Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ultimate Classic Guitar Arrangements: Tears in the Rain

Joe Satriani has the distinction of being the only contemporary guy who has composed more than one piece that I play: The tap tech masterpiece, A Day at the Beach, and this simple but lovely little ditty, Tears in the Rain. This is by far the easiest of the contemporary crowd pleaser deals that I play, and it's the first one I give to students who want to get into the contemporary classical thing.

Here's the MIDI to MPEG4 audio file:

Tears in the Rain - Joe Satriani

And so, onto the score.

As you can see, there's not much to it, which is why it's a great example of a piece that is simple, yet beautiful. The opening harmony is a i(add4) in the key of A minor, and having the 4th in between the third and fifth gives two major seconds on top, which produces a plaintively dissonant effect.

The second measure is a ii(d5/add4) in second inversion - highly unusual - with the top major second held over from before, which makes it above the minor third. Then, for the dominant function harmony in the third measure, there is a vii(d5/d7/add6) - which is also very weird and wonderful (And which results in an augmented second in the bass line) - and then the return to the tonic in measure 4.

Joe continues using these, "beautifully dissonant" harmonies throughout the piece, which really does give it the character implied by the title.

One thing I'd like to point out is the right hand fingering in measures 15 and 16: Most guys would just slavishly alternate i and m there, but by employing p in the phrase, I'm able to really dig in on the downbeats, which I think makes the lick more effective.

Also, in the A' section that starts at 17, Joe uses the open A string instead of the fretted A an octave higher like he did before: Let that A over ring under the following harmonies as a pedal.

I only changed one note in the entire piece, and that is the open D in measure 40. Joe had that as an E, so the final dominant harmony was a major triad, but I wanted a full dominant seventh there, and by letting the open E, D, and B strings ring out, it allows for the written-out fermata, and a smoother transition to the final tonic harmony up at the 5th fret. Also, Joe plays an open A at the very end: Sometimes I play that, and sometimes I don't. If, for example, this leads into Classical Gas, I won't play it because that piece starts with an open A, so it would be redundant. If Im' going into Stairway to Heaven, OTOH, I'll play it, because then I'm going to be starting on the A an octave higher. In other words, it's up to you whether to play it or not. I just decided to leave it out of the transcription.


Blogger Minicapt said...

Needs a bit of brass? And bassoon.


7:19 PM  

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