Posted by Gary Jacobs
Music Theory, Picking Patterns, and Techniques behind Nightsong classical guitar part:
The attached file is the sheet music for the guitar part of Nightsong.
The main theme (measures 9 - 32) of Nightsong (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mWEt6AKztE) was written by ear and then music theory was applied to expand the work further. The key is B minor, although there are chord substitutions which add color and uniqueness to the song.
Measures 1 - 8: The first measure contains a chord containing B and D, implying a B minor chord, which is repeated alternating between louder and softer from measures 2 - 8 to give the impression of an echo. Once the string has been plucked, it should be allowed to ring until plucked again. The picking pattern is p i m p a p i a, where:
p = thumb
i = index finger
m = middle finger
a = ring finger
c = pinky finger (not used in this work)
Measures 9 - 16: The chord progression is a significant modification of the Andalusian cadence in B minor. The open B string serves as a pedal tones, and it is necessary to maintain good left-hand position to avoid dampening the B pedal tone, which as with the other tones, should be allowed to ring as long as possible once plucked.
An Andalusian cadence (which isn't truly a cadence, as it doesn't satisfactorily end like a true cadence, but rather wants to repeat itself) in the minor key follows the chords: i VII VI V, which in B minor would be: B min, A maj, G maj, F# min. It is applied in many popular songs, including:
Del Shannon - Runaway https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=0S13mP_pfEc
Led Zeppelin - Baby I'm Gonna Leave You https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UyOg0mt2R2k
Simon & Garfunkel - Hazy Shade of Winter https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bnZdlhUDEJo
The Bangles version of Hazy Shade of Winter https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TxrwImCJCqk
Twilight Zone - Golden Earring https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=a1sf2CzEq0w
Smooth Criminal - Michael Jackson https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_D3VFfhvs4
Andalusia refers to the southern region in Spain, and the Andalusian cadence is critical for flamenco music, and many videos can be found on the topic online.
Measures 9 - 16, cont'd:
The first chord contains only B and D. The fifth (F#) is omitted, which lends originality to the progression and opens it up to greater possibilities. Think of the difference between a thermoplastic polymer (one that can be melted and reshaped) and a thermoset polymer (with crosslinks, making it fixed in place and impossible to reuse). By removing the F#, it is like we are removing the crosslinks of a polymer, giving it more flexibility as to where the chord progression can go next.
The second chord contains ADB, with the VII chord (AC#E) only been implied by the downshift in the root note from B to A. C# and E are completely absent!
The third chord is GDB, which is a standard G maj chord, containing all notes in the triad. This gets us to a firm footing in the progression.
The fourth chord is where we deviate significantly from the Andalusian cadence. Instead of moving down to F# min, we move back to the VI position. However, moving back to A major might be too standard and doesn't give the medieval feeling that we need in this piece. Instead, we make a chord substitution here. We keep A, but we switch from A major to its parallel A minor chord, ACE. To make it more interesting, we throw away the fifth (E) and instead keep G in the bass from the previous chord to give it an A min 7 character. With the pedal tone on B included, the tones result in a beautiful A min 9 chord: AC(E)GB. This chord exudes a melancholic sweetness needed for that medieval sound.
The picking patter is p i m p a p i a, except on the last chord, where it is p i m p a p i m.
Measures 13 - 16 repeat the pattern.
Measures 17 - 24:
The modified Andalusian cadence pattern seems to jump down an octave in these measures. However, there are differences. The first chord (the i chord) contains BF#B and the two upper notes (F# and B) remain as pedal tones throughout the pattern. The root moves to A in the second chord to give AF#B, implying the VII chord. Then, instead of going down to the VI, we make another substitution! This is called a triad substitution. Instead of GBD, we substitute the closely related EGB triad. However, we add more color by throwing away the G and keeping the B and F# pedal tones.
Here, the picking pattern changes, and we employ the Carcassi Method. With this approach, the 3 metal wound strings in the bass and plucked with the thumb, while the top nylon strings are plucked with the fingers.
The picking pattern is: p p i p m p p i
Measures 25 - 32:
These measures provide the main theme of the composition, and the Carcassi Method is once again put to good use.
The picking pattern is: p i m i p i m i / p p i p p i p p / p i m i p i m i / p (p) _ p / m p p i
note: the tone is () is held for another 8th note beat.
followed by: p i m i p i m i / p p i p p i p p / p i m i p i m i / p p i p / m p p i
Here the same chord progression may be implied. Measure 25 contains B and D, implying the i chord (BDF#). Measure 26 contains notes such as E, A, and C#, implying the VII chord. Measure 27 contains B and D again, but this time perhaps the VI chord is implied, (G)BD, with the root missing (common). Then, if the progression moves up (in line with our progression) instead of down (which would have been a true Andalusian cadence), then the VII chord should be struck again. The notes in Measure 28 are AEB, once again implying some type of A9 chord, and consistent with a VII chord.
Measures 33 - 40:
Here the thumb is used for the bass notes and the fingers are used for higher notes.
Picking patterns on a measure by measure basis are as follows:
Measure 33: pm i p i pm (pull-off) i m
Measure 34: pm i p i pm m pm (hammer-on)
Left hand tip for measure 34: hold down chord notes with index, middle, and ring fingers for the first chord and then for the second chord, use the index and middle fingers (which have moved vertically upward)
Measure 35: pm i p i pa i p pm (sets up pull-off in next measure)
Measure 36: (pull-off) m (rest) pm pm (pull-off x 2) i m
Note about Measure 36: When a small note (half the value of the note to which it precedes) is preceded by a long note, then we have a lovely dynamic called an appoggiatura. Two appoggiaturas can be executed in the same manner, which is the effect we are going for at the end of Measure 36. The D and C# notes are executed in rapid descent to reach the A note. To employ classical guitar dynamics, it is useful to examine appoggiaturas and gruppettos (which are groups of appogiaturas). Go for feeling here rather than executing the measure as precisely written on paper.
Measure 37: pm i p i pm (pull-off) i m
Measure 38: pm i p i pm m pm (hammer-on)
Measure 39: pm i p i pa i pa i
Measure 40: pm i p i (rasgueado with thumb - p)
Note about measure 40: A rasgueado is a quick strum, but try not to resonate all the note at one time. Rather, the thumb should move in quick succession from string to string to give a lovely dynamic effect. It is if you ran your hand down the length of piano keys.
Considering theory, Measure 33 contains BF#D, implying the i chord of B minor. Measure 34 contains EC#A, implying the VII chord. Measure 35 keeps the E and A, but moves the bass note down to D. With the finality of the run being on B, it seems that (G)BD is implied, again with the root missing, which is the VI chord. The final few notes contain D, but also A and C#, moving us back to the VII chord (AC#E) with the fifth missing. This is another variation of precisely the same theme of the song. Modified Andalusian Cadence.
Measures 37 and 38 are a repeat of 33 and 34. Measure 39 moves the bass down to D, implying the VI chord once again (GBD) with notes missing. Measure 40 contains E and B, implying the final A9 chord (ACEGB). So, the modified Andalusian Cadence is retained.
Measures 41 - 48:
The picking pattern is as follows:
Measure 41: pa i p i pa i pa (hammer-on)
Measure 42: pa i pa i pa i p i
Note for measures 41 and 42: Left-hand technique - For the chord, for the B that is fretted at the 4th fret of the G string, use the ring finger, and for the F# that is at the 4th fret of the D string, use the pinky. In this way, you can easily move the pinky to hit the A that is at the 5th fret of the high E string and then quickly return the pinky back to the F# to finish arpeggiating the chord.
Measure 43: pim (rest) pa (hammer-on) pa m p m
Measure 44: pm i p a pm (pull-off) i m
Measure 45: pa i p i pa i pm (hammer-on)
Measure 46: pa m pa m pm i p i
Measure 47: pim (rest) pa (hammer-on) pa m p m
Measure 48: pm i p a pm (pull-off) i m
Regarding music theory, the chord progression begins in Measure 41 and 42 with B minor, as B and F# are the main notes. Measure 43 moves to EB, and here A seems to be implied in the bass, suggesting an A9 type of chord. Measure 44 contains the D and A, but G seems implied in the bass (e.g., a G9) type of chord. The final chord is AC#E. So, it appears to be another variation of the modified Andalusian Cadence, following the i VII VI VII pattern. A similar argument can be made for Measures 45 through 48.
Measures 89 through 96:
This section is a variation of the main theme from Measures 25 -32 and, in fact, begins in a similar manner.
The pattern picking pattern is:
Measure 89: p i m i p i m i
Measure 90: p i m p i p m i
Measure 91: p m i m p m i m
Measure 92: p m i m pm i m i
Measure 93: p i m i p i m i
Measure 94: p i m i pm i m i
Measure 95: p m i m p m i m
Measure 96: p m i p m p m i
Measures 97 through 104
This section is another variation of the main theme from Measures 25 - 32.
The picking pattern is:
Measure 97: p i m i p i m i
Measure 98: p i a i p i m i
Measure 99: p i m i p i m i
Measure 100: p i m i pm i m i
Measure 101: p i m i p i m i
Measure 102: p i a i pm i m i
Measure 103: p i m i p i m i
Measure 104: p i m i p i m i
Measures 105 through 112:
Another variation of the main theme.
The picking pattern is:
Measure 105: p p m p m a p m
Measure 106: a p m a p p a p
Measure 107: p i m p i m p i
Measure 108: m p i m p p m p
Measures 109 - 112: Repeat the pattern.
Measures 129 through 136:
Picking pattern: pm i p i
Notice how this simple bridging part is also defined by the modified Andalusian Cadence.
The final chord is strummed rasgueado with fingers (ima).