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.
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.
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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:
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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.
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Fret tapping is a technique that involves applying enough pressure on the frets to produce a sound without using the other hand to pluck or strum the string. Typically, you want to find a note that has the right harmonics or overtones that are complementary to the note you’re trying to produce.
In this cover of the Beatles song “Norwegian Wood,” I’m using this technique in a couple different ways. Let’s start at the beginning. After strumming a few harmonics on the 12th fret, I kick things off. You can view this in the YouTube video at 0:05 to 0:10 seconds in.
With the left hand, I’m tapping out two notes. After hitting the fret, I’m pulling the strings before releasing. This is sometimes referred to as “hammering on” and off the string. The effect provides not only the fret tapping notes, but the open string notes immediately after. This creates a trill in harmony.
Meanwhile, with the right hand, I’m tapping on the lowest string (here tuned down to D) and then the A string.
This technique is slightly different for fret tapping. Here, what I am doing is tapping with the index finger of my hand directly over the 12th fret. It’s a very quick action, almost a jab. I am not pressing the finger onto the fret. The jabbing effect produces the harmonics for that particular string.
I’m alternating between the low D (or drop D from the usual low E) and then tapping the A string. This gives the effect of a contrapuntal “bass” line to the left hand.
To view this technique in the video, look at the frames between 10 and 15 seconds in the YouTube video.
Once you have mastered each technique in the left and right hands, try putting them together and you have the intro! Good luck and let me know in the comments section how it worked for you.
I’ll post more about other techniques used in Norwegian Wood and other instrumentals in the coming days, weeks and months. If you are interested, you can follow this blog to get notified about updates.
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I’m using Elixir 12-53 Nanowebs on my guitar. I find these strings last a lot longer than most and have a clear and bright sound. The link here is an affiliate link to Amazon, if you’re interested in trying them out.
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