A while back, a reader requested a guitar cover of this old soft-rock tune. I always like the melody and harmonies in this song, as schmaltzy and sentimental as the tune is.
I have been fooling around with a drop C tuning. And by that, I mean the entire guitar is tuned down to standard tuning. So this would be C-F-Bb-Eb-G-C.
I am playing a 1976 Guild D35NT. In fact, according to my research, it was exactly the second guitar off the factory line for Guild that year. I bought the guitar second-hand in 1978 and it has followed me around the country ever since.
We’ve made multiple cross-country treks, and even a few flights.
I had a bit of work done to it when I bought it. A luthier in Chico, CA, who had done work for David Crosby, re-fretted it and did a bit of scalloping to warm up the tone.
I only just recently began experimenting with the “tenor” tuning, and I am really enjoying it.
Anyway, here is my rendition of “Dance With Me.” And in this case, I am using the equivalent of “Drop D” tuning. The low E string in this case is tuned all the way down to Bb.
THE FIRST INSTRUMENT I can remember picking up was a harmonica at the age of 4 years old. But my passion for music began in earnest when I wrote my first song, in 1965. Composing has been a passion — maybe even a compulsion — of mine ever since.
I have had prolific years and sparse years, but I have written every year since then. This collection represents a baker’s dozen of these songs, covering every decade from the ‘60s up until the ‘20s.
And finally, here are the individual songs. I’ve divided them into two volumes. Volume I is a bit more jazz and avant garde in style. Volume II contains more traditional or what might be considered modern “classical” music.
I hope you enjoy them. Here’s a little description of each:
Key: A minor
Influence: Chick Corea
The first time I heard Corea was probably around 1973. I instantly was drawn to his fusion of traditional jazz and Latin rhythms.
Lost & Found
Years: 1974, 1989
Key: Eb major
Influence: Joni Mitchell, Larry Coryell
This began as a guitar riff in 1974. I had taught it to a friend, then forgot all about it. Years later, we reunited for a jam session and he played the chord pattern. I named it “Lost and Found” on the spot and finished it up on piano that year.
A Sample, But Not the Real McCoy
Key: Db major
Influence: Joe Sample, McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock
Based on the influences of these three great pianists/composers from the era of Miles Davis through jazz fusion, so you can probably guess how I arrived at this title.
In a Roundabout Way
Key: G major
Influence: Vince Guaraldi
Just a little ditty that I am pretty sure was inspired from the “Peanuts” TV specials when I was a kid. The piece is in 6/8 time, which has, to me, a feeling of a circular motion. Hence, the title.
Influence: Thelonius Monk, Scott Joplin, Jo Ann Castle
Key: F major
An homage to the ragtime and honky tonk piano composers and players.
If Only We Two Weren’t Lonely, Too
Key: C major
Influence: Bill Evans
This song pays tribute to the cool jazz ballads of the late ‘50s and ‘60s, in the style of tunes sung by Frank Sinatra or played by Stan Getz.
Key: B major
Influence: Frédéric Chopin, Robert Shumann, Ludwig van Beethoven
In the rural Connecticut of my youth, there was a favorite hiking trail with a cave known as “Devil’s Kitchen.” Being a good Catholic altar boy at the time, I christened a nearby rock to balance out the forces of good and evil. That memory came to me when writing this piece.
Key: C minor
Inspirations: Keith Emerson, Béla Bartók, Igor Stravinsky
One of my first “serious” piano pieces. So named because the left hand pattern resembles a spider or maybe a crab in motion.
Key: E major
Influence: Frédéric Chopin, Robert Shumann
Just a little ditty in ¾ time, reminiscent of Chopin’s etudes and Shumann’s “Kinderszenen” collection, which I studied quite thoroughly (but never truly mastered) in my youth.
Key: Ab major
Influence: Beethoven, Chopin, Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel, Johann Sebastian Bach
For most of this tune, the two thumbs are crossed over one another resulting in a battle of the hands audible in the countermelody.
Key: D major
Influence: Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel
I had always imagined this piece as a theme song for a children’s show. The title refers to constant modal changes that leave the melody unresolved.
To the Top of Stony Hill Road
Key: Gb major
Influence: Claude Paolini, Sr.
Reminiscent of the carefree days of my youth, walking up the hill to meet my best friend. This song is in the key that is principally played on the black keys and is derived from a little ditty my Dad taught me on the piano. The introduction is the chorus of the first song I wrote at the age of 10.
A Hymn for Her
Key: A major
Influence: Stephen Foster, Paul Simon
I’ve always been fond of traditional American folk music and hymns of the 19th century. Sometime in the ’90s, I had picked up a Lutheran Hymnal in a used book store. Playing through that provided the inspiration for this piece.
All proceeds from this album’s sales and streaming will be donated to the NAACP.
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CONTRARY TO POPULAR BELIEVE, this classic folk song has been around a lot longer than the version credited to Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel. But the duo certainly created a legendary rendition.
What I am going to show you is how to play this song as an instrumental on guitar. The voicings lend themselves well to an acoustic or even a nylon string. I just happened to have done a version on my archtop jazz guitar, so bear with me.
As always, I play the parts through at regular speed and then reduce to half speed so you are able to review the changes.
I hope you find this useful.
This particular song is in the key of E minor, which is one of the easier keys to play on the guitar, since it allows for open strings most of the time. I have noted where to leave the strings open with a O in the charts, and an X for where to mute the strings.
In this particular program I am using, I am not able to highlight the exact string that is playing the melody, but if you have a reasonably good ear, you will pick it out quite easily.
And here is my full version of the song:
Thanks for watching. And if you decide to learn how to play this song based on my lesson, please send me a video and perhaps I’ll feature one or two on my Facebook page.
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A step-by-step lesson on how to play the Beatles song
THE BEATLES blasted onto the world music scene almost 60 years ago as a rock ‘n roll band. But if you listen closely and analyze many of their songs, you’ll easily recognize the melodies and chord changes as being straight out of popular song, a derivative of the days of Tin Pan Alley.
This is why so many of their tunes lend themselves to being played as instrumentals and are even included in the “jazz standards” books.
This particular song is one my favorites. I’m including a step-by-step video tutorial here. I play the chords and the melody for each section, and then it’s repeated in slow-motion to give you extra time to learn it.
And here is the song played through just for reference:
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A WHILE BACK, I posted this video of a simple way to perform the Beatles classic on guitar. It involves using a capo, but only on the top 5 strings across the second fret. This provides a kind of “Drop E” or “Open E” tuning that I really like to use.
The advantage of this technique is that you don’t have to learn any new bar chords as you might have to do with most open tunings, and yet you get the benefit of allowing open strings to resonate with the chords and notes you play in this particular key. Here’s the original performance:
Well, today, I’m going to show step by step how to play this song, with a chord chart that you can use to follow along.
To receive a PDF of the chords and to get more of these instructions, you can sign up for my mailing list. I’d also love your feedback on whether you find these lessons useful.
And here is there full performance that I previously posted for reference.
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Last week, I posted this video of my instrumental cover of the Bacharach-David tune, “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again.” And I received several requests for the chart to my chord changes. So here it is, embedded in this video.
I strongly suggest slowing the video down to half speed, since some of the changes come very rapidly. And of course, you can always pause the video.
And here’s all the chords used in the piece in static view:
Hope this works for you and would appreciate hearing from you if it does. Subscribe to my blog to receive additional content and learn about new lessons as they are posted.
It took me awhile as a guitarist to figure this out: If you want to play a melody look inside the chords.
I know, this sounds like a Yoda riddle, but here’s the thing: There are thousands of chords. There are only 12 notes to the scale. Every one of those notes belongs to a chord. This means that as you are playing the chords to a song, you more than likely are playing the notes contained in the melody. It is, of course, possible, that a note here and there is not part of that chord. That’s what makes it interesting.
But it means that you’re likely not more than a note or two away from a root, third, fifth, sixth, ninth, etc. of the chords that you’re playing. So as you play the chords, listen for the notes in the melody, and then work from there.
What’s more, if you learn and know your inversions for all those chords, it’s even more likely you will have the note for the melody you’re looking for as you progress through the song.
This is how you get to play the chords AND the melody simultaneously.
Here’s an example with the classic song from Burt Bacharach and Hal David: “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again.”
If you’ve been following my blog to date, you no doubt have noticed I love using harmonics and fret tapping as part of my style. Here’s an example where I combine the two techniques to produce some interesting percussive tones.
Don’t forget, if you would like to slow the video down to study the technique more, you can click on the little gear on the lower right side of the YouTube window and pick your speed.
As always, if you’re interested in learning more and staying up to date on my posts, click the FOLLOW over to the right of this blog.
I’m a finger picker. Sure, I can use a plectrum or guitar pick and do so from time to time, but I prefer strumming and picking with my fingers. I find I have more control and in many instances can play faster.
Most people would assume finger picking is relegated to either classical music, blue grass, Americana or folk. But I’m going to demonstrate how it can be effectively used for blues with a little riff in A minor.
Essentially, what I am doing is using all five fingers on the right hand to voice the chords, and then arpeggiate (that is, play the chord by picking out each individual note in succession), providing what I think is a nice effect because it straddles between strumming a chord and sounding like a guitar riff.
Check out the video here on Youtube. Remember, you can slow the video down by going to settings to watch the finger style playing more closely.
Let me know what you think about this approach.
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