Oh hai, and welcome to another exciting episode of Let’s Write. Today’s expository comes to us from college radio, which has fortuitously introduced me to a wonderful young lady by the name of Meredith Godreau, and her project, Gregory & the Hawk. She, and Iron & Wine, have got me finger picking, and now you get to reap the benefits of my blisters.
The following exercises are based on part of the song Landscapes, off the Leche album. Would you like to hear what this song sounds like? Do yourself a favour and crank your speakers:
Now before you go getting all excited, today’s lesson is not a breakdown of how to play this song. Instead, it’s about the new part of me that I’ve discovered inside myself. Oh, and I’ve also attached a PDF and a PowerTab file, so you can follow along at home:
Meredith uses a hemiola rhythm pattern for the vocal part, which starts off with F, D, and E notes played over a chunky D base. This implies our good friend Dm, and makes our melody the tonic, 2nd, and minor 3rd of the chord. I really like the sound of the vocal melody, and the chunky D base, so I tried playing them together in 5th position. Exercise 1 is what I got:
The other two chords of the song, F and C, and their associated melody lines, imply a C major scale. Ever adaptive, I decided to apply the form to the other chords of C major, remaining strictly within the realm of a 5th-string root. The 2nd and 3rd move to accommodate the chordal mode. Exercise 2 is the fruits of that labour:
Now most songs cannot be played using roots on only one string; there’d be far too much sliding involved, and too much string noise. Not wanting to limit myself to 5th-string roots, I decided to move my newly developed skills to 6th-string roots. However, trying to align the pattern as much as possible between the 5th- and 6th-string patterns, you end up playing the tonic, 3rd, and 4th. This is more of a pentatonic feel that our original pattern. Exercise 3 demonstrates 6th-string roots:
Next up we have a bit of a chord progression & melody which I came to play as the result of my experimentation. The chord progression is Dm | Am | C | G. Exercise 4 is your bastion of hope today; this is where original music comes from:
And here is where things get real; Exercise 5 is my attempt at playing the hemiola melody pattern over an alternating base. I am not going to claim that this is already part of my repertoire; it’s not. But you should see it, at least as a primer for next lesson.
I really think the chunky drone bass is aurally superior to this alternating bass exercise, but I think it’s an interesting experiment. As you will see from my next lesson, I have been working on my alternating bass with a Dominant 7s hemiola pattern for this ridiculous country-flavoured 12-bar exercise. That lesson, mind-blowing as it is, will have to wait until next time.