Lesson Plan

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Lesson notes

Steve Howe joined Yes in 1970 and significantly changed their direction into the developing progressive rock genre. The transformation was completed in 1971 with the addition of Rick Wakeman and their 4th album Fragile. Steve's contributions to their 3rd album, The Yes Album included his solo instrumental Clap.

The piece was written quickly around the time of the birth of Steve's son Dylan and pays homage to ragtime guitar, Chet Atkins, and even a quote from Mason Williams' Classical Gas.

After playing and messing with this piece for about 20 years, I have finally been able to come up with an approach to teaching it to advanced fingerpicking students. Steve plays Clap with a flat pick using the hybrid technique of adding the middle and ring fingers to play many of the notes. I approach this with a thumb pick and 3 fingers, which also lets me strum parts using the fingers. I think this will be more accessible to most students.

A turning point in my getting a picture of the piece was finding what was almost a treatise on it by Conall Gallagher, published around 2000. His breakdown compared at least 3 separate audio and 5 video recordings, looking at every measure and every little difference. This fabulous doc (all of 39 pages) is included in the attachments for anyone who would really like to do a deep dive into Clap.