Hi everyone…This is a line I use as a cadenza in one of my solo guitar pieces, titled 'Glow'.
There are a couple of things you'll want to take note of, the first being that the tuning is not quite standard. From low to high, I've tuned the guitar to DADEAD. You may be familiar with the popular DADGAD tuning; this is basically the same thing with the G string brought down a minor third. The second thing is that I use my right hand fingers to play it, of course you can play it with a pick; you're probably best off using a combination of pick and fingers- I'll detail how to go about doing that in a bit.
The line is made up of straight 16th notes until beat 3 of the second measure where a low D indicates the final resolution.
It is an odd sounding line, in part due the groupings of notes- beginning with two groups of 3 followed by a group of 4, then 3, 4, 3, and finally 4. The notes grouped into threes are played across three adjacent strings, one note per string beginning on the lowest string and ending on the highest. The notes grouped into fours are played essentially the same way except for the first note in the grouping which leads into the second note by a half step above or below.
Another reason the line sounds so odd is its unusual melodic contour. Remember, we're using an altered tuning so even though it is very symmetrical physically- you're using the same shape and fingering throughout- melodically there are many twists and turns. In standard tuning, it would not be as easy to play. It would be fun I'm certain, but a bit awkward due to its melodic construct.
The notes don't conform to any particular chord, there is a healthy bit of chromaticism; though the last three notes clearly outline an A triad with an augmented fifth which of course leads perfectly into the ending D chord. The line was composed with the intent to create tension and momentum. You can feel it scrambling chaotically towards its resolution.
Some Performance Notes:
Again, I use my right hand fingers to play this; makes sense given I'm a fingerstyle player. If you choose to play it fingerstyle use your thumb, index, and middle fingers, low to high for the groups of three. For the groups of four, pluck the first note with your thumb, slide into the second note- don't pluck it, and finish up with your index and middle.
If you use a pick, it seems that the most sensible approach would be to use a combination of pick and fingers. Either use a downstroke on the first two notes and pluck the third with your middle finger or downstroke the first note and follow through with your index and middle. Bottom line, play it however it's comfortable for you; if you can alternate pick it, more power to you.
You also might not want to tune your guitar down, or be able to- if you have a floating bridge it would be a serious pain to do so. Play it in standard if that's the case, see what comes about. Using these shapes in standard tuning, you would have a series of triads, augmented, major and minor; it might just sound great. Then simply take the idea of playing one note on each string and using different groupings and apply it to scales you like to use in your improvisations.
Good luck, ciao!
Mark Yodice is one of Long Island's most promising young musicians. A solo guitarist, Mark writes and plays music that both stuns and settles the listener's heart. In performance, his original compositions and impressionistic improvisations are mixed with the music of the world's finest contemporary classical composers, creating a transcendent, playful, diverse and compelling sonic landscape. You can hear some of his music at www.mp3.com/mark_yodice. Mark's solo guitar CD is available at www.guitar9.com and www.cdpimp.com.