For waltz time for example the thumb plucks the low string for the first beat, and the three fingers pluck the top strings twice for the second and third beat. A variety of chords in G can be created all up and down the arm.
Other easy keys are:
C, where the chords are C, F, and G.
D, where the chords are D, A and G.
But the most beautiful for Ukrainian tunes are the minor keys:
G minor, C minor, and D minor
C minor, F minor, and G minor
D minor, A minor, and G minor
The seventh string is a lower string than G tuned to D. Thus any chord needing D string is plucked with the thumb on the extra “seventh” string. The reason why this additional low string makes for interesting chording is that runs between chords can now be handled beautifully using the low D string.
Yes, Micky plays guitar like my father used to play. Micky played better than I. All the same tunes I learned as a teenage boy. The same rifs. The same chords. The same rhythms. The same minor keys.
I can keep up with most of the tunes. My eyes fill with tears. We play and play and play. His wife and child go to sleep in her mother’s room, and we play.
Finally dawn comes and I must go. Micky has to teach and I have to get ready for an evening departure in 8 hours.
Back at the Hotel the Hungarian Stew scores one last hit. I get the runs. The final hours in Warsaw are spent sitting on the pot emptying my system. I barely make it clean to the airport and up and away.
Today I still have not met another guitar player who can play the Ukrainian tunes on a 7- string guitar like Micky or my Dad. As for me, my fingers are getting stiff and I’m forgetting the songs my dad taught me. Fortunately Teresa Rempel (my niece) and Tim Groening her husband, have learned a couple of my Dad’s tunes. I hope they will keep up the tradition by continuing to play the melancholy Ukrainian music my dad taught us to love.
But imagine the string of coincidences that brought Mickey and me together in Poland playing Ukrainian songs my Dad taught me in Springstein, Manitoba, thirty years before.
Vintage Russian seven string acoustic guitar.