Bob Brozman on Open-G Around the World

IF YOU HAVEN’T TUNED ONE OF YOUR guitars to open G yet (D, G, D, G, B, D low to high), you’re missing out.
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IF YOU HAVEN’T TUNED ONE OF YOUR guitars to open G yet (D, G, D, G, B, D low to high), you’re missing out! Last month, Bob Brozman showed us how to play a righteous fingerstyle blues using simple, two-note shapes. As promised, this lesson goes global.

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 “These chords are found in so many kinds of music,” says Brozman. “For example, they work great for Hawaiian music.” He plays the swinging Ex. 1, an awesome V-IV-I turnaround in G. Use a little palm muting on the low notes to maintain thumpitude and snap the high notes to make them jump out. Get comfortable with the moves in these four bars and you’ll find it easy to riff through entire tunes that follow these types of changes. Partake in a little poi and pakalolo and you in da islands already, brah!

Brozman then takes us halfway around the world with the sprightly Ex. 2, showing how with a different groove and attack, these shapes work for African music. Clip the notes short and hit them hard for the proper feel. This one moves pretty fast the way Brozman plays it, but start slow and tap your foot. The muted “scritches” in the 1st bar keep the line percussive and lively and also make it easier to change positions smoothly.

“With these exact same two-note mini chords,” he continues, “we can play Mexican music. He gets the fiesta started with Ex. 3. To get the tone you hear on the companion video, Brozman strikes the double-stop triplets with his thumbpick way up on the neck, giving the notes a tinny, tinkly sound. As with Ex. 2, our double-stops here are on adjacent strings, but it all still adds up to a harmonized G major scale. This example is the first one we’ve seen that doesn’t involve bass notes, but once it’s comfortable, there is nothing to stop you from accompanying yourself. Just about any of the open low strings are fair game because, as Senor Brozman tells us, “The background of the tuning makes everything sound good.”

Check out another feature from this GP Flashback series: Paul Simon, June 1970 . BONUS: Phil Ramone In The Studio With Paul Simon!