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Giorgio Serci Creative Fingerstyle Guitar Inspirational Pieces Part 15: The Lonely Man

Lesson Notes

** As featured in issue 64 **

In this column I would like to share my arrangement for solo guitar of ‘The Lonely Man’, which is the soundtrack for the ‘The Incredible Hulk’, written by Joe Harnell.

I had completely forgotten about this beautiful theme until recently as I was on a round the World tour with the wonderful singer Basia. While warming up before a concert at the Blue Note Jazz Club of Beijing, my friend and esteemed colleague saxophonist Ian Kirkham, also known for his prominent role as a saxophonist and musical director with the band ‘Simply Red’, started playing this wonderful theme on a piano backstage. That night after the concert, I searched and listened in awe and a little nostalgia to the original and couldn’t help but create this arrangement for solo guitar.

As expected, I have had to adapt a few passages and I took the artistic liberty to slightly vary some of the harmonic content, but I tried to keep the part very similar to the original piano arrangement.

To accommodate the lovely contrapuntal question and answer present in the first part, I have dropped the 6th string down to D and have changed the register of the ‘answering line’ to allow some bass notes to be held. This is evident in bar 2, where the 1st ‘A’ on the ‘+’ of 1, has been transposed 8va, to allow the C# to ring for 4 beats.

Bar 4 is a little challenging, as it requires a finger-yoga stretch. In the video I am recommending an easier alternative for you to consider.

Bar 6 shows how I personally favour using open string when possible, as these sound particularly resonant and give our fretting hand a short but still useful breather.

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.

Dm

  DmM7/C#

Dm/C

BbM7

Am7b5                  

Dsus4    D7Alt                  

Gmadd9

GmM7         

Gm7                     

C7                

F        Am/E

Bb/D      

Em7b5                 

A7b9                    

Am7b5

D7Alt            

Gmadd9

A7

Dm

/    /    /   /

One of my favourite passages is the D7#9 (aka ‘Jimi Hendrix chord) followed by a D7b9 found in bar 6, both from the D ‘Altered’ scale (Eb melodic minor).

Bar 8, features a very effective melodic minor passage, which in my opinion works really well on guitar and it is reminiscent of the French Impressionists composers, Ravel, Satie and Debussy. The harmonic content there consists of a GmMaj7, followed by a Gm6

Another important harmonic ingredient is the frequent use of open strings to complement the main melody, like in bar 6 for example. 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 is a ballad and features a recurrent use of 8th notes.

Melodic ingredients:

The melodic content navigates different registers and although gravitates around the key of Dm, it explores a few neighboring tonalities, like for example G Melodic minor, Eb Melodic Minor, Bb Melodic Minor and their deriving harmonic structures, such as altered chords present.

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:  Features a pick-up phrase consisting of frets 2 of G, fret 1 of e and open e. Next, open ‘e’ and D, open A, ring f on fret 3 of D, middle f on fret 2 of D and ring f n fret 3 of D, followed by fret 2 of G, 1st fret and open e.

Bar 2: As bar 1 but with little f on fret 4 instead of the open D, and fret 2 of G, instead of open A.

Bar 3: As bar 2 but with middle f on fret 3 of A.

Bar 4: Index on fret 1 of A, little f on fret 5 of e. Ring f on fret 3 of B, followed by fret 1 of B and back fret 3 of B. Next, middle f on fret 3 of G and little f on fret 5 of e, then fret 8 of B and 11 and 10 of e.

Bar 5: Open A with little f on fret 10 of e, followed by fret 7 of D and fret 8, 7 and 8 of G and 11 and 10 of e.

Bar 6: Open D and fret 8 of e, open A, D and G. Next, fret 5 of A, 4 of D, 5 of G and 6 of B, followed by fret 4 of B.

Bar 7: Fret 5 of E with 6 of e, open D and G, fret 2 and 3 of G, 3 of B, open and fret 3 of e.

Bar 8: Fret 5 of E with 7 of B, 5 of A, 8 of D, 7 of G, 5 of B and fret 7 of G, followed by 6 and 5 of e.

Bar 9: Fret 5 of E with 6 of e, open D and G, followed by 2 and 3 of G, 6 and 5 of e.

Bar 10: Fret 3 of A and G, with 5 of B and 6 of e, followed by 8 of e. Next, 7 of A, 5 of G and e followed by 8 of B.

Bar 11: Barre’ on 5, with little f on fret 8 of A. 5 of G, 6 and 8 of B. Next, 7 of A with 5 of e, 5 of G, of e and 8 of B.

Bar 12: Open D with 3 of B and 5 of e, followed by 3 of G, 6 of e and 3 of B. Next, open D with 3 of G, 3 of G and fret 1 of e.

Bar 13: Fret 2 of D with fret 3 of 3, open, 3 and 2 of G. Fret 2 of D with 3 of G, B and e, with 1 of e.

Bar 14: Open A, fret 3 of G and e, whilst fret 2 of B. Next fret 2 of D, 3 of G and e. Next, fret 3,4 ,5 of G, B and e followed by 6, 5, 6 on the same strings.

Bar 15: Open A with fret 8 of e, next fret 7 of D, 8 and 7 of G. Next, fret 4 of B and 7, 8, 8 on D, G and B strings.

Bar 16: Open D with fret 10 of e and fret 2 of G. Next, 8, 7 and 8 of G, b and e, then fret 10 of e and finally, fret 5, 4 and 5 of the 1st 3 strings.

Bar 17: As bar 9.

Bar 18: Open A, with fret 3, 2 and 3 of G, B and e, then 4 and 5 of B and G, followed by 6 and 5 of G and B. Open A and fret 1 of e.

Bar 19 and 20: Open D with fret 3 of B, open A, fret 3, 2 and 3 of D and open A.

Congratulations, you have completed ‘The Lonely Man’!

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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