Sunday, February 8, 2009

Darn that Dream

This is a favourite of mine, so I did a quick arrangement to play it solo on guitar. Some chords fall easily with the melody, others don't. No embellishments here, the melody and harmony are good on the own. Of course, when playing this, we can add a bit here and there, but leave most of it for the improvised chorus.

Here are the first 16 bars of my arrangement:



and here is the bridge:



comments on the arrangement later...
...to be continued. Please come back for more.

Tuning

Guitars are a great object for tuning experiments. The Viola Caipira traditionally has a variety of different tunings. To that repertory I would add the one I learned in Portugal, used in the Viola Amarantina and Viola Braguesa. I was actually surprised that this tuning is not known in Brazil, or at least I have not found any mention of it anywhere. The original tuning goes(from lowest string upwards): D A B E A, or the same 1 tone below: C G A D G. Now the Viola Caipira is slightly larger, so given this change in string length, the tuning goes down a fourth: A E F# B E (or G D E A D). It works quite well because of the fifth in the bottom two strings. Chords of I,IV and V are very easily placed:

Here's a little action on the Viola Caipira:

video

Just now, looking at the common tunings of the viola in Brazil, I see that one arrangement is very close to the Portuguese tuning I use. That's the 'boiadeira' tuning, which goes G D F# A D, so it only really differs in that by displacing the second between the 3rd and the 4th into a major 3rd, we now have the chord on the dominant in the middle 3 strings. I suppose this makes the V - I very easy, while the IV degree is not so comfortable perhaps. I'll have to think about other chords, but on the whole, I prefer the one I use. The open strings make up a nicer 6th-9th chord, instead of the harsher major7th-9th in this 'boiadeira' tuning.

Another tuning I think might be quite good is the "rio-abaixo": G D G B D, which has a simpler open-string sonority, with the I triad in the top three strings. This looks better for modal stuff, as the V - I voicing is not that clear on the fingerboard. It should allow great play on G major modes, Mixolydian, Ionian, Lydian. The open B makes it a little awkward for minor modes, I suppose (well, I might get told otherwise, but that's how it looks.)

More later... this is an evolving story.