The rhythm of Leonard Cohen

General discussion about Leonard Cohen's songs and albums
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Sanverp
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The rhythm of Leonard Cohen

Postby Sanverp » Tue Oct 30, 2012 11:10 pm

There are some songs of Leonard Cohen where he is using a very special rhythm, which is hard to learn. For example: the stranger song.

To play this on my guitar, it is really very difficult to learn.

I know exactly how he is playing is, but to get 'that' fast as him, seems almost impossible.

Is there anybody having tricks to learn that rhythm, or should it be like with everything on the guitar: learn it very slow and after a while you will learn to play it very fast.

Fr the guitar players: Is anybody getting this rhythme as fast he can play it? Or is everybody also struggling on this?


Kind regards,
Sanverp
Kind Regards,
Peter
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Junk
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Re: The rhythm of Leonard Cohen

Postby Junk » Wed Oct 31, 2012 8:50 am

I know exactly what you mean.
'Avalanche' is another with that rhythm.
Slow it down and practise is the only way I suppose, but I'm still struggling.
In an interview with Jools Holland he referred to it as his "chop."
JH: Interesting. You were saying your "chops"? What did you mean? (JH evidently referring to something LC said to him while the clip was running)

LC: I have like one or two things I can ­ you know there's an expression of "chops", which musicians have to designate their excellence, their skill, and you say, like, "a musician has great chops". Well, I have one "chop". So you know, er, I'm demonstrating my "chop" there.

JH: (looking again at image of LC and Felix on video monitor) Beautifully demonstrated there, beautifully demonstrated.

LC: That's the only one I got.

JH: (trying to start another question) Now, you've lived... (Audience's mirthful response to LC's comment forces JH to readdress the "chops" issue) But you only need one beautiful chop surely, and then lots of poetry.
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somewhat_nifty
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Re: The rhythm of Leonard Cohen

Postby somewhat_nifty » Wed Nov 07, 2012 5:10 pm

He's playing triplets, just very very fast, a la flamenco style. Back when I was better at the guitar I could almost do it. It's hard to imitate the master's 'chop'!
I'm chained to the old masquerade...
2008: London O2 14th Nov, RAH 18th Nov; 2009: NY RCMH 16th May, Weybridge MBW 11th July, Barcelona 21st Sept; 2010: Sligo 31st July, Lille 25th Sept, Las Vegas 11th Dec; 2012: Wembley Arena 8th Sept, Dublin 11th Sept 2013: London O2 21st June, London O2 14th Sept
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LisaLCFan
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Re: The rhythm of Leonard Cohen

Postby LisaLCFan » Wed Nov 07, 2012 11:36 pm

The technique is called "tremolo," and it is a common, but rather advanced, technique in classical/Spanish guitar music. It is very difficult to play, and for most people, it requires a lot of practice, very slow at first, and then hopefully picking up speed as one gets better at it. Leonard is very good at it!

If you really want to learn it, I suggest finding a book or online source that provides instruction in how to play tremolo, because it will provide some good tips on which fingers to use (and in which order!), which will help immensely.

Good luck!
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somewhat_nifty
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Re: The rhythm of Leonard Cohen

Postby somewhat_nifty » Wed Nov 07, 2012 11:58 pm

Tremolo is playing a single string repeatedly, more like what Javier Mas does on his instruments, a signature sound of Spanish guitar. This is not what Leonard is doing on songs like The Stranger Song and Avalanche. You need a pick for tremolo as well.
I'm chained to the old masquerade...
2008: London O2 14th Nov, RAH 18th Nov; 2009: NY RCMH 16th May, Weybridge MBW 11th July, Barcelona 21st Sept; 2010: Sligo 31st July, Lille 25th Sept, Las Vegas 11th Dec; 2012: Wembley Arena 8th Sept, Dublin 11th Sept 2013: London O2 21st June, London O2 14th Sept
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LisaLCFan
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Re: The rhythm of Leonard Cohen

Postby LisaLCFan » Thu Nov 08, 2012 1:15 am

somewhat_nifty wrote:Tremolo is playing a single string repeatedly... You need a pick for tremolo as well.
Re: the first sentence. Generally, that is true, although there are exceptions, such as some of the compositions by Heinrich Albert (written in the 1920s) that used 3 string tremolos (and there must be others).

Re: the second sentence. Simply not true. Classical guitarists play tremolo all the time (such as in popular works by Tarrega, and Barrios), and only/always with their fingers/fingernails, never with a pick.

Whatever you call it, Leonard's "chop" is impressive!
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LisaLCFan
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Re: The rhythm of Leonard Cohen

Postby LisaLCFan » Thu Nov 08, 2012 4:23 am

From Leonard Cohen's Prince of Austurias Award acceptance speech, in which he recounts his first guitar lessons and the foundation of his playing style:

"...there was a young man playing a guitar... And he agreed to give me guitar lessons. ... He produced a sound from that guitar I had never heard. And he played a sequence of chords with a tremolo, and he said, “Now you do it.” ...[By] the third day – I improved, somewhat improved. But I knew the chords now. And, I knew that although I couldn’t coordinate my fingers with my thumb to produce the correct tremolo pattern, I knew the chords; It was those six chords, it was that guitar pattern that has been the basis of all my songs and all my music."

(Transcript of Leonard's speech courtesy of One Heck of a Guy Website)
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Junk
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Re: The rhythm of Leonard Cohen

Postby Junk » Thu Nov 08, 2012 6:06 am

Congrats on 1000 posts Lisa!
It's like this, which looks fairly straightforward, but the brain sends the fingers many treacherous messages!:

Am(for example)

:------0-----0-----0-----0-----0-----0-----0-----0--:
:------1-----1-----1-----1-----1-----1-----1-----1--:
:----2-----2-----2-----2-----2-----2-----2-----2----:
:--------2------------2------------2-----------2------:
:--0------------0------------0-----------0------------:
:-------------------------------------------------------:
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somewhat_nifty
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Re: The rhythm of Leonard Cohen

Postby somewhat_nifty » Thu Nov 08, 2012 10:33 am

LisaLCFan wrote:
somewhat_nifty wrote:Tremolo is playing a single string repeatedly... You need a pick for tremolo as well.
Re: the first sentence. Generally, that is true, although there are exceptions, such as some of the compositions by Heinrich Albert (written in the 1920s) that used 3 string tremolos (and there must be others).

Re: the second sentence. Simply not true. Classical guitarists play tremolo all the time (such as in popular works by Tarrega, and Barrios), and only/always with their fingers/fingernails, never with a pick.

Whatever you call it, Leonard's "chop" is impressive!
Well yes, if you have long fingernails, as most classical guitarists do, you wouldn't need a pick! I am surprised to see LC describe it as tremolo, but who am I to criticise! What Junk has posted, with the alternating base note, is a triplet pattern. Anyhoo, it's not that important, all I know is it's bloody hard!
I'm chained to the old masquerade...
2008: London O2 14th Nov, RAH 18th Nov; 2009: NY RCMH 16th May, Weybridge MBW 11th July, Barcelona 21st Sept; 2010: Sligo 31st July, Lille 25th Sept, Las Vegas 11th Dec; 2012: Wembley Arena 8th Sept, Dublin 11th Sept 2013: London O2 21st June, London O2 14th Sept
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LisaLCFan
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Re: The rhythm of Leonard Cohen

Postby LisaLCFan » Fri Nov 09, 2012 9:51 pm

Junk wrote:Congrats on 1000 posts Lisa!
It's like this, which looks fairly straightforward, but the brain sends the fingers many treacherous messages!:

Am(for example)

:------0-----0-----0-----0-----0-----0-----0-----0--:
:------1-----1-----1-----1-----1-----1-----1-----1--:
:----2-----2-----2-----2-----2-----2-----2-----2----:
:--------2------------2------------2-----------2------:
:--0------------0------------0-----------0------------:
:-------------------------------------------------------:
Thanks, Junk, I didn't even notice the number of my posts. I have also seen this tab (plus others for LC's songs). Standard notation might be more helpful for Cohen's chop, so that one could better visualise what one is supposed to play, and see the proper rhythm. (Good finger coodination is probably more important, though!)
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Sanverp
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The rhythm of Leonard Cohen

Postby Sanverp » Mon Nov 12, 2012 12:13 am

First of all, thanks to everybody for replying on this post.

But, so it is not that the first and second screen are played separately, like here under, but together as mentioned in one of the previous threads.

<br />:--------0-------0-------0-------0-------0-------0-------0-------0--:
<br />:------1-------1-------1-------1-------1-------1-------1-------1----:
<br />:----2-------2-------2-------2-------2-------2-------2-------2------:
<br />:-------------2---------------2----------------2----------------2------:
<br />:----0----------------0----------------0---------------0---------------:
<br />:-------------------------------------------------------------------------:

Kind regards,
Sanverp
Kind Regards,
Peter

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