Video: Yvette Young on Creating Songs with Guitar Tapping and Open Tunings

As the leader of instrumental rock band Covet, Yvette Young often employs her double-hand guitar-tapping technique to construct intricate melodies and progressions. The heart of her style is not just in impressive fretboard tricks—though they're certainly impressive on a purely technical level. But this approach allows her to compose songs that explore different harmonies and tones those found with a standard approach to the instrument.

Recently, Yvette came by the Reverb studio to share some tips on how to write songs with this two-handed fretboard technique. And it all begins with open tunings.

"I view it as a way to color the canvas a bit. Instead of starting with a white canvas," she says as she strums an open F-A-C-G-A-E, capo'd at the second fret. "It takes you somewhere, and I hear all kinds of melodies over it."

Then, she takes inspiration from her years of training as a piano player. "I think about how I would lay it out on a piano," she says. "I view my lower strings as my left hand, so I view them as drones or like ways to color the harmony in different ways. It's like a really easy way for me to think about polyphony on a guitar. I decide what melody I'm going to play on the top strings first, and then I choose my root notes, my bass notes."

To add to the complexity of both the melody and the root notes, she then uses her right hand to fret notes as well. "I do a lot of finger picking and tapping—and a lot of people find that a little bit challenging," she says. But to make it easier, Yvette fingerpicks higher up on the fretboard to begin with, as opposed to starting nearer the bridge or in the middle of the guitar's body.

Be sure to watch the full video above to catch more of her insights on songwriting—how to maintain dynamics and space to let your complexity breathe.

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