Thursday, January 04, 2007

How to make covers your own

Today, Ben Senterfit and I discussed covers and how to make them your own. In other words, how to have a fresh approach to a song that everyone knows. We were working on "Knocking on Heaven's Door".

Since the song is easily recognizable by the chords, there's lots of room to modify the melody and rhythm (i.e. phrasing). Ben suggested two approaches:

1) Get at least 4 different versions of the song (i.e. by different artists) and learn to sing each version. Each version should open up new phrasing and rhythm changes. For example, though originally done by Bob Dylan, there are a number of reggae versions of Knocking on Heavens Door.

2) Sing variations of a pentatonic scale over the song. In practicing, we started by playing the chords and singing a scale over the chord changes ( i.e. do, rae, me, fa, so, la te, do). Then we tried different patterns in the scale ( i.e. do, rae, so, do).

To develop my cover of this song, I'm going to:
- Get 4 or 5 distinctly different versions of the song from iTunes and learn to sing them in my car.
- Record the chords only and develop leads. Use the leads to identify some phrases.

Another thing that Ben pointed out was how I play the guitar. Typically, I play the chords at the same volume throughout the song. Ben suggested that I play quieter (while keeping the same rhythm) when singing. In between verses, play the guitar louder.

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