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In Al Di Meola and Bob Aslanian's books "Al Di Meola - A Guide to Chords, Scales & Arpeggios" there's an exercise to strum a chord four times and move from one form to another, fluidly. Below is the excerpt I'm questioning: Excerpt from page 28

Similarly this exercise is to be played the same way: Excerpt from page 24 This makes sense, as it keeps fingers 2-4-3 in the same shape (i.e. economizing finger movement).

I'm trying to determine if there is a reason why I would be told to setup the Gmaj7 with fingers stacked on the fretboard as (high to low) 2-4-3-1 then move them to the Gmaj9, instead of stacking the Gmaj7 as 2-3-4-1? Wouldn't this would economize finger movement and allow me to play smoother/faster, as directed? Or is there a reason why I would want to learn it this way?

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I myself have practiced these exercises too. The way I do it is:

  1. I master each chord shape by following the indicated fingerings
  2. Play the chord changes freely, with no specific time
  3. Practice them with metronome, 1 chord by bar and even 2 bar sometimes
  4. I accelerate and the faster I get the more staccato I play each chord per beat

As I see it, "fluid" here has nothing to do with playing legato but rather with changing between chords confidently and accurately.

This happens to be an excellent set of warm-up/finger independence exercises.

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It is a bit unclear to me what your precise question is so I will give it my best shot. I understand you're concerned about the fingering of the Gmaj7.

Fingering it as 2-4-3-1 (using your notation) is the most comfortable way to play a maj7 chord with the root on the 6th string (in this case, Gmaj7). Playing it as 2-3-4-1 would be uncomfortable for your fingers (at least it is for mine!).

Most jazz tetrad chords have only one comfortable fingering. In general, only open chords can have more than 1 valid fingering. Which means that you're stuck in fingering your chord in the "right" way, regardless of the precending and following chords.

I cannot say why the book tells you to practice it this way. I guess that the purpose is not to teach you how to minimize finger movement, but rather to get you to practice chord changes that require you to move your fingers quickly.

The second sequence plays a G chord followed by a clear chromatic sequence maj7 - 7 - maj 6, so I guess the aim of the second sequence is to teach you how to create a chromatic voicing from the maj7 to the maj6.

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  • Fingering 2-4-3-1 isn't necessarily the most comfortable way, I assume it's the way you're most comfortable with. Think of G# augmented, played {4,3,2,1,x,x}. The 4th finger on the 4th fret E, the 3rd on the 3rd fret A, etc. Now place your fingers for an open EM such that your 4th finger is on the A string, 2nd fret. Same pattern, the two fingers are just sharing the same fret "space". My question then is the same, is there any merit to learning the EM shape in the non-traditional manner of fingers stacked 4-3-2, or is there merit in only being able to fluidly move into the 3-4-2 positioning?
    – reeeky2001
    Jan 16 '20 at 1:42
  • Or in other words why not play an EM like this instead of this? Apply the same logic to the Gmaj7 example in the question.
    – reeeky2001
    Jan 16 '20 at 2:08
  • I think that the fingering you suggest is not anatomically the most comfortable. Technique has evolved over the decades not to just allow us to play things "the way it feels more natural", but rather, to minimize injuries to your hands/fingers, especially for professional musicians who play hours a day. I would argue that given that the pinky finger is shorter than the ring finger, it would cause fewer injuries to play it in the second position you linked, instead of the first. In the G# example, the pinky and the ring finger are on different frets.
    – mkorman
    Jan 16 '20 at 10:01
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    You can challenge established technique and develop your own, but you might have higher chances of injury in the long run.
    – mkorman
    Jan 16 '20 at 10:01
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Quite simply because what you describe as "stacking the Gmaj7 as 2-3-4-1" is not a viable fingering for that chord at all.

Others have described that position as not "comfortable", but I'd go further and say it's not viable at all.

You might be able to play it if you slow down and painstakingly place the fingers that way, but it'll be extremely hard, if not impossible, to play it cleanly in real life playing, especially if you go even a bit higher on the fretboard.

And if you don't believe this, just try playing this fingering at fret 5 or higher... ;-)

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More than one factor contributes to "economy". You are on the right track to think that one should endeavor to try and (1) find common forms that move without rearranging the fingers, and/or (2) find common notes between neighboring chords so that something stays put.

This is usually very possible when cycling through changes in the circle of 4ths/5ths since there are common tones in the chords. However, as it has been pointed out, you need to be able to easily play the chords and if the fingers are too contorted this is not possible.

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