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Lord, We Ask Thee Ere We Part

This piece is an etude, a short piece of music designed to teach or practice specific musical techniques.  Although one of them is metronome practice, don’t begin with the metronome set at full speed.  If you are unfamiliar with the other techniques, it would be better to master them before using the metronome at all.

All the single notes in this song that are not pull-offs or hammer-ons are rest strokes.  This is a right hand technique for plucking the strings with the index and middle fingers of the right hand.  Instead of plucking the strings away from the fretboard, stroke each string across the neck of the guitar, ending each stroke with the finger resting against the next string. That’s why they are called, “rest strokes.” Alternate the index and middle fingers. In this song, it doesn’t matter which finger you start with, but I prefer the middle finger. Strive for a steady rhythm.

In the third measure, there is a pull-off, shown by an underscore between the 1 and the 0.  Play the 1 as a normal rest stroke, but then, instead of plucking the same string with the right hand, pluck it with the left index finger, which is already fretting that string. This give the second note a different tonal quality, making it sound like the two notes are tied together.  This tonal quality is called a “ligado,” from the Spanish word for “tied”.  Ligados done by pulling the finger off the string like this are called “pull-offs.”

There are other ways to give the ligado sound to a note.  The very next note is played by hammering the middle finger of the left hand down onto the G string in the third space.  Even though the note is on a different string, a note which is hammered-on like this will still have that ligado sound.  Such notes are called “hammer-ons”.  In tablature, hammer-ons are often indicated by a lower-case h before the note.

The very next note is another pull-off, played the same way as the previous pull-off. Done in rhythm, this produces a string of four notes that all sound connected.  Play them as one continuous phrase, before returning to the rest stroke of the next-to-last note.

The final notes of the line form a D chord. Play the open D string with the right thumb, simultaneously plucking the e, B, and G strings all together to form a chord.  You won’t be able to do this as rest strokes. All four strings will have to be plucked away from the fretboard. This type of stroke is called a “free stroke”, because at the end of the stroke, the fingers of the right hand are not touching any strings.  When two or more strings are plucked simultaneously in this manner, it is called a “pinch,” because the fingers and thumb naturally come together in a pinching motion.  There are only two chords in this piece, and both are pinched, not strummed.

In the first measure of the next line, you have a single rest stroke, followed by two pull-offs in succession. You can accomplish this by fretting the B string in the first and third spaces simultaneously. Then, when you pull off the middle finger, the next note that sounds will be a C, fretted in the first space of the B string.  Immediately pull off the index finger too, producing a phrase of three ligado notes.

Adjust your timing so that each note receives the proper count.  Where a note is held only half as long as a normal count, the counting number is “&”, pronounced, “and” (very quickly).  Hammer-ons and pull-offs usually receive only half a count like this, but not always.  In the next measure, the hammered-on note is actually held for two full counts, so you’ll have to hammer it on quite hard, or it won’t sustain for the full two counts.

In the third measure of this second line, there’s another hammer-on on the B string, but it begins with a normal rest stroke, and with the string fretted in the first space, similar to the third measure of the previous line.  Then, instead of pulling the note off, hammer the next note onto the already sounding string, using the ring finger of the left hand.  Leave the index finger in place in the first space while doing this.  Most tab writers would “connect” these two notes by placing a h next to the second one, similar to the way I did in the first line.  Instead, I have used an underscore.  This may seem confusing at first, and is not standard tab, but it is obvious that a hammer-on is meant, and it shows the connection between the two notes.  In classical guitar notation, ALL ligados are shown by a curved line connecting them.

When the B string finishes sounding, remove the ring finger and play the next note as a normal rest stroke, with the index finger still in the first space, pulling it off for the first note of the last measure. Play the next note as a normal rest stroke, then pinch the G chord, playing the open B, G and D strings with the index, middle, and ring fingers of the right hand simultaneously.  This is still called a pinch, even though the thumb is not used.  You could play all the strings by strumming a full G chord, but you’d have to be mighty quick to make the chord change.  I think the pinch on the three open strings sounds just as nice, and it’s LOTS easier.

Once you have mastered these techniques, it’s time to pay more attention to the tempo.  For your convenience, I’ve included counting numbers below the staff, though this is not common in tablature.  This song is in 4/4 time, meaning that there are four “quarter-note” counts to each measure.  The metronome setting listed near the top of the page tells you how many such counts there are per minute, when the song is played at full speed.

I don’t recommend starting at full speed.  If you do, you will find it very hard to keep up, and your rhythm will be ragged.  Keep practicing with a ragged rhythm, and that’s how you’ll learn it.  It will then be devilishly hard to correct your rhythm later.  It’s far better to start with the metronome set slow enough that you can play the entire song on the beat.  Once you can do so, you will find it surprisingly easy to speed up the metronome, little by little, until you are playing at full speed.

If you are not used to practicing with a metronome, you may find it annoying.  This is a dead giveaway that your rhythm is not as steady as it should be.  When your rhythm is exactly on the beat, the metronome’s quiet ticks tend to get lost in the music, and your brain stops hearing them.

There are many good, free digital metronomes available online, and some of the best are available for smart phones and tablets.

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