** As featured in issue 17 **
In this acoustic fingerstyle guitar lesson we will be looking at the second half of a new solo guitar composition of mine simply called Study n.8, which was specifically written for Guitar Interactive. As I have mentioned in the previous tutorial, where you will be able to find the first half, the study pieces I write for this column focus on different acoustic guitar techniques such as the ‘a campanella’ or ‘waterfall’ technique in a purposeful manner, and should help developing co-ordination skills between the picking hand fingers while developing tonal and dynamic awareness in this great style of acoustic guitar playing that is ‘fingerstyle’.
This composition is based on one of my favorite Brazilian rhythms called baião, or baión. I strongly recommend researching this music style as well as any other Brazilian genre. As I mentioned in the previous issue, I think that guitarist of all stylistic persuasions should study at least one of the many amazing Brazilian styles, for their rhythmic and poly-rhythmic connotations, as well as for their harmonic and melodic qualities.
Those of you who practiced the first half should find the second part slightly easier. I would, however, recommend to learn and revise the picking-hand pattern with open strings so that we can focus 100% on this part, limiting chances of memorising errors or most importantly monitoring the correct position of your picking hand to avoid unnecessary strains.
Let’s get started with the ‘p’ finger playing the so-called ‘ostinato’ figure on the ‘G’ string. You could use the following syllables to memorise the pattern:
Takata Takata Ta
Try substituting ‘Ta’ with the open G string, ‘Ka’ with open E and ‘ta’ with open B using the following picking pattern: p, m, i, p, m, i, p.
This pattern will be the driving force of this composition, so make sure you can play it with fluidity, dexterity and accuracy, emphasizing the notes played with the ‘p’ finger.
Next we are going to look at the left hand part:
The piece starts with a pick up melody played in a ‘a campanella’ style. It’s called ‘a campanella’ as its ringing qualities are reminiscent of bells (campanella = small bell in Italian)
Pick-up: This descending melody starts on an ‘A, fret 5 of E, followed by a pull-off on to fret 3, little f on fret 6 of B, open E, index on fret 3 of B, ring f on fret 5 of G, open B, index on fret 2 of G, pull-off to an open G.
Below you will find a description of the fingering needed for the melody in each bar, which will be played with the ‘p’ finger, while the ‘m’ and ‘i’ fingers will play the first two strings as above. (‘m’ plays the high E string and ‘i’ plays the B string)
Bar 1: While the open G keeps ringing, we are going to imply a G7 chord with index on fret 1 of E (high), open B and middle f. on fret 2 of A, ring f. fret 3 of A.
Bar 2: Open D, middle f. on fret 2 of A, and ring f. on fret 3 of E.
Bar 3: We are now implying a C major chord (C shape). Ring f. on fret 3 of A. Middle f. on fret 2 of D. Middle f. on fret 2 of G. (Same accompaniment with ‘m’ & ‘i’ throughout – with open E and index f on fret 1 of B)
Bar 4: ‘P’ finger will target an open G, fret 2 of D and fret 3 of A.
Bar 5: As Bar 1 but plucking the G string on the beat.
Bar 6: As Bar 2
Bar 7: Ring f. on fret 3 of A. Middle f. on fret 2 of D. Middle f. open G.
Bar 8: Bar 7
Bar 9-13: As Bar 1-5
Bar 14: Open D, ring f. fret 3 of A, middle f. fret 2 of A.
Bar 15: Ring f. fret 3 of A, middle f. fret 2 of D. Next we are going to imply a G with an open D, G, B and little f. on fret 3 of E. We are strumming this chord with our ‘p’ finger, which will execute a down-stroke.
Bar 16: We are strumming a C major (C shape) with another ‘p’ down-stroke
Congratulations, you have completed the 2nd and final part of Study n.8!
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 voicing (higher or lower), as well as trying the same picking pattern on a different chord progression, or using a ‘capo’ on fret 2 or 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 a more contrasting result.
As recommended in the previous columns, where we mainly focused on the picking hand, we ought to focus most of all on accuracy and consistency of tone. Strategies to further improvement include the use of the planting technique described in the previous columns, resting our fingers onto the chosen strings, and executing each stroke with a controlled and even pressure and with tonal and dynamic awareness. Each note we play should sound as full-bodied and as good as the previous one. You may want to refer to my previous columns for a more thorough explanation of the ‘a campanella’ technique.
Please 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 fingerstyle and guitar composition lesson.
I hope you will enjoy playing this study piece as much as I do, and that this will give you some ideas on how to write your own solo guitar compositions.