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Giorgio Serci - Creative Fingerstyle Guitar Advancing Studies Part 10: Study n.27

Lesson Notes

** As featured in issue 40 **

In this column we'll be looking at another composition of mine called Study n. 27.

This is another bespoke piece dedicated to the Guitar Interactive community, particularly for all the guitarists willing to expand their palette of harmonic, melodic and rhythmic colours as well as improving their fingerstyle technique.

In this piece, it is easy to identify three distinct parts: The main melody, with its singing-like quality, a counter-melody complementing the main one and providing the harmonic ingredients to imply the chosen chords with a question & answer approach and, finally, the relatively simple accompanying bass line.

The melody is often played with one of my favourite techniques, called ‘a campanella’. This strategy gives the melody a bell-like, sustained quality, which makes the most of the overtones produces by each note.  In section B the melody is played with natural harmonics. (A Roman numeral indicates the fret number where these harmonics are achieved, in the PDF provided). In bar 8, the melody was harmonised using the so-called ‘parallel motion’ technique, which consists of harmonising a melody with another one following the same direction (ascending or descending).   

The harmonic content is very guitaristic, as it gravitates around the key of Em, allowing using many open strings. Inversions are another harmonic ingredient utilised in this piece. This is evident in bar 4, 11, where a D7 has been voiced in its 1st inversion (3rd on the bass) and in bar 14, which features an Em 2nd inversion (5th on the bass). I love using inversion, as this strategy shows a chord in a different light.

As I mentioned in the previous columns, I like to use different compositional strategies to write my music. This helps creating compositions with varied narrative qualities and less repetitive.

In this piece, for example, the melody was conceived first by singing it and playing it on the guitar. Next, I have conceived an accompanying bass line, including a counter melody, which followed the chord progression depicted below:

Em

Am        B7   

Em

D7/F#       D7

G                        Em7

Am        A#O7

Em/B           B7

Em

Am        B7   

Em

D7/F#      D7

G                        Em7

Am        A#O7

Em/B            

B7

Eadd9

The first 7 bars (section A) are repeated twice and the remaining 9 bars (section B) follow to finish.

As always, I would like to recommend researching the above-mentioned techniques in order to be able to use these 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 we should be able to use these effectively and creatively.

The picking-hand pattern is predominantly as follows:

(Please note E=low E string, e= high E string)

‘p’ focuses on the bass lines (occasionally a counter-melody in the bass register), while ‘i, m, a’ play the melody and counter-melody or harmony part.

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 ‘i, m and a’ fingers, so attack is needed to outline the melody.

Next we are going to look at the left hand part (chord shapes):

Bar 1: Open E and B are followed by index f on fret 2 of A, middle f on fret 2 of D, little f on fret 4 of D and open G.

Open B, e and the little f on fret 3 of B.

Bar 2:  Open A, index on fret 1 of B and middle f on fret 2 of D, followed by open B, ring f on fret 2 of G and open G.

Index on fret 2 of A and little f on fret 4 of D, followed by middle f on fret 2 of G, open G and fret 4 of D again with little f still in position.

Bar 3:  As bar 1.

Bar 4:  Middle f on fret 2 of E, index on fret 1 of Band open D, followed by open B, ring f on fret 2 of G, open G.

Ring f on fret 5 of A with middle f on fret 3 of D, followed by open e, index on fret 3 of B and little f on fret 5 of G.

Bar 5:  Ring f on fret 3 of E and open B, followed by open D, G and middle f on fret 2 of G.  Middle f slides on the fret 4 of G, supported by open E, followed by index f on fret 3 of B, ring f on fret 5 of G and open B.

Bar 6:  Open A, index on fret 1 of B and middle f on fret 2 of D, followed by open B, ring f on fret 2 of G and open G. Index on fret 1 of A and little f on fret 4 of D, followed by open G, little f on fret 4 of D and middle f on fret 2 of D.

Bar 7:  Index and middle f on fret 2 of A and D, followed by open G, B and e.

(Barre’ on fret 2) Index in fret 2 of A and G. Middle f on fret 4 of D and little f on fret 4 of B, followed by index on fret 2 of e, and again fret 4 of B and open B.

Repeat the first seven bars from the top.

Bar 8:  As bar one but with melody played 8va (one octave higher) with harmonics on fret XII and 7, as demonstrated on the video and depicted on the transcription.

Bar 9: Open A and descending 6ths played on the G and e strings with the following fingers: ring and middle f on fret 9 and 8, index f on fret 7, ring f and little f on fret 5, middle and index f on fret 4 and 3.  Next, index on fret 2 of A, G and e with ring f on fret 4 of B. Little f on fret 5 of e, middle f on fret 3 of e and fret 2 of e with index.

Bar 10:  As bar 3

Bar 11:  As bar 4

Bar 12: As bar 5

Bar 13: Open A and ring f on fret 7 of D, followed by open B, index on fret 5 of G, and open e. Next, index on fret 1 of A, open G, middle f on fret 1 of B and little f on fret 3 of e, followed by ring f on fret 2 of B, little f on fret 2 and open e.

Bar 14: Index on fret 2 of A and open e, followed by middle f on fret 2 of D, open G, B. Middle f on fret 2 of D, open G, B and e.  G, B and e. Little f on fret 3 of e (hold this note). Ring f on fret 2 of e followed by open e.

Bar 15: Middle f on fret 2 of A, index on fret 1 of D, ring f on fret 2 of G and open B.  Next, natural harmonic on fret XII of B. (Mute open E from the previous bar)

Bar 16: Open E, middle f on fret 2 of A, little f on fret 4 of D, index on fret 1 of G and open B. Next, natural harmonic on fret 19th.

Congratulations, you have completed Study n.27!

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.


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