Cory” Seznec is a Franco-American musician living in Paris, France. A multicultural household, extensive travels and musical encounters, and a passion for history exposed Cory to sounds from around the world, helping him to develop his own distinct style that reflects his broad interests. Cory focuses on fingerstyle guitar, clawhammer banjo, voice, harmonica, and an array of other instruments. A founding member of Groanbox and Seznec Bros, Cory also helped create the Sawmill Sessions, an Old-Time and Bluegrass collective in Paris. A resident of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for 3.5 years, he was active in two bands MistO-MistO and Damakase, which mix Ethiopian music with other African styles. In July 2016, Cory embarked on a trip with filmmaker Gonzalo Guajardo to Luhya country in western Kenya to make a documentary on some of the few remaining omutibo style guitar players.Back to Singles Catalog Listing
I found a transcription of this old classic in a songbook of American popular songs, and moved it from Bb to A to make it easier to finger. I then
went back and listened to various brass band versions in order to try and get that dirge feel as much as possible. I have heard this tune played
gut-wrenchingly by a brass band in the streets of New Orleans in 3/4 time, which can sound really powerful too. In any case, the bass notes represent
the tuba; the high notes the other horns. I think it is important to try and play this tune slowly and soulfully. There is a bit of bass movement
and counterpoint, some lefthand ornamentation, and some righthand percussiveness to get your head around, but otherwise it should be relatively
This is my very humble interpretation of the late great New Orleans piano prodigy James Booker's hit. I love this tune and find it particularly pertinent in this day and age. Booker, a gay, one eyed heroin addict, had evidently lived multiple lives within his relatively short life. This song is about how he knew that the government was spying on him. Not only is it a virtuosic piece of music, it was also in my eyes very pertinent to today's surveillance society.
Since I am no James Booker, I simplified a lot and focused on getting a good groove going. The arrangement should be relatively straightforward. The more
accomplished guitar soloist might find room to pepper the groove with a little more single-note spice here and there. The Cadd9(sus4) that keeps popping
up in the verse is probably the hardest stretch on the fingers, and the bridge has a little wonky finger-work too including the walk up back to the
verse (measures 62-65). Other than that, it should be relatively straightforward.
This is an exercise in playing a classic blues tune in a New Orleans/Latin rumba style. Like in Looking for a Woman, the goal would be to nail down the rumba rhythmic pattern in the right hand before moving on to the lefthand work. In this piece I don’t use the strum in the verse like in Looking for a Woman, but favor percussive righthand rolls to give it a light bounce. The lefthand features a lot of work with the pinky - pull offs, triplets, etc - particularly in the variations, and in general is where you’ll find all the complicated stuff. The challenge was to incorporate a bit of that Professor Longhair/Champion Jack Dupree/Archibald style and make it work for the guitar.
This arrangement is based on the piano arrangement by J. Rosamond Johnson found in The Book of American Spirituals, edited by James Weldon Johnson and published by The Viking Press in 1925. I used more or less the same bass lines as Johnson and the B-Part is also similar. However, I did sneak in a few different chords here and there and added the extra passages between the A and B parts and at the end. It was really refreshing to discover Johnson’s beautiful rendition of this old classic, as the versions I’ve heard have always been more simplified harmonically. There is a heavy swing on this piece, and a lot of movement as well, particularly in the bass. Once you lock it in, keep it swinging!
I arranged this hymn for the guitar based on a transcription found in "The African American Heritage Hymnal", edited by Dr. Delores Carpenter and the
Rev. Nolan E. Williams Jr. I find the chord progressions, changes, and inversions to be bone-chillingly beautiful. The song is primarily played
in the first position, beginning with a sort of slow, arpeggiated strum that gives way to a more classic alternate bass picking pattern. I was
partially influenced by John Fahey’s arrangement of the tune In Christ There Is No East Or West. Be sure to swing the piece enough to get a nice
flowing, syncopated feel, particularly during the groovier bits of the "B" part.
Snooks Eaglin is one of my favorite guitarists. Particularly his first two solo records “New Orleans Street Singer” (1959) and “That’s All Right” (1961). He had all the right combinations of rawness, virtuosity, idiosyncratic style, and incredible energy. This tab is my interpretation of his scorching rendition of the New Orleans classic “High Society”, which I daresay might go down in history as his magnum opus! Since Snooks’ style was entirely unique (check whatever vids you can find of him on youtube and study his right hand - he looks almost like he’s playing clawhammer banjo!), I wouldn’t deign to play it exactly like he did.
That said, I would suggest using this tab as a basic guide to learning the tune, after which one would want to focus heavily on the rhythmic attack (which I am still trying fully to get my head around!) that Snooks was so insanely good at. My rhythmic approach was to add some thumb drags à la Blind Blake here and there, and to add a little bit more alternating bass than Snooks’ version. In his case it’s never quite alternating bass, never quite full on strum, but definitely full on Snooks. There’s bits of flamenco, jazz, blues, a whole lotta swing - guess that’s the New Orleans sound for you!
Known as the "Black National Anthem", this heart-wrenching song was composed in 1905 by J. Rosamond Johnson with lyrics from a poem written by his
brother James Weldon Johnson in 1900. I arranged it for the guitar based on a transcription from a modern hymnal sent to me by my mother who sang
it at church and thought it might compel me to play it on guitar. Well she was right! This tune has beautiful, subtle harmonic changes in it that
really can stir one's soul. I try to play it slowly ornamenting here and there and adding rhythmic emphases when I feel it. Since I really tried
to stick as closely as possible to the sheet music (for piano), the fingerings might seem a little strange at first (particularly in the intro
and at the end), but it’s all clearly laid out in the tab. The variation up the neck may be a bit difficult for those not used to fretting the
G chord in a C shape or the E minor in a D minor position.
This is my loose interpretation of Snooks Eaglin's fantastic rendition of Bo Diddley's tune. In order to get this song down it helps to be familiar with the New Orleans rumba rhythmic pattern. This can be heard among others in the music of Professor Longhair, Dr. John, most of the various modern brass bands, and in Snooks Eaglin's guitar playing. There are very few guitar players I am aware of who play rumba fingerstyle - one is my friend Parrish Ellis (former guitar player for the Wiyos), and the others are south central / east African fingerpickers, most of whom have passed on.
As such, this tab in many ways is an attempt to get this style out there. It's not at all easy to nail down if you are locked into alternating bass patterns. First off would be to get that rumba bass line to cooperate - it's essentially two dotted quarter notes followed by a quarter note in a 4/4 bar. After that, work on the triplet driven, Spanish guitar style strum over the verse and then begin incorporating all the snazzy left hand ornamentation.
I love this Rev. Thomas A. Dorsey (formerly known as the excellent blues piano player "Georgia Tom" in a less pious previous life) piece. It appears
to be fairly straightforward, but there is in fact a fair amount of movement going on and it's heavily swung and syncopated rhythmically, so make
sure you catch the bass notes in the right way to tap into that laid back gospel guitar groove. The first variation requires a bit of dexterity
in the left hand what with the G chord played in a full C position, a descending bass note pattern (from G down to Am), followed by sliding up
to the 12th fret to catch the melody an octave higher.
Flipping randomly to a page in the The Book of American Negro Spirituals (Viking Press, 1925), edited by James Weldon Johnson, with musical arrangements
by J. Rosamond Johnson, I stumbled upon this piece, which needless to say blew me away. In terms of technique, I use my thumb on the eighth note
bass runs up to the C-position F Chord (the opening and main theme of the piece), which takes a little getting used to, but will definitely help
roll that chariot along! The B section takes it harmonically and rhythmically in some nice directions. Just beware of not accelerating during the
triplet runs towards the end (which I have a strong tendency to do if I don’t watch out). Otherwise, it is heavily swung, and would merit having
some extra space in the chords - there's no real alternate bass Travis-picking going on, which should free you up to try and make it roll along
in a nicely slouchy way!
Originally inspired by Big Bill Broonzy’s rendition, I started out playing this (as is often the case in these arrangements) as an exercise in getting that driving, walking bass line down while adding an additional line. This is another example of employing a somewhat “pianistic” approach to the guitar by having the bass line of the guitar mimic the lefthand of the piano and the top strings doing the righthand.
So with that in mind I would start by playing the bass line and making that as comfortable as possible before adding the rest. Some of the trickiness
will be in getting the guitar to sound clean as you go up the neck in those B shapes, given that the lefthand is covering a fair amount of ground
and the righthand is still picking out that walking bass line. This is even more the case in the variation where the lefthand is working much harder.