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Giorgio Serci Creative Fingerstyle Guitar Inspirational Pieces Part 11: Theme From Cinema Paradiso

Lesson Notes

** As featured in issue 57 **

In this issue's column, I would like to share a solo guitar arrangement of a beautiful composition by one of my favourite composers, the Maestro Ennio Morricone. This piece is one of a few themes written for the much-celebrated Oscar nominee movie ‘Cinema Paradiso’, by film director Giuseppe Tornatore.

The original piece is in the key of Bb major, so when adapting it for guitar I decided to transpose it down to the more guitar-friendly key of A major, which would have allowed me to utilised the open A, D and E strings, particularly in the bass register.

Melodic ingredients:

As the melody is very delicate and singing-like, I have decided to used a legato approach and utilise the ‘campanella’ style as often as possible. This is evident in the first bar with the first melodic statement playing across the first 3 strings, letting notes overlap to each other.

One of the main challenges with this piece is holding the notes of the melody as well as those in the bass line as much as needed. Being a slow number, this becomes particularly laborious in places as we have to hold a note firmly while retaining enough flexibility in the other fingers that need to be changing position.

Harmonic ingredients:

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

Aadd2

E7/B        Aadd2/C#

D         Aadd2/C#     

F#7        Bm7  E7

Add2      E/G#

F#m  D/F#   E

A   E/G#  F#m

E6            D        

Add2/C#   D6   

C#m A/C#   D

A/E   

E7

Aadd2

                  

Another important harmonic ingredient is the frequent use of inversions. This is evident in bar 2, 3, 5 etc. The main purpose of these inversions is to add melodic qualities to the bass line, which tends to ascend or descend step-wise in a singing like manner.

Rhythmic ingredients:

The piece is a ballad, with a very understated rhythmic palette. However, the harmonic rhythm, namely the rhythm in which the harmony unfolds, is pleasantly unpredictable.

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:  Open A, index f on fret 2 of D, little f on fret 4 of G middle f on fret 2 of B and open e. Open B, middle f on ret 6 of G and open e.

Bar 2:  Middle f on fret 2 of A, index f on fret 1 of G and little f on fret 3 of B, followed by rind f on fret 2, little f on fret 3 and ring f on fret 2 of e. Next, little f on fret 4 of A with open 3, index on fret 2 of D, middle f on fret 2 of G and index on fret 1 of G.

Bar 3: Little f on fret 5 of A with ring f on fret 4 of D. Index on fret 2 of e, middle f on fret 3 of B, index on fret 2 of B. Next, little f on fret 4 of A with open e, index on fret 2 of G, open B, and index on fret 1 of G.

Bar 4: Barre’ on fret 2 to play fret 2 of E, D and middle f on fret 3 of G followed by fret 2 of e. Next, index on fret 1 of A, open G little f on fret 3 of B followed by ring f on fret 2 of B. Next, barre’ on fret 2 again to play fret 2 of A, G, middle f on fret 3 of B followed by little f on fret 5 of e. Next, barre’ on fret 4 of G, B and e with middle f on fret 5 of B, followed by little f on fret 7 of ‘e’.

Bar 5:  Open A and B with index on fret 6 of G and ring f on fret 7 of e. Next, index on fret 7 of D, open B and little f on fret 9 of e. Next, ring f on fret 11 of A, followed by index on fret 9 of G, little f on fret 12 of B and index on fret 9 of e.

Bar 6:  Index on fret 9 of E and G with little f on fret 12 of e. Middle f on fret 10 of B and ring f on fret 10 of e. Next, open E, index on fret 7 of e, ring f on fret 9 of B and middle f on fret 9 of G.

Bar 7:  Open A with little f on fret 9 of e and ring f on fret 9 of G. Next, index on fret 4 of E, middle f on fret 5 of B and little f on fret 7 of e. Next, index on fret 2 of E with little f on fret 5 of e. With the same barre’, play fret 2 of G, B and again fret 5 of e.

Bar 8:  Open E with little f on fret 4 of e, index on fret 2 of D, ring f on fret 4 of G and index on fret 2 of B. Next, open D, middle f on fret 2 of G and ring f on fret 2 of e, followed by open e, little f on fret 3 of B and open e.

Bar 9:  Little f on fret 4 of A with open e, index on fret 2 of D and middle f on fret 2 of G. Next, open D, middle f on fret 2 of G, little f on fret 3 of B and ring f on fret 2 of B.

Bar 10:  Open E with little f on fret 2 of B, middle f on fret 2 of D, ring f on fret 2 of G, broken chord.

Bar 11: Open E, D, B with index on fret 1 of G, broken chord as per the video.

Bar 12 and 13:  Open A, index on fret 2 of D, middle f on fret 2 of G, open B, ring f on fret 2 of B, open e, index on fret 5 of e, middle f on fret 7 and 9 of e, with harmonic on XII fret of e.

Congratulations, you have completed this arrangement!

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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