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Try thinking your way to creating 

Etude F 1625 (Robin May)



I was working with one of my students in the States. We were exploring chords using open strings ~ not your usual 'open chords'. She likes to finger-pick so I came up with this brief progression as an example of how one can create complex chords by simply introducing open strings. It's essentially a practice piece, which I've discovered is what an etude is:
 
étude
ˈeɪtjuːd,eɪˈtjuːd/
noun
noun: étude; plural noun: études
 
"a short musical composition, typically for one instrument, designed as an exercise to improve the technique or demonstrate the skill of the player"


the chord progression is a I, VI, II, V ~ hence I titled it 1625.

I knew that I wanted to do something in the key of F, and that I wanted to keep the top string open throughout. It made sense to begin with an F major seventh:

FMaj7
-0-
-1-
-2-
-3-
-3-
-X-

I discovered this wonderful sounding Dm chord sometime ago...simply a 'standard' Dm from the fifth fret - but with the top string left open - so I tried that next:

Dm9
-0-
-6-
-7-
-7-
-5-
-X-

I could see, from the position of my fingers, that this was already almost a major seventh chord (only needed to move one finger) ~ so I tried that next:

A#Maj7#11
-0-
-6-
-7-
-7-
-X-
-6-

Finally, since I'm in F and the V chord, often used to complete a progression, is C ~ I tried a C7:

C7
-0-
-8-
-9-
-8-
-X-
-8-

Picking pattern, in string numbers:

5, 4, 3, 4, 2, 3, 4, 3, 1, 3, 4, 2, 3, 4, 5

*The 5 is sometimes a 6 - dependent on the chord.

Why am I sharing this with you?

Well, one of the things that struck me was that I came up with a lovely little piece by thinking my way through...often when I create/compose it's more a sense of something 'coming to me' ~ more emotional or certainly not an intellectual exercise. However, this was entirely an intellectual exercise and I think it's a good example of how we can, if we choose to, 'think our way' into/through composing and creating.
 
Try it out for yourself!

Simply set yourself a challenge ~ for example:

- find a set of bar chords that work if you only press down the root note with the 1st finger of your fretting hand
- take a set of chords you like and then set them to a time signature that you're unfamiliar with (5/4 time, or 7/8?)
- take a chord shape you're familiar with (try E or D7, open chords) and try it all over the neck, on different strings and frets, to find new chords that you like
....and then explore / create / compose :)


 

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