** As featured in issue 51 **
In this column, I would like to share a short and relatively simple composition of mine called “Infant Eyes”. This piece materialised quite quickly, simply following a typical descending chord progression, often found in the music of Chopin, but also, and most importantly, it came up as a self-indulgent dedication to my newborn son.
The harmonic content of this piece is fairly common in most music styles; below is a simplified explanation, omitting the various extensions and passing chord tones.
| Bm F#/A# | Am6 E/G# | Gmaj7 D/F# | FO7 F#7 | Bm F#/A# |
| Am6 E/G# | Gmaj7 D/F# | FO7 F#7 F#/E | Bmaj7/D# | Em |
| Fo7 | FO7 F#7 F#/E | Bmaj7/D# | Em F#m G6 G#0 |
| Dadd4/A | A7 A#O7 | Bm F#/A# | Am6 E/G# |
|Gmaj7 D/F# | FO7 F#7 | Bsus2 |
Please note: F#/A# = F# chord over A# bass.
This piece provides an opportunity to improve interpretation skills and presenting the melody in a singing-like manner (cantabile), while complementing it with countermelodies happening in various registers.
For example, inversions have been utilised to create melodic bass lines, which act as countermelodies in the lower register. This is evident throughout.
The term inversion refers to the way a harmonic structure (a chord) is voiced or organized).
Triads can be voiced in three different positions/inversions:
a): Root position: root is lowest note in the chord
b): 1st inversion: 3rd is the lowest note in the chord – (b)
c): 2nd inversion: 5th is the lowest note in the chord – (c)
Seventh chords could also be voiced as a 3rd inversion (7th in the bass) For example D/C = D7 3rd inversion, described by (d)
One of the technical hurdles of this piece is the need to keep the melody at the fore of the arrangement. To do this, it may help singing and playing it at the same time, in order to be sure we are emphasising it as needed. The main melody is the chromatic descending line on the ‘B’ string.
As always, I would like to recommend researching the above-mentioned techniques in order to be able to use these 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 we should be able to use these effectively and creatively.
The picking-hand pattern is predominantly as follows:
(Please note E=low E string, e= high E string)
‘p’ plays al the ‘ostinato’ pedal parts throughout.
Play each 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 ‘i, m and a’ fingers, so attack is needed to outline the melody.
Next we are going to look at the left hand part (chord shapes):
Bar 1: Index on fret 2 of A with middle f on fret 3 of B Ring f on fret 3 of D, alternates with open G-string.
Bar 2: Similar to bar 1, with index on fret 1 of A and middle f on fret 2 of B. Little f on fret 4 of D, alternating with the open G-string.
Bar 3: Similar to bar 2, with open A and index on fret 1 of B. Little f on fret 4 of D, alternating with the open G string.
Bar 4: Index on fret 4 of E with open B. Little f on fret 7 of A, alternates with middle f on fret 4 of D. (This is a bit of a stretch, so keep your hand relaxed)
Bar 5: As bar 1
Bar 6: As bar 2
Bar 7: As bar 3
Bar 8: As bar 4, but with an Open E on beat 3.
Bar 9: Index on fret 1 of D with middle f on fret 2 of e. Next, fret 3 of G and open B. Little f on fret 5 of e.
Bar 10: Open E with the following double-stops: ring f on fret 4 of G with middle f of fret 3 of e. Next, index of fret 2 of e and G. Next, open e and G. Next, ring f on fret 4 of D and middle f on fret 3 of B. (This bar feature a 4 over 3 rhythm, which means that the value of each double-stop is a dotted quaver)
Bar 11: Index on fret 1 of E with little f on fret 2 of B. Open D and G, flowed with middle f on fret 1 of G. Next little f again on fret 2 of B and open B.
Bar 12: Index on fret 2 of E with open B. Ring f on fret 4 of D, middle f on fret 3 of G and open B, followed by open E.
Bar 13: Index on fret 1 of D with middle f on fret 2 of e. Next, fret 3 of G and open B. Little f on fret 7 of e, followed by middle f on fret 5 of e.
Bar 14: As bar 10, with added bass line: Open E, index on fret 2 of E, middle f on fret 3 of E and then, on fret 4 of E.
Bar 15: Open A, ring f on fret 4 of D and middle f on fret 3 of B. Next, fret 3 of D again, open G, middle f on fret 3 of B and open e.
Bar 16: Open A and G. Middle f on fret 2 of B and ring f plays a trill between fret 2 of ‘e’ and open ‘e’. On beat 3, index on fret 1 of A, open G, middle f on fret 2 of B and ring f on fret 2 of ‘e’.
Bar 17-24: As between bar 1 and 8.
Bar 25: Index on fret 2 of A, ring f on fret 4 of D, little f on fret 4 of G and open B.
Congratulations, you have completed Infant Eyes!
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 tune and that this will give you some ideas on how to write your own solo guitar compositions and re-arrangements.