Steve Cooper

guitarist educator arranger songwriter author

Reflect

Acoustic Lesson


Reflect MP3 File & Sheet Music

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Performance Notes

 

Reflect is an acoustic piece that I wrote a number of years ago and I was inspired to revisit it recently through my work as an examiner for RGT Acoustic Guitar exams. I have heard dozens of candidates, of all ages, perform some really engaging and expressive acoustic pieces and this prompted me to think about sharing this piece for those interested in performing solo acoustic pieces, particularly at the higher RGT grades, which allow free choices of repertoire. Alternatively, Reflect would be an ideal performance piece for a concert, recital or audition. 

Reflect is inspired by one of my favourite guitarists, Eric Roche, whom I was lucky enough to get to know quite well and I spent some time with him learning and listening. He died on September 6, 2005, aged 37. Eric was a brilliant musician and his warmth, humility and encouragement helped me develop in all aspects of my musical life. 

The piece is arranged into a Verse, Chorus format with a Bridge section and when I listened to Eric’s first album ‘Perc-U-lator’ I was really moved by how he crafted such beautiful melodies and have I tried to capture the same spirit here. As with much of Eric’s early work, the piece is arranged in DADGAD tuning. 

The verse opens with a short intro sequence that combines fretted notes with natural harmonics. This is essentially a two-bar figure where you drop a note in the second bar resulting in a bar of 7/8 and then in the fourth bar you add it back in. This creates an nice rhythmic imbalance of 4 - 7 - 4 - 4 and you play the whole sequence twice finishing with a ‘strummed’ Gsus2 harp harmonic chord on the upper three open strings at the 12th fret (G - A - D). This is trickier than it looks as it you have to have a light enough touch to float across three strings but be heavy enough to remove the fundamental open pitch. 

The verse continues in straightforward fashion and you should try to keep the melody balanced, clear and ringing out as much as possible. The verse sequence concludes with another harp harmonic figure that also includes a string bend. I prefer to fret the C# with my first finger bending it up (but actually physically down towards my feet in order to keep the chord ringing) simultaneously reaching over with the right hand to play an octave higher up (at the 18th fret). This will probably take a little practise to bring it all together. The verse repeats in full and I sometimes add a few minor variations to the melody on repeats as the piece progresses so feel free to do the same when you get to know the piece. 

The chorus is fairly straightforward although the chordal figures need to be played as cleanly as possible and you should vary the expression here, playing loud and soft as the feeling takes you. 

The Bridge section reintroduces the rhythmic imbalance of the introduction but here the groove changes to a compound meter, 12/8, and once again you create the imbalance by removing notes at the end of each bar starting with two notes (creating 10/8), then one note, (creating 11/8), then two again thus creating an overall pattern of 12-10-11-10. Once you know the pattern, the part is reasonably straightforward although does include a a wide fretting hand stretch. On the repeat I open up the sound much more, moving to more strumming to give a greater sense of expression and lift. The Bridge concludes with more harp harmonics but this time ‘slapped’ with the right hand for a heavier feel. 

The outro is a repeat of the intro with the addition of some ‘slapped’ harmonics from the conclusion of the bridge resolving to a rich D Major chord.

I hope you enjoy the piece and please get in touch if you have any questions and let me know if you have performed it. 

 

Eric Roche was a regular contributor to Guitar Techniques magazine and his book 'The Acoustic Guitar Bible' is essential reading.