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Giorgio Serci - Creative Fingerstyle Guitar Inspirational Pieces Part 10: Travels

Lesson Notes

** As featured in issue 56 **

In this column I would like to share a composition of mine called ‘Travels’, another bespoke composition for the Guitar Interactive community.

In most, if not all, art forms, travelling is a constant source of inspiration. Often travelling is used as a metaphor to describe the act of following an itinerary, implying a sense of artistic exploration or development. This approach does often result in a more meaningful, thematic or story-telling outcome. This may also be reminiscent of the role of the troubadours in history.

Apart from the romantic aspect of this metaphor, the practical merits are not to be dismissed. I vividly remember attending an improvisation Masterclass led by a wonderful percussionist, who proposed an improvisation task following an imaginary itinerary through a thick jungle, into idyllic landscapes kissed by the sun and refreshed by the water drops from a fall nearby.  The group had to improvise with their own instrument in a way that described or somehow reflected on the mood and connotation presented by each individual scenery. It was fascinating to notice that many improvisers responded in similar musical ways, particularly from a dynamic and tonal standpoint.

This prologue may suggest that I have done all of the before writing this piece… Well, not literally. However, I did compose the piece in the studio, just before filming, and in addition to the adrenaline caused by such an urgent deadline, the concept of travelling through various landscapes was utilized with the main purpose of giving structure and story-telling qualities to the piece. The landscapes I had in mind, in my opinion are not important and, in a way, I’d prefer the listeners to be unaware of these. I like the idea of the same piece of music evoking as many stories as the number of listeners experiencing these.

One thing I’d like to share though, is that I wanted the intro to feel like a car idling stationary, ready to go somewhere; and there I went.

Harmonic ingredients:

The piece features many harmonic devices I enjoy using, for example drop voicings, diminished and extended harmony as well as inversions as evident in the chart below:

Here are the chords utilized and described in a concise manner, omitting the passing notes.

D

D

D

D

F#7b9/A#                     

Gmaj7/B                  

A7/C#

D         

F#7b9/A#                     

Gmaj7/B                  

A7/C#

D         

D/C                  

Gmaj7/B                  

A/B

E/G#            

Em/G

D/F#

Gadd2

D/F#

Gadd2     G/A                  

D

D

D

D

F#7b9/A#                     

Gmaj7/B                  

A7/C#

D         

F#7b9/A#                     

Gmaj7/B                  

A7/C#

D         

D/C                  

Gmaj7/B                  

A/B

G#m7           

Em/G

F#m7

Dm/F

Em7   F#m7

Gm6            Asus4b9

D

E/D        Eb/D

D

E/D        Eb/D

D

E/D        Eb/D

D

Another important harmonic ingredient is the frequent use of open strings to complement the main melody. This is a very effective way of enhancing the melody in a relatively easy way, as the open strings’ sustain will add ‘legato’ qualities to the piece.

Rhythmic ingredients:

The piece features a recurrent use of 8th and syncopated 16th notes, with the occasional 8th note triplets.

Melodic ingredients:

The melodic content navigates different registers and although gravitates around the key of Bm (Dmajor), it explores a few neighbor tonalities, like for example A major and G melodic minor.

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. The melody is predominantly played with the ‘a’ finger, so it is important to use the appropriate velocity for the note to cut through.

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:  Play a D major, (d shape) with the rhythm shown in the video lesson. Play a descending bass line from open D, followed by little f on fret 4 of A, index on fret 2 of A.

Bar 2: Index on fret 1 of A, open G, ring f on fret 2 of B and open e and middle f on fret 3 of B.

Bar 3: Index on fret 2 of A, ring f on fret 4 of D, open G and middle f on fret 3 of B.

Bar 4: Barre’ on fret 2, ring f on fret 4 of A, little f on fret 5 of B, middle f on fret 3 and then 2 of e. Play a descending bass line from open D, followed by little f on fret 4 of A, index on fret 2 of A.

Bar 5-8: Like bar 1 till 4.

Bar 9: Barre’ on fret 2, middle f on fret 3 of A, ring f on fret 3 of B, index on fret 2 of G and e, followed by little f on fret 3 and 5 of e and a final middle f on fret 3 of B.

Bar 10: Index on fret 1 of A, open G, ring f on fret 2 of B and open e and middle f on fret 3 of B.

Bar 11: Barre’ on fret 4 of D, G, B followed by middle f on fret 5 and little f on fret 7 of B. Open B.

Bar 12: Little f on fret 4 of E, middle f on fret 2 of D, index on fret 1 of G and open B.

Bar 13: Ring f on fret 3 of E, middle f on fret 2 of D, open G and B.

Bar 14: Index on fret 2 of E, open D, middle f on fret 2 of G, followed by little f on fret 3 of B and ring f on fret 2 of B.

Bar 15: Middle f on fret 3 of E, open D and B with index on fret 2 of G.

Bar 16: As bar 14

Bar 17: Middle f on fret 3 of E, open D and B with index on fret 2 of G. Next, open A, rind f on fret 5 of D, middle f on fret 4 of G, index on fret 3 of B.

Bar 18 to 33: As from Bar 1 till 15

Bar 34: Barre’ on fret 4 with little f on fret 7 of e.

Bar 35: Index on fret 3 of E, ring f on fret 5 of D, middle f on fret 4 of G and little f on fret 5 of B.

Bar 36 to 37: As from Bar 34 till 35. In bar 35, add little f on fret 2 of B.

Bar 38: Open E, D, G and B. Next, same voicing on the second fret.

Bar 39: Middle f on fret 3 of E, index on fret 2 of D, ring f on fret 3 of G and little f on fret 3 of B.

Bar 40: Play D (d shape) with barre’ on fret 2. Add little f on fret 5 of e. Then, same shape on fret 4, 3 and back to fret 2. Repeat 3 times to end on a D major.

Congratulations, you have completed ‘Travels’!

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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