Watch the When Jasper Grows online guitar lesson by John Stowell from Modern Chord Melody
When Jasper Grows Up
Of the five original tunes in my course, this is the oldest and the most straight forward harmonically and rhythmically. When I wrote the piece, I pictured it as a slow waltz, to be played with a lot of energy and dynamics in a trio or quartet setting. I have performed and recorded this tune in a group setting, and I think it works well with that instrumentation, but I have also played it alone and enjoyed doing that as well. In a solo setting I can focus on bringing out some of the nuances and close intervals of the voicings that get a bit lost in a larger ensemble.
This melody has a lot of space in it, and at first it felt like there was too much "breathing" there to play the piece alone, but I've gotten used to the sound now and feel comfortable playing it solo. There are some real virtues to using "breath" in your composing and improvising; space can serve to contrast density, give the audience a chance to absorb what you've just played, and create an environment for a conversational approach amongst band members. I find this concept increasingly appealing and important to me in my own playing as the years go by.
This tune sounds good to me with the lower tuning ( C to C, retaining relative pitches) that I've used on several other pieces in the course. Care should be taken with the open strings as they tend to resonate and sustain substantially longer with the lower pitch. A combination of pick and fingers (my approach) or fingers and thumb can help you to achieve a balanced sound, especially if you're playing a chord that combines fretted notes and open strings. Note that I'm playing an embellished version of the melody here, which I'll discuss in the next video bank.