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Cry Me a River - A Fingerstyle Guitar Lesson.

Guitar Lesson by Kirk Lorange

This Lesson explained


Cry Me A River is a great old classic written by Arthur Hamilton way back in the early 1950s. It's been covered countless times and here is my fingerstyle arrangement for you. As always with these lessons I tried to keep it as simple as possible without losing the essence of the tune, which is essentially a blues. When I start working these out there are notes and chord fragments flying left and right as I figure out, first, the progression, second, where and how to position it all on the fretboard. This one has a lot of jazzy sounding chords and it did take a while to achieve that, to find a good key and to keep paring back all the non-essential bits and pieces. I chose the key of F and dropped D tuning.

There is nothing overly complicated or tricky about the final arrangement apart from a couple of stretches over that G9 chord.

I came up with a four bar intro based on the opening chords of the verse. I have written as Dm slash chords rather than naming each one (which would read Dm, BbMaj7, Bm7b5, Dm7) because you could easily keep playing a D bass note under all of them and it's easier to visualize what's going on musically seeing them all as Dm chords with new bass notes.

The verse starts at bar 5 and you will probably wonder why I went all the way up to the ninth fret to play that opening note. It's an E and I could just as easily -- easiER, in fact -- played the open E string or even the 5th fret on the second string. They're all the same E. The reason I chose the one way up the fretboard is that it just sounded better. You can't manipulate and open string, give it life, add vibrato. The E on the second string still didn't give me that same vibe. The E on the third string just seemed to have more drama to it, more vibe, so that's where I kept going each time. You can of course pick your own E note. It's obviously more compact to keep it down closer to where the rest of the tune is played but I think you'll feel the same way after trying the other two options.

The rest of the verse is fairly straight forward. Watch the video for my choice of fingering. That little double stop beginning of bar 6 might need a couple of run throughs to get -- you need to let that B bass note keep ringing while letting go of the E on the string above -- and the Gm7 requires a barre, something I try to avoid but there was no other option. Then there's that stretch over the G9 chord. Sorry about that. That's one of the down sides of Dropped D: all bass notes on the 6th string are two frets further up the neck.

The verse repeats but the second turnaround replaces the Em7b5 with a E7aug (or #5) which then leads to the middle 8 section which is in the key of Am. That E7 acts as a V chord to herald the new key.

You may find the next passages a little tricky. The melody line goes up while the bass line line goes down, a series of double stops that will no doubt require you to consult the tab/notation. I couldn't help myself ... I heard this in my head and had to use it. Once you get it, though, it's great fun to play. The middle eight section works its way back to a suspenseful Asus2 -- neither major nor minor -- before an quick Em which brings in a nice solid A chord, which acts as the V chord of the Dm which brings the verse back into play. Such a great composition.

Last verse is just a repeat of the first two.

I then indulge in a bit of slide playing over a fingerstyle rhythm part of the whole tune. I'm basically playing the same positions as but as chords this time.

This is a beautiful tune and I hope you enjoy putting it all together. Once the positions and fingerings settle into to muscle memory and you can play through without thinking too much, it truly is a joy to play.


Guitar Lesson by Kirk Lorange

Kirk LorangeAs well as putting together these fingerstyle guitar lessons, I am also the author of PlaneTalk - The Truly Totally Different Guitar Instruction Package, which teaches a mindset, a way of thinking about music and a way of tracking it all on the guitar fretboard. Yes, there IS a constant down there in the maze of strings and fret wire, a landmark that points to everything at all times. I call it The Easiest Yet Most Powerful Guitar Lesson You Will Ever Learn and many testimonials at my site will back up that rather superlative description. If your goal as a guitar player is to be able to truly PLAY the guitar, not just learn by rote; to be able to invent on the fly, not memorize every note; to be able to see the WHOLE fretboard as friendly, familiar territory, not just the first 5 frets and to do it all without thinking about all those scales and modes, then you should read more here.