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Giorgio Serci Creative Fingerstyle Guitar - Inspirational Pieces Part 19: ‘Dancing in The Ocean’

Lesson Notes

** As featured in issue 53 **

In this column I would like to share a composition of mine called ‘Dancing in The Ocean’, written many years ago, while playing on a cruise ship.

It is amazing how the surroundings can influence one’s musical decisions. I vividly remember this gig, which mainly consisted of me playing any thing I fancied so long as it had a perky mood, next to the swimming pool, overlooking the ocean. As I was playing with a bass player and percussion, I had a lot of freedom to make up on the spot a lot of simple major sounding tunes, over simple harmonic structures, which would decide and call on the spot.

The rhythm is essentially a Bossa Nova, appropriate, as we were en route to Brazilian. Piña Colada (virgin of course) in the proximity helped providing just the right ‘je ne sais quoi’ … I have to say, I have had worse times in my life…

The intro:

To set what felt at the time as the right mood of the piece and to add a contrasting section, I opted for a descending melody in E major, harmonized, with mostly diatonic and sustained chord, utilizing some of my favourite voicings.

Harmonic ingredients:

The harmonic content is fairly simple, including mainly chords diatonic to E major. A recurrent device this piece futures is the presence of inversions used to enhance the melodic qualities of the bass lines in the lower register. Here are the chords utilized and described in roman numerals:

I7                 I(b)

IV                  V

vi                  V

IV                  

IV                  

I7                 I(b)

IV                  V

vi                  V

IV                  

IV                  

I7                 I(b)

IV                  V

vi                  V

IV                  

IV                  

I7                 I(b)

IV                  V

vi                  V

IV                  

IV                  

iii                   

iii            

IV                  

IV                  

iii                   

iii            

IV                  

IV                  

I7                 I(b)

IV                  V

vi                  V

IV                  

IV                  

I7                 I(b)

IV                  V

vi                  V

I

I                 

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 Brazilian inspired piece, based on a Bossa Nova rhythm, syncopations and pushed chords are quite recurrent.

Melodic ingredients:

The melodic content is entirely in E major 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 story’. A few articulations were used such as the ¼ note bend un section A and hammer-on in section B, 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):

Intro: Play an E natural harmonic on the 12th fret of E. Then play the first chord including middle f on fret 9 of G, index on fret 7 of B and little f on fret 11 of e.

2nd chord: ring f on fret 6 of G, index on fret 4 of B and little f on fret 7 of e.

3rd chord: index on fret 2 of G, open B and little f on fret 4 of e.

4th chord: bar on fret 1 to play fret 1 of D and B. Middle f on fret 2 of G and little f on fret 4 of e.

Tap 7th fret of E with picking hand’s index and slide down until release an open E.

Repeat the first 3 chords and then play an A/B as follows: ring f on fret 7 of E, little f on fret 7 of D, middle f on fret 6 of G and index on fret 5 of B. Finally, keeping the same shape, shift down one fret the index and middle f in order to play a B7b9.

Bar 9:  Open E, index on fret 4 of e with open B followed by little f on fret 7 of e, with open B and index on fret 4 of E.

Bar 10: Play as a pick up from the previous bar A and B with little f on fret 5 of e and open B, then play open A on the 1st beat.

Next, play fret 4 and 2 of e with ring and index f and open e.

Bar 11: Ring f on fret 4 of A, open B then index on fret 2 of A with little f on fret 4 of B (with a ¼ note bend) and open e.

Bar 12 and 13: Play an Amaj7 (A shape) with an open A, middle f on fret 2 of D, index on fret 1 of G and ring f on fret 2 of B.

Bar 14: As bar 9

Bar 15: As bar 10

Bar 16: As bar 11

Bar 17-18: Index on fret 7 of G, open B and little f on fret 12 of e. Next, middle f on fret 11 of G, open B and ring f on fret 11 of e, followed by middle f on fret 9 of G, open B and ring f on fret 9. Finally, middle f on fret 8 of G, open B and index on fret 7 of e.

Congratulations, you have completed section A. This part should be played twice.

Bar 19: Middle f on fret 4 of E, ring f on fret 4 of D, little f on fret 4 of G and open B, replaced by index on fret 2 of B and little f on fret 4 of B followed by open e.

Bar 20: Play an Amaj7 (A shape) with an open A, middle f on fret 2 of D, index on fret 1 of G and ring f on fret 2 of B.

Bar 21: Middle f on fret 4 of E, ring f on fret 4 of D, little f on fret 4 of G and open B, replaced by index on fret 2 of B and little f on fret 4 of B followed by open e, hammer-on on fret 2 of e and then little f on fret 4 of e.

Bar 22: Play an Amaj7 (A shape) with an open A, index on fret 2 of D and B, ring f on fret 4 of G and little on fret 4 of e.

Now repeat from bar 14 to 18 and then play the final bar

Bar 23: Arpeggiate an Eadd9, with an open E, middle f on fret 2 of A, ring f on fret 2 of D, little f on fret 4 of D, index on fret 1 of G, open B, e then index on fret 2 of e, little f on fret 4 of e and sliding on to fret 7 of e, followed by an ‘E’ natural harmonic of fret 12 of e.

Congratulations, you have completed ‘Dancing In The Ocean!

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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