“Fast Car” by Justin Bieber (Live Cover) Tutorial
Here is the link:
In addition, since it’s a tutorial on the live version I’ve had questions about the basic, and alterations of, the guitar strumming pattern for the song. I’ve also had more than a couple questions about the the outro section. Justin seems to “improvise” his way out of the tune thereby creating some very interesting rhythmic devices. It is a little tricky as Justin has clearly learned a thing or three from Dan Kanter🙂
Here are the links to part 1 and 2 of my tutorial set for Justin’s unique and guitar-friendly cover.
Lorde’s new single Green Light is a study in contrasts for a guitar cover/tutorial/play-through. It’s the kind of song that grows on you after a couple listens. But, still you sit and ponder. It is worth it? But then you realize that this one has something to work with, it does have merit after all! After listening to what seems like a patchwork of disjointed ideas scattered about it soon becomes clear in the mind of the listener that Green Light does what all pop songs are programed to do.
The content is not heavy. Basically, we have a 5 chord pop song like many others. Where as Green Light revs up slowly and patiently, most pop songs don’t have the patience for such maneuvering as their game is always centered on getting to the point early and often. It’s a mainstay of popular music. Lorde, is a “developer”. Her tendency is to take sparse material and dial things up as the minutes pass. Green Light is no exception,
The pre-chorus/chorus sections are a thing of lighthearted genius as a masterful but typical riff takes over that lights up the song with such energy that even Lorde can’t stay in control (check 3:03 of the video).
For your part, keeping the chorus riff even and controlled is no easy task on guitar, especially acoustic. Keep your right hand solid and bear down on the strumming pattern. That is, if you are covering it at it’s recorded tempo.
I can see this section played a little slower without damaging the intention of the writer. Experiment and see what you come up with.
Here is the guitar tutorial:
Here is the chord chart for “Green Light”:
A Textbook Acoustic Guitar Accompaniment
Say what you will about pop music, but it does have quality players and producers if you look for them. Take this performance by Julia Michaels with Dan Kanter on guitar. It’s nothing but beautiful and expertly performed. Dan Kanter is the best guitar accompanist around. His work on Justin Bieber’s acoustic “What Do You Mean” opened up the world to just how good a guitar part can be behind a pop vocalist.
Dan raises the bar when it comes to harmonic choices in his playing. Give him three chords, four chords, five chords, it matters not. Dan will take what are usually easy throw away guitar forms and turn them into incredible soundscapes that lift the song beyond what most would deem possible.
In this song, Dan has tuned his guitar up one half step. Oh that Dan, you never know what he has up his sleeve. This will, of course, put more stress on your fingers as the string tension will be higher. Don’t worry if you have a smooth playing acoustic. If not, be advised that your fingers may not be happy with you. Read on for a couple solutions I’ve come up with.
For her part, Julia Michaels was nothing short of fabulous. Maybe a little nervous at first? Well, who would fault her. The nervousness did not last long as Dan’s guitar lifted the session and Julia picked up on that energy immediately. Her vocal performance is fabulous and I would dare say that it rivals the original. A wonderful artist in her own right she has also co-written works for Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez! This gives her big street credentials and should keep her busy for quite a while.
Solutions to the Dan Dilemma
My solution to the “tuned up” Dan guitar was to simply capo on fret one. The only reason I did this was to avoid the obvious sound of breaking strings as people who watch this tutorial attempt to tune up. Heaven’s no. I’m not going to be responsible for that mess. Another solution? Play it in the original key of Ab major. One warning, you will all but lose any open strings. My advice is to either capo, tune up, or play in open position (without the capo) and sing it in the key of G major. Whatever you chose will depend on your experience and finger strength.
Have fun with this upper intermediate to lower advanced guitar part and please, don’t ask me to make it easier for you. It would be irresponsible of me to do so. Hey, eventually you have to deal with the reality that playing guitar is hard work and sometimes you have to step it up and push yourself.
Here is a link to your guitar pro pdf:
Here is the tutorial link:
A Barre Chord Feast!
Ed Sheeran’s new song “New Man” is just what the doctor ordered for those of you who need to get over your fear of barre chords. This phenomenon seems to be occurring more and more and the guitar Capo has pulled many away from the dreaded process of learning to get those fingers holding down multiple strings.
But as luck would have it, along comes Ed to help you deal with the inevitable. “New Man’ consists of five chords. G, E minor, D, C, and B minor. All chords are played with 5th string roots and nary a once do you touch the 6th or 1st string.
Here are your chord forms:
There are only two chord patterns used in the song:
Pattern 1 is as follows (mainly during the intro and verse):
E Minor-G Major-D Major-E minor-C Major-B minor-D Major-E minor
As you can see, E minor is the central focus of the progression giving us the expected minor tonality that matches the lyrical content of the verses.
Pattern 2 is played during the chorus and bridge sections, that progression is as follows:
G Major-D Major-E minor-C Major-B minor-D Major-E minor
The G Major lead in this section brings a nice contrast to the chords and gives the song the rhythmic lift it needs to launch us into the somewhat more hopeful chorus section.
As for how to deal with barre chords? I recommend starting them on electric guitar (if you have one) and once you produce a good clear sound, transfer over to acoustic. If you wish, stay on electric. Use a clean tone with light reverb or chorus.
As for playing the chords, do not use a pick but rather articulate each chord with your thumb, index, middle, and ring fingers. You can add a tap after each chord however, know that Ed doesn’t over-emphasize that technique in this song. I do it just to mark the rhythm of the pattern.
Take your time with this one. Move back and forth through the chords making sure you are accurate with both right and left hands.
Here is my tutorial on “New Man”.
It’s that time of year again. The dreaded few weeks of intense rehearsals and music director stress. Assessment season leaves its mark on many weary music teacher. This phenomenon is not lost on the students who bear the brunt of this hyper-preparedness syndrome.
This past Saturday, a student of mine came in for his lesson and immediately began talking of his escapades in his 8th grade middle school band class. Seems he was removed from class for his “attitude”. Well, long story short, he proceeded to play a smooth little pentatonic/aeolian riff during his warm up that caught my ear. Immediately, we transcribed it and named it “The Assessment Lick”. It’s always a thrill to see young students creating such gems out of the blue. Creativity born of frustration and teen angst.
Make sure to work slowly picking each note. Once you master the pattern you should proceed to repeat it slowly making sure you have locked in pick direction and articulation.
Of course, if you take the same note and make it a G natural (10th fret) you have a pure pentatonic pattern that will impressive your friends and maybe, just maybe, your band director:)
This is a right hand exercise using only the right hand thumb and index finger.
It is a little tricky at first as the movement collapses from the top to the bottom (lower) 6th string. In order to keep the exercise within the first year limitation, the thumb plays on the 6th string only.
*Keep in mind that we are working towards the Travis Style of picking and in that vein, you will use both the index and middle fingers on the upper three strings.
Please take your time with this going slowly and carefully. This will develop your ability to play more complex patterns with independence between the thumb and the index, middle, and ring fingers.