Although he was one of the very few bona fide masters of jazz guitar who walked the planet, Fingerboard Breakthrough is NOT a jazz course. Morgen was also one of the most highly respected arrangers in the biz and an accomplished fingerstyle solo guitarist; however Fingerboard Breakthrough is NOT a fingerstyle course, nor is it a solo guitar or method course. So what exactly is Fingerboard Breakthrough and why is it good for you?
Imagine basing everything you know about world geography on one of those old world maps such as the Al-Idrisi Mappa Mundi created in 1154, and then all of a sudden, you’re handed a modern world atlas. Everything you thought you knew is turned upside down, while at the same time everything becomes crystal clear. Fingerboard Breakthrough will likewise enlighten your understanding of harmony and the fingerboard in a way that can only be described as “breakthrough.”
Morgen’s system for applying harmonic concepts and visualizing the fingerboard stemmed from over 40 years of study, arranging, performance and teaching. “As guitarists, we've all experienced that sense of frustration and helplessness that occurs when, while playing, the fingerboard starts to shut down, dissolving into an elusive maze of strings and frets. Just what is it that makes viewing musical relationships on guitar so difficult? Actually, there are a number of factors all of which we’re going to address and remedy in Fingerboard Breakthrough.”
The harmonic concepts and visualization techniques in Fingerboard Breakthrough can be applied to any style and are particularly useful when working with sheet music and chord symbols. “One obstacle is a misconception acquired during the earliest stages of learning to play. The misconception is that chord symbols represent isolated, unrelated finger “grips.” While this is a necessary approach for a beginner, later on, encountering more harmonically complex material, thinking of chord symbols as isolated and unrelated finger grips tends to obscure the closely interdependent horizontal flow and function of chords within a progression.”
“The guitar’s irregular, unequal standard tuning system is another major impediment to harmonic understanding that all guitarists encounter from the moment we first pick up a guitar. That obstacle (which is also a double-edged sword since it has advantages as well as disadvantages) makes the guitar fingerboard elusive and difficult to visualize, frequently obscuring musical relationships.” The visualization techniques and triad applications in Fingerboard Breakthrough make it much easier to visualize and conceptualize chord construction, embellishment, and substitution, as well as voice leading techniques and advanced harmonic and improvisational concepts.
Morgen organized the course into 23 sections, each featuring a full-length video lesson and corresponding section in the accompanying 132-page PDF manual.
Sections include: The Irregular Standard Tuning System, Triad Shapes, Landmark Octave Shapes, Triad Applications, Triad Inversion Defined, 2nd Inversion Triads, Third Inversion Voicings, Chord Embellishment, Slash Chords, Standard Chord Symbols, Recognizing Chord Patterns, Cycle Patterns, Diminished Seventh & Dominant 7th b9, Chromatic Approach Chords, Walking Bass Lines, Re-Harmonization Techniques, Chord Embellishment and Personalizing the Arrangement. Worth the price of admission alone, the manual features hundreds of charts, chord grids, illustrations, standard notation and tab.
To demonstrate the concepts in a musical context for optimal comprehension, Morgen uses very familiar songs, progressions and melodies as excerpts, chord accompaniments and solo instrumentals, depending on the topic being discussed and demonstrated;
Amazing Grace, America the Beautiful, Aura Lee, Blues For Hy, Cockles and Mussels, Danny Boy, Greensleeves, Home on the Range, Loch Lomond, My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean, My Old Kentucky Home, Ohh! Susanna, Saint James Infirmary, Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child, Still Crazy After All These Years, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, Waltzing Matilda and When Johnny Comes Marching Home.
Is this course for you? Yes, this is a must-have reference and course of study for ALL intermediate and advanced players. Intermediate players will significantly improve their understanding and application of harmony both musically AND visually on the fingerboard. Advanced players will experience epiphany after epiphany as they assimilate Morgen’s approach for re-harmonization and visualizing the fingerboard. Trade in your old world map for Fingerboard Breakthrough and enlighten thyself!