** As featured in issue 16 **
In this fingerstyle guitar lesson we will be looking at the first half of a new composition of mine simply called Study n.8, which was specifically written for Guitar Interactive. I have been writing these study pieces for this acoustic guitar lesson series in order to focus on different guitar techniques such as the ‘a campanella’ or ‘waterfall’ technique in a purposeful manner, to develop co-ordination skills between the picking hand fingers while developing tonal and dynamic awareness in this great style of acoustic guitar playing called ‘fingerstyle’.
I always like to generate awareness of music styles from different parts of the world, which have influenced not only myself, but also my favourite composers. This composition, for example, is based on one of my favorite Brazilian rhythms called baião, or baión. I strongly recommend researching this music style as well as any other Brazilian genre. I personally think that guitarists of all stylistic persuasions should study at least one of the many amazing Brazilian styles, for their rhythmic and poly-rhythmic connotations, as well as for their harmonic and melodic qualities.
Breaking the piece in two halves, will give us more time to talk about the mechanics of the picking hand pattern as well as allowing more time to familiarise with this picking pattern and rhythm. The first challenge is to memorise and master the ‘ostinato’ bass figure to be played with the ‘p’ finger typical of the Baion style, while the i, m, fingers play an accompaniment and at times the melody of the piece.
Let’s get started with the ‘p’ finger playing the so-called ‘ostinato’ figure on the ‘G’ string. You could use the following syllables to memorise the pattern:
Takata Takata Ta
Try substituting ‘Ta’ with the open G string, ‘Ka’ with open E and ‘ta’ with open B using the following picking pattern: p, m, i, p, m, i, p.
This pattern will be the driving force of this composition, so make sure you can play it with fluidity, dexterity and accuracy, emphasizing the notes played with the ‘p’ finger.
Next we are going to look at the left hand part:
The piece starts with a pick up melody played in a ‘a campanella’ style. It’s called ‘a campanella’ as its ringing qualities are reminiscent of bells (campanella = small bell in Italian)
Pick-up: This descending melody starts on an ‘A, fret 5 of E, followed by a pull-off on to fret 3, little f on fret 6 of B, open E, index on fret 3 of B, ring f on fret 5 of G, open B, index on fret 2 of G, pull-off to an open G.
Bar 1: We are going to imply a G7 chord with index on fret 1 of E (high), ring f. on fret 3 of B and an open G.
Bar 2: We are going to imply a C chord with index on fret 3 of E (high), ring f. on fret 5 of B and an open G.
Bar 3: as Bar 1
Bar 4: As Bar 2
The part above can be repeated twice with different dynamics and tonal colours.
Bar 5-8: as Bar 1-4 with the descending ‘a campanella’ lick in between (beat 3 & 4)
Bar 9: beat 1 and 2: index on fret 1 of E, ring f. on fret 3 of B and an open G. beat 3 and 4: ring f on fret 6 of B, middle f. fret 5 of E, open G.
Bar 10: beat 1 and 2: index on fret 3 of E, ring f. on fret 5 of B and an open G. Beat 3 and 4: ring f on fret 8 of B, little f. fret 8 of E, open G.
Bar 11: beat 1 and 2: index on fret 1 of E, ring f. on fret 3 of B and an open G. Beat 3 and 4: Open B and G, index f. fret 1
Bar 12: beat 1 and 2: open G and E. index f. on fret 1 of B. Beat 3 and 4: descending lick.
Bar 13: beat 1 and 2: index on fret 1 of E, ring f. on fret 3 of B and an open G. Beat 3 and 4: ring f on fret 6 of B, middle f. fret 5 of E, open G.
Bar 14: beat 1 and 2: index on fret 3 of E, ring f. on fret 5 of B and an open G. Beat 3 and 4: middle f on fret 2 of B, little f. fret 3 of E, open G.
Bar 15: beat 1 and 2: index on fret 1 of E, ring f. on fret 3 of B and an open G. Beat 3 and 4: Open B and G, index f. fret 1
Bar 16: beat 1: open G, fret 1 of B, open E. beat 2: middle f fret 5of G, ring f. fret 5 of B, index f fret 3 of E. Beat 3: open G, index on fret 5 of B and little f fret 8 of E.
Congratulations, you have completed part 1 of 2. Part 2 will be featured in the next issue!
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 voicing (higher or lower), as well as trying the same picking pattern on a different chord progression, or using a ‘capo’ on fret 2 or 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 a more contrasting result.
As recommended in the previous columns, where we mainly focused on the picking hand, we ought to focus most of all on accuracy and consistency of tone. Strategies to further improvement include the use of the planting technique described in the previous columns, resting our fingers onto the chosen strings, and executing each stroke with a controlled and even pressure and with tonal and dynamic awareness. Each note we play should sound as full-bodied and as good as the previous one. You may want to refer to my previous columns for a more thorough explanation of the ‘a campanella’ technique.
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.
Creating this piece was great fun and also an excellent way to further develop my coordination skills, essential to play fingerstyle guitar.
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.