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  •  The EvO:R-Pedia Musicians Tips Section

    Welcome to the EvO:R Tips Section. We call this section EvO:R-Pedia because it is like a complete reference library for Indie musicians...Just about every tip has been used so you won't find false promises and a series of books to buy after reading each tip. This section was put here by musicians so that people that followed can take this knowledge and use it's power.

    Make Music Now!

    by Lou Lasher

    This column is aimed at the “do it yourself” independent artist, seeking to either improve their music, or to find new musical ideas to further their self-expression.  No musical topic is off limits just as no musical genre is above cross-pollination.  Musical works cited will include those of the author, works in the public domain, or taken with permission from those found here at EVO:R so as to avoid copyright infringements.

    Classical Guitar Arpeggios, Pedal Tones, and creative thinking on any instrument.

    Here is a part of a little etude for classical guitar in E minor that I wrote.   It is in some ways inspired by Mauro Giuliani’s Opus 48 No. 5 study in E minor.

    Throughout most of the piece two open strings ring out, the first and second guitar strings, E and B.  The tension in the song is built and released by moving tones against stationary tones in the arpeggio pattern.  Pedal tones are a common device found in music.  Examples are: Villa Lobos Etude #1, Villa Lobo’s Prelude #2, Giuliani’s op. 48 no 5,  the romantic piano piece Leyenda (Asturias) by Albeniz (transcribed for Guitar by Tarrega), Bach’s famous Lute Prelude in D minor, Robin Trower’s Too Rolling Stoned off of Bridge of Sighs, John Coltrane’s recording of My Favorite Things written by Rodgers and Hart,and many other songs. 

    Although it is common for pedal tones to occur in the bass, it is not always the case.  Both are found on the above list.  In my own example the pedal tones are not in the bass, which in this context does not refer to an instrument but the lowest note being played, regardless of what or how many instruments are playing it.  Without getting too technical, a pedal tone is any tone held against other moving tones. 

    On guitar this is easy to achieve.  Perhaps the simplest way is toplay a chord form and moves it against open strings.  The following guitpedl.mp3 shows this technique.  On Bass guitar it is similar, except when dealing with such low frequencys one must take care to avoidsounding muddy.  The following basspedl.mp3 should suffice.

    When transcribing this part of my E minor Etude for bass I had to play the part very differently, and it ended up sounding different, as bassvet1.mp3 shows.  The pedal tones no longer ring out, they are sort of implied.  The piece sounds very different even though the notes are the same.  I found it impossible to play at a high tempo, but it gave me a chance to come up with new fingerings . I never would have tried otherwise, and within these patterns are some good music that well will pull out in future columns.

      I then moved the piece to Keyboard, so I could work with it on a midi synth, and again it sounds different. Anyway the whole point of this article can be summed up this way, if you “backward engineer” the bass example or the keyboard example you can create your own classical guitar styled arpeggio with pedal tones sound on anyinstrument you want.

    The whole idea now comes full circle: guitarists should put down their guitar, create this kind of pedal tone arpeggio pattern at keyboard or on paper, without thinking in conventional guitar patterns, and then having completed it try playing it on guitar.  A future column will deal with that in more detail, where we will dissect these patterns we areabout to write and turn them into music.

    Step one, create a pattern that you like using some number of notes say in this case 6 notes. Choose some number of them to remain stationary while the others move, here I'm choosing the second, forth and fifth but any will do.  (Anytime you chose the lowest tone to remain stationary, you will be setting up a pedal tone in the bass– try it and you'll hear what a compelling device it is.)  The stationary tones represent our imaginary open strings.  They don't have to correspond to open strings on guitar, because: the idea is to apply the technique to any instrument, and to apply the technique in new and creative ways. 

    To prepare the next pattern move the other voices, either in the same direction or different directions from each other or in any fashion you like.  If you move a tone on to a tone that is stationary, that is ok.  It just means that tone will be sounded more than once in that pass through the pattern.  The notes will still sound independent and the overall scheme will not loss integrity.  Continue moving the moving tones in the pattern against the stationary tones in the pattern as much or as little as you like.  Let your ears decide, where you take this kind of exercise is entirely up to you. 

    To see this kind of thinking on paper, and to here my finished little arts and crafts project.   How well your’s sounds and how much better than mine is entirely up to you and the kind of workyou put into it– like anything in music.

    Lou Lasher
    C. 2001, All rights Reserved


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