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Giorgio Serci - Creative Fingerstyle Guitar Advancing Studies Part 9: Study n.26

Lesson Notes

** As featured in issue 39 **

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 melody, with its ornaments, the syncopated ‘Samba’ pattern providing the essential harmonic ingredients and finally the accompanying bass line.

The ornaments in the melody will provide a great opportunity to refine articulations, including hammer-ons and pull-offs. The harmonic content features many arranging devices such as the so-called voice leading technique, which consists of voicing chords with minimum movement. One of the most noticeable musical qualities of this technique is the fact that some chords have to be inverted to create voice leading bass lines, which result in more story-telling and singing-like bass parts as well as being the foundation of the harmonic and rhythmic accompaniment.

I often compare composition to a game with its own rules and the added benefit of allowing us to use our creative side of the brain as well as the pragmatic one. The added fun with the game of ‘composition’ is the fact that we can make up many, if not all, of the rules. For example, the duration of the piece, the number of instruments involved, the level of technical ability required, the type of rhythm, harmony, melodic contour, phrasing, inflections etc.

While composing exclusively with our pragmatic side would probably result in uninspired, square or cold results, exclusively relying on the divine inspiration might mean having to wait days or weeks before we can actually complete a piece. Combining both strategies could be the way forward.

The harmonic content of this piece can be described with the following chord symbols:

C

G/B              

C/Bb

Fadd2/A

Abmaj13

Em/G       Am

Dm               G7

C/G             G/B

C

G/B              

C/Bb

Fadd2/A

Abmaj13

Em/G       Am

Dm               G7

D7/F#

Fm6

C/E

Cadd2/E

                 

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 of the bass lines,  while ‘i, m, a’ play the melody and countermelody 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 ‘a’ finger, so more attack is needed to outline the melody.

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

Bar 1: Index f on fret 1 of B, ring f on fret 3 of A, open G and middle f on fret 2 of D. Middle f plays 2nd fret of G pulling-off to an open G. Little f on fret 4 of D and open G.

Bar 2: Middle f on fret 2 of A, little f on fret 3 of B, open G and D.  Open G and ring f on fret 2 of G and open G.

Bar 3: Index f on fret 1 of A, open e. Middle f on fret 1 of B and open G. Ring f on fret  1 of e, open e, little f on fret 3 of B and open e.

Bar 4: 2/6 Barre’ on fret 1 (this means bar on the first 2 strings only). Open A and G. Ring f on fret 3 of B to pull-off to fret 1 (index), open B and index back on fret 1 of B.

Bar 5: As bar 4 but little f on fret 4 of E. Next, index on fret 1, little f on fret 3 of e and back to index on fret 1.

Bar 6: Ring f on fret 3 of E, open e, G and B. Add index on fret 1 of B. Open A, middle f on fret 2 of G, index on fret 1 of B and open e.

Bar 7: Open D, 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. Ring f on fret 3, index on fret 2 of D, open D.

Bar 8: Ring f on fret 3 of E, little f on fret 3 of A. Open D, hammer-on to fret 2 of D and open G. Next, middle f on fret 2 of A, open D, G and B.

Repeat the first seven bars from the top and take the second bar to the end.

Bar 9 (second time bar): Middle f on fret 2 of E, little f on fret 3 of A, ring f on fret 2 of G. and open D.

Bar 10: Index on fret 1 of E, little f on fret 3 of A, open D and middle f on fret 1 of G.

Bar 11: Open E and ring f on fret 3 of A. Open D a hammer-on to fret 2 of D. Open G and B. Hammer-on to fret 1 with index. Open e and hammer-on to fret 3 with little f.

Bar 12: Open E, index on fret 7 of A and G. Little f on fret 10 of D, middle f on fret 8 of B and ring f on fret 8 of e.

Congratulations, you have completed Study n.26!

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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