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Acoustic guitar: the little notes

Maya Jobarteh playing guitar

A constantly repeating pattern can also be full of subtle little details ...

MAYA JOBARTEH, playing the acoustic guitar in Moving Away, has one of the most solid parts in the piece. She plays the same pattern from start to finish with little variation. This 'reliability' means the other musicians have a firm and solid base to play on top of.

But that doesn’t mean Maya’s playing is boring. In fact it’s full of subtleties and little details. One of these little details is that she plays tiny notes, in between the main notes in her repeating pattern.

See if you can hear them in this clip from the beginning of the song.

Compare it to this next clip, where there aren’t any extra little notes.

See if you can see Maya’s fingers rapidly playing the little notes in this video clip.

These little notes, sometimes called ‘grace notes’, are an important part of the Malian traditional style of playing the guitar and other stringed instruments, like the kora. It’s also important in the style of singing. Listen to the way Kasse Mady constantly decorates his vocal lines with these little notes…

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