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Study In E Minor

"Study in E Minor - Melancholy Classical Guitar Piece..."

I recently wrote this little E Minor classical guitar lesson to highlight the fact that the melody can be expressed from both treble notes and bass notes combined. That is the melody doesn't always have to reside in the treble notes alone but can be "inter-twined" with the bass notes. If you play the bass notes and treble notes separately, you'll hear just what I mean.

This Study in E Minor is written around well established, common chord progressions in E harmonic minor. The chords are mostly in arpeggio form (broken chords i.e. notes played one after another, as opposed to being played "harmonically" all at the same time).

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The way to tell if it's in the key of E harmonic minor is to: 1.Look at the last bass note of the piece, in this case a "Harmonic", but it's an "E" note. Next you look at the key signature, which has one sharp, "F sharp". You know it can't be in the key of G major because the last bass note is an "E" not a "G".

Additionally, you can see in bars: 1; 2; 4; 8; 9; 10 and 12 there is a "D sharp". In harmonic minor keys,  the 7th note of the scale is always sharpened. This is to keep the pattern of tones and semi-tones that are required to give the harmonic key its own peculiar sound. The key of E Minor is admirably suited to this piece as I wanted it to have a rather "melancholic" sound.

I also think this Study in E Minor sounds good with some rubato. The term "rubato" literally means "robbed", and it's basically where you slow down or speed up in one section of the music and balance it out somewhere else within the score so that overall, the timing is correct. The effect is to give more "drama" to the phrase or phrases which makes the piece more musical.

To add to this effect, the tempo is approximately 66 quarter notes on the metronome. This allows the slightly "melancholic" nature of the E minor key to come through the music. Its melancholic, sad feel really adds to the drama and the overall effect of the music, and if you speed it up it really seems to lose that sense of melancholy.

On a more technical note, take care in bars 2 and 10 to hold the dotted quarter note "B" for its full 1 1/2 beats. The bass should ring on here as you play the other treble notes to get the full effect of the chord. Also take care when shifting from the Fsharp note to the G note on the first string in bar 6. The 4th left hand finger or little finger has just played "G" and then the "F sharp" is sounded at the beginning of the bar on the first and second beats. Then the 3rd finger slides to the "G" note on the third beat of the bar while the 2nd finger plays the bass "G" on the 3rd fret of the 6th string.

In terms of the right hand fingering in this piece,  there are many times that the 4th or "a" (annular) finger is used throughout the piece. I tried to arrange it so that all fingers of both hands are getting a "work-out" throughout the whole piece. The first two bars of the middle section see the piece shift to the related G major where in succession you use the: G chord; C chord; D chord.

This is a very brief modulation to the related G major key and is quite a common technique that also adds interest to the music. The C chord and the D chord are the "sub-dominant" and "dominant" chords of the G major scale and so fit well into the chord progression within the piece before the Study returns to the E harmonic minor scale.

On the very last note of the Study in E Minor,  you play a natural harmonic on the 12th fret of the 6th string. This means you strike the string, but rather than depress the string where the note should be played, you hold the "fleshy" part of the underside of your finger against the string while the thumb of the right hand plucks the string. The resultant harmonic should sound almost bell-like and quite clear. For more information on playing a harmonic go here...

Here's a video of the piece for study...

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 I hope these study notes on Study in E Minor have been of use.

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