Classical Gasp: Haydn #88 Finale

It took me a few years of playing before I started appreciating classical music, and what it could do for my ears (theory) and fingers (technique). Generally speaking, it’s better to be able to do two things at once, as long as you can do them well, right? Classical pieces enable you to learn and apply two fairly difficult concepts simultaneously. Not only is that a great thing, but it saves you tons of time.

If you’re familiarizing yourself with the canonical figures of classical music, and want to look past the Big Three of Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven, you might want to give Franz Josef Haydn a shot. Haydn was a friend of Mozart and a teacher of Beethoven, and did more to innovate the then-young symphonic form than anyone up to that time. Certainly Beethoven’s Nine Symphonies represent the apex of the form, but Haydn’s 104 (some catalogues say 108) symphonies are full of melodic invention and development, and most are shorter and more accessible than many other examples of the style.

One of Haydn’s more enduring pieces is the final movement of his Symphony #88 in G Major. It’s a brisk, melodic finale to that composition, and one well worth learning and incorporating into your repertoire. We’re going to take a look at some of the really cool techniques contained in that piece. Paul Gilbert recorded his take on the Finale for his Get Out of My Yard album, and there are also YouTube videos of him playing the piece live to a backing track.

The piece is organized somewhat similarly to a modern rock song, just as an instrumental — verse, chorus, verse, chorus, breakdown, climax, end. Once you hear and learn the individual parts, and get how they fit together, it’s just a matter of working on those individual parts.

Here’s my tab for the entire piece, as well as the original score (both in PDF format):

Haydn #88 Finale    IMSLP30077-PMLP61596-Haydn_Symphony_88_Finale

I highly encourage you to go through the entire tab (as well as transcribing the score for the rest of that symphony, if you’re feeling ambitious) and see the great melodic shapes and ideas available there. Let’s take a look at the main theme (“verse”):


This is trickier than it might appear at first, and that’s primarily because of the shifts between 8th and 16th notes. Once you get a handle on the rhythm and the positions used, it will fall into place.

Let’s take a look at the melodic figure that comes after the “verse-chorus” recap:


That string-skipped form in bar 35 can also be played as a straight or sweep-picked triad, where the D note (G string, 19th fret) is played on the B string, 15th fret. Try them both, play what feels more comfortable to you. It’s a great way to work on both techniques.

What should be a bigger challenge — and thus more productive for your technique — is executing the position shifts of bars 40-45. It’s a quick scalar run down for the first three bars. with a climb back up in the next three, alternating between a brief piece of the G major (E minor) scale for the first half of each bar and an octave figure in the second half. Note that bar 45 is the same as bar 43, just an octave higher.

Continuing with the melodic figure:


More of the same here, just in a higher octave. Really try to keep the continuity of the melody here.

The last part of this extended melodic figure should really test your technical abilities:


This is a really nice mixture of straight alternate-picked scale sequences, as well as sweep-picked triads, ending in string-skipped octaves.

The extended slowdown section is not too difficult to play, so we won’t cover it here. Check the tab and the music, and it should be fine. The ripping cadenza at the end is what we’re after now:


Should be straight alternate picking there, though you may want to throw in some economy picking moves as you see fit. Again, the melody is the main thing. The next part of it, leading into the grand finale, could easily incorporate some sweep picking:


Don’t worry about using a metronome until you have the scale sequences and melodic shapes dialed in. At that point, use it to work on keeping any technical ideas (such as sweep picking the triads) locked into the beat. In addition to tracking your progress, the metronome will help you ensure that you play the parts cleanly and with precision.

Listen to the music, check out the video, and make sure that your efforts sound musical above all else. Play hard and have fun!

Presto Excerpt

As you may have seen in the news, we’re in the middle of a brutal heat wave out here in California, making it pretty unpleasant to work or play guitar or do much of anything besides languish in front of a cool fan with a cold drink.

That said, we are still on track to release the next book in our Master the Classics! Series. Presto takes the classic Bach piece from the Violin Sonata #1 in Gm (BWV 1001), and works it every which way. The book will feature musical analysis of every part of the piece, and it is tabbed in two octaves, with plenty of great melodic shapes to learn and apply to your own playing. Best of all, there are dozens of exercises based on the music, featuring classic shredder techniques such as sweep picking, string skipping, pedal point, and more!

Whether you’re a novice player looking for tips on building technique, or an experienced shredder looking for more and better practice material, Presto will have something for players of all styles and skill levels.

So while we’re finishing up editing, formatting, and cover art, here’s another excerpt from the book:


The diagram below shows the G harmonic minor scale notes (other than open strings) from the 1st through the 12th frets:

G Harmonic Minor 01

Carefully observe how the scale lies across the fretboard, and see how you can create various useful fingerings for this scale, using any number of strings (including just one string). Here’s the tab for a standard six-string fingering at the 3rd position:


Here’s an alternate fingering that’s great for working up the neck quickly:


Use the suggested fingerings and slides, take it slow at first, and you should be ripping it up in no time.

A lot of the counterpoint and melodic motion in the Presto takes place within a single octave of the G harmonic minor, so these next few exercises will focus on a snapshot of the fretboard:

G Harmonic Minor 02

Here’s the tab:


Even though the shift to the B string is two frets, it should not be too difficult to handle. Run it back and forth until it’s fast, clean, and smooth. Since all four fingers are used at some point or other, it makes an effective warm-up exercise as well.

Now what if we start this scale sequence one scale degree down, like this?


Since it’s starting from the 7th degree of the scale, this is considered the seventh mode of the harmonic minor scale. It is commonly known as the Ultralocrian. Where the Locrian mode (seventh mode of the major scale) is spelled out (relative to major scale) R-b2-b3-4-b5-b6-b7, the Ultralocrian spells out (again, relative to major scale) R-b2-b3-b4-b5-b6-bb7; every note other than the root is flattened, and the 7th degree is diminished (flattened twice).

The harmonic minor scale and the Ultralocrian mode each have their own distinctive “flavor” that works well over certain types of progressions. It’s definitely worth the effort to get familiar with these scales.

Let’s run this up and back in thirds, along the D-G-B strings:


There are some twists and turns in there, so take it slow and use the recommended fingering. There’s a balance of one-string and two-string third intervals throughout, demonstrating the importance of learning intervals every way possible.


Hope you enjoyed the excerpt. Presto will be available on Amazon July 4th, and we’ll kick off the release with free downloads all weekend (July 4-7)! Stay tuned, and check in as this week moves along, as we’ll have an excerpt from the other forthcoming book as well.

Presto Change-o

The next two PTG books for Kindle are scheduled for release on July 4, with free downloads available for that entire weekend (July 4-7). One of the books is based on the Presto movement of J.S. Bach’s Violin Sonata #1 in G minor.

This one is going to be a shredder’s paradise — the piece itself is technically and musically complex and rewarding, and the book also includes dozens of exercises derived from the work. These exercises range from sweep and economy picking to pedal point to developing melodic contour. This book is ambitious in scope, and will give you tons of technique and theory knowledge while you play. And even after the free download weekend, it will be priced at only $2.99, far less than the price of a single professional lesson.

And I promise you, this one book contains months, perhaps years of valuable knowledge that you can apply to your own playing right away.

So I’d like to give you a preview of what you can expect from the Presto book in a couple of weeks.

Let’s take a look at the first few bars of the piece:


The Presto starts off with some nice arpeggio work. You can see we have this tabbed for economy and sweep picking, but initially you should run through it with strict down-up alternate picking until you have the forms and fingerings down.

Check out the sweep arpeggio fingerings tabbed below for G minor and G major:


You can pick the hammered notes if you prefer, but if your hammering technique is tight, it will actually sound smoother and cleaner as you set up to sweep through the rest of the arpeggio. This is a great introductory exercise to sweep arpeggios, and one that you can break down into its component parts, and incorporate into your soloing and melodic playing.

We’ll have more excerpts in the weeks to come, so play hard and stay tuned!

Lick of the Week: Pedal Point and Scale Sequences

Here’s an extended lick that is really two separate melodic runs combined. The first half is a pedal point phrase based in E minor. Practice this basic phrase, utilizing strict down-up alternate picking:


Using the suggested fingering will keep you in the 12th position, and utilize all four fingers, accenting the first note of each 4-note grouping. It’s a great-sounding phrase to play at higher tempos. The 3-note (C-B-C) pedal is a cool contrast to the usual single-note style.

So let’s take that intro phrase and add a few more notes to play against the pedal.


The first note of the third bar (F#) requires a slight shift back one fret, but you should be able to move the index finger back and forth from G to F# and back to G, while keeping everything else still in the 12th position. Slide into the final high A note from the high G (15th fret) for added emphasis.

Now let’s take a look at the second half of the phrase, which will cover most of the strings and move along several positions:


This is just a straight E minor scale, sequenced in descending groups of four. Rather than the typical 3-notes-per-string scale, note how the run alternates between three notes and four notes per string. This facilitates position shifting, with small slides at key points in the phrase. The shift to the D# (major 7th interval) to slide into the final E note suggests a shift from natural minor to harmonic minor.

A few things to consider trying with this phrase:  I like to begin this descending run by raking into the first high A note at the 17th fret. Raking is like sweeping, only much easier, since the actual notes being raked are simply muted, rather than played out. To rake that first note efficiently, just lightly mute the two (or three) strings above the “target” note (in this case, again, the high A at the 17th fret) with your index finger, while your 4th finger is set up on the target note. Once you hit the lower notes, perhaps midway through the third bar, try palm muting the rest of the way through. As always, these little variances add dynamic contrast, and keep it from sounding like just another quick scalar run.

Here’s the entire lick, combining both parts:


The entire melodic run has a baroque classical feel to it, and usually these types of scale sequences sound better at higher tempos when strict alternate picking is maintained. But there’s always room to throw in some improvised legato phrasing as well.

You know the drill — take it slowly at first, definitely use a metronome, build up some speed and precision and change a few notes here and there. For example, try playing the descending run as E Dorian, rather than Aeolian, which means all the C notes would be C#. Chromatic passing tones are also fun to use here and there. Experiment, play hard, and have fun!

Climbing the K2: Finale

I hope you’ve been having fun with the first two-thirds of the Kreutzer #2 so far. It’s a great demonstration of how a variety of melodic techniques can be integrated into a very musical effort, and not sound too “technique-y”.

So here’s the final part of the K2, basically eight bars with a closing bar. We’ll break it down following the tab below:

Picking up where we left off last time:  Bar 17 continues the cool melodic shape started in the previous bar. The shape spells out intervallically as 5-6-7-R’-R-R’-7-6 (still continuing with the one-note displacement begun back in bar 9, so the shape really starts with the 2nd note of the bar). This shape can be worked diatonically down the neck for some cool results. Bar 18 is mostly a short G Mixolydian run, with a couple of thirds thrown in, to transition to the next shape.

The next three bars (19-21) utilizes the pedal point technique to great musical effect. Melodic development begins with a G-Em-A-F-B (harmonic minor)- G run, then a couple quick out-of-key nods (A major and B harm. minor) to build additional melodic tension, leading into the finale.

Heading into the homestretch, the first two beats of bar 22 are D Dorian, transitioning from G back to the home key of C. The key gets emphasized for the finale with some cool arpeggios working in the major 7th (B) to add some musical urgency and resolution. Bars 23 and 24 are identical, reworking the arpeggio as a back-and-forth grouping of 4ths and 3rds, rather than straight up-and-down. The final bar (25) is a quick ascending CM7 arpeggio resolving on a final C note.

Hopefully the K2 has provided you with some ideas for skill-building and melodic development. Once you get it up to speed, it’s a really fun piece to play, and should inspire you for a long time to come. To start off 2013, the entire piece will be offered as a PDF e-book, with additional analysis and relevant exercises to work on. Till then, play hard and have fun!

Climbing the K2, Part 2

Hopefully you’ve had a chance to work with the first eight bars of the Kreutzer Etude #2 posted last week. That first section introduces a deceptively simple but very effective melodic line which descends and then builds back up diatonically along the key of A minor, transitioning in the next eight-bar section, tabbed below:


Remember to stick with strict down-up alternate picking until the patterns are smooth and comfortable, and then you may start to spot opportunities where some legato phrasing or economy picking might be useful. Definitely experiment with palm-muting to accentuate beats and phrases.

The first two beats of bar 9 begin with the triad melodic figure from the first eight bars, but here it extends one 16th note into the next beat, which affects the next musical motif. This little bit of rhythmic displacement is an effective tool to make simple ideas sound more intricate, and not like a dry scale. For the rest of this section (and on to bar 22), the first 16th note for every beat will be the final note of the bar preceding it. So there’s that high A note starting the third beat of bar 9, then the eight-note descending melody, ending on the first beat of the next bar, and so on.

The melody for this section is simply the first six notes of the scale at the respective mode position, then back to the 4th, then up to the 7th (a jump of a third, major or minor depending on mode and position). The intervals spell out 1-2-3-4-5-6-4-7, and descend Am-G-F-Em-D. A simple and effective exercise to internalize this section would be to run the modes all the way up the neck on the A-D-G strings. The rhythmic displacement will probably present the greatest challenge to practice, but once the transition from Section A is smooth, it should be easier to lock in with the displaced melody.

You can see in the final bar of this section (bar 16) how the ascending scales resolve  (with a pretty wide intervallic leap, which can be mastered starting at slower tempos) into a new melodic shape,which continues into the final section of the piece. Next week we’ll post the final nine bars of the K2, and show a simple and effective exercise to get this seemingly complicated (but very cool sounding) melodic shape under your fingers, and move it around with ease. For now, concentrate on learning this section, and combining it with the section from last week, making a smooth, musical 16 bars (so far). More fun to come, so stay tuned!