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The Dawning - A Lesson for the Picking Hand

Guitar Lesson by Kirk Lorange

The video below shows the right hand view in slow motion.

This Lesson Explained.

This is another one for the 'beyonds' here at Guitar for Beginners and Beyond. However, having said that, it sounds a lot trickier than it is, so if you didn't pick up your first guitar yesterday, have a go at it.

I came up with this piece while tinkering around a little chord progression. I found this neat way of playing the opening lines without doing much work with the left hand -- it pretty much stays put -- but concentrating on the right hand, the picking hand. I realized after a short while that this would be a good lesson because you really do have to force that right hand to obey, and if there's one thing that always needs work, it's making those fingers obey. You'll see soon enough that this piece really does need some concentrated discipline.

The reason for that is that several of the notes in the repeating melody line use open strings, but because the fretting hand is up the neck a way, some of the open string notes are lower in pitch than the previous note which was played on a thicker string. This is counter-intuitive for guitar players. We're used to moving to thicker strings for lower notes, not thinner strings, and it requires (at least it did for me) some good hard thinking about it to get the fingers to do that.

This one is in A minor, but changes to A major halfway through. It was this 'brightening' of the tonality that prompted me to give it its silly title: The Dawning.

You'll see that, apart from the first beat, the main opening melody line keeps repeating for three bars. The only indication that there's been a change in the underlying chord is that first double stop of each bar. They all use an A note as the bass; the other note in the double stop is a G (bar 1), dropping a semitone to F# (bar 2), then another semitone to F (bar 3). Those three double stops are enough to imply three chords, which are basically Am7, D7 and Dm. I've left the chord names as simple chords in the tab, but I've given them their extended names in the movie. So it's really that one notes dropping down a semitone each time that gives each of those measures a distinct flavor; the other 7 eighth notes play a melody line that is identical for each measure. The fourth bar is a resolve to the V chord, E7. If you buy the downloadable version, you'll see that I've shown you the basic shapes to hold down with your left hand on the virtual fretboard, and, of course, the actual notes to play. In bar 3 and 7 I chose to not hold the whole shape down but to use my index finger to grab that D note in the melody line ... I found it easier.

That whole section (1,2,3 and 4) repeats, then I decided to change key to Amaj. You might find this part the most difficult because of the stretch involved. This is a very useful A7sus4 shape, though (I use it in 'Open Air'), so it's worth the time and effort to make that stretch. If you can't get it at first, persevere, come back to it; you will stretch those tendons and muscles eventually. Persistence is the trick to all this stuff.

The B7 keeps morphs into a G#dim a couple of times (each time the C note appears), but I left it as B7/G#; the F you'll notice isn't a barre chord. I hate them as much as you so I'm always looking for ways to avoid using them. This left-hand position may seem awkward at first, but once again, persist until it feels right.

It ends on a A major chord, I pick through it then strum it with the back of my index finger nail.

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.