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Giorgio Serci - Creative Fingerstyle Guitar Advancing Studies Part 12: Study n.29

Lesson Notes

** As featured in issue 42 **

In this column we'll be looking at another composition of mine called Study n. 29.

This is another bespoke piece dedicated to the Guitar Interactive community, particularly for all the guitarists willing to expand their arsenal of compositional strategies as well as improving their fingerstyle technique.

This piece will feature three compositional strategies, to name but a few:

1. Use of contrary motion.

2. Use of extended chords and inversions.

3. Tritone substitution.

The first strategy is one of the most essential characteristics of contrapuntal writing, called ‘contrary motion’, and it consists of having one ascending voice (melody), while a complementing voice descends. This was the most popular strategy out of three motion patterns, which characterized as a compositional style referred to as strict counterpoint. The other two are:

Oblique motion: this features a stationary voice to accompany either an ascending or descending voice.

Parallel motion: this features two or more voices moving in the same direction. This was the least favourite strategy in strict counterpoint, as it defies the ultimate goal in this specific style of composition, namely to ensure each voice (melody) would travel independently as much as possible to the other in counterpoint to the other melodies.

Extended chords add harmonic interest to a composition and enable the composer to create navigate a wider variety of tonalities. Although the key signature (depicted in the enclosed transcription) doesn’t change, the piece modulates (changes key) often.

Inversions are another harmonic ingredient utilised in this piece. These are evident throughout the piece. The example below depicts a few inversions used from bar 5 till bar 8:

Aadd2        D/C

Am/B          Emaj7

Aadd2        Gadd2

Dmaj7/F#    Dm7/F

Inversions allow smoother harmonic transition, whereby a bass line is not just functional, but melodic in its own right.

Tritone substitution is a harmonic device, which enables the composer to swap any dominant 7th chord with another one, built a tritone (namely three tones) away.

The singing-like melody in this piece will be played predominantly by the picking hand ring finger. It is important to make sure this is played with a consistent attack and with singing-like qualities.

The harmonic content is very guitaristic, as it gravitates around the key of E Major, the parallel Minor and a few modes in E, allowing use of many open strings with mostly diatonic intervals, which often produce a bell-like effect.

The structure is ABA: the first 8 bars (section A) could be repeated twice. Next, is an 8 bar section (B) and then D.C. for another A section. (Da Capo=From the very top). Finally, the Coda features an extended arpeggio implying E Lydian.

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 (occasionally a countermelody in the bass register), 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 ‘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: (beat 1) Middle f on fret 4 of A, index on fret 2 of D, ring and little f on fret 4 of G and B.

(Beat 2): Open e.

(beat 3): Middle f on fret 3 of A, index on fret 2 of D, G and e. Ring f on fret 3 of B.

(beat 4): Little f on fret 4 of e.

Bar 2: (beat 1) Index on fret 2 of A and little f on fret 5 of G, B and e.

(Beat 2): Holding the same position, fret 5 of B.

(beat 3): Little f on fret 4 of G, B and e and open E.

(beat 4): Ring f on fret 4 of A, index on fret 2 of A.

Bar 3: (beat 1) Index f. on fret 2 of D, little f on fret 4 of G and middle f on fret 2 of B.

(Beat 2): Open e.

(beat 3): Index f. on fret 1 of A, middle f on fret 1 of D, ring and little f on fret 2 of B and e.

(beat 4): Open e.

Bar 4: (beat 1) Index on fret 2 of A with open B. Middle and ring f on fret 2 of D and G, followed by an open B.

(Beat 2): Middle and ring f on fret 2 of A and G, index on fret 1 of D and open e.

Bar 5:  (beat 1) Open A, index on fret 2 of D, little f on fret 4 of G and middle f on fret 2 of B.

(Beat 2): Open e.

(beat 3): Middle f on fret 3 of A, index on fret 2 of D, G and e. Ring f on fret 3 of B.

(beat 4): Little f on fret 4 of e.

Bar 6: (beat 1) Barre’ on fret 7. Index on fret 7 of E, ring f on fret 10 of D, middle f on fret 9 of G and little f on fret 10 of B.

(Beat 2): Holding the same position, fret 7 of e.

(beat 3): Open E, little f on fret 9 of D, middle f on fret 8 of G, little f on fret 9 of B.  Index f on fret 7 of D and B.

(beat 4): Ring f on fret 6 of D and middle f on fret 5 of B, index on fret 4 of D and B.

Bar 7: (beat 1): Open A, index on fret 2 of D, little f on fret 4 of G and middle f on fret 2 of B.

(Beat 2): Open e.

(beat 3): Ring f on fret 3 of E, open D, G and B.

(beat 4): Index f on fret 2 of G.

Bar 8: (beat 1): Index on fret 2 of E, little f on fret 4 of A, open D and middle f on fret 2 of G. Fret 4 of A.

(Beat 2): Open D and fret 4 of A.

(beat 3): Index on fret 1 of E, ring f on fret 3 of A, open D and middle f on fret 2 of G. Fret 3 of A. (beat 4): Open D and fret 3 of A .

Section A can be repeated; alternatively, continue straight to section B.

Bar 9: (beat 1): Open E, index on fret 2 of A and D.

(Beat 2): Hammer-on with little f to fret 4 of D, ring f on fret 3 of G.

(beat 3): Ring f on fret 3 of E, open D, G and B. Index pull-off from fret 2 to open G. (beat 4): Little f on fret 4 of D, index on fret 2 of D.

Bar 10: (beat 1): Middle f on fret 2 of E, index on fret 1 of D. Ring f on fret 3 of G.

(Beat 2): Open B and little f on fret 4 of B.

(beat 3): Ring f on fret 3 of E, open G, B and e. Index pull-off from fret 4 to 2 of B. (beat 4): Open B and fret 3 of G.

Bar 11: (beat 1): Middle and ring f on fret 4 of E and D, index f on fret 3 of G and open B. Fret 4 of D.

(Beat 2): Open B and fret 4 of D and 3 of G.

(beat 3): Open E, fret 4 of D and fret 3 of G. Ring f on fret 2 of D and index on fret 1 of G.

(beat 4): Ring f on fret 2 of D and index on fret 1 of G. Index on fret 1 of D and little f on fret 3 of G

Bar 12: (beat 1): Ring f on fret 4 of E, index f on fret 1 of D and little f on fret 4 of G.

(Beat 2): Middle f on fret 2 of E, index on fret 1 of D and little f on fret 3 of G.

(beat 3): Index on fret 1 of E, D and G. Middle f on fret 2 of B.

(beat 4): Little f on fret 4 of e.

Bar 13: As bar 9

Bar 14: As bar 10.

Bar 15: As bar 11.

Bar 16: (beat 1): Ring f on fret 4 of E, index f on fret 1 of D and little f on fret 4 of G.

(Beat 2): Middle f on fret 2 of E, index on fret 1 of D and little f on fret 3 of G.

(beat 3): Open E, index on fret 1 of D and G. Middle f on fret 2 of B.

(beat 4): Ring f on fret 2 of e.

Repeat A section and then take the coda.

Bar 17 (Coda): Open E, index on fret 2 of A and D. Middle f on fret 4 of D. Little f on fret 6 of D. Index on fret 3 of G, followed by open B and E.

Bar 18: Hold ‘E’. Middle f on fret 9 of G, index 1 of B and little f on fret 11 of e.

Congratulations, you have completed Study n.29!

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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