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Giorgio Serci Creative Fingerstyle Guitar Inspirational Pieces Part 14 - Momentum (aka Matteo)

Lesson Notes

** As featured in issue 60 **

In this column I would like to share a composition of mine, originally recorded for my CD ‘Silver Lining’ under the name of ‘Momentum’ and also later re-arranged with a feature solo from the legendary trumpeter, composer and arranger Kenny Wheeler for the CD ‘Scaramouche’.

This composition has been sung and played my many wonderful artists and, as a result, the arrangement has slightly evolved and morphed, incorporating a few stylist nuances deriving from the performers’ interpretations.

Lately, the wonderful singer and author Basia, with whom I have been honoured to play guitar for the last 9 years, as well as record and tour worldwide, liked the tune and not only did she decide to sing it, but she also wrote some lovely lyrics dedicated to my elder son. The song is now called ‘Matteo’ and has been climbing on the most prestigious charts internationally, including the US Billboard chart, reaching n.4 since May 2018.

The one presented in this column is an arrangement for solo guitar, which I thought would serve the great purpose to demonstrate the creative potentials of using harmonic inversions, to enhance the melodic qualities of a composition.

Any of you who have been following my previous columns would know that I normally use a Yamaha classical guitar for these fingerstyle sessions, which is my favourite guitar for nylon string recordings.

I thought it would be useful to do a few fingerstyle columns on an archtop guitar, to stimulate the GI readers/viewers’ appetite in this wonderful area.

This piece was specifically written for this lovely archtop guitar made by Fibonacci, a formidable instrument that makes you want to play non-stop thanks to its tone quality, sustain and general feel.

Let’s look at the melodic, harmonic and rhythmic content of ‘Matteo’.

Melodic and harmonic ingredients:

The melody mainly gravitates around the key of C minor, however, it travels through a few closely related tonalities with the purpose of adding tension and release.

The harmony features many inversions and slash chords, with the main purpose to add melodic qualities to the bass line. The harmony in the first few bars for example, could be described as follows:

Cm

Ab

D7

G7

C7

F

Fm

Gsus4       G7

However, with the harmonic inversions these morph into the following:

Cm

Ab/C

D/C

G/B

C/Bb

F/A

Fm/Ab

Gsus4       G7

NB. Please note (play & sing the new bass line: it descends chromatically from C to G. Furthermore, I do love the effect of pedalling over a C bass for the first three bars.

Here are all the chords utilised in the piece, described in a concise manner, omitting a few passing notes.

Cm

Ab/C

D/C

G/B

C/Bb

F/A

Fm/Ab

Gsus4       G7

Cm

Ab/C

D/C

G/B

C/Bb        F/A

Bb/Ab     Eb/G

Ab/Gb      G/F

G7             G/F

C7/E

Fm

F#O7

G7             G/F

C7/E

Fm

F#O7

G7             G7b9

Cm

Ab/C

D/C

G/B

C/Bb        F/A

Bb/Ab     Eb/G

Ab/Gb      G7

Cm         

G7b5

Rhythmic ingredients:

The rhythmic qualities are inspired by the style ‘Bossa Nova’, therefore the melody is often pushed and syncopated.

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 fretting hand part:

Bar 1:  Index n fret 3 of A, ring f on fret 5 of D and little f on fret 5 of G to start a melody, followed by fret 3, 4 of B (with index and middle f), then little f on fret 8 and 9 of B.

Bar 2:  Middle f on fret 8 of E, index on fret 6 of D, ring f on fret 8 of G and little f from 9 to fret 8 of B.

Bar 3:  Play fret 7 of D, G and B with index and middle f on fret 8 of E.

Bar 4:  Same shape used in bar 2, down one fret. Middle f plays F on fret 6 of B.

Bar 5: Same shape used in bar 3, with index on fret 5. Index plays fret 5 of G.

Bar 6: Same shape used in bar 2, down three frets. Middle f plays Eb on fret 4 of B.

Bar 7: Same shape used in bar 3, with index on fret 3 and little f on fret 5 of G.

Bar 8: Index on fret 3 of E, D, B with little f on fret 5 of G, replaced by ring f on fret 4 of G.

Bar 9-12: As bar 1 till 4.

Bar 13: As bar 5 and 6 (harmonic rhythm=double time)

Bar 14: As bar 7 and 8

Bar 15: Index on fret 1 of D, G and B with middle f on fret 2 of E. Next, index on fret 1 of E, open D, G and little f on fret 3 of B, followed by index on fret 1 of B.

Bar 16: Ring f on fret 3 of E, open D, G and B. Index on fret 1 of E, open D, middle f on fret 1 of G, open B.

Bar 17: Open E, middle f on fret 2 of D, ring f on fret 3 of G, index on fret 1 of B. Open e, ring f on fret 3 of ‘e’.

Bar 18: Barre’ on fret 1 of E, D, G, B and little f on fret 4 of ‘e’. Ring f on fret 3 of e and index on fret 1 of e.

Bar 19: Little f on fret 4 of B, middle f on fret2 of E, index on fret 1 of D and ring on fret 3 of G. Little f on fret 3 of B.

Bar 20: Ring f on fret 3 of E, open D, G and index on fret 1 of B. Index on fret 1 of E, open D, middle f on fret 1 of G, open B. Descending countermelody, with index from fret 1 of G, open G, ring on fret 3 of D and middle f on fret 2 of D.

Bar 21-23: As bar 17-19

Bar 24: As bar 8.

Bar 25-30: As bar 9-14.

Bar 31: Index on fret 1 of D, G and B with middle f on fret 2 of E. Next, open B, G, D and little f on fret 3 of E.

Bar 32: Index on fret 1 of B, open G, D and little f on fret 3 of A. Countermelody with open D, index on fret 1 of D and open D again.

Bar 33: Middle f on fret 3 of E, ring f on fret 3 of D, little f on fret 4 of G and index on fret 2 of B.

Congratulations, you have completed ‘Matteo’.

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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