** As featured in issue 59 **
In this column I would like to share a composition of mine called ‘A Walk In The Park’, another bespoke composition for the Guitar Interactive community.
Any of you who have been following my previous columns would know that I normally use a Yamaha classical guitar for these fingerstyle sessions, which is my favourite guitar for nylon string recordings.
I thought it would be useful to do a few fingerstyle columns on an archtop guitar, to stimulate the GI readers/viewers’ appetite in this wonderful area.
This piece was specifically written for this lovely archtop guitar made by Fibonacci, a formidable instrument that makes you want to play non-stop thanks to its tone quality, sustain and general feel.
Let’s look at the melodic, harmonic and rhythmic content of ‘A Walk In The Park’.
Melodic and harmonic ingredients:
The piece starts with a ii V I consisting of Dm7, G13 and Cmaj9 navigated with a C major scale, including a passing note (Eb = b13th of G), which links chromatically E and D.
Next, I have used an A7b9, which supports a phrase from D harmonic minor (A Phrygian dominant).
Following this, I explored a harmonic device, which creates a tension and release effect between Dm and G7. Normally, in this context G7 can be approached with an Ab7 as a tritone substitution of D7 (V of the V chord). However, I have used a Bb/Ab instead, which although it has a similar role, it includes a Bb which produces another mild dissonance that resolves well with the B natural present in G7 and followed by a Cmaj13.
Next, is a minor ii V i, consisting of Bm7b5, E alt, Am9, F#m7b5, F9, E7#9 (which both share the top G note), resolving on an A minor and AminMaj9, to finish with.
Here are the chords utilized in the piece, described in a concise manner, omitting passing notes.
Dm7 G7 (G7b13)
Dm Bb/Ab G7
The piece features a recurrent use of swung 8th notes and occasionally 8th notes triplets.
As always, I would like to recommend exploring the above-mentioned techniques in order to compose your own pieces. We have to allow ourselves to make mistakes and reflect on the reasons why we like or not a particular sound, a chord progression or modulation. Eventually, these sounds will become part of your musical lexicon and you’ll be able to use these with fluidity and effectiveness.
The picking-hand pattern is predominantly as follows:
(Please note E=low E string, e= high E string)
‘p’ focuses predominantly on the bass lines, while ‘i, m, a’ play the melody and countermelody or harmony part. The melody is predominantly played with the ‘a’ finger, so it is important to use the appropriate velocity for the note to cut through.
Play this part in a relaxed and clear manner, making sure your thumb is a little forward compared to the ‘i, m, a’ fingers, in order to prevent it from colliding with the ‘i’ finger. As always, focus on attack and tonal consistency. The melody and the supporting harmonies will be played with the ‘a’ finger, so more attack is needed to outline the melody.
Next we are going to look at the fretting hand part:
Bar 1: Little f on fret 5 and 6 of B, with middle f on fret 5 of A, index on fret 3 of D and ring f on fret 5 of G. Barre’ on fret 3 of E and D. Middle f on fret 4 of G and little f on fret 5 and 4 of B, as a passing note on the + of 4.
Bar 2: Middle f on fret 3 of A, index on fret 2 of D and G with ring f on fret 3 of B. Next, open A, little f on fret 5 of D, middle f on fret 3 of G and index on fret 2 of B. Next, descending melody with middle f on fret 3 of G, index on fret 2 of G and open G.
Bar 3: Little f on fret 5 of A, middle f on fret 3 of D and index on fret 2 of G. Index on fret 3 of D and G with middle f on fret 4 of E. Next, barre’ on fret 3 of E, D with ring f on fret 4 of G, followed with little f on fret 5 of B and middle f on fret 2 of G, followed by an arpeggiated chord.
Bar 4: Ring f on fret 3 of A, index on fret 2 of D, middle f on fret 2 of G and open B.
Bar 5: Barre’ on fret 2 of A, G and B, with middle f on fret 3 of D and ring f on fret 3 of B. Play C# with the index on fret 2 of B and D with ring f on fret 3 of B. Next, same up three frets with open E on bass.
Bar 6: Open A, middle f on fret 10 of D, index on fret 9 of G, little f on fret 12 of B. Next, middle f on fret 10, index on fret 9 and again middle f on fret 10 of B.
Bar 7: Index on fret 8 of ‘e’, middle f on fret 9 of A, ring f on fret 9 of G and little f on fret 10 of B.
Bar 8: Middle f on fret 8 of A, index on fret 7 of D, ring f on fret 8 of G and little f on fret 8 of B. Next, open E, index on fret 6 of D, middle f on fret 7 of G and little f on fret 8 of B.
Bar 9: Open A, index on fret 4 of D, ring f on fret 5 of G, B and e. Index on fret 6 of A and middle f on fret 7 of A, followed by open A.
Bar 10: Open A, little f on fret 10 of D, middle f on fret 9 of G, ring f on fret 9 of B and index on fret 7 of e.
Congratulations, you have completed ‘A Walk in the Park’
As always, you will be able to download a transcription by selecting the menu option in this page.
I strongly recommend experimenting with a few picking variations, changing the chords as you wish in terms of voicing (higher or lower), as well as trying the same picking pattern on a different chord progression, or using a ‘capo’ on fret 2 for a brighter outcome.
When repeating any section twice or more, you may want to play ‘sul ponticello’, (closer to the bridge) or ‘sul tasto’ (over the frets) for more contrasting results.
Make sure you highlight the melody (singing is a great strategy to play the melody in more assertive and singing-like manner)
Focus on minimum-movement approach, as this will help delivering the piece in a more accurate and consistent manner, while saving energy.
This will complete this creative fingerstyle lesson.
I hope you will enjoy playing this study piece and that this will give you some ideas on how to write your own solo guitar compositions.