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4 minutes 32 seconds
Artist website: www.dominicmiller.com
What makes this video great and what can you learn from it?
- simply a great song with evocative lyrics that tell a story, and harmony supporting the melody
- subtle use of vibrato also works on chords
- how to switch between fingerpicking and strumming for variety
What can you learn from the article?
- the difference between close-voiced and open-voiced triads
- how to construct open-voiced triads
Takeaway: On a purely guitaristic level the main take-away are the open-voiced triads. By learning the handful of shapes you'll gain a great musical tool for your own songwriting because you'll have a different, more open sound in your musical toolbox. Definitely worth the effort!
Estimated reading time: 1 minute 58 seconds
Just listen to this version of Sting's "Shape of my Heart" to hear the truism in action. It's sparse, yet complete and there really is nothing missing.
Guitarist Dominic Miller, Sting's musical companion for many years is also the co-writer for this track. As usual, he delivers excellent guitar work.
Open Voicings For An Open Sound
What's truly noteworthy (pun intended) is the highly effective use of open-voiced triads. A concept which works exceptionally well on guitar. The idea is to spread out the notes of the triad beyond an octave.
Let's take the 1st chord of the song as example: F#mi
In traditional close-position you have the notes F# A C# on adjacent strings covering the range of a perfect 5th. Take the middle note A and put it up an octave and you increase the overall range of the chord from a perfect 5th to a minor 10th.
- It's still the same F#mi chord consisting of F#, A and C#, but the sound is different.
- The notes are spread out and farther away - and as a result they sound more open and spacious.
- The string-skip is no issue when you use fingerpicking. In case of strumming the chords simply make sure to mute the D-string with the underside of your finger fretting the note on the A-string.
Of course, this doesn't only work with the root position. Here are the other 2 inversions of the F# minor triad.
Remember: pain is always a warning signal. If you experience pain, stop immediately, take a break and rest your hands. Be patient and develop your stretching abilities over time.
Your "Homework" Assignment
- Raise the A note up a half-step (1 fret) to A# and you have your open-voiced major chord shapes.
- Extra credit work: transfer the shapes to all the other string-sets.
- Finally, transpose the shapes to all 12 keys and incorporate them into your day-to-day playing.
Do You Want to Master the Guitar?
If you want to improve your guitar skills, check the Lessonz.com guitar video courses. My buddy Bernie Beibl (the ex-Tangerine Dream guitarist) and I offer courses that cover great technical exercises, modern licks and even a free chord knowledge base. It's still in Beta, but we'll add to it over time.