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I Wish I Was in Dixie - A fingerstyle guitar lesson

Guitar Lesson by Kirk Lorange
Difficulty Rating: Intermediate-Advanced

 

I Wish I was in Dixie - The Lesson explained


Here's one to stir the juices up. I did some research on this old tune ... quite the history behind it. I'm not American, but it still conjures up all kinds of imagery when I hear it. It's one of those tunes that keeps doing the right thing, keeps going to the right places, which is no doubt why it's stayed with us through the years. A 'hit song'.

It's in the key of G (what else?) and its chord structure is pretty much pure diatonic ... meaning all chords are related through the G major scale. There's just that one A major chord at bar 20 that's a bit of an outsider. The 'A' chord generated by the G major scale is minor, but it's been 'majorized' here. Gives it that nice lift. Try playing the minor there and you'll hear the difference. It works, but it's a whole lot weaker sounding. There's another momentary A7 passing chord at the end of bar 13, not really worth mentioning.

Here is the progression:

| G - - - | - - - - | C - - G | C - - - | G - - - | Em - - - | D - - - | G - - - | X2

| G - - - | C - - - | A7 - - - | D7 - - - | G - - - | C - - - | G - - - | D7 - - - | G - - - | D7 - - - | G - - - | D7 G - - |

And here it is as Roman numerals, if that kind of thing interests you:

| I - - - | - - - - | IV - - I | IV - - - | I - - - | vi - - - | V - - - | I - - - | X2

| I - - - | IV - - - | II - - - | V - - - | I - - - | IV - - - | I - - - | V - - - | I - - - | V - - - | I - - - | V I - - |

There are several cases of 'First' and 'Second Inversions' to take note of, which is where the chord uses a note other than the root as bass note. For example, measure 2: that's a G/B ("G over B") ... a G chord which uses its 3rd as bass note. That's a 'First Inversion'. In this instance the bass note leads nicely up to the C note, which is the root of the next chord. At bar 6, the chord is G, but the bass note is D. That's a G/D chord ("G over D"), a Second Inversion. At Bar 8 you'll see a D/F# ... another First Inversion. These slash chords are the result of my arrangement, of course, they're not necessarily the inversions you'll see and hear in other arrangements. I didn't bother writing them as slash chords in the video, however. It's perfectly OK to simply write the chord in charts like this.

There's nothing awfully tricky in this arrangement. I steered clear of any barre chords apart from that last E-form G barre chord. You can of course play any grip there, an open G is fine. I just found it easier to move into the barre chord following that previous one beat of D7. My left-hand index was already there at the third fret, making it the logical shape ... for me. What's easiest and most logical for me is not necessarily what's easiest and most logical for you, so feel free to experiment with other ways of playing all these sections. There is no 'right' way, just different ways.

You'll notice I treat that ascending melody line at bar 10 differently that I do at bar at bar 2. The second time around I play a harmony bass line. I find that in repeat sections of a piece, it's a good idea to add a bit to the arrangement rather than duplicate the first pass. It keeps the listener interested.

There are couple of passages that require both hands to play notes on non adjacent strings, something that can feel a bit strange at first, and a bit of traveling up the fingerboard. Just take it slowly at first, make sure you're getting it right, practice it as many times as you need to feel comfortable before picking up the tempo. Use those fret markers to lock in the positions of the little chordlets -- trust them -- they never change and they're there for that purpose.

That's about all I can think of for this one. Ask questions in the forum if you have any and enjoy it; it's such a great, familiar little piece of music.


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