LINER NOTES TO #129CD "THE LIBERTY GUITAR ALBUM" by HARVEY REID
Exploring an extraordinary new guitar tuning...
1-Fields of Gold (Sting) (4:08)
2-The Liberty Blues (Reid) (2:22)
3-All I Have to Do Is Dream (Bryant) (2:51)
4-St. James Infirmary (Trad.) (4:37)
5-Old Joe Clark (Trad.) (2:54)
6-Tennessee Waltz (King/Stewart) (2:53)
7-Nocturne in F Minor (Reid) (5:20)
8-Stephen Foster Medley (Foster) (3:28)
9-Moon Shadow (Stevens) (2:55)
10-Shady Grove/ Wildwood Flower (Trad.) (2:24)
11-Thinking of Jimmie (Reid) (1:55)
12-Simple Gifts (Trad.) (2:34)
13-The Woody Medley ( Trad.) (3:42)
14-Nursery Rhyme Medley (Trad.) (2:50)
All tracks use a Liberty FLIP Model 43 partial capo. For more information about the partial capo, visit http://www.partialcapo.com. Harvey pioneered this idea, and has recorded over 120 tracks using more than 20 configurations of partial capos.
These solo pieces were all played in what I call “Liberty Tuning,” using only the middle two fingers of my left hand. The idea was to make some nice music and to illustrate the startling musical power of this guitar environment that has been cleverly hiding in the fingerboard for centuries. (HR)
This album is intended to be inspirational rather than purely instructional, though its purpose is to illustrate the depth and versatility of Liberty Tuning. This new tuning, that combines a partial capo with a slight retuning, is not just for beginners or children, though it is indeed extremely valuable for them. I hope that good players will also want to use it.
It is significant that the tuning can generate major, minor, and modal tonalities in more than one key. The fact that I used only the 2 middle fingers on my left hand means that 1) players with less than 4 working fingers can play effective instrumental guitar music and 2) players without a shortage of fingers have some “extra” ones they can use in numerous ways. You may notice that the guitar has some extra resonance; the notes ring out and sustain a bit more in this tuning than usual, but without the overwhelming and unavoidable droning of a full open tuning.
I go back and forth between deciding that Version 1 (V1) of the tuning or Version 2 (V2) is deeper or better, and chances are you will be attracted to one more than the other at various times also.
1- Fields of Gold The opening riff is done with 1 finger on the 4th string, starting at fret 14. (V2)
2- The Liberty Blues Done in Version 1 of Liberty Tuning, so the 4 chord would have a strong root note, and because there were no 2 (F#) or 6 (G#) chords in this 12-bar blues. (V1)
3- All I Have to Do Is Dream Simplified guitar methods don’t normally allow either a relative minor (6) chord or a 2 chord, and this song depends heavily on those chords, plus a 3 minor. The fact that the melody and chords are so strong in this tune also means that you can also play many of the millions of other songs that use those changes. (V2)
4- St. James Infirmary When you use Liberty Tuning, it’s easy to not notice how effective it is for minor key & modal music. This one goes deep into that zone in a way that other tunings can’t. (V1)
5- Old Joe Clark This is in A, the same key fiddles and banjos do this classic, and it’s the only example here of mixolydian mode. The “drop” chord is G major, and it is played here as a x11000 shape. It doesn’t work as a G chord in other keys, but it’s great here. The intro is all done with 1 finger on the 4th string (it goes to fret 17), and a thumb melody, while the treble strings drone like a banjo. (V1)
6- Tennessee Waltz I do 2 different “fake” 2-finger diminished chords here, one is xx0120, and the other is 5 frets higher at xx6700. I can’t find a better way to play this tune with all my fingers in any other tuning. (V2)
7- Nocturne in F Minor This is played in Em, but I added a full capo at fret 1 to make the guitar sound a little different. It has a different kind of minor-key tonality than Track 4, with more of a gypsy/Southern Europe flavor that is enhanced I think by the nylon strings. (V1)
8- Stephen Fostering The idea here was to show how sweet and natural the major chord voicings are, how easy it is to play chords and melody together, and to switch keys in the middle. One of the most mysterious things going on is how Liberty Tuning can sound completely “natural,” like standard tuning, yet be so much easier to do. The chord voicings you are playing are mostly not playable in standard tuning, though they sound like they are. (V1)
9- Moon Shadow A very well-known song, with more than just 3 chords, rather fast chord changes, plus a catchy key change in the bridge, but no barre chords. (V2 + capo 1)
10- Shady Grove/ Wildwood Flower I added a full capo at fret 1, so when I played in C#m it would sound in D minor, a common key for “down-home music.” This puts Wildwood Flower in F. (V2)
11- Thinking of Jimmie I am trying to get the guitar world to pay attention to a new tuning, and instead of just playing unusual new music I wanted to also show that it could be used to play old-fashioned sounding things. This reminds me of Jimmie Rodgers songs. (V1)
12- Simple Gifts Things to notice here: melody is played in 2 keys and 2 octaves, all with 2 fingers, yet sounds rich, full and natural. Except the for high octave part it’s the easiest thing here. (V1+ capo 1)
13- Woodying I wanted to really hammer home how natural and familiar this sounds, even though it is done is an entirely new way. It’s also extremely simple left-hand fingerings. (V1 + capo 2)
14- Nursery Rhyming I play 7 melodies in 3 keys here (the first is in D, the others E & A) all in a couple square inches of fingerboard. It’s uncanny how the melody notes fall under your fingers. (V1)
I recorded this entire album with a Liberty FLIP Model 43 partial capo that was designed for this purpose. It’s hard to play in Liberty Tuning without a Liberty capo. They are less visible, more versatile, more attractive & lighter weight than other full or partial capos. They also fit more types of guitars and work well with different widths and thicknesses of necks.
The discovery of Liberty Tuning came amid my “Capo Voodoo” research, as I was “mapping” the hidden musical world that partial capos generate.
I have published several books that show in detail how players of all levels & styles can use both types of Liberty FLIP capos in over 100 ingenious ways.
Featuring Taylor guitars on all tracks
Guitars- A 1984 Taylor 810 (Serial # 3086) was used on all tracks except #7. A 2013 Model 312 nylon-string was used on Track 7.
Strings- Elixir medium gauge Nanoweb
Microphones- Audio Technica AT-4047
Engineering & Production- Harvey Reid
Recording- Woodpecker Studios York, Maine. March 2012 to Nov. 2013.
Design & Graphics- Aphro-Graphics, Fil Kennedy
Mastering & mixing- Thomas Eaton, Newburyport, MA
Cover Photo- Amanda Kowalski
No overdubs or multi-tracking of any sort was done. All tracks were recorded in “living stereo” with a matched pair of mikes. Only the middle 2 fingers of the left hand were used, since they have limited mobility.
I recorded this entire album with a Liberty FLIP Model 43 partial capo that was designed for this purpose. It’s hard to play in Liberty Tuning without a Liberty capo. They are less visible, more versatile, more attractive & lighter weight than other full or partial capos. They also fit more types of guitars and work well with different widths and thicknesses of necks. The discovery of Liberty Tuning came amid my “Capo Voodoo” research, as I was “mapping” the hidden musical world that partial capos generate.
I have published several books that show in detail how players of all levels & styles can use both types of Liberty FLIP capos in over 100 ingenious ways. www.LibertyGuitar.com
“Liberty Tuning” is the smallest possible change to standard tuning, since only one string is retuned by one half-step. The fact that it combines this slight change in tuning with an unusual partial capo has kept it hidden for the entire 400 years of the guitar’s history. It’s tantalizing to imagine what might have been if someone had found it long ago, as well as what might happen if the idea spreads widely now.