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Minute Minuet - Great for stretching those tendons.

Guitar Lesson by Kirk Lorange
Difficulty Rating: Intermediate

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I've come up with a 'minuet' for you this time. It lasts about a minuet, so I've called it the 'Minute Minuet'. To be honest, I don't really know the definition of a minuet, but I think they sound something like this little piece.

I would first like to say that I'm not a classical guitarist and I know I'm not doing this little composition justice. I would love to have better classical technique, the kind that makes nylon strings sing, but I have put my time into other things over the years and it does take years to acquire that fluidity. I gave my old Goya nylon string a go for this one.

It's in the key of C and consists mostly of just a melody line and a bass line. It's not all that difficult to play, but there are a couple of sections where your fingers may require some convincing. You'll notice I didn't add chord names to the movie for this one. Since it's mostly a series of double stops, it seemed redundant to do so, but they're written in the tab below in case you want to play this as a duet with someone. The time signature is 3/4, 3 beats to the bar. You can see in the tab there's a pickup note on the third beat beat to start it all off.

The whole thing is very familiar sounding, I'm sure you'll agree. I never studied any of the many classical guitar 'etudes', but I guess I've heard enough of them to have them stick in my mind. This little piece simply emerged from my guitar after I had decided to do a minuet-like lesson. The trademark sound of these pieces, to my ear, is the sound of momentary suspended chords like the first beat of bar 2 (a Fsus2 chord) and the first beat of bar 5 (Csus4 chord). They repeat throughout and these are the passages where you may need to give those fingers a good talking to. There are a few little pulloffs, you'll see them in the tab as a small number next to the big number. You pulloff from the small to the big. You don't need to do them, of course, but they add that Elizabethan sound to the piece if you do. They're very quick. Find out more about Pulloffs here.

In the middle section you need to move up the fretboard, but the bass notes for the first three measures (18 ->20 and 26 ->28) are all open strings, making it both easier and trickier at the same time. I did for me, anyway. Easy, because grabbing bass notes up the neck is no fun; tricky because the plucking thumb rebels at playing open strings when the fretting hand is halfway up the neck. It just doesn't feel right.

Other than those comments, I can't think of anything to add. Take it all nice and slowly. Watch the movie to see which left-hand fingers I use. I always try a few different ways, so you can be pretty sure the way I settled on is the best, most economical way to play it. You always have to think of what's coming next when working out how to play these things, you don't want to be tripping over your own fingers. But, having said that, if you find anything uncomfortable, experiment with other ways. We're all built differently. The right hand is following the usual rule: thumb plays the bass line, fingers play the melody line. You'll notice in this piece that the thumb moves up to the G string for one of those bass notes (bars 7, 15 and 39). Usually, the thumb handles the three bass strings, but in cases like this, when a note that's part of the bass line winds up on the G string, I think it's best to let the thumb play it, it's more logical.

I think this little piece will be great practice for fingerstyle guitar in general. It's got lots of interesting little twists and turns and plenty of wide-interval double stops to stretch those tendons.

Have fun!

>> Click here for another Minute Minuet Lesson.

Guitar Lesson by Kirk Lorange

Kirk LorangeAs well as putting together these free 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.