Musical Examples

Fretless 6-String Guitar Technique – Tim Donahue

VIII. Musical Examples

Here are 2 exerpts from “The Fifth Season” by Tim Donahue on Avalon Records, (AVLN TD 0100) PO box 3237, So, Pasadena, California, 91030.

“Reflections Off An Ocean”

The introduction to this piece contains perfect 5ths that can be played in one position (as written below) or with the last two intervals incorporating slides (as recorded on album):


“As Birds Fly”

The melody to this piece contains harmonics mixed with open strings and unisons. This gives a harp-like effect since the harmonics are free to ring open. A rundown on where to strike harmonics and finger notes follows for measures 1 – 8. Measures 9 – 16 employ voicings that use either 1st or 3rd finger barres as discussed in Chapter VII Chords; dialog after “Other necessary fingerings for major 7th and sus4 chords”

“As Birds Fly” is played in drop D tuning (6th string down to D).


This should be played over and over until 100 bpm can be played comfortably. The whole 15 measures look like:


Note the Cmaj7 in bar 13 has a stretch between the 1st and 3rd fingers. The F#-7 in bar 14 is arpeggiated with the 3rd finger barre and additional open strings. In all the above voicings, open strings are employed somewhere in the structure, which makes for nice close interval voicings.

Study #1

This is a fun piece in 3/4 that contains some interesting rhythmic and harmonic concepts. The intro A should be played as a rubato chord solo for fretless guitar. The tune isn’t played in tempo until the 2nd ending, B functions as the head to the tune and notice how the dotted quarter notes in the 2nd ending set up the 4 over 3 feel in B. With voicings and fingerings written out, the only other consideration is to play the melody at B in the VI position with occasional stretches of the 1st finger (as indicated by “S”). For solos, B is repeated, C is only played after solos have been taken and B is stated one more time. As in the intro, C will only be played by solo fretless guitar in rubato.



Study #2

This piece, better known as “Eclipse” contains constant structure chords against various pedal tones, creating a modal, Eastern type of sound. A – A16 has these chords against an E pedal, creating an E dorian sound. Compare this to the same set of chords played with various pedals at B – B24. Al7 – A28 can be done either with the fretless guitar playing either melody or chords. An example follows on voicings that can be used in comping behind the melody:


Remember that all voicings are played with (4) bass.


A17 to A28 can be fingered many ways and the example beginning on the next page is one possibility, connecting positions seems like the best way to keep this phrase in tune rather than employing lots of stretches.


About the tune – Solos are played over the entire B section, which means that the B25 measures are played every time at the end of each B chorus. B25 also serves as coda to the tune and is taken after the entire A sections are played once (D.C.) after solos are taken.


…..section ends

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