Mystery Lovers


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Strength, Accuracy and Knowledge for the Guitarist

Your Weekly Technique Session and Dexterity & Stamina Exercise

Updated April 21, 2005


Part 3

Let's read all over the freakin' neck, man!

Dark Shadows and "There Be Dragons..."

As we discussed last session in PART TWO, the guitar neck holds a dark, dangerous 'Mystery Zone' for many players. This Mystery Zone extends form the fifth fret to the twelfth fret. Hey, we all know that the guitar neck is fretted in half steps (yeah, I've heard The Cow People with their quarter-tone instruments, but that ain't the norm.) Well, the neck is fretted in half steps and the strings (for the most part) are arranged in fourths. Knowing this, we can assume that certain pitches will fall on certain strings and frets. And we'd be right. And we forget this the minute we try to read a piece of music that will require us to play (let's say) at the seventh fret and up. Let's explore and take that mystery out of the Mystery Zone. Okay?

Now let's assume that the student has learned his Grand Barre chord based on the E major open position chord -- the Barre chord that makes an F major at the first fret, a G major at the third fret, an A major at the fifth fret and so on. Here's the point. If the student knows this chord and can use it to generate chords up and downt he neck, he or she already knows the pitch names of the notes of the sixth string. See the following example. The student may not have realized that these pitch names were notated as follows, but now he sure does! As I explain to my students, if you can tune your guitar to itself using the fifth fret/open string method, then you already know the notes of the fifth fret across the neck. See the A note on the fifth fret in the diagram? That's the A open string note as well -- notation-wise as well as pitch-wise.

Guess what? If the student knows the notes of the sixth string, well, the first string is a gimmee. Of course, it will be notated two octaves above the sixth string... See the example

So by looking at these two examples, the student can see that he or she knows way more notes than at first thought. "But," the student asks, "I can't read the strings in between! What do I do?" As mentioned above, for the most part, the guitar is tuned in fourths.

"But, but, but..." I can hear the stammering complaints now. "There's only an interval of a third between the third (G) string and the second (B) string!!! Ha, ha, gotcha!" Back off, Einstein. Sure, but the second string is a fourth below the first string! So the principle can still be used. See the next example. Once again, the old tuning concept comes up -- the fifth fret note on the second string is the same as the open first string, both an E, both notated in the top space of the staff.

Look at that! In a few short paragraphs the student can now read four strings with a small degree of confidence. Next session we'll look at the fourth and third string and tie the whole neck together through the knowledge of intervals. It really does all make sense!


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The Classic Guitar Method: Now in one volume, much of what the novice classical guitarist will need to know to lead him or her to the recital stage. From proper instrument care and maintenance to the necessary technical skills, musical mind-set, and the standard repertoire—all exposed and explored with enough detail and insight that the student will wish to keep this book handy years to come as a ready reference source.

With the aid of a good teacher, the student will rapidly progress through The Classic Guitar Method attaining technical proficiency and musical eloquence.

This method stems from the need to incorporate a number of schools into a single cohesive curriculum. Years of honing a logical approach to the guitar and the creation of music culminate in this volume. As a self-proclaimed Disciple of Valdés-Blain , much of that famed teacher's focus can be found in Mr. Pellegrin's method.

ISBN: 978-1-4116-9442-2

Published by PAB Entertainment Group, P.O. Box 2369 Scotia, New York 12302

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