and Hart is from the jazz canon and is likely to be a first of its kind arranged in Open G. Finally, Paul Simon's Still Crazy After all These Years works well in Open G. The tuning enhances the gospel essence of that remarkable tune.

    Each tune is performed and then taught phrase by phase. The arrangements are then played slowly on a split screen in order to see the movement of both hands. A tab/music booklet is included as a PDF file on the DVD featuring each of the arrangements.

    Titles include: Blind Mary, Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair, La Paloma, The Girl I Left Behind Me, Off to California, My Romance and Still Crazy After All These Years

    121 minutes - Level 2/3 - Detailed tab/music PDF booklet on the DVD


    Video Sample

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