RIGHT HAND EXERCISES - CHORDS
These exercises will address the issue of chords in the right hand, which are very important when playing in a mariachi, as one will often be doing accompaniment. One's right hand should, as much as is practical, play the same rhythms as the vihuela, guitar and guitarra de golpe, particularly in songs in 3/4 and 2/4 time, i.e. waltz tempo and polkas. For pieces in 6/8 or employing sesquialtera (sones, huapangos, and other related rhythms) other right hand rhythms that complement the rhythm of the bass/left hand are used, but are covered here. They are covered later.
The common way of playing chords in the right hand is to use the thumb and three fingers, playing four note chords, with an octave beween the thumb and ring finger. These exercises are based on that concept.
In order to blend in with the other instruments in the rhythm/accompaniment section, the harp's chords should be in approximately the same tessitura as the vihuela/guitar/guitarra de golpe. Remembering that the guitar is a transposing instrument (it sounds an octave lower than written), the true high note on a guiitar is the 'E" above middle "C". That of the vihuela is "G" above middle "C", and the high string on a quinta, while it may vary, is often the "B" below middle "C". If those be the highest open strings on these instruments, then the actual highest notes commonly played will be a third above that. What this means, in a nutshell, is that our right hand thumb, which plays the highest note in the chords, should play approximately between "A" in the octave above middle "C"and perhaps as high as "G" above that, as much as is practical. If one plays 4 note chords lower than this, then the two hands will "collide", the left hand thumb and the right hand ring finger attempting to play the same string, and if one plays much higher, the chords are very prominant.
In order for the transition between chords to be smooth, we will want to move our hand position as little as possible. This will not only sound pleasing to the ear, but will facilitate the chord changes. For example, when playing a "G" chord, the right hand thumb will be playing a "B" and the chord would be, from low to high, B-D-G-B (ringfinger/R, middle finger/M, index finger/I, thumb/T). For a "C" chord, the thumb moves up one note, from "B" to "C", and the "C" chord would be played C-E-G-C (R-M-I-T). In a similar manner, to play a "D7" chord, place the thumb on "A", and play the chord A-C-F#-A (R-M-I-T). This way, the three primary chords are all within two notes of each other, affording easy transitions and a homogeneous sound. Those with formal musical training may choose to see these as inversions, with the tonic played in first inversion, the subdominant played in root, and the dominant 7 chord played in second inversion. Other positions and combinations are possible, but should be tempered by smooth transitions, both to the ear and for the fingers.
Right Hand Chord Exercises - MUSICAL NOTATION
Right Hand Chord Exercises - MP3
Right Hand Chord Exercises - VIDEO