Doc Watson's Deep River Blues Lesson Tutorial
Is There More Than One Way To Fingerpick Deep River Blues?
I tried to show a couple of ways to simplify Doc's fingerpicking pattern for 'Deep River' so that we can more easily approximate the sound without needing to try and duplicate the genius of his style. The trick is let the thumb strum across more than one string to add a little false syncopation. In Doc's version, he uses his finger for this, but it means that the forefinger needs to move pretty swiftly to hit all the notes with the right timing - checkout the video to see what I mean.
Of course, just like the great works of all the blues men, the timing is very important. Not only the regular spacing of notes, but the pace has to be just right, not to fast and not too slow. Another aspect of Doc's guitar work is the way in which he clips those bass notes just after striking them with his thumb. The palm of his picking hand just drops onto the strings just after hitting them so that they don't ring, but gets chokes off or damped before the note rings. It isn't completely stifled, just clipped. This gives the effect of a bouncy almost ragtime guitar feel which is very appealing.
The whole thing is made compete and unique by Doc's voice, which we can't really copy - we all have our own way of singing! For singing in general, I don't try to copy the old blues men's intonation or style - I'm British and it doesn't work for me! I think it's sufficient t play good guitar and try to pay homage to the feeling. If you don't sound like and an African American guy who played guitar on the streets for a living, don't worry about it!
Where Did The Song 'Deep River Blues' Come From?
However, you play this wonderful music, it's sure that you'll grow just be listening to Doc's rendition of Deep River. If you pick up one lick or riff, or understand how this great sense of fingerstyle pace can be , then the study will be more than worth it. Doc was playing right up until he died at 82, which is in itself a great testimony to how we should approach our guitar music.