Mark Hanson’s Six-Shape Neck Visualization Method – the “A” shape.
Maybe sitting in front of an interactive computer screen is part of your practice regimen (that’s yours truly in the photo jamming with BB King’s band at his museum in Indianola, Miss.). But if not, here are some thoughts I recently offered to a student. To avoid the Yngwie Malmsteen-like physical maladies caused at least partly by shredding without warming up, I suggest starting your sessions with major scales at the end of the neck, using open strings. You’ll fret about two-thirds of the notes, so your fretting hand relaxes continually. Play the scales relatively slowly and softly to avoid […]
Mark was contracted to provide guitar solos for a 70th Anniversary (!) party in Portland in March, 2019. The husband, a native of Italy near Naples, requested the time-honored song “Return to Sorrento” (“Torna a Surriento”) in celebration of their lives together. Mark arranged a fingerstyle version, which is published here along with audio of Mark playing it. On YouTube you can watch Pavarotti, the Three Tenors and Dean Martin, among others, singing this famous melody. It was written in 1902 by the brothers DeCurtis. Here is a WikiPedia history of the song, listed by its Italian title “Torna a Surriento”.
CAGEDScalesEndOfNeck Warm Up Correctly & Shoot 100% As I shot baskets at 24-Hour Fitness recently, I was thinking about my old coach’s advice about warming up and shooting accurately, and how his advice might pertain to guitarists. He said to start by shooting easy shots – close-in layups – to get your mechanics going, your muscles loose, and your confidence level up. You should shoot these at close to 100%. Then gradually increase the distance from the basket, shooting easily, being as relaxed as you can. His comment: If you can’t make the easy close-in shots, you won’t make the […]
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
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 […]
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 – 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 […]
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 […]
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 […]