** As featured in issue 24 **
In this acoustic guitar lesson we’ll be looking at another classical guitar composition of mine simply called Study n. 13.
This piece features a few arranging and compositional ideas, the most recurring being the use of harmonic tension and release. This is evident in various passages: for example the use of a Cmaj7#5 in bar 3, which could also be described as a E/C chord, is what I like to call a ‘sweet and sour’ chord, as it includes the sweet (consonant) qualities of a major 7 chord with the more sour (dissonant) quality of an augmented triad. Tension and release was also achieved with sus chords, like the ones used in bar 7, 8 and 9. I started this piece experimenting with chord inversions and melodic passages played with the ‘a campanella’ style, making the most of guitaristic voicings and open strings.
I find that the best way to start writing a piece is to ‘start!’ In other words, if we spend too much time pondering about how to start, we can easily lose inspiration, focus and sense of direction.
One of the main challenges within this piece is identifying and outlining the main voices in a clear and accurate manner, with particular attention to bars 7, 8 and 9. To make sure notes ring for their full value as needed, the fretting hand will have to stretch a little (see the ring finger in bar 8). It is important that we practise this passage very slowly, making sure we are warmed up before tackling this passage. These considerations determined the fingering used.
The time signature is 2/4, and the rhythmic essence of the piece is not the most challenging aspect of this study. Consistency, tonal and dynamic awareness as well as notes’ length, are indeed the challenge within this piece and overcoming this challenges will help us becoming even more aware of these salient issues.
As usual, our ‘p’ finger will play the bass line. 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 ‘i’, ‘m’ and ‘a’ fingers.
Next we are going to look at the left hand part: (Please note E=low E string, e= high E string)
Bar 1: Middle f on fret 2 of D, index f on fret 1 of G and open B and e strings.
Bar 2: Index f. on fret 3 of B with open D, ring f on fret 5 of G, open B and middle f on fret 2 of G.
Bar 3: Ring f on fret 3 of A with index on fret 1 of G. Next, middle f. fret 2 of D, index on fret 1 of G and open B.
Bar 4: Open e with index on fret 2 of A. Middle f on fret 2 of E, little f on fret 4 of E and open E.
Bar 5: Open E with little f and ring f respectively on fret 10 of B and D. Next, middle f on fret 9 of B, followed by the same note with index on fret 9 of D and little f on fret 7 of B.
Bar 6: Next, play the last note, with also the ring f on fret 7 of D. Barre’ on fret 4, little f on fret 5 of B, followed by the same noted with ring f on fret 6 of D. Finally, little f on fret 4 of B.
Bar 7: Open A with little f on fret 4 of B with ring f on fret 4 of D. Next, barre’ on fret 2 - index on fret 2 of B, followed by the same note with middle f on fret 3 of D and open B.
Bar 8: Open B with middle f on fret 2 of E. Ring f on fret 2 of G. Index on fret 1 of G, rind f on fret 2 of G.
Bar 9: Open B with ring f on fret 4 of E. Index on fret 2 of D, open e and little f on fret 4of B.
Bar 10: Barre’ on fret 2. Open A, index on fret 2 of D and B. Ring f on fret 4 of G Congratulations, you have completed Study n.13! 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 and the counter-melodies particularly in section C. Please 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 fingerstyle and guitar composition 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.