** As featured in issue 66 **
I remember reading an interview to the legendary pianist and prolific composer Chick Corea, who was claiming that he loves setting his own compositional rules and break them if needed. These serve the purpose of guiding the initial stages of a composition or can help following a cohesive musical trajectory, which makes musical sense.
In this case, I wanted to write this piece within 15 minutes and so I did. I have decided to start with a short intro in free time or ‘rubato’ and then develop a simple, repetitive melody as we find in most lullabies. In other words, my intention was to send you to sleep J Ok, put your pyjamas on and enjoy the piece!
Harmonic ingredients: I chose a resonating key for the guitar (E major) and after an atmospheric intro (rubato) featuring an E pedal under some chord clusters I continued the piece with the following chords: IV iv I (namely, Amaj9 Am6/9 Emaj6). Then I have used other extended chords, such as D13, F#m11, B13sus4 (or Amaj7/B and Eadd9).
In a few passages I have decided to explore a few harmonic substitutions, for an added element of surprise. A recurrent feature is the use of inversions used to enhance the melodic qualities of the bass lines in the lower register. NB. Please note that (b) next to I, means chord I first inversion, namely with the 3rd on the bass. 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: Being a ballad, the rhythmic content in the arrangement is quite linear.
Melodic ingredients: The melodic content is mainly in E major (with use of natural and melodic minor ideas) and has a singing-like quality throughout.
Articulations: The choice or articulations is very important in the construction of any composition, as these can be seen as the ‘how we say our Giorgio Serci story’. A few articulations were used such as grace notes and ‘turns’ 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):
Bar 1: Natural harmonic on fret 12 of E. Let this ring and play the following chords: middle f on fret 9, index on fret 7 of B and little f on fret 11 of e.
Bar 2: Next ring on fret 6 of G, index on fret 4 of B and little f on fret 7 of e. (Optional chord – ring on fret 4 og G, index on fret 2 of B and little f on fret 4 of e)
Bar 3-4: Index on fret 7 of E, little f on fret 10 of D, middle f on fret 8 of G, ring f on fret 9 of B and index on fret 7 of e.
Bar 5: Little f on fret 7 of e, open A, middle f on fret 6 of D, ring on fret 6 of G, open B.
Bar 6: Little f on fret 5 of e, open A, middle f on fret 4 of D, ring on fret 5 of G, open B.
Bar 7-8: Little f on fret 4 of e, open E, index on fret 2 of D and B, ring on fret 4 of G.
Bar 9-12: The same as bar 5-8
Bar 13: Little f on fret 7 of e, open A, middle f on fret 6 of D, ring on fret 6 of G, open B.
Bar 14: Middle f on fret 5 of A, index on fret 4 of D ring on fret 6 of G, open B. and little f on fret 5 of E.
Bar 15: Barre’ on fret 4 of A, G and E. Middle f on fret 5 of B and ring on fret 5 of E.
Bar 16: Middle f on fret 3 of A, index on fret 2 of E, open G and ring f on fret 3 of B, followed by open E.
Bar 17: Middle f on fret 2 of E, middle f on fret 2 of D ring on fret 3 of G and open G. Next, play a ‘turn’ with open B, fret 2 and open B followed by fret 3 of G and open B.
Bar 18: Barre’ on fret 2 of A, D, G, B and e. Little f on fret 4 of e
Bar 19: Open E and e, middle f on fret 2 of A, little f on fret 4 of D, index on fret 1 of G and open B.
Bar 20: Arpeggiate the last chord Eadd9, as described in the previous bar. At this point play the intro to end. Congratulations, you have completed ‘Lullaby’! 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.