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    I was surprised to find this video today which starts with an excerpt of Dire Straits –  In the Gallery – live from the Pinkpop festival, Gelen/Holland, June 4, 1979. The whole gig was broadcasted on TV in 1979 but it seems those video tapes then disappeared – at least I don’t know of any rebroadcasts, and thus of no video clips anywhere, except some parts of Lady Writer in awful quality. This one is better quality (although only b/w), unfortunately only half a minute :( Enjoy nevertheless :)

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    For some weeks I have been playing around with a Boss RC-50 loop station. The RC-50 allows you to record your own playing and play it as a loop. This way you can create multiple sound layers, and then jam to it. A really nice tool that makes a lot of fun.

    Here I am live recording a rhythm guitar and a bass over a drum rhythm from the RC-50, similar to the groove of In the Gallery from Dire Straits’ first album. The guitar is a part-o-caster with an old Squier body and neck , the bass is an old Precision Bass.

    Everything was monitored over a Music Man RP 112 RP amp, and recorded with the microphone of the video camera. There are no effects except some reverb from the amp.

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    The song In the Gallery of Dire Straits’ first album seems to be in a strange key. The official songbooks transcribe it in the key of Bbm. On all live versions Dire Straits played it in Am. So, why is this?

    If you listen carefully to the CD version and and try to play along with your guitar, you will notice that Bbm seems to work better than Am, but still is not perfectly in tune with the recording. The reason is that apparently In the Gallery was played and recorded in Am, but then it was for some reason decided to speed it up a bit. In other words, the pitch/speed control on the master tape machine must have been turned up a bit, probably because the recorded version was regarded as too slow. (The theoretical second explanation that they simply tuned all guitars a bit higher does not really make sense to me.)

    For this reason it is also higher than standard tuning, about 3 – 4 % (Bbm is a semi-tone higher and would equal about 5 -6 % speed increase). Today there are computer algorithms (called time shifting) which allow to change the speed of a recording without altering pitch, but nothing like this was availaible in 1978 (and even today these algorithms often create audible artefacts like distortion or a weird sound).

    You can easily revert this change and reduce the speed with a computer algorithm so that the song is Am again – the same speed and pitch it was recorded at. I did this for you, so here is In the Gallery as it was really played.

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

    The difference is subtle of course but still clearly audible. The voice sounds deeper and fuller, also the guitar sound changes a bit and appears darker. It is also a question of taste which one you like better and which one you regard as more original – the one as it was really played, or the one with the intentional artistic change. You can leave a comment (even without registering or leaving an email) to let me/us know what you think about it.

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    The b5 notes means the flattened fifth note of any scale. If we have e.g. a  C-major scale (c – d -e -f -g – a – b – c ), the fifth note is the g , and if this note is flattened, we get the gb. The same logic works with any major or minor (or other) scale.

    The following video demonstrates the usage and the position of this note. You will find Mark Knopfler licks from Sultans of Swing (Alchemy version), Calling Elvis, In the Gallery, Down to the Waterline, and many more.

    I did not tab these licks here, but I think you will not have problems to see how they are played. Remember, it is not important to play something authentically but rather to understand the idea behind what is being played. Only this way you will be able to transfer the licks into your own repertoire, and to use them for your own music.

    The video is in high quality here. If you have bandwidth problems, click here to go to youtube and watch it at standard quality. Enjoy.

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    This article is about a “two-strings scale” sometimes called Memphis Scale. Normally these two strings are not adjacent strings, instead you skip one string and play licks e.g. on the D- and B-string (as in the video examples below), or on the G- and high E-string.

    With the help of these licks you will increase your vocabulary on the guitar. Whenever you are in danger of running out of ideas or feel chained to a standard (e.g. the pentatonic) scale, these melodic, two-voiced licks guarantee a sudden change and a new colour in your way of playing.

    Examples of these licks can be found in a great number of  Mark Knopfler / Dire Straits  tunes, surely to many to name them all. Some nice examples are:

    The intro of In the Gallery
    Sultans of Swing
    Down to the Waterline
    Wild West End
    Single Handed Sailor
    So Far Away
    Precious Angel (Bob Dylan featuring Mark Knopfler)

    How do these licks work?

    First, have a look at the following chord, in this example a G major chord at the 7th fret (the video examples  start with a C chord in the open position). We will build licks that are played on the D and B strings. The notes of this G major chord on these strings are coloured red (the note B on the D string, and a G on the B string).

    Below you can see a second way to play a G major chord, it is at the 10th fret position. Again, the notes on the D and B strings (this time a D and a B) are coloured in red.

    These four notes on the fingerboard:

    The next logical step is to add certain “connecting” notes to create smooth transitions from the first position of the lick (8 and 9th fret) into the second position at the 12th fret. These notes are the C (D-string 10th fret) and the A (B-string 10th fret) – on the picture these notes are green.

    This is a typical pattern (here for G major) and many licks in the video are based on it.

    Which Fingers of the Left hand?

    As a rule, always use the second (middle) finger of the left hand for the notes on the D string, and the first or third finger for the notes on the B string here: use the first finger if the B string note is on a lower fret than the D string note, the third if it is on the same fret. Both fingers stay in touch with the strings whenever possible.


    If your connection is too slow to watch this video in high quality, go to youtube and watch it in normal quality.

    Tabs for some licks from the video

    Intro of In the Gallery

    Chicken picking (from a live version of Skateaway)

    Notting Hillbillies – That’s where I belong

    Bob Dylan – Precious Angel

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