In this unit you will learn two fretted notes on the second string and articulations.
||The Note ‘C’
‘C’ is in on the third space of the staff. To play ‘C’, fret the first fret on the second string.
|The Note ‘D’
‘D’ is on the fourth line of the staff. To play ‘D’, fret the third fret on the second string.
Articulations direct musicians to vary the emphasis of notes, and control the endings as well as the beginnings of the sounds. A phrase is a collection of notes that can be perceived as a coherent idea. Articulations alter one or more of the following aspects of a note or phrase: dynamic (loud or soft), duration (long or short) or relation to neighboring notes. Some of the most common articulations are described below.
Voices & Stem Direction
The guitar is one of the only instruments that can consistently play multiple notes at once. As a result, one guitar can produce different conceptual elements—such as a bass line, harmony and melody—at the same time. In some genres of guitar music—such as the fugues of J.S. Bach—one guitar can produce concurrent melodies. These different musical elements are referred to as voices. Music notation strives to convey distinct voices on one score by assigning down stems to lower voices (bass) and up stems to higher voices (usually the main melody). The practice of using stem direction to show different voices is meant to help guitarists make sense of the notated musical material.
The notation above suggests two voices: a sustained bass note and a melody. Both parts are written in the same measure. The different stem directions set the voices apart. The down stem on note ‘A’ suggests it belongs to a sustained bass note. The up stem on note ‘C’ suggests it belongs to the melody. The quarter rest that precedes ‘C’ belongs to the melody too. Notice that each voice adds up to 2 beats.
Cultivate a calm demeanor. It is normal to experience uncomfortable emotions while sight-reading, especially for beginners. Nervousness, frustration, anger, panic, confusion and shame are just a few of the many feelings that arise. Allow calmness to enter into this assortment of emotions, like a ray of light piercing a stormy sky.
Checklist for Sight-Reading
- Count the beats out loud (including the &).
- Keep going (even if you make a mistake).
- Maintain your best playing posture.
- Look at the score, not your hands.
- Play with the feel of the meter.
- Play patterns instead of individual notes (AKA chunk).
- Cultivate a calm demeanor.
- Have fun!
Let’s Play Rhythms
Calmness of mind does not mean you should stop your activity. Real calmness should be found in activity itself. We say, “It is easy to have calmness in inactivity, it is hard to have calmness in activity, but calmness in activity is true calmness.” –Shunryu Suzuki
Exercise 4.1: Audio
Exercise 4.2: Audio
Exercise 4.3: Audio
Let’s Play Patterns
Take it easy, but take it. –Woody Guthrie
Exercise 4.4: Audio
Exercise 4.5: Audio
Let’s Play Duets
Jump off the cliff and learn how to make wings on the way down. –Ray Bradbury
Exercise 4.6: Audio
Exercise 4.7: Audio
Exercise 4.8: Audio
You have completed this unit! If you kept up with the beat and accurately played approximately 70% of the pitches and rhythms, you are ready for the next unit. Feel free to repeat the exercises. However, do not play them so often that you memorize them. Once you memorize the notation, you are no longer developing the skill of sight-reading.