This is another African fingerstyle soukous guitar tutorial, with a fast sebene section. The three tablature files in a .zip are available for purchase/download at the bottom of the article. The above video example has a chord progression of I-IV-I-V-V-I-I-V-V-I; I7-IV-V-I-I7-IV-V-I. It’s of course in standard tuning, and is written in the key of G-flat major.
Three Finger Rolls
The primary part of this fingerstyle piece starts with a shift slide, but right after that we get into the crucial elements: three finger rolls, executed with the a, m and i (ring, middle and index) fingers. You can of course play it with bare fingers, fingernails or fingerpicks like I do. The latter tends to provide excellent fluidity to the picking motion, but requires some extra control. It’s because the fingerpicks themselves – being made of a relatively hard material – don’t mute or block the strings as clearly as the flesh of the fingertips could. It takes some time to get this roll right on the B string, because it’s an inner string. During practice, you’ll probably notice that doing the same roll on the high E string will be somewhat less difficult. It’s because there are no more strings near your fingernails that you could accidentally hit, so there’s more freedom to complete the picking motion. Speaking of this motion, a good way to get it right is to imagine twisting or turning something off, like a tap (faucet, for you speaking US English). If your imagination wanders to turning and twisting other stuff, well, you are forgiven. For now. Between these rolls, there are double stops that imply the chords of the song. This 1st phrase also ends on a double stop like that.
Even though the sebene part is somewhat simpler, it still includes some finger-challenging steps. But don’t be afraid, you’ll get it right with a little bit of patience. This 2nd section is mostly a single line melody, only the ending of the phrase is a dyad or double stop. Like the previous part, this one builds mostly from 16th notes as well, and is characteristically syncopated. The beginning notes of this melodic phrase outline the tonic, but with the minor seventh added, to indicate an underlying dominant seventh chord. It’s a nice little trick to inject a little bit of tension and movement into a song like this, even if it’s got a relatively simple harmonic structure. Make sure that when you arrive to those three notes – each fretted at the 11th fret – you don’t sound unwanted strings, and play this arpeggiated triad as clean as possible.