Ornaments in guitar playing refer to various techniques and embellishments used to decorate and enhance the music, adding expressiveness, nuance, and flair to the melodic lines. These are not just exclusive to the guitar but are found across many musical instruments and genres. Here are some common ornaments used in guitar playing:

  1. Hammer-On: This involves playing a note and then “hammering on” a higher note on the same string without plucking the string again. It creates a smooth, connected sound between the two notes.
  2. Pull-Off: The opposite of a hammer-on, a pull-off starts with a plucked note followed by “pulling off” to a lower note on the same string without re-plucking the string, allowing the lower note to sound.
  3. Slide: Sliding involves starting a note and then sliding your finger up or down the fretboard to another note, maintaining pressure on the string to let it sound throughout the slide.
  4. Bend: Bending is achieved by plucking a note and then pushing the string upwards or downwards across the fretboard, effectively changing the pitch of the note. The goal is often to reach the pitch of a note one or more semitones higher.
  5. Vibrato: Vibrato adds expression by rapidly and slightly varying the pitch of a note back and forth after it’s played, achieved by oscillating the finger pressing down on the string.
  6. Trill: A rapid alternation between two notes, which can be accomplished by quickly hammering on and pulling off between the notes.
  7. Tapping: Tapping extends the concept of hammer-ons and pull-offs by using the fingers of the picking hand to tap notes on the fretboard, allowing for rapid note sequences and complex patterns not easily achievable with standard picking techniques.
  8. Harmonics: Harmonics are high-pitched tones produced by lightly touching the string at certain points (e.g., the 12th, 7th, and 5th frets) and plucking it, creating a bell-like sound. There are natural harmonics and artificial harmonics, with the latter involving fretting a note and then touching the string at a node point relative to the fretted note.

These ornaments can be combined and used creatively to express a wide range of emotions and textures in guitar music, from classical and flamenco to rock and jazz. Each style of music might favor certain ornaments and use them in unique ways to achieve its characteristic sound.

All About Music
Friday’s Freebies