** As featured in issue 37 **
This piece features a few compositional ideas I love using. This might have come across to the avid followers of this column (! - Ed), from most of my previous compositions written for and featured in Guitar Interactive. For example, rhythmic displacement, pedal tones, ‘campanella’ or ‘cascade’ melodic lines, modal interchanges, to name but a few. Hope that studying this piece will stimulate your appetite for knowledge on the above-mentioned topics.
Rhythmic displacement: We know, more often than not, it’s not what we say, but how we say it that counts. This is particularly true in music, and it is evident in this piece, whereby choosing to arpeggiate the harmonic content in a more syncopated manner by pushing an 8th note subdivision a 16th ahead, creates a much more rhythmically driving outcome.
Pedal tones: This consists of playing the same bass note for two or more chords. This is evident in the first few bars, where the first few chords share E as a lowest denominator. This effect creates harmonic tension and release, but also improves playability of certain passages.
‘Campanella’ or ‘cascade’ effect: This articulation strategy enables us to play melodic passages in a very legato manner, as the sound of consecutive notes overlaps thanks to the chosen fingering and exploiting open strings. This is evident in the tag section (bar. 34)
Modal interchanges and harmonic ingredients:
The chords in the first 16 bars are as follows: E6, F#/E, Am6/E and E. This sequence is repeated four times for a total of 16 bars. On bar 8, the E chord will morph in to a E/D to link into the first chord of the next section. E/D can be seen as a E7 third inversion, and creates an effective tension to be released with the C#m7. This can be seen as a substitute for an Amajor chord, which like the C#m7 belong to the so-called ‘tonic’ family. (Tonic family features chord I, iii and Vi – these chords are interchangeable, as these have 2 or more note in common)
The C#m7 chord in section B is followed by an E/F# (this can be seen as an F#9sus4), Bmaj7, Emaj7, A#m7b5, GDim7(b13) and Ab6/9, for a total of 8 bars.
At this point, we play the first 8 bars from the very top (D.C. = Da capo), then take the coda (tag), which include the following chords:
Cmaj7#5, A5 and then following the ‘a Campanella’ phrase we’ll play F6/9#11 (this can be seen as a polychord containing a G and an F triads juxtaposed), and the same harmonic structure descending: Eb6/9#11, D6/9#11, C6/9#11 and B6/9#11, followed by a final Eadd9.
The rhythmic content features recurrent syncopations and pushed chords, with stylistic nuances, idiomatic to traditional Brazilian music.
The melodic content gravitated around an Emajor, with the occasional non-diatonic note and passages to navigate the sporadic modulations, on order to add tension and release, as well as creating an element of surprise.
The choice or articulations is very important in the construction of any composition, as these can be seen as the ‘how we say our story’ or to continue using the metaphor of ingredients, we could see articulations as the way we mix and cook the aforementioned ingredients. A few articulations and punctuations including glissando also known as slides, hammer-ons, pull-offs as well as punctuations such as marcato have been used, as notated in the embedded PDF.
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.
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):
Pick-up bar: little f on fret 3 of e, middle f on fret 2 of B and ring f on fret 3 of G
Bar 1: Little f on fret 4 of e, ring f on fret 4 of G, index on fret 2 of D and B.
Bar 2: 4/6 barre’ on fret 2, middle f on fret 3 of G.
Bar 3: Middle f on fret 2 of D, ring f on fret 2 of G, index f on fret 1 of B and little f on fret 2 of e.
Bar 4: Middle f on fret 2 of D, index on fret 1 of G open e and B.
Bar 5: as bar 1
Bar 6: as bar 2
Bar 7: as bar 3
Bar 8: as bar 4 but with open E on Beat 2
Bar 9- 15: as from bar 1 to bar 7 but with open E on Beat 2
Bar 16: as bar 8 but with open D on beat 2.
Bar 17: Little f on fret 4 of A, middle f on fret 2 of D, index fret 1 of G, open e and B.
Bar 18: Middle f on fret 2 of E, ring f on fret 2 of D, index on fret 1 G, open e and B.
Bar 19: Index on fret 2 of A, ring on fret 4 of D, middle f on fret 3 of G, little f on fret 4 of B. Index on fret 2 of E on beat 2.
Bar 20: Open E, index on fret 2 of D, ring f on fret 4 of G, little f on fret 4 of B.
Bar 21: Index on fret 1 of A, ring f on fret 3 of D, middle f on fret 1 of G, little f on fret 2 of B. Open E on beat 2.
Bar 22: Middle f on fret 3 of E, index on fret 2 of D, ring f on fret 3 of G little f on fret 4 of B.
Bar 23: Middle f on fret 4 of E, index on fret 3 of D, G and ring f on fret 4 of B.
Bar 24: Hold chord from previous bar and play an Ab with middle f as per bar 23.
Bar 25-31: as from bar 1 to 7.
Bar 32: as per bar 16.
Bar 33 Ring f on fret 3 of A, middle f on fret 2 of D, index fret 1 of G, open e and B.
Bar 34: Middle f on fret 2 of D, ring f on fret 2 of G and open A.
Cascade passage: open B, ring f on fret 5 of G, index on fret 3 of B, open E, little f on fret 7 of B, index on fret 4 of e and open e.
Bar 35-36: Middle f on fret 8 of A, barre’ on fret 7 and ring finger on fret 8 of G. Same shape descends following the following intervallic pattern: Tone, semi-tone, tone, tone (this features index on fret 1 of E, middle f on fret 1 of A, open D, G, e and ring f on fret 1 of B.
Bar 37: Open E, e, and B. Middle f on fret 2 of A, little f on fret 4 of D and index f on fret 1 of G.
Congratulations, you have completed Study n.23!
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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