Do you play or lead without a band on solo acoustic guitar? Do you find that you lose the effective movement that can take place with a full band? I’ve recently written about the benefit of droning notes when playing with the Short-Cut capo. Also, in the archive issues of Worship Musician, you can find articles about playing melody and lead lines with it.
There are times that the drone needs to be broken up with some movement. It’s really cool when you get to have a bass player who can make that happen. But even if you have a player bringing in the low notes, it’s also good to be able to make that happen on the guitar first, and then pass the movement to the bass (or to the keys) when the song builds.
Let’s look at three chords first. “A,” “E/G#,” and “F#m.” [Figure 1] This is a bass walk or movement that can go either way…up or down. Playing this progression without the Short-Cut capo is just not as effective, in my opinion, as playing with one. The desire is for those bass notes (A, G#, F#) to all come from the 6th string…the lowest note on the guitar. Being that all of these shapes are two-finger chords with the Short-Cut capo is a bonus! It’s really easy.
Here’s some application. Take the song “Forever (We Sing Hallelujah)” that you know from Bethel and Kari Jobe. The first three chords are A | E/G# | F#m. Whether or not you’re playing with the tracks, a nice finger-style approach using the Short-Cut capo with the chords resting on this bass-note-walk from “A” to “G#” to “F#” works really well. The progression in the pre-chorus and chorus is the same with an “E” instead of a “G#” bass note for the “E-chord.” That change alone makes the “G#” more effective and needed because it sets the pre-chorus and chorus apart and gives them both more power.
Playing in different keys? Look at the song, “Your Grace Finds Me” by Matt Redman in the key of “Bb.” I play it with a full capo on fret 1 and the Short-Cut capo on fret 3. This moves everything UP one half-step, changing the “A” to a “Bb.” The chorus opens up with the same progression Bb | F/A | G#m (which is A | E/G# | F#m). For this song, it’s at the power of the chorus and played full instead of a lighter finger-style. Same chords, different approach…equal impact.
What about the opposite progression F#m | E/G# | A? Look at the song “Always” by Kristian Stanfill. The chorus starts with a long “A” chord and then begins to move on “I will not fear.” These are powerful words in the song and need the support of the music to help emphasize that lift. The progression F#m | E/G# | A makes that happen.
While you’re trying this out, like I mentioned above, try playing the progression both forward A | E/G# | F#m and in reverse… F#m | E/G# | A and listen to the changes. Wrap that up by going to the “B” and “E” chord shapes. Try it in different key positions like in “Your Grace Finds Me” with the capos at frets 1 and 3… try 2 and 4 or 3 and 5… listen to the movement and see what you hear. You may find just what your songs have been needing!