This is the guitar/vocal version of “Heat Waves” by Glass Animals. Vocalist/Guitarist, Dave Bayley, Does a magnificent job on this stripped back version.
What is a stripped version of a song? Think of a song that is fully loaded. Then strip away all of the excess baggage. But, how do you know what the excess are? Think of layered synthesizers, drum parts, bass (sometimes), and vocal harmonies.
I’ve always been fascinated with the guitar playing of Dan Kanter. His playing, mainly when he was with Justin Bieber, always stands out as innovated and hip. His ability to create multi-faceted rhythmic effects that more than mimic the original electronic based versions of songs is second to none.
As an example, Bieber’s live cover of “Hotline Bling” is one of Dan’s best work. In the following tutorial you will see the approach that he can deliver with seeming ease. There are only two chords in the song itself. They are jazzy vesions that are not hard to grab if you put a couple hours into the process.
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.
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.
What were they thinking? A pop song starting out with an intentionally messy acoustic guitar riff? And of all bands to do it? Maroon 5? Well, as soon as you have pop music figured out the wackiness of the genre outflanks you. But, this is an unusually fun riff to play it’s well worth the effort you put it to learn it.
Solving this unusual, but clever guitar part will depend on your alternate picking skill. While not played at supersonic speed, it will nevertheless be challenging if you have not developed a fair amount of speed with your pick. Add to that that unusual amount of “string noise” and you begin to see that this is not your everyday guitar riff so common in these days of everything must sound perfect in pop.
Take your time with this one and it will come. I have given about one minute of how to play the chords to this one. I am not a big fan of making songs easy to play as I feel it leads to complacently for those who need to put more effort and time into their playing.
You have to give credit to pop-music songwriters. They know how to conjure up hooks that pull you in and lead you to the land of guilty pleasure that you swore you had abandoned. Take the song “God Is A Woman” from the vocal queen of pop, Ariana Grande. She can deliver real vocal supremacy that is more than enough to perk your ears up. But, in the over-produced world of pop music, there’s always more.
From the start, “God Is A Woman” is a hook monster. The guitar enters immediately with jazzed-up arpeggios loaded with a “Black Hole Sun” vibe that instantly resonates with anticipation and drama. The mastermind of this musical addition must be credited with knowing how the concept of cross-genre composition works. Hats off to foresight!
There are five chord forms in this song. Each will require just a little woodshedding to get under your fingers. They are and they aren’t barre forms. I’d rather call them “jazz grips”. Once you get these under your fingers you will be well on your way towards supercharging your chord knowledge and performance on the guitar.
I recommend playing this on electric guitar, however there is no reason you can’t play it on acoustic. It will be a little more of a struggle of course but, the guitar is a challenge no matter what you wish to do beyond the typical capo up and play easy chords method that is infecting the YouTube airwaves.
I have included a link to the tab here as well as the YouTube tutorial. Have fun my guitar friends!
Learning to perform acoustic versions of songs is much easier when it’s the artist who has performed it. It settles all arguments and for sure gives you the correct fingerings and chord voicing if you are unsure.
Of course, you had to figure that Bruno Mars played guitar. A musician of his stature has learned many things most of us never see out of pure necessity. More importantly, Bruno Mars is not just an entertainer, he is much more than that. He is a very wise musician who knows how to cultivate success. He knows how to write material with a groove unmatched in its groove factor more than anyone else in the last forty years.
But, there’s another angle, dare I say formula, which Bruno knows well. Surround yourself with top-flight musicians who are flawless in execution and navigating the stage. Choose also musician’s who share your mind-set. Don’t grasp for musical mechanics who can play your music backwards and forwards, chose the ones who take the gig because they belong there.
Learning “Nothing On You” is a great way to get back the the foundation of a song. To see it’s parts in an unfiltered environment and to play like Bruno.
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.