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House of the Rising Sun - Lesson 2

Guitar Lesson by Kirk Lorange
Difficulty Rating: Beginner-Intermediate


House of the Rising Sun (2) - The lesson explained.

Click here for House of the Rising Sun - Lesson 1 | Click here for House of the Rising Sun - Lesson 3

In lesson 2 we're going to add the melody to the picking we learned in lesson 1. The melody is on lower end of things in this one, a bass melody of sorts.

You'll notice that I left the 'skip' in the picking pattern out in this one, the pattern is nice and steady and un-syncopated, but you should experiment with adding it back in. The aim of this series of lessons is to get through the chords/melody line of this great old classic in as many ways as possible so that we can blend them all together into one final arrangement.

The thumb takes care of the melody notes in this version, of course, because it's all played on the bass strings. You'll hear that the arpeggios of the chords in the progression simply fill in the spaces between the melody notes. It should all flow nicely.

There are some big reaches and a bit of traveling up and down the fretboard, and in one little section (bar 7) a couple of open strings come into play unexpectedly. This version is definitely more challenging than Lesson 1, but, as I always say, it's just a case of mind over fingers ... you're the boss, make those fingers do what you tell them to do. It's amazing how quickly they obey, so don't be daunted.

I added a bit of color to the piece by throwing in the E augmented chord ... it just seemed right and it's little touches like these that perk the ears up and keep the listener interested. It resolves to the plain old E7. The pauses in the picking are for the same reason ... just to add interest.

There's a little hammer-on (bar 2) and a little slide-up (bar 10) you'll see them in the tab and see/hear them in the movie. The tab shows you what note you pluck (small number) and what note you hammer on or slide up to (big number). The hammer/slide should produce the ultimate note without any picking. There are also a couple of bends I added right near the end. I was hearing the sung melody in my head when putting this together and decided the best way to express the last part of the verse on guitar was to bend those notes like a singer might do. Because the bends are on the bass strings, you'll be pulling the string down toward the middle of the neck. Most bends are done on treble strings and are pulled up, again toward the middle of the neck, but if you bend in that direction on the bass E string, you pull the string right off the fretboard. Bending is one of those techniques that needs a lot practice, but the gist of it is to make the pitch of the note go up by adding tension to the string. You do that by pulling it sideways, but you have to make sure you keep the string in good solid contact with the fret wire while you do it, or the note will die off. These bands are a half step each, so the note you should aim for is the one one fret higher than where you start. Both of these notes are going from the note below the 3 of each chord and bending up to the 3. The Am's third is already flat, of course, being a minor chord. If you find bending a little too difficult or painful, don't bother ... it'll still sound fine. They're just little subtleties anyway.

Try tacking this on to the end of lesson 1 to hear a building arrangement ... just keep picking through those last chord instead of strumming like I do in the video.   >> Now let's look at House of the Rising Sun - Lesson 3