Skeptical Fingerstyle Guitar From Scratch
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I took several years of classical guitar lessons during high school and the experience left an indelible impression on me. I didn’t learn the term “fingerstyle guitar” until several years later, when I began playing picking patterns to accompany my voice on James Taylor songs. This book illustrates the basics, and the not-so-basics, of the Arpeggio Style and the Travis Style (alternating bass) forms of guitar vocal accompaniment.
More specifically, you’ll be using your fingers to pick the individual notes out of common chords instead of strumming or picking those chords with a pick. It’s just a kinder, gentler way to play rhythm guitar. Think of “Dust in the Wind,” “Scarborough Fair,” “Landslide,” “Leader of the Band” and “Time in a Bottle.” These are among the songs we’ll use to explore this style.
Fingerstyle accompaniment CAN lead, however, to what they call Solo Fingerstyle Guitar, where a melody line is woven into the fabric of the chordal accompaniment in such styles as blues, folk, country, jazz and Celtic music. In other words, you play a melody simultaneously with a bassline and some harmony. There are plenty of great printed, audio and video resources available to you for learning Solo Fingerstyle, once you have down the basics presented here.
Learning the picking patterns themselves (presented in tablature, by the way) is fairly straightforward; the trick is in the coordination of the fretting and picking hands during the transitions from chord to chord. Fingerstyle Guitar From Scratch covers a number of principles that help you navigate through these changes without losing the beat (every musician’s sacred quest). And the injection of classical technique will help you avoid a lot of bad habits and missed opportunities.
The first part of the book concerns regular, plain old arpeggios, or broken chords, and the second part introduces the alternating bass, or Travis-Style, approach to playing arpeggios. You should recognize many of the examples used, as they come from popular music: rock, folk and country. There is even a smattering of classical music and bossa nova; something for everyone. Even if you don’t recognize a tune, I make it pretty clear, through tablature and fretboard diagrams, exactly what you’re supposed to do and how and when. Maybe even why.
Both the Arpeggio and Travis-Style sections start from scratch, so if you’re working along in the Arpeggio section and you find that you’re getting overwhelmed, feel free to skip ahead to the simpler first pages of the Travis-Style section. At the end of the book, you’ll see the 20 main arpeggios and the 20 main Travis patterns summarized for easy reference