How to Arrange Fingerstyle Guitar – Two Absolute Must-Have Ingredients

Hey guys, welcome to part 2 of this tutorial series on how to make your own arrangements for solo acoustic fingerstyle guitar.

The song we are arranging in this series is “Hello” by Adele.

We will be creating our own instrumental solo fingerstyle guitar arrangement made up of the harmony and melody. We will not be singing the song with our voices, but with the melody notes on the guitar. If we were making an arrangement to sing along to with our voices, we could just strum the chords primarily and would not need to incorporate the melody notes into our arrangement since our voice would be singing the melody. But here in this case we don’t plan on singing so we will create an arrangement that includes the harmony (chords) and melody (lyrics) all rolled up into one.

There are many resources on the internet to find the chords and melody to most songs. You can start by searching on google and youtube for the song you are arranging. I personally try not to look at any other fingerstyle guitar arrangements before I complete my own arrangement. Don’t get me wrong, you can learn a ton from other fingerstyle guitarists and by watching and listening to their arrangements, but I find I learn the best when I go through the exercise and struggle to create my own arrangement first. Only then am I familiar with the songs’ particular challenges and idiosyncrasies and then I am much more able to appreciate and learn from others’ arrangements. So for this reason I stay away from looking at other fingerstyle guitar arrangements of the song I am working on. We want to search only for the chords and the notes of the melody.

When you are looking on the internet for sources of the chords and melody, you want to be careful not to put all of your eggs in one basket. That is to say that you don’t want to use any one source exclusively. Some sources will not have the chords the same as the original. Some sources will play the melody differently than what sounds good to you. You always want your own ear to be the final judge of what you include in your arrangement. Only use the sources you find as a reference to get you going in the right direction.

One valuable source of chord and melody information are animated piano tutorials on youtube that show the notes of the chords and melody falling down onto the keys of the piano. As long as you can figure out the names of the notes on the piano keys, you can get alot of info this way. But remember you don’t have to use any one source, note for note. Use your own ear to guide you along in your arrangement and use what sounds good to you and discard the rest.

When combining the chords and melody together on the guitar there is one very important thing to keep in mind: The highest note you are playing is the one the listeners’ ear hears the best and that is the note that is interpreted as the melody note. So it is important to make the melody notes the highest notes to stand out from the harmony (chords. ) Also, as a general rule, try to make all of your melody notes on the highest three strings. If you are arranging a song and one of the melody notes goes down to the fourth string or lower, you may want to try to arrange the song in another key to keep the melody notes on the highest three strings. The listeners’ ear has trouble detecting melody notes that are too low in pitch, so keep this in mind.

In part 3 of this series we will start writing down our arrangement, so make sure and subscribe to this channel and bookmark the series playlist. Links are below.

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Thanks guys!
Roger

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