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Giorgio Serci - First Steps In Fingerstyle Guitar Fundamental Studies Part 15 - Study n. 15

Lesson Notes

** As featured in issue 26 **

In this acoustic guitar lesson we’ll be looking at another composition of mine simply called Study n. 15. This fingerstyle guitar piece features a few arranging and compositional ideas, the most recurring being using modal interchange, which consists of borrowing chords from the parallel scales. In essence, as well as being able to use any of the diatonic (in the key) chords in D major (this is the key centre of this piece), we can borrow chords from the key of D minor.

So as well as using Gmaj (chord IV of D), we can use Gm (chord iv of D minor). This technique, referred to as modal interchange, is one of the most common arranging and compositional strategies, as it enables us to expand our harmonic vocabulary, offering us a more assorted palette of colours. It is important to notice that when we can actually borrow chords from any D minor scale: natural, harmonic and melodic. This would explain the harmonic provenience of the first chord, Gm6/D. I have also included a few other non-diatonic chords, for example the A#O7, which can be seen as a substitution or an inversion of a F#7b9 (V in relation to the forthcoming Bm).

The next non-diatonic chord, which happens to be an inversion, is the Bbadd9/Ab, and that can also be described as a Bb9 third inversion. This was constructed from a D Locrian - natural 2nd, which is the 6th mode of F Melodic minor. The Gmaj7/B is another one. This is quite a guitaristic chord and in my opinion is one of those feel-good chords. The picking-hand pattern is predominantly as follows: ‘p’ and ‘a’ play simultaneously the outer notes of the chord and ‘i’ and ‘m’ pluck the inner strings, filling the gap with a broken chord between the melody note and the bass. 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: Open D, index f on fret 3 of e, B and G. Little f on fret 5 of B

Bar 2: Open D, index f on fret 2 of e, B and G. Little f on fret 5 of B

Bar 3: Open D, index f on fret 3 of e, B and G. Little f on fret 5 of B. Next ring f on fret 5 of e.

Bar 4: Open D, hold ring f on fret 5 of e, little f on fret 6 of G and index f on fret 3 of B

Bar 5: As bar 1

Bar 6: As bar 2 with extra F# on 2+.

Bar 7: (beat 1) Little f on fret 3 of e, index f on fret 2 of D and open G. (beat 2) Open A and G, middle f on fret 2 of B and ring f on fret 2 of e.

Bar 8: (beat 1) Open D and middle f on fret 3 of B. Index f on fret 2 of G. (beat 2) Open A, ring f on fret 5 of D, middle f on fret4 of G and index f on fret 3 of B. Repeat the first six bars and jump to bar 9.

Bar 9: (beat 1) Little f on fret 3 of e, index f on fret 2 of D and open G. (beat 2) Index f on fret 1 of A, open G, ring f on fret 2 of B and little f on fret 2 of e.

Bar 10: Index f on fret 2 of A and middle f on fret 3 of B. Ring f on fret 4 of D and open G.

Bar 11: Middle f on fret 3 of E, open B. Play with the ‘p’ finger: Open D, index on fret 2 of D, little f on fret 4 of D. Open G, index f on fret 2 of G and little f on fret 4 of G. Ring f on fret 3 of B.

Bar 12: Middle f on fret 4 of E, barre’ on fret 3. ‘p’ finger strums from string 6 to string 2. Little f on fret 5 of B (also played with ‘p’ finger).

Bar 13: Open D, barre’ on fret 2 of G, B, e. Little f on fret 5 of B.

Congratulations, you have completed Study n.15! 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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