Both Sides, Now - A fingerstyle guitar lesson.
Both Sides, Now - The Lesson ExplainedThis is a request from Tim who wrote me recently asking for an arrangement of this great old Joni Mitchell tune. I never did find the version he was referring to but I'm better at coming up with my own arrangements than copying others so here it is, Tim.
This is quite challenging. It took me quite a while to get my fingers to feel comfortable with it all but, as always, practise did the job. I really did want to keep that vibe that Joni had going with her open tuning. When I finally the right approach I could barely play it. The fingers refused to obey ... at first. I often find that a nice break from it all is the answer. Take a walk to the café, do my sudoku puzzle, clear the brain, come home and nail it. Always a good feeling.
This is in Dropped D -- again -- just the bass string down a whole step. I do love dropped D and it works well with this tune.
That opening sequence -- bars 2 and 3 -- had me going for a while. I knew what I wanted to hear but getting my fingers to cooperate was another thing. They finally submitted. The there's the stretch at bar 4 ... ugh. My poor old tendons didn't like that but it was the only way to express that passage so they finally gave in.
That leap up the fretboard in bar 6 was, to me anyway, the easiest and cleanest way to nail that passage. You can of course stay down near the nut for the D and F# notes. I found my fingers tripping over each other down there.
The 'chorus' section I played in sixths. You'll be fairly au fait with these intervals after La Paloma and Maria Elena ... they're basically the same moves in all those tunes. I chose to play them on the same strings moving up and down the fingerboard but you can also keep them all down near the nut if you prefer. I do like the consistency of tone when you stay on the same string set for any given passage, myself. Sometimes when you move from one string set to another the tonality changes which, to my ear, interrupts the almighty flow.
That pesky stretch returns briefly at bar 22 -- that's a tricky bit to keep clean -- and shortly after there are a couple of pulloffs in bars 24 and 25 leading up to the ending. Watch the video to see when and where.
The main challenge is with the timing between the melody line and the bass line so concentrate on that aspect.
Hope you like it!
As well as putting together these fingerstyle 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.