Slinky A Minor - a fun one with a great rhythm.
Guitar Lesson by Kirk Lorange
Difficulty Rating: Intermediate-Advanced
I couldn't come up with a good title for this one, but it's a neat slinky kind of rhythm thing in Am with a bit of everything thrown in: walking bass lines, hammer-on/pull-offs, rhythm plucks, single note runs, changes in timing, a strummed chord. Lots of fun and a challenge to assemble all the bits and pieces into a seamless, flowing piece... in other words: to make it music.
It's pretty up there tempo-wise. I tried it slower and it just didn't have the same oomph, but, you can start out slow and speed it up later. If you buy the downloadable version, there's a half-speed movie included which makes it much easier to see what's going on. You also get the virtual fretboard to watch.
It's in Am ... in the opening passage I show one little bit as a D chord, which it is, but it's all Am, really. It's a fairly common movement of chords in this genre, to move up from the i (the Am) to a fleeting IV (the D). I'm sure you'll find it familiar sounding.
The opening section is another sort of question/answer format: the bass line asks the question and the chords answer back. It's a tried and true way of structuring a piece of music -- our ears seem to enjoy it -- and one worth remembering if you get into composition.
That opening bass line is a four-noter with just two plucks. The first note (the open bass string) is plucked, then the next note (the G note, third fret) is hammered on then immediately pulled off back to the open E string. So, just one pluck for those three notes. The last note is the second pluck on the open A string. It might take you a couple of minutes to work that one out and convince your fingers to execute it. You then need to move halfway up the fretboard for the next bit in a hasty manner so as to get there in time for the chordal bits.
The second half of the piece is a neat walking bass line on the bottom, chords on the top, all woven together in a neat rhythm. The part that may confuse the fingers is the way an open A string becomes incorporated into the bass line. Other than that, everything is quite compact fingering wise and not too tricky. The two chords are F9th and E9th ... you've seen these 9th shapes in previous lessons and I've suggested to you that you should remember them. They're back! You can clearly see in this lesson how the same shape moves down a fret from F to become E. Shapes can move on guitars, just like this case, and retain their flavor. That's the beauty of the guitar.
Then we're back to Am, but this time four flavors of Am. First plain old Am, the 'A minor Major seventh', quite a mouthful to say, but totally logical musically. It's an A minor chord with a major 7th note included. Next a Am7 (the minor 7th) then Am6. If you're observant, you'll see that one note in each chord moving down a fret each time. The first time it's a 1 (root), then it's a 7 (Maj7), then it's a flat 7 (7th), then it's a 6. Music is all numbers, always, and it pays to learn which are which. By the way, this series of Am flavors is exactly the same one used in "Stairway to Heaven" ... and a hundred other tunes.
Finally, we get to the single note melody run over F and E that leads us back to Am ... and a nice jazzy 6th to end it on.
Have fun with this one ... it's a great rhythm to get those fingers familiar with.
Guitar Lesson by Kirk Lorange
As 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.