Pink Floyd‘s tech-heavy composition, “Welcome to the Machine” was always way ahead of its time. It brooding and searching and minor-based sonic pallet always took some getting used to, at least for me. But, after covering the song, I discovered the incredible melodic motifs contained within.
The acoustic guitar has had occasional spotlight moments reaching out and making itself known as a legitimate accompaniment instrument worthy of featured airplay. Eric Clapton scored big with his 1992 mega-hit “Tears in Heaven”. The song dominated the charts and made it cool to play acoustic guitar again. Decades before, the Mason Williams classic instrumental, “Classical Gas” roared up the charts. The song won three Grammy Awards for Best Instrumental Composition, Best Contemporary-Pop Performance, and Best Instrumental Arrangement.
“Shallow” is nowhere near the level of the aforementioned songs in structure or instrumentation, but it is a wonderfully written guitar part and engaging song to play.
Make sure to take care on the chord switches during the intro and verse sections. I will finish the score making sure to provide a version that is not fingerpicked for those of you just wanting to strum and easier version.
One of Queen’s most unique compositions, “Love of my Life” encompasses all aspects of Freddie Mercury’s writing style. Mixed with Brian May’s angular guitar lines, which are perfectly weaved into Mercury’s complex musical twists of phrase, the magic of Queen becomes clear.
Thier music is not, and never has been, typical of the rock genre. It’s one thing to be progressive, but the music of Queen was a step ahead of that. It’s as though the two men, along with bassist, John Deacon and drummer/vocalist, Roger Taylor, challenged each other to reach for a higher musical consciousness. This divergent and inventive quartet ruled over the musical landscape of their time leading to the ultimate in musical creativity and longevity.
I chose to feature this excerpt as it contains my favorite Queen-isms. Multi-layered harmonies, excruciatingly beautiful vocal and guitar tones, and an emotional depth of feeling still unmatched by anyone since. May’s ability to place his guitar lines in just the right place without overdoing them is quite remarkable. If that was all he was a master of, he would still go down of one of the greats of all time. But, lest we forget his most enduring legacy, his tone. Yes, that soaring and irresistible tone. I didn’t dare attempt to replicate it exactly as that would have been blasphemous, not to mention time consuming. I did the best I could to capture the aura of the man’s genius.
The phrasing, the tonal colors, and the execution, are breathtaking. No shredding needed when you can create such melodic gems. Why waste excessive note wrangling when you can paint the world with sounds such as these?
Without question, the team of Freddie Mercury and Brian May rank right up there with the best of all time.
Yes, I admit it. I once said I didn’t like the artist, Passenger because of his voice. How naive again. It seems that once, maybe twice a year, I am forced to deal with the repercussions of my foolish and wasteful ways of thinking.
It was another in the long line of mind-resets that has opened a panorama of music to me, giving me access to a new and vibrant world of sound. This arpeggio-based ode to a mysterious, and painful love is beautifully and elegantly constructed and opens up fully during the bridge that at once, both tears at your soul and invigorates the senses down to the very air that you breathe.
As the music passes you think, yes, be careful of your tendency to pre-suppose. Live with more thought. Be like the music and flow, change, even create, but don’t forget that one should never stray too far from home.
The perfectly assembled harmonic flow mixed with melodic simplicity awakened lyrical prose that is rarely seen anymore. Wonderfully quaint, but biting words mixed with descriptive color schemes, make the merging of these two powerful art forms remind us of our humanity, in the of its light and dark hues.
Less definitely is more when you are trying to get a message into a song. The less clutter instrumentally, the less business in the harmonies and sections the better. It enables the vocal part to stand out and brings every nuance to the forefront. On “Depression and Obsession” by the late Alternative, Hard Rock, Nu-Metal, Rap, and Hip-Hop-influenced artist, XXXTENTACION (Jahseh Dwayne Ricardo Onfroy), this is certainly the case.
Take a somewhat rough acoustic guitar part, mix it with a tight beat and let the vocals do the rest. I’ve gone to great lengths to make this tutorial as close as possible to the original. This is not an “Easy Guitar” version, which serves collect views and deceives many to believe that anyone can strum along captured the vibe of a song that is far deeper than they could ever imagine. No, this version shows the rough edges and the way to play it with expression.
You will use only three chords throughout this song. But, in these three chords be prepared to dig deep if you want to bring life into this magnificent, minimalistic expression of darkness and pain.
PERFORMANCE NOTES: I’ve decided to use Drop-D tuning for this version. The reason is that I hear the lowered sixth string ringing out in two specific places. It makes the chords slightly more difficult to play but, I feel that to be authentic in replicating other’s songs, you should attempt to get as close as possible. The only chord that may take more work is the GMaj7. For that chord try to land your pinky first. It will take slow practice but, that chord shape comes up a lot in an Am/G context in many songs.
The new song, “Youngblood” by Five Seconds of Summer (5SOS) is one of their better offerings. The chorus riff alone is worth learning off of this one. I examine the guitars parts for you and put into perspective how effective layered guitar lines (even easy pop ones) can be.
The version I present to you here is perfect for a full-band rendering. This is not what I like to call a “strum and grin” cheese version. This is playin’ it real.
I have pulled out what I have interpreted after a once over with the song yesterday. I may tweak things a little more as I listen, especially in the bass during the chorus. When I do, I will re-send the tab and comment here on additions or changes.
Acoustic Guitar Tutorial for “It’s Strange” original by Louis the Child (Feat. K. Flay).
For this tutorial I think it’s fair to warn you that you’d better be ready to work that right hand. Guitarist Ashley Juno is a firecracker of a player and is off the charts on this one minute barrage.
Handling both electric and acoustic guitars with ease this young lady is breathing fire into the word of pop and rock covers. She plays with an creative aggression not seen for a long time. Finally!!!!
I have provided the tab and tutorial for the first two measures! What? Why only two measures? Well, there is so much going on that I was not leaving any detail out of this wild acoustic guitar display. The into consists of only two chords, D Major 7 and an E minor 7. They are root 5 structures and will certainly get you up to speed on the shapes.
The challenge will be in the right hand. Well, I’ll have more to say about that soon!
This guitar tutorial for the song “Perfect”, written by Ed Sheeran, should present few problems if you are an intermediate and aboveplayer. The song is exclusively played in the arpeggio style using the well-know I – vi – IV – V chord progression.
This progression is still used today as almost a novelty (an insult if there ever was one) and has succumbed to the “extremely tired” I – V – vi – IV juggernaut that has produced so many lightweight pop offerings due to its ease of play and perfect fit for simple melodic doodling.
The song is in A Flat Major but of course, I’ve placed a capo on the first fret and played as in G. Hey, why struggle? I used a pick on this guitar part even though Ed favors a finger style approach on just about everything he plays. Additionally, I used my Taylor Koa instead of an electric.
Keep your wits about you at the end of the chorus as the little interlude is the halfway point of the song. I’ve fingered that with all open strings after the root notes (although the D chord has the typical F# in the bass).
“Perfect is a great song and an even greater collaboration with star-struck Ed Sheehan more than holding his own (relative to his genre) with the master vocalist Andrea Bocelli.
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.