Stephen Bennett’s FingerstyleFinesse
Musically, there are a lot of interesting things to note in this tune.
The first is the combining of harmonics with regular notes, like we
do in the intro section, which gives the song a hopeful, optimistic
feel. There is a certain magic that occurs when notes ring into
each other, and that magic can be magnified when some of the
notes are harmonics.
As in previous songs we’ve covered, percussion makes an
entrance in the opening bars and again towards the end; we’re
essentially just using the guitar as a drum to simulate other members of the band. By thumping your guitar in different locations,
you can find the right percussive sound to fit the song. There’s
also a strong backbeat within “Burnside,” and it may feel odd at
first. The easiest way to approach the backbeat is to visualize a
d rummer emphasizing beats on two and four; once you absorb
the idea, you’ll be able to do it without even thinking about it.
“Burnside” features some key modulation towards the middle of
the song to keep things interesting. It moves from A to E, before
eventually moving back for the finish. This is a time-tested idea
from classical music that adds some elegance and complexity to
the tune. The first note in the new key of E – the fifth string harmonic in measure 42 – is important to the shift; make sure you hit
Once in E, the melody occurs in two different octaves. This
showcases a great compositional idea for the guitar; because so
many notes on the instrument occur in more than one place, different tonal possibilities emerge in different octaves – an open B
sounds different than the same B on the third string, for instance.
E xperiment with these subtle changes in your own compositions.