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1625 - Fun to Play and Great for Disciplining those Picking Fingers.

Guitar Lesson by Kirk Lorange
Difficulty Rating: Intermediate-Advanced

1625 - The Lesson Explained.

First things first: I couldn't come up with a title for this so I named it after the Roman numerals of the chord progression used in the first section: I vi ii V, or One Six Two Five or 1625. Sixteen twenty-five. Having explained that, I may as well talk about the chord progression and the theory side of it.

It's in the key of D, and I'm sure you've already heard that it's a familiar sounding chord progression. Song writers (James Taylor, for example) wouldn't be quite so prolific if they were told they couldn't use the old I vi ii V progression. They're a great set of changes and are the basis of countless tunes.

In the key of D, they are D - Bm - Em - A. After a couple of passes through that progression, I then add the IV chord to the mix.

This little piece is a good one to train those picking fingers to do what you tell them, not what they think they should do. The essence of the piece is the pattern of treble notes played over the bass line. Lets look at the bass line first:

The bass line consists of roots only, three of which are open strings. There is one little catch to playing it though: every second bass note is 'anticipated', which means that it jumps in slightly earlier than the beat you'd expect it fall on. You can see in the tab that I've made those bass notes green. The D bass note falls on the first beat of the first bar, the next bass note -- the B note -- falls on the "4 and" beat of the first bar instead of the first beat of the second bar, which is a eighth note of silence (that little silence symbol). The same thing happens for the next 6 bars. So, you need to tell your thumb to get that little anticipation happening. You also need to let those bass notes ring out under the picking so make sure your fretboard hand is nicely arched so that you're not muffling those bass strings.

The other fingers play the same little pattern of notes over three bars then a variation on the fourth bar (the A7), then repeat the sequence. This is also a bit of a tricky one as there's an open string that comes into play and you must convince your fingers to go to a 'higher' string to play a lower note. So there are a few elements to coordinate and -- as always -- there's only one way to do that: take it very slowly, play it over and over and only increase the tempo when you're playing it correctly. There's no sense mastering a mistake.

At bar 9 the bass line loses the anticipation, the notes come two per bar and the whole thing ends on a little strummed I chord.

I always mention the 'flow' in these lessons. It really is the main thing to concentrate on and in this one it's especially elusive what with all the anticipations and asymmetrical picking pattern. If you like to practice to a metronome, I'm playing this at about 100 BPM. I'd start off at 50 or so.

Here is the video of the self duet I put up at YouTube. It'll give you an idea of the melodic possibilities for the progression.

View the extended version here

Guitar Lesson by Kirk Lorange

Kirk LorangeAs well as putting together these fingerstyle guitar lessons, I am also the author of PlaneTalk - The Truly Totally Different Guitar Instruction Package, which teaches a mindset, a way of thinking about music and a way of tracking it all on the guitar fretboard. Yes, there IS a constant down there in the maze of strings and fret wire, a landmark that points to everything at all times. I call it The Easiest Yet Most Powerful Guitar Lesson You Will Ever Learn and many testimonials at my site will back up that rather superlative description. If your goal as a guitar player is to be able to truly PLAY the guitar, not just learn by rote; to be able to invent on the fly, not memorize every note; to be able to see the WHOLE fretboard as friendly, familiar territory, not just the first 5 frets and to do it all without thinking about all those scales and modes, then you should read more here.