Bach’s “Sheep May Safely Graze” Main Theme – Playable Version

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Here is a my relatively easy fingerstyle arrangement of the main theme of J.S. Bach’s beautiful melody “Sheep May Safely Graze.” It is set in the key of G, standard tuning. To play it in the original key of B-flat, capo it at III.   One challenging “stretch” fingering occurs in measure 3: an F#dim chord over a droning G in the bass. (You can think of this as a D7 chord with G in the bass.) Finger the sixth string in that passage with your ring finger, and the fourth-fret note with your little finger. SheepMaySafelyGrazeMainTheme    

Chord Chart for the Pixar Movie Coco’s “Remember Me”

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RememberMeChordChart I’ve had several students (one is singing it in both English and Spanish) ask for these chords after looking at rather suspect versions online. This chart contains chords for the main version you can hear on the soundtrack and YouTube, not the slow lullaby version in C. The recording is in the key of G, sung very high in places. I’ve also provided guitar chords in the key of D, in case you need to sing it in a lower key. Using key-of-D chords with the capo at V produces the original key. An unusual chord progression is the […]

“Tri-Tone Substitutions” Made Easy!

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Understanding “Tri-tone Substitution” Note: This article references my bluesy rave-up fingerstyle arrangement of “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.” A video of me playing it in Santa Barbara in August, 2017, has been posted here on YouTube: The actual music starts at about 0:35. Perhaps you have come across the term “Tri-tone substitution” in your studies, and had a hard time understanding it. Here’s an easy way to understand tri-tone substitutions: Think of them simply as dominant-seventh chords resolving down a half step – F7, instead of B7, going to E, for example. Most of you use B7 to resolve […]

Mark at Luthier Events in 2017

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I’ve had fun attending and performing at several Luthier events this summer. I was the steel-string demonstrator at the GAL (Guild of American Luthiers) convention in Tacoma in July; and a performer, teacher and demonstrator at August’s SBAIC.com in Santa Barbara. At GAL I performed 40 seconds of my arrangement of “Water Is Wide” 33 times in a row – on 33 different guitars! The luthiers wanted to compare apples to apples, hearing the same player play the same piece on all the guitars. Next time maybe I’ll play O.C. Smith’s “Little Green Apples”… In Santa Barbara I had a […]

“Slap” Harmonics

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Tip From Mark – ‘Slap’ Harmonics I had a question from a client recently about making harmonics sound properly. In particular, he asked about picking-hand ‘slap’ harmonics in my arrangement of “Moonshadow” in Travis Pick the Hits! I will discuss technique using that example. If you need more information about playing harmonics successfully, I’ve written an extensive article that you can read here. At measure 60 in “Moonshadow” (shown below), I barre the four treble strings at the 2nd fret, an Amajor chord. This must happen quickly, as I have just fretted two individual strings with fingertips, and pulled off […]

Guitar Harmonics – How to Produce Them Successfully!

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Guitar Harmonics – Make Them Chime! I occasionally receive questions from clients about harmonics on the guitar: what they are and how to produce them. Guitar players love harmonics for their high-pitched ringing tone (Hawaiian slack key players call them “chimes”), and for the fact they allow a note (or more) to sustain as the fretting hand moves laterally on the guitar neck – not possible when you have to sustain a fretted a note. High-pitched guitar harmonics occur when a player creates a ‘nodal point’ (a non-vibrating ‘dead’ spot) on a vibrating string. Nodal points occur at the mathematical dividing points on […]

Free tab: “Parting Glass” – Traditional Irish

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  I arranged this beautiful, haunting melody a number of years ago after the tragic shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon – a place where I have concertized, not far from my home. My arrangement and recording of “Parting Glass” has been offered as a free bonus on our website. But after the most recent hate-crime murders on the light-rail MAX train in Portland, I wanted to make it available to everyone, whether you have ordered from Accent On Music on not. I arranged it in Drop-D tuning, although it is set in the key of A-minor. It […]

Free Tab: “Celtic” Scale Exercises in Drop-D

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Alternating-Bass Scale Exercise For a recent wedding I was asked to play an instrumental version of singer George Ezra’s uptempo tune “Budapest” as the recessional. This was a fun little project, and a tune that fit right into an alternating-bass Travis-Picking form. The range of the melody suggested the key of D in drop-D tuning. (He sings it in F.) I put the capo on the second fret to approximate the original key (capo III was too high). Due to copyright restrictions, I will not print the arrangement here, but next best: As I toyed with the melody I came […]

Guitar Purchase for Players with Smaller Hands

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I received a question recently from a player with smaller hands about purchasing a steel-string guitar that fits him. I had a couple of thoughts that I passed along: Small hands suggest a couple of things to me concerning guitar size: 1) a 1-11/16″ width neck (many are 1-3/4″ now); 2) a short-scale neck; meaning a 24.9″ neck length – approximately – instead of the more standard 25.5″ (approx). Short scale makes the strings more supple and reduces lateral stretching a bit in the fretting hand. 3) a smaller body size; Martin 0, 00, and 000 guitars, for example, are short scale, […]

A Tribute to John Renbourn

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September, 2016 Greta and I were invited to a tribute gathering this month for English guitar hero John Renbourn. John died at the age of 70 at his home in Scotland in March of 2015. Unfortunately, we had to turn down the invitation to attend. This is the tribute I wrote to be read at the gathering: Tribute to John Renbourn My wife Greta Pedersen and I have known John ever since I recruited him as a guitar columnist for Frets magazine in the 1980s. We have many fond memories of John: from sharing the stage with him numerous times, to […]