Would you like to play Shearwater?

I’d like to present you with a short and simple instrumental that I’ve created. I call it “Shearwater”. If you play guitar, I invite you to have a go at it yourself!

I’m playing a six-string folk guitar with steel strings and I’m using standard E A D G B E tuning. Throughout the piece I alternate between the A, G and B strings.

If you’re an experienced guitar player, you can probably figure out the sequence for yourself. If you need some help, here’s how I play it :-

The first section is Am – C – Am – C – Am – C – Em – Am and then repeat. You will notice that on the final Am I recurringly lift my first finger to give a small repeated motif to the piece.

The second section is D – Em – Am, again using the lifted first finger on the Am. I repeat that sequence.

To give the piece a musical resolution, the third section consists of Am – C – D – Em, which I repeat and then go to Am with the lifted first finger once again.

I then repeat the second and third sections and on the final Am I intentionally slow down, a dramatic moment of silence and then the plangent closing Am to signal that I’ve finished.

Why “Shearwater”? When I first devised it, I wasn’t sure what to call it. Somebody in an audience suggested Shearwater, and to my mind, it immediately fitted. From then on, as I’m playing I visualise a small, plucky bird (a miniature version of an albatross) roaming across storm-tossed Arctic Ocean waves in search of the next meal. I try to vary the volume (but not the tempo) in an attempt to evoke the chaotic sea just below my little shearwater.