Watch the Melodies with Open Scales online guitar lesson by Tony McManus from The Celtic Journeyman

Let’s apply that scale to a simple melody. Even as I’m playing it if you start introducing a bit of rhythm- this is an idea I’ve borrowed from Martin Simpson, great English guitar player. It’s a tune called Garryowen- a military marching tune and it’s basically that scale and the rest is trying to play the melody on different strings so that you are jumping from string to string and in doing so letting the previous note sustain.

In the second part you’re at a crossroads and when you come to a fork in the road- take it! There’s lots of different ways to go and of course I chose the wrong one which was to stick on one string. There are lots of choices in this tuning and on the guitar in general that are not available to, say, a piano player. If you ask a piano player- play the D above middle C they open the lid, middle C is next to the keyhole and there’s D. They’d never answer ‘which one” On the guitar the same note can be in five places. The guitar is not “linear” though we are playing a linear scale. Because the guitar is not linear we can play it in lots of different ways. So in arranging these tunes there will be lots of choices and what determines what path you take is hopefully going to be the tune itself. Often you want to harmonise it in a certain way. Often you want certain strings to ring for a certain length. Sometimes you don’t- sometimes a ringing string will alter the chord in a way you don’t want. So, you to be able sometimes to damp or kill a note but the “nonlinear” aspect of the guitar in this tuning really comes to the fore. There’s lots of ways of playing the same thing, Be aware of the choices and the reasons for making the choices we do.

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