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The Star Spangled Banner in G - A fingerstyle guitar lesson.

Guitar Lesson by Kirk Lorange
Difficulty Rating: Advanced

The Star Spangled Banner in G - The Lesson explained

Details on my newer version of the Star Spangled Banner (intermediate version in D) with the virtual fretboard can be found here.

Here is my fingerstyle arrangement of The Star Spangled Banner, the American national anthem ... if you're American, this will obviously mean a whole lot more to you than the rest of us, but no matter where you come from, it sure is a beautiful piece of music. I found a couple of versions online and pieced this almost Baroque version together.

I did it in G ... it's such a good key for fingerstyle, what with all the open strings that keep coming into play.

You'll see in the video (apologies for the distortion in the audio ... the mic was running a little hot ) that the left hand does quite a bit of traveling ... I tried to keep all the moves compact but the melody uses such wide intervals that I had no choice. It's all good practice! Let your arm and hand get to know the exact distances of those jumps up the fretboard.

I drop a couple of sections down an octave to try and keep it in the open chords region of the fretboard. You'll hear where.

This arrangement is a classic example of knitting melody line, bass line and chord fragments together into one seamless piece. Being a national anthem, quite a bit of work has gone into arranging it over the decades (centuries?) and the versions I heard were both very ornate and complex. I stripped them right back to the bare essentials, keeping this arrangement quite open and airy, very classical sounding... in fact in some places sounds almost like a lute.

I'll leave the Roman numeral progression out this week ... there are so many changes and suggestions of chords that it would be more confusing than helpful, but the main skeleton of its structure is firmly anchored to the I-IV-V chords (as always) and the deviations from the key are the usual majorizing of the ii chord ... a hint of a majorized iii . The chords indicated in the movie are pretty much what's going on, just a little simplified here and there. One thing you won't hear is any hint of the Blues ... not a flat 3 in sight.

You'll hear that I get trickier and trickier as I near the end ... I couldn't resist those busy bass lines. They're a ball to play once you learn them, and believe me, I worked on them for quite a while, nice and slowly, until they became engrained in my muscle memory.

The Tab is accurate, sorry about all the triplet symbols and other clutter ... I'm sure there must be a better way of notating it, but I don't know it! Try and ignore all the fly specks. You'll see that I didn't put any chord diagrams near the end. That's because I wasn't really working around any shapes for most of those bits.

The movie shows the basic hand positions ... the finger picking is a little blurred but it's a long movie and I had to compress the living daylights out of it to make it manageable.

Have fun with it, and if you're American, remember to take your hat off and stand up when playing it!

Guitar Lesson by Kirk Lorange

Kirk LorangeAs well as putting together these free 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.