The 13th Fret

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Welcome back for another 13th Fret instalment! This time around, let’s look at how music of other styles can inform and expand your ideas, which you can bring back to your regular preferred idiom. There are literally millions of examples of this that we could point to, but we’ll narrow it down to one that I’ve found to be effective, both melodically and technically

Many of my favourite players over the years have touted the benefits of learning classical or jazz pieces as a means of challenging your technique AND gaining new melodic ideas. Steve Morse, John Petrucci, Tony Macapline, and even Mike Stern have recommended this approach as a valuable supplement to your practice routine. With players of that caliber all dispensing the same advice, I thought it was worth investigating!

Years ago, I found myself in a small book store, in search of a book of violin etudes to add to my arsenal of material to work on. I didn’t find one at that particular shop, but I did find a small book of flute pieces called, “Melodious Etudes For Flute” or something similar. I hesitated to even open it, as it had a rather flowery cover, looked like it was printed in the 50’s, and...that title! Has anyone even said “melodious” in the last century?!

Probably not.

After a quick glance at it’s twenty-some-odd pages and equally diminutive price ($5), I made the purchase. My selection process for which piece to start with was simple: which one LOOKED the coolest. I found one simply titled “#7”... no real title or author credited. It looked cool alright, but sounded even better. Here it is...

As this was not designed to be played on guitar (with guitaristic fingerings in mind), I think you’ll find it to be somewhat of a challenge for the left hand. This arrangement is only my interpretation, and I’m certain that other easier fingerings could be applied. However, “easy fingerings” is NOT what I’m after here; this is meant to task all four digits while still maintaining logic.

Along with the fretting considerations, this is also an alternate picking bootcamp. You’ll encounter instances of single-string playing, one-note-per string picking, and everything in between. Take your time and get the strokes right; it’ll be worth it.

To demonstrate the intentions of both hands in one phrase, take a look at bar 1. The first four notes not only utilize all four fingers (1,3,4,2 in this case), but plummet you headlong into alternate picked string crosses (down, up, down, up). Sure you could ignore your pinky on your fretting hand and use a “sweep” to get through the picking easier, but making these concessions won’t help strengthen potential weaknesses.

...and THAT is the whole point here.

Click here to download the sheet music for Kelly's tutorial!

"Many of my favourite players over the years have touted the benefits of learning classical or jazz pieces as a means of challenging your technique AND gaining new melodic ideas."

This piece is also a great study in melodic chord-based ideas. The way the lines weave themselves through the changes is quite interesting, and the ideas within can certainly be used in other styles such as our favourite here at Horror Metal Sounds... metal! Many of these lines remind me of the intricate guitar/keyboard lines employed by Yngwie Malmsteen, Children Of Bodom, Ensiferum, etc.

One particular favourite section is BAR 6, where the “tension and release” of the progression (Fdim7-Am-B7b9-E7) is cleverly navigated with smart connections from chord to chord. The line percolates to the top of the B7b9 before sliding nicely down the E arpeggio.

Satisfying melodic storytelling crammed into a single bar.

There are many examples of this throughout and not enough space here to sight them all. Just take it 4-8 notes at a time and enjoy the melodies….and the workout! As always, if you have any questions about this piece, drop me a line at my Facebook page. I’ll be happy to answer any question, or provide the full Guitar Pro file for this piece.

See you next month! \m/

Kelly Kereliuk, HMS

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