Katie's Song uses a free video guitar lesson to show one of the most important things a fingerstyle guitarist should know.
This free guitar lesson, shows how to use open strings.
Stringed instruments are different than other instruments. Notes repeat themselves on stringed instruments. You can find the exact same note in different places on the fingerboard.
This means that the guitarist can choose to play the same musical passage in different ways. Why does this matter?
It matters because the right choices help your playing flow.
Using open strings will let you change hand positions on the neck without a break in the music.
Katie's Song is a very simple piece of music. It's in the key of A. The chords used are A, D, and E. You won't see regular 1st position chords in this song, though. Instead, you'll find familiar sounding chords played in unfamiliar way. Let's look at the highlights.
In measure 3 an A chord is played. It's actually only part of an A chord. An A triad contains the notes A, C# and E. Even though the chord in measure 3 has 3 notes in it, only 2 different notes are being played. The 5th string open and the 1st string 5th fret are both A's.
They're 2 octaves apart. Here's an explanation of octaves.
The notes being played are the 1st (or root) and the 3rd. Look at the page on guitar chords for more info on degrees of the scale.
The next place to look at in Katie's Song is measure 6. There is a complete A chord played here, using open strings.
Measure 7 begins with an open 1st string. You could play the same note at the 2nd string 5th fret but it would be a little harder to get to the D chord that follows it.
The 3 note chord played in measure 7 is a partial D chord. In this chord, you have a D on the 4th string open, a D on the 3rd string 7th fret and a F# at the 7th fret of the 2nd string. To have a full D major chord, you would also need an A.
The next area of interest is at the end of the 10th measure. Playing the last note (B) as an open string, gives you time to get your hand to the 1st fret to play the next set of notes.
Measure 13 has an E chord in it. It just looks a little different than the E chord that you're used to seeing.
One big difference is that the chord doesn't have the root in it. It's the same situation as the A chord in measure 3. There are 2 notes that repeat themselve an octave apart. This time, those 2 notes are the 5th. The other note is the 3rd.
In measure 18, we again see using open strings to cover a shift in hand position.
The only other thing that we need to look at is at measures 22 and 23. This passage combines open strings and fretted notes. Try to let the open notes sustain while you're playing the fretted notes. This creates an open, rolling sound.
Katie's Song is fun and easy to play. You'll be playing it in no time.