A while back, I came across a book of traditional bluegrass and old-timey fiddle tunes, which intrigued and inspired me. I had always enjoyed the sound of those upbeat, “honest” folk melodies, with their sprightly contours and swinging eighth-note rhythms, despite their harmonic simplicity—the vast majority of the tunes are based on “one-four-five”-type major-key chord progressions.
As I promised last month, I’m going to demonstrate some cool licks to play over the chord changes to Horace Silver’s mid-Sixties jazz classic “Song for My Father.” As you recall, the composition features a cool, laid-back bossa nova groove and loosely spaced chord changes that make it a great jam tune for rock and blues guitarists looking to get into jazz.
To start, let’s stick with the key of E minor, as it’s one of the most popular keys inrock. FIGURE 1 offers a useful way to get acquainted with the E minor hexatonic scale, with E minor and D major triad inversions on the top three strings “leapfrogging” each other up the neck. Play the inversions descending, as well as ascending, and feel free to pick the open low E string and allow it to ring while doing this.
In the previous two String Theory columns (March and April 2015 issues), I introduced a pair of hexatonic (six-note) scales that are comprised of the same six notes and may be thought of as opposing sides of the same musical coin—the dark, serious-sounding E minor hexatonic (E F# G A B D) and its one useful mode, the beautifully bright D major hexatonic (D E F# G A B).
For more than 20 years, I’ve had this idea in my head for a cool classic rock-style arrangement of Ludwig Van Beethoven’s famous piano piece, “Moonlight Sonata,” specifically the slow first movement (Adagio), which features a hauntingly beautiful chord progression unfolding as hypnotic triplet arpeggios supporting a sparse, poignant melody.
Here I present a beautifully uplifting solo instrumental guitar arrangement I crafted of brilliant classical-Romantic–era composer Franz Schubert’s (1797–1828) famous piece, “Ave Maria”—that sublimely inspiring slow song with stirring, innovative chord changes and angelic vocals, commonly sung in Latin by an operatic soprano with piano accompaniment and performed at weddings, funerals and religious Christmas events.
Last month, I presented the first half (bars 1–12) of my two-guitar arrangement of classical music great Frédéric Chopin’s piano masterpiece, “Prelude in E Minor, Opus 28, Number 4.” I now offer the conclusion of my arrangement, which can be performed either on an acoustic or electric guitar.
When it comes to history’s greatest composers, Frédéric Chopin (1810–1849) is right up there with Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Schubert. In this lesson, I present, as a tribute to Chopin, my two-guitar arrangement of one of his most celebrated solo piano works, the slow and hauntingly beautiful “Prelude in E Minor, Opus 28, Number 4.”
“When ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ was written, it was a joke as far as I was concerned,” Slash says. “I was just fuckin’ around when I came up with that riff. To me it was a nightmare because, for some strange reason, everyone picked up on it and, the next thing you knew, it had turned into a song. I hated it forever!