As Time Goes By
The Lesson explained
Here's my arrangement of 'As Time Goes By' from the Humphrey Bogart classic, 'Casablanca'. It's interesting that nobody in the movie ever actually said "Play it again, Sam". But this is the tune Ingrid Bergman is referring to when she says "Play it, Sam". It's such an evocative piece of music, such a beautiful melody and chord progression. I hope I did it justice!
It's in dropped D, as usual. I think I should rename my lessons 'Kirk's Dropped D Lessons'. I do love the tuning and I realized why the other day: If you're playing in the key of G (my favorite guitar key), the V chord is D7. There's no stronger way to get back to the root than to approach it from the D note below the root. That low D note allows us to do just that since the V chord (D) is the way back to the tonic chord. When you play through a V chord, you obviously will include the root of D, and it's begging to get back up to the G.
I wrote a quick little intro since tunes of this era always included an intro. Nothing fancy, but as you will notice, it winds up at D7.
I won't go into any great detail about the progression, other than to say 'they don't write them like they used to'. It's a wonderful set of chords and I took the liberty of adding few of my own tweaks. I listened to a few (many, actually) versions of this. Most of them simply repeat the two opening chords of the 'verse', which didn't do much for me. Those chords, in G, are Am7 to D. I kept hearing a G# note in my head when the second Am7 came around. G# in the key of G implies a E7 chord (G# is the 3 of E7), so that's where the E7/G# comes from ... a faint note I heard in my head. I replaced the second Am7 with a E7 chord and I think it works quite well. Notice how each verse ends a little differently.
The middle 8 (count them, they call them 'middle eights' for nothing) is very cool. It opens with the only V chord in the whole piece then cycles through most of the verse chords and winds up (you guessed it) on a D7. The tunes from that era did use a sort of formula and were predictable in many ways, but never the melody line. The progressions may have been familiar, but the melodies were distinct.
There are a couple of stretches in this and a few twiddly bits, but those are good. They keep your fingers limber and you on your toes. This is definitely one to apply the 'think ahead' mindset. It's challenging but very rewarding once you get it down. Do be afraid to slow it right down. It sounds good slow. You can always speed it up later on when you really know it, and when you do you relish playing it and listening to it as you do.
See you next time 'round.