Advanced Guitar Techniques for Songwriters

Course Number

This course explores guitar techniques, particularly addressing the needs and creative processes of songwriters writing on guitar. As a second-level course building on Guitar Techniques for Songwriters (SW-236), this course extends the scope of that foundation class to include more advanced harmonic structures and instrumental techniques, and the skills required by the performing guitarist/singer/songwriter. The class first reviews key material introduced in SW-236 in accelerated form—in close and spread voicings on all stringsets. This includes basic triads in varied sequences and progressions along and across the neck; dyadic voicings with drones and power chords (1-5-1 and 5-1-5 voicings). The class then addresses non-triadic voicings, including suspensions and shell voicings; advanced right-hand finger-picking, flat-picking, and strumming techniques; riff-based writing; and selected open tunings, with exploratory techniques for mapping new tunings. The latter portion of the class moves beyond composition and writing concerns to address: arrangement of repertoire on guitar; vocal/guitar interactions in solo self-accompanied performance; finding a signature guitar sound as a writer/performer; accompanying vocalists as second guitar or in a band setting; fills and leads in a song context; and applying guitar skills in the cowriting session. As with SW-236, each session will introduce technical skills, evaluated in class. This class will follow more of a workshop and master class format, as students present entire songs for critique and review by the instructor and peers. Thus the class will also lend itself to incorporation of sessions with visiting artists and clinicians, working in a lecture-demonstration and master-class format.

SW-236 or guitar principals
Required Of
Electable By
All B.M. and P.D. students
Major Elective for
Semesters Offered
Fall, Spring
Course Chair
Rodney Alejandro
Taught By
Courses may not be offered at the listed locations or taught by the listed faculty for every semester. Consult to find course information for a specific semester.