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.
YouTube Cover Version
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.
Guitar Pro Tab:
Girls Like You Tab
Girls Like You – Youtube Tutorial
There’s not a song that Dan Kanter can’t make a thousand times more interesting on the guitar. There’s not a hit he can’t decode and apply to the acoustic guitar in ways that make you shake your head. And finally, there’s not a synthesizer riff that he can’t manipulates into a smooth melodic stream of consciousness that doesn’t make you surrender and say, “Man, I wish I could come up with riffs like that!”
This is a long overdue tutorial on my part. Many have asked for it and finally, I’ve begun the process. I share with you here the introduction (a full 14 measures long) and the first verse (another 8) of Justin Bieber’s “I’ll Show You” Live in Toronto (2015).
I’ve worked on many of Dan’s arrangements of songs from not only Justin, but from the smoldering and talented, Julia Michaels. So ya, I feel I have a grip (admittedly a loose one) on Kanter’s very intelligent and always surprising guitar style.
For the first 5 minutes, standard tuning was doable. But, the awkwardness of the fingerings and the string noise put and end to that experiment. Within minutes the “Dan is up to it again” light went on in my brain. It was then that the guitar sounded open and the fingerings were smooth, but regimented.
Finally, I figured out that the second string was also tuned up one-have step, to of course, C. It took another two minutes to see that something was up with string 4. Well, looking at Dan’s hand position wasn’t easy as the camera was not friendly to him in this video. I did catch a glimpse of his second finger on the 4th string’s 2nd fret. It was then that I discovered that Dan had tuned string 4 up one-half step to Eb(D#). What a solution he had come up with to totally make the part ring out!
You will only need your fourth, third, and second strings for this section. Use the thumb, index, middle “claw fingering” with your right hand.
Much more to come.
Here is the Guitar Pro score so far:
“I’ll Show You” – Guitar Pro Tab Score
Tutorial (YouTube link)
“I’ll Show You” Tutorial
“Nothing On You” Straight from the source.
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.
“Nothing On You” Tutorial
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.
Here is the tutorial:
Depression & Obsession Tutorial
Here is the PDF of the tab:
Guitar Pro Tab
“Find Me” Guitar Tutorial
XXXTentacion has once again placed the guitar front and center in another of his mixes. The young man continues to use the instrument that was missing in the genre since the days of the famous collaboration with Run DMC “Walk This Way”.
X’s guitar is very unlike Joe Perry’s as there are no wild guitar solos and few power chord excursions. What there is though is pure rhythmic and melodic contours that light up his music.
For this song you will need a clean electric and delay. Check out the tutorial and I’ll have more to say here.
“Find Me” Tutorial
“Find Me” Guitar Pro Score/Tab
“Góðan Daginn” – Acoustic Guitar Tutorial (Part 1)
There is no way to do a thorough job on a song as long and dense as this one. Therefore, I will break it up into three videos. This first installment covers the Intro and Verse. Those sections alone take :45 seconds. Imagine that, a real introduction. Most pop songs are heading into the chorus by now.
The acoustic guitar score is brilliant in its non-stop arpeggiated beauty, It serves as a guide of sorts for the massive orchestration that eventually surrounds it. For those of you in the upper-intermediate playing range, this will further develop your playing in terms of what I like refer as “note streaming”. That being a constant flow of notes that are rarely interrupted (if at all) by stops or pauses. This is the perfect introduction concentrated guitar playing. Stay focused and keep your movements even and on the beat.
While not too difficult to play, you must take care to not become complacent and sloppy throughout. It’s very easy to create a lot of string chatter on this part. Make sure to lift your fingers and move quickly and accurately to the next chord. I also recommend using a pick on this but, you should do what comes natural to your playing style. Looking forward to completing this gem!
Here are your links:
Sigur Rós – “Góðan Daginn” Youtube Tutorial
“Góðan Daginn” Guitar Pro Tab/Score
Sigur Rós Website
“Fast Car” by Justin Bieber (Live Cover) Tutorial
I’ve put this post up in order to “house” the Guitar Pro score of “Fast Car” by Justin Bieber that I transcribed. Some have had a hard time getting the link to work on Dropbox. Sorry about that.
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.
The musical world according to a young visionary.
When I set out to put together my weekly radio show with three female musicians I had no idea how it would fly. Well, it flew just fine thank you. The final segment was planned to be an interview/review of a double-release by the band, Silver and Moonlight. However, and as a great surprise to me, the interview segment blossomed into an exhaustive analysis of music making, improvisation, the inner workings of band live and composition, and a look into the mind of a gifted and artistic young lady…I would dare say a modern, artistic renaissance woman.
A little background:
Kiaya Abernathy is a vocalist, lyricist, multi-instrumentalist, spectacular visual artist, and a very creative photographer. If that isn’t enough, she’s strong-willed, perceptive, and enlightened. That would all be understandable if she were in her forties, but if you take off a decade and a have you are closer to the truth.
Kiaya is dedicated to bringing to the masses art in all of its expression. In this interview, she speaks for all of us who struggle to bring forth creative and meaningful music into a world where sameness and commercial gain eclipse meaning and foresight.
As you listen to Kiaya speak about her band, her father, her ideas, and her hopes for the future, think of the way things could be. The way music would change if her worldview were a reality. If music were set free from the chains of what has to be.
Check out the 31 song double album release by Silver and Moonlight:
Stars Shining Bright and Loon Call are here:
The Bands Website
My radio show, The Studio Rocks with Mark Campayno, can be heard every weekend here:
The Studio Rocks w/Mark Campayno
A Nylon String Guitar Original Work
This “classical guitar” work in the new acoustic style is by far my favorite of the ones I’ve written so far. Both its sound and construction are exactly what I look for in instrumental guitar works. Like anything else that comes as a pleasant surprise, this was one of those sessions where everything came together. I must say however, that I never go into a session with a preconceived idea, well at least not one that is carved in stone. My brain doesn’t work that way even though I can be very conservative and by the book in other areas of performance and study.
I go in to such sessions randomly trying not to get caught up in the guitarists mindset that can plague your endlessly. The thoughts and schemes such as what key? What scales or chords? Should I go into an altered tuning or not? Should I play fast or slow? That does nothing more than push your spirit into a one-dimensional force bent on being traditional. Traditional for the sake of tradition. Not to pay homage to it, but to be bound by it.
I don’t remember consciously doing this but it has a logical rhythmic flow to it. The piece starts out by stating the melody in between a very dense foundation
of dark arpeggiated chords. I overdubbed some, but not all of the harmonics onto the work as a decorative effect. I, like many non-guitarists, tend to find them aurally attractive and very desirable especially on acoustic guitar.
The slurred sections were not easy but flowed surprisingly well considering that I had no plan for incorporating them. I’m very happy with how they turned out. It’s my climbing Mount Everest moment as that are fairly athletic. It will take quite a few minutes to pull them back under my fingers in that exact configuration. However, I must take the time to score out the work so as to codify it. In that way, it becomes “official”, solid, unbending. Unless, of course, I go back and change the score.
As musicians, we all have areas that are endemic to our playing. I love the angular in music, but to produce it well is not easy. This was one time that it happened without the usual struggle and gnashing of teeth. The fleeting moments of non-compliance with the voices in our heads that would doubt us.The total control one has sought from the beginning of the journey. However, I’m sure I’ll go back to the struggle until I can take control of angular and the unexpected in my playing.
Thank God for the guitar.
-Mark Jeffery Campayno