Right Hand Exercises for the first Year Guitarist: Marching towards Mastery

This is a right hand exercise using only the right hand thumb and index finger.

It is a little tricky at first as the movement collapses from the top to the bottom (lower) 6th string. In order to keep the exercise within the first year limitation, the thumb plays on the 6th string only.

*Keep in mind that we are working towards the Travis Style of picking and in that vein, you will use both the index and middle fingers on the upper three strings. 

Please take your time with this going slowly and carefully. This will develop your ability to play more complex patterns with independence between the thumb and the index, middle, and ring fingers.

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Acoustic Final Fantasy

An Acoustic Duo Cover

“Town Theme” written by the prodigious Anime composer Nobuo  Uematsu, is a short but alluring piece of music. Consisting of a light texture with a hypnotic rhythmic movement, the melodicism embedded in the sections gives it the staying power it needs for its role in the game, Final Fantasy.


I chose to cover “Town Theme”theme using a acoustic guitar duo format. My obsession with random improvised harmonies was perfectly suited to the music’s construction. Not that the work needed my help mind you, it was just my way of interpreting the “hidden harmonies” one hears when the obsession with music runs deep in your brain.

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Like all great composers Uematsu gets to the techniques that color otherwise plain tonal music. This is where the theme becomes legend. An ordinary composer would struggle to rise to such heights with such a project. Writing of this type can be an exercise in frustration as the limitless creative powers one has are kept at bay due to the reality of keeping the music close to home in terms of listenability and ultimately, commercialism.

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The first few seconds of “Town Theme” are telling. A very clever two-measure introduction opens with an artful C major arpeggio. In the following measure the composer wastes no time and goes for the gold medal with a beautiful second-inversion iv6 chord. The Fm/C substitutes for the dominant (as it’s prone to do)  giving measure 3 the push it needs to move forward like a bright, sunny, and brisk Sunday afternoon drive.

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In measures 9-10, an absolutely perfect cadence is set up to put and end to the first melodic statement. The progression, V I vi V2 bVI I5 V I is nothing short of mesmerizing.

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Is it genius writing? Maybe not being that the role o the theme is to bring one back to the center. But, I would challenge you who are composers to attempt such writing using the obvious restrictions during your process.

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You will come out a better writer as you reach deeper into multi-part writing. Keeping track of all voices and rhythms at your disposal your creative power will grow.

Mark Jeffery Campayno

“Nylon Fantasy #2”

A Nylon String Guitar Original Work

Prelude

This “classical guitar” work in the new acoustic style is by far my favorite of the ones I’ve written 'Air Guitar' byso far. Both its sound and construction are exactly what I look for in instrumental guitar works. Like anything else that comes as a pleasant surprise, this was one of those sessions where everything came together. I must say however, that I never go into a session with a preconceived idea, well at least not one that is carved in stone. My brain doesn’t work that way even though I can be very conservative and by the book in other areas of performance and study.

 

Methodology

I go in to such sessions randomly trying not to get caught up in the guitarists mindset that can plague your endlessly. The thoughts and schemes such as what key? What scales or chords? Should I go intblockdiagramo an altered tuning or not? Should I play fast or slow? That does nothing more than push your spirit into a one-dimensional force bent on being traditional. Traditional for the sake of tradition. Not to pay homage to it, but to be bound by it.

The Work

I don’t remember consciously doing this but it has a logical rhythmic flow to it. The piece starts out by stating the melody in between a very dense foundation harnomics.gif
of dark arpeggiated chords. I overdubbed some, but not all of the harmonics onto the work as a decorative effect. I, like many non-guitarists, tend to find them aurally attractive and very desirable especially on acoustic guitar.

 

Technique

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The slurred sections were not easy but flowed surprisingly well considering that I had no plan for incorporating them. I’m very happy with how they turned out. It’s my climbing Mount Everest moment as that are fairly athletic. It will take quite a few minutes to pull them back under my fingers in that exact configuration. However, I must take the time to score out the work so as to codify it. In that way, it becomes “official”, solid, unbending. Unless, of course, I go back and change the score.

Angular Thinking

As musicians, we all have areas that are endemic to our playing. I love the angular in music, but to produce it well is not easy. This was one time that it happened without the usual struggle and gnashing of teeth. The fleeting moments of non-compliance with the voices in our heads that would doubt us.The total control one has sought from the beginning of the Screen+Shot+2013-03-07+at+10.01.40+PMjourney. However, I’m sure I’ll go back to the struggle until I can take control of angular and the unexpected in my playing.

 

Thank God for the guitar.

 

-Mark Jeffery Campayno

“The Mountain Stream” – A student’s journey towards the mastery of the score and a teachers paradigm shift.

“The Mountain Stream” is a wonderful guitar composition by Sveinn Ehthorsson. Mr. Ehthorsson runs a wonderful guitar website, The Guitar School http://www.classicalguitarschool.net/en/. I’ve used this site for many yea2014-12-25 00.10.38rs in my public school guitar teaching and have been very happy with it. One of my current students, Michael, is working on “The Mountain Stream” for an upcoming evaluation at his high school. He is doing very well so far and we both absolutely LOVE this piece. I have included a recording that we did of the first minute or so of the music. Once Michael completes the piece we will record the entire four pages. The score for the work is available on the website. Here is the sound clip of the first section of Michael’s performance of “The Mountain Stream”. WE recorded it on Pro Tools 9 using a Shure 137 condenser mic about one foot away from his guitar’s soundhole angled in towards the bridge slightly.

The following is a brief look at how Michael has influenced me. Far be it for a teacher to be influenced by a student right? Wrong. If you are not learning from your students then something is out of balance.

oldyamahaTHE STUDENT INFLUENCES HIS TEACHER

You know I love to create music. Just create. No music on paper. Just a guitar and an idea. However, my conservative side, which is much larger that it may appear, was honed in the early days of my playing when technology was in book form. No aids, no shortcuts, just the music. I learned to play on a Yamaha classical guitar, which I still have at my studio. It is worn, beaten, doesn’t play well, and is fading fast. But, in it is the beginning of a lifetime of guitar playing, studying, and teaching that has brought me further than I could have ever dreamed.

My student, Michael, is discovering this same joy. Michael is dedicated, serious, task-oriented, and talented. I say this because teaching Michael keeps me keenly aware of my roots in music. I love to study music in all forms and to be honest I miss that part of my musical life. The reality is that when you teach and have successful students, you teach more. Your “alone time” with the guitar becomes scarce. It starts to dwindle down to spasms of random time. You begin to realize that you have to fight to stay on top of your musical goals. In the end, I have realized that I must be more like Michael. I must become more focused and driven in terms of working on more structured guitar music. I’ve created a lot of original acoustic music that I’m very proud of, so I am in the process of a shift of priorities in a sense. I want to be Michael again.

Mark