This set of solo instrumentals brings together some of Neil's favorite themes from the big screen, the little screen, and even the Big Apple.
Lesson 1: Agatha Christie’s Poirot Theme - Guitar Arrangement
Poirot was a British series starring David Suchet as the Belgian sleuth. It ran for about 25 years and included all Christie’s stories that featured Hercule Poirot. The early years started with this theme written by Christopher Dunning.
This arrangement tries to capture the charm and mystique of that on solo guitar. There are some difficult embellishments, more suited to the sax than the guitar but the lesson offers easier approaches to executing them.
This short piece will be challenging to most students but you will learn a few new tricks with it.
Lesson 2: The Smothers Brothers Theme - Mason Williams - Guitar Lesson
Everybody knows Mason Williams for Classical Gas but his scrapbook is full of nuggets of great music. As a writer on The Smothers Brothers Show in the late 1960s he collaborated with some of the most creative minds of the era.
This short instrumental shows how a simple idea can be developed into a very catchy tune, with tongue held firmly in cheek. I worked this out after a short conversation with Mason, who was considering being a guest artist at out 2014 International Guitar Camp at the time.
Maybe next year.
Lesson 3: Can You Read My Mind - Superman Theme - Solo Guitar Arrangement
Can You Read My Mind was the main theme from the movie Superman in 1978, with music by John Williams. It was a vocal hit for Maureen McGovern the next year. It is also heard in most of the following Superman movies.
This arrangement is in the key of E Major and there are segments on the melody and the chords before a measure by measure breakdown. There is a lot of flexibility in what you can do as far as the filler notes so feel free to vary the arrangement in any way.
Lesson 4: Send In The Clowns - Solo Guitar Arrangement
Send In The Clowns, Stephen Sondheim's classic from his 1973 musical A Little Night Music, was first recorded by Frank Sinatra but it was Judy Collins version from 1975 that launched it into mainstream modern culture,
This arrangement includes a little harmony added to the melody, which mostly features short phrases with steady filler between the melody notes. It is played with very flexible timing, which can make some of the unusual chord shapes a little more accessible.
Lesson 5: Outlander Theme – The Skye Boat Song Guitar Arrangement
The popular TV series Outlander features a haunting theme song, The Skye Boat Song, a very old Gaelic melody with a couple sets of lyrics written for it in the 19th century.
This lesson goes a bit into the history, talks about common chord inversions, fingerpicking in 3/4 time, how to get an old Celtic sound with hollow chords like the droning of bagpipes, then even a few ways of combining a simple melody with basic chords and shapes to create your own arrangement.
We really just work with a lead sheet, containing only the melody and the chords, rather than a complete tabbed out arrangement, at least for the time being depending on some reactions from folks who choose to tackle this cool piece.
Lesson 6: Rainbow Connection - Solo Guitar Arrangement
I recently did an accompaniment version of Rainbow Connection as a lesson and this arrangement just sort of materialized. I haven't really worked it out carefully but this lesson shows a relatively easy way to play it as a solo. I encourage you to take what I put in the lesson and add your own embellishments. It is also important to work on playing each verse slightly differently, following the rhythm and phrasing of the syllables. In other words, you should be singing the song in your head and using those phrasings and accents as your guide.
Lesson 7: Ashokan Farewell - Solo Guitar
Having just done a lesson for two guitars on Jay Unger's Ashokan Farewell, it was time to do a solo arrangement. In the interest of making this as easy as possible, the lesson is done in the key of G, which allows for relatively easy chord shapes.
The basic accompaniment is done with 2 or 3 bass notes, all on the beats in each measure. The melody is done with minimal ornamentation.