Stu Hamm's Counter-Sliding Harmonic Chords

April 18, 2011

“Windsor Mews” contains a technique you call “counter-sliding harmonic chords.” Can you explain that concept?
    This is something I have been working on for some time, and both “Windsor Mews” and “Uniformitarianism” feature this style. The idea is to play a harmonic and then slide it up or down to a different pitch, hit another natural harmonic, and then slide another harmonic to create chords that don’t naturally occur on the instrument. Let’s look at the first three chords of “Windsor Mews.” First, play the 12th-fret harmonics on your A, D, and G strings, and you essentially have an A7sus chord. Now play the same three harmonics, let the D string ring, and with your right hand slide the G-string harmonic up the neck to the 16th fret, making it a B. At the same time, slide the A string harmonic down the neck with your left hand to the 10th fret, making it a G. Instead of an A7sus chord, you now have a G major triad: G, D, and B. OK, now hit the same three octave harmonics, again let the D string ring, and with your right hand slide the G-string harmonic up the neck to the 14th fret, making it an A, and at the same time slide the A-string harmonic down the neck to the 9th fret to make it sound as an F#. You now have a D major triad with the 3rd on the bottom: F#, D, and A.

    Are you still with me? For the third chord, play the octave harmonics on the E, D, and G strings, somehow muting the A string so that it won’t sound, and here comes the tricky part: let the D string ring and, with your left hand, slide the E down to the 8th fret with your middle finger to make it sound as a C, while at the same time slide the G-string harmonic down to the 9th fret with your pinky to make it an E, and you have a C9 chord: C, D, and E. Now, with your right hand, slide the ringing octave D harmonic down to the 10th fret to make it a C and resolve the suspension. Have fun, don’t hurt yourself. Now that will be $50. . . .

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