Acoustic Poetica: Fingerstyle Etudes by Peppino D‘Agostino & Truefire.com
Author: Peppino D’Agostino
Genre: Acoustic Etudes
Style: Acoustic Fingerstyle
Level: Late Beginner / Intermediate
Length: 1 hr, 38 mins
Features: Tabs/Notation as .pdf & gp5 files
Course Link: Acoustic Poetica: Fingerstyle Etudes
- Coordination Nation
- Basso Ostinato
- Sliding Sweetness
- Around the Bend
- Percussion Introduction
- Traversing the Neck
- Arpeggiated Voyage
- Harmonically Speaking
- Rhythmic Slap
- Open & Melodic
In today’s review I am going to check an interesting course I found on Truefire.com by the amazing Peppino D’Agostino. I first learnt about Mr. D’Agostino from his performance of the “Godfather Waltz” & “Godfather Theme”. The amount of expressiveness he put into each note and the way he articulated during his performance is incredible and worth listening to! I was so happy to discover that – at the time of writing – he had already produced two courses on Truefire.com. Let me give you some insight of what to expect from the course named “Acoustic Poetica: Fingerstyle Etudes”.
Since Peppino D’Agostino is renowned for his skills on the acoustic guitar, these technical etudes are designed particularly to match the acoustic player who already learnt the most elementary stuff on the guitar. It is always difficult to arrange course material so that it fits a variety of different players, who most likely started out on different ends and chose a different path, while getting the basic chords down, a good feeling for rhythm as well as the theoretical knowledge that is crucial to be able to progress to a higher level.
Mr. D’Agostino stated in his introduction to the course that he had faced the same problem while developing those ten studies. In order to really get a feeling for what the aspiring student needs to further develop his skills as a fingerstyle player he had to go back in time, back to his teenage years when the master himself was working hard on his own skills, getting the very basics down that now define his virtuosic play. After all, the goal is the same in order to step beyond what is widely regarded a beginner. Getting the basics down isn’t that difficult but passing beyond that stage is because you will have to put certain time and effort into it. This course sets sail exactly where the basics end, focusing on crucial elements of each fingerstyle player. Those selected chops, elements or milestones are presented to you in ten fingerstyle etudes that will both challenge and further enhance your technique on the guitar. Let’s have a look at them…
First of all, the etudes presented here vary in difficulty, bridging nicely the different requirements and needs of late beginner/intermediate players. Each etude comes in three parts. A brief introduction in which you are going to know what the purpose of this etude is and what technique it features. Then you’ll see the performance of this study in full tempo and in the last section you are going to get a step-by-step explanation of how to approach and learn the etude.
The very first study is called “Coordination Nation” and is all about coordinating your two most important components while playing: your both hands! When starting out, you learn to produce your first sounds on the guitar and how to call the notes or the chord you are playing. However, once you advance in that and are able to produce a good, strong and clean tone you likely start to incorporate rhythms or techniques that require you to coordinate your both hands in a way that accompanies your playing. That’s sort of where I see this study kicking in. It is presented in a very modest tempo, can, however, be accelerated to put your fingers to a test. The piece consists of a basic base articulation at the beginning of each measure while your remaining fingers are required to connect with the base. This, combined with a beautiful and harmonic chord progression, results in “Coordination nation”. A really cool etude that may very well serve as a warm-up for your daily practice routine. For beginning fingerstyle players this is also a great way to practice the PIMA technique.
“Basso Ostinato”, “Percussion Introductions” and “Rhythmic Slap” are etudes that focus on improving your rhythmic feeling. As a fingerstyle player, you are a one-man band! This comes with quite a lot responsibility since you are the one pulling the strings, directing everything and also… keeping time as well as the beat and groove going! This requires a solid feeling for rhythm. In addition to that you also have to play the rhythm part well and add a melody line to it. So, you are basically replacing the members of a band and instead rely on your own abilities. This is quite a challenge for your hands and with those studies you will be able to get a steady bass going and add percussive elements and that way simulate a drum kit! In these studies you are going to learn how to manipulate the perception of the beat, shifting the accents to make it fit your music so that you become the director instead of a mere actor.
“Sliding Swiftness” picks up the theme of Basso Ostinato where you had to get used to having control over the ringing strings, knowing when and how to stop them at an appropriate moment. Adding a basic technique such as the slide. It is something your fingers will most likely have to get used to if you have never done it before but the variety in sound it provides you with is great and really worth knowing.
If there is an etude in this course that will put you to the test, then it is “Around the Bend”. This study increases the difficulty by a notch, adding a slightly more complex rhythm to it but also challenging you on the bend! The difficulty lies in the degree you bend your strings. If you bend it too high, you miss the pitch and you get a squeaky sound. However, if you don’t bend enough, you’ll just miss the pitch as well but in that case, get a rather muffled sound. So, you see, as much as beginners had to work hard to squeeze a good, solid tone out of their guitar, without any buzzes, as much you will have to work on this one to get a feeling for the correct amount of bendiness. The tune itself sounds really great but you will have to keep practicing in order to play it properly. This may take some time but it is rewarding!
After getting the fundamentals down there comes a point in time where you will have to learn the fretboard and how to navigate on it. Moving out of the first or second position requires some good understanding of how the fretboard is constructed, how notes are placed all over the fretboard and how they relate to the individual strings. “Traversing the Neck” and “Arpeggiated Voyage” gives you the opportunity to explore new voicings by exploring the fretboard, changing positions and moving up to the 12th fret! The tune for this etude is a relaxing one, one in which you truly feel as if you were taken on a journey, with just the beauty of music with you, nothing to worry about and your mentor who takes you by the hand and guides you towards your next milestone!
Following the etudes that focus primarily on neck navigation you will add another technique to your repertoire that is a common theme on the guitar… harmonics! “Harmonically Speaking” is a pretty demanding one in which you will need to prove that you’ve obtained a good control over your instrument. Being able to play harmonics is dependent on several factors. Of course, once you’ve gotten used to implement it in your playing you will find it easier but developing the skill will most likely take some time, so be patient! The etude itself will ask you to separate several sections and accentuate various parts of the tune to fully embrace the potential of this technique.
As the last etude, you will face “Open & Melodic”, an etude designed to give you insight into different tunings. Loosening or tightening a string results in different tensions and this requires you to maybe alter the way you play a note. It may become more difficult to keep a string ringing while playing and to sustain the sound. The tuning in this piece is an unusual one but that doesn’t mean it isn’t rewarding. Getting used to various tunings opens up the instrument and allows you to explore sounds you wouldn’t be able to reach that easily on a single guitar. This etude fits pretty well into the whole course, as the student was almost getting used to having the concept being presented on a silver plate. A slide was a slide, a bend a bend but now with the introduction of a non-standard tuning that doesn’t include just a mere drop D tuning, the student gets to know that there is still much to be explored and that the blank spots on the road map are yet to be filled!
That’s it, ten etudes that focus on different aspects of guitar playing, presented by a charismatic instructor that really manages to spark the interest in his students. You can choose whether to play it at full tempo, to slow it down or to practice on your own with your own set tempo. The course comes with the notations being provided in .pdf format as well as .gp5 format.
I really enjoyed playing my way through the course and though I wouldn’t claim that I’ve mastered every bit of it, it still motivated and inspired me and once again showed me, why the guitar was, is and will forever be such a beautiful instrument.
Highly recommended for each beginner who is willing to devote more time to the guitar.
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This course was kindly provided by www.TrueFire.com
You can find the course following this link: Acoustic Poetica: Fingerstyle Etudes