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Take Me Out to the Ballgame - A Fingerstyle Guitar Lesson

Guitar Lesson by Kirk Lorange
Difficulty Rating: Beginner-Intermediate


Take Me Out to the Ballgame - the lesson explained.

I guess this one is most familiar to our American members but I think anyone will recognize it. I kept the jazz out of my arrangement and stuck to plain old chords ... the way a brass band would have played it.

It's in G. As usual, G yields the most compact arrangement for guitar, and you'll see that it uses a pretty standard way of bringing in outside chords: the ii and vi chords have been 'majorized' ... in other words, the E and all-but-one of the A chords are not the usual minor flavor you'd expect in the key of G, but they've been turned into major chords. If you were to go through the lessons I've posted here, you'd find countless examples of this. You can easily experiment with hearing the difference in this tune: try strumming bars 28 and 29 as Em and Am and you'll quickly hear that it works just fine ... but it's not quite the song we've got to know. So even though the key of a song might naturally generate certain chords, that doesn't mean that composers have to use them, they can use any chords they choose, but the 'majorized minors' is probably the most common way of doing that. The bass note and the fifth (1 and 5) of the diatonic -- in key -- minor chord are preserved, but the 3 moves up a semitone to the major 3. "Minorizing the majors" is another way of altering chords.

Notice that the first 3 notes in this are all G notes; the opening double stop is a G bass note with a G melody note above it, the next note in the melody is another G, this time an octave above the first melody note. So, if you want to practice hearing intervals, this is a good one to use for octaves. Just think of the two first words "Take me" .. that's an octave you're hearing. Another octave interval you could use is interval between the two syllable "Some - where" from "Over the Rainbow". Like everything else, hearing is just a matter of practice over time. I still mentally use the first two notes of the first tune I ever learned (Apache) to hear a 'fourth'.

There's nothing too tricky about the fingering for this -- there's just a lot of it switching back and forth -- but you'll notice a very important aspect of playing finger style guitar in this lesson: I often hold down a whole chord shape even though I'm not using all the notes from that shape. Right from the start you'll see that I'm holding down a G chord shape on the lower strings, that I'm including the B note (2nd fret, 5th string) ... but I never pluck that string; then I hold down a full D chord even though I don't play every note. Why? My excuse is that when I arrange these tunes, I first zone in on the chord structure. It's the framework that the whole arrangement is built around. So I start with the full chord then go looking for the melody line; I work out which fingers will best do the job and I leave all the others holding down the underlying chord. That way, if I were to decide to add another string into the arrangement to thicken things out a bit, my left hand is already there holding down the right notes. Also, if I were fumble and play the wrong string, it will be OK because I'll just be hitting another chord tone and it will sound OK. This happens throughout the piece so don't be confused if the movie and the tab don't seem to match up. This is a good habit to get into. If you know the underlying chord, hold down as much of it as you can.

The chord indicated are the underlying chords. I do in fact play a couple of real chord in the piece, like the E at bar 9, the G7 at bar 22, the C at bar 23 and the last three measures, but all the rest are double stops (two notes played at once) and all are fragments of the chord in play.

The trickiest bit is in the middle over the A7 and D7 (bars 13 to 16) where a harmony in 6ths takes over. There's some quick switching going on there, then the harmony ends on 3rds just to add to the complexity ... fun to play though, once you train your fingers.

Fun is what it's all about ... once you've got all the moves down, don't forget to inject the most important ingredient of all: the Music! Make it lilt along, make it live, let your fingers dance their way through it all ... make it groove.


Most of my lessons, including this one, are now free. Please consider making a donation so I can keep these free lessons coming. -- To donate, simply click the green donate button below and you will be taken to a PayPal page where you can enter the amount you would like to donate. No amount is too small ... or big!

A big thanks in advance, Kirk Lorange