About Perfecting Performance Techniques. These lessons are aimed at continuing to perfect performance techniques. We’ll learn scale passages (as though going up and downstairs: three notes up – two notes down, three notes up – two notes down, and so on), broken scales (as though going up and downstairs: 1 – 3, 2 – 4, 3 – 5, and so on), and keep learning grace notes (musical ornaments). As you can see, my GUITAR COURSE covers enough materials, that you are bound to achieve success in many areas…
About Compositions to be Learned. Performance technique is certainly an important issue, but let’s not forget about our repertoire. Otherwise, what’s it all for? We’ll learn such musical masterpieces as the theme songs from the movies «Love Story,» «The Umbrellas of Cherbourg,» and «The Godfather.» These melodies conquered the whole world back in the day, and I very much hope you’ll like them, too. By the way, I also made other arrangements of these compositions, which you can find here: «Guitarist’s Library» > «Sheet Music + Tabs». Does this mean the new arrangements are better? No, they are just a little bit… different.
People sometimes ask me why so few classical pieces are included in my guitar training course. The answer is simple: famous popular music is always catchy, and people learn it with much more enthusiasm. Besides, not everyone appreciates classical music, unfortunately. Especially the younger generation who usually reject anything that goes beyond their circle of interests. But I’m sure that guitar lessons won’t be for anything and some of them will be drawn to truly serious music. It’s just a matter of time. For now, it’s most important to provide them with something they will start and keep learning with pleasure.
About Playing by Ear. Playing by ear is as exciting as any other creative activity. As long as it doesn’t outweigh the importance of learning the guitar basics. Otherwise, it would be impossible to make a high-quality arrangement due to the lack of technical skills. Did you notice that I contrasted «playing by ear» with «making an arrangement»? This is because «playing by ear» is the reproduction of a melody with simple accompaniment, while «making a guitar arrangement» is a set of measures aimed at achieving a composition with full, well-balanced sound (similar to the sound of an orchestra).
Arrangements play a significant role in guitar practice, and it is indeed regrettable that the names of many arrangers often remain unknown. It’s regrettable because compositions very often become more popular thanks to the talent of an arranger. Take, for example, the song «Moscow Nights» (transliterated as «Podmoskovnye Vechera») written by V.Solovyov-Sedoi who used to say: «I’ve made an awful song; it’s a piece of rubbish.» The song, which was performed by one singer with an orchestra, turned out to be very plaintive indeed. But once the arranger B. Knushevitskiy added backing vocals to it, the song seemed to come alive and very soon became popular worldwide.
Well, this is not the only example. There are countless successful guitar arrangements that have been able to keep certain compositions in the memories of several generations. Take, for instance, the piano piece «Asturias» written by I. Albeniz, which is now, thanks to the brilliant arrangement made by A. Segovia, more often played by guitarists (especially by concert guitar players for whom this composition has become some kind of a calling card) than by pianists. You can download sheet music for this composition here for free: Guitarist’s Library» > «Classic Music» > 23 – Suite Espanola no.1, Asturias (I.Albeniz).
About Making Arrangements. The process of making arrangements starts from playing the melody by ear on the three thinnest strings. Plus, the melody has to be played in the same key as that of the original composition. Don’t be afraid to play in the middle of the neck, especially since playing on the first frets often does not allow to fully develop the sounds of bass and middle notes (for example, for the rhythm guitar part). If you are reading this information and haven’t begun the training course yet, you should know that detailed information on guitar sound flows, as well as terms and definitions used in the articles, are specified in the lessons.
Then try to add bass using two or three open strings. If you cannot find open strings that do not disharmonize the sounds, try to move the melody a few frets up or down until you get a better result. This is how you find the key of a composition.
When you can start playing the melody and bass without any difficulties, try to take one more step to make a high-quality arrangement by adding a middle note line in the chosen key. A middle note can be achieved by playing arpeggio or a group of notes (notes of either the same or different values). Or, if you are lucky, by playing chords (but an excessive amount of sounds can impact the position of accents). During the process, you also have to define which technique is more suitable for the given episode («barre,» «legato,» and so on) and think about whether it would be worth using grace notes and appoggiaturas.
That’s basically it. It doesn’t seem too difficult, does it? Then why are some arrangements played so easily as if you wrote them for yourself and sound so great that you want to play them again and again, while others… Is it because they lack: a developed musical ear, knowledge of elements such as harmony and guitar techniques, creative thinking, imagination, a sense of beauty, experience, or talent? The answer is… the lack of any one of the above-mentioned components won’t allow you to achieve a high-quality result while making a guitar arrangement. But you won’t be able to develop any of these components without proper training. So, learn and believe in your success. Of course, you won’t succeed at once, but in the future… For now, I advise you to play the materials I wrote for the guitar solo (even if I am more specialized in making arrangements for voice accompanied by guitar and guitar ensembles, which can be found in the Guitarist’s Library of this website). Play, analyze, and compare the materials…
I wish you good luck, my colleagues!