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Chariots of Fire - It's amazing what you can do with only 3 chords!

Guitar Lesson by Kirk Lorange
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The video with un-blurred virtual fretboard can be downloaded from a link at the top of the TAB


Chariots of Fire - The Lesson explained


We finger stylists are always on the lookout for ways to practice finger/thumb independence and when I heard this great movie theme the other day, my attention went straight to the repetitive root note that drones away throughout. After a bit of experimenting I decided it would make a great lesson. I used that drone as a bass line and worked the melody line in on top. It was, and remains, a challenge to keep it all flowing nicely and I think you're going to find this to be a very good piece to pull out from time to time to keep those fingers and thumb working independently of each other.

It's in G, and musically this is a great example of what you can do with just the I-IV and V chords of the key. I've kept it all fairly simple in that regard but I encourage you to have another listen to the original and take note of the many layers of lines, phrases and motifs, all strictly locked into those three major chords and their tones.

So, first things first: get that bass line happening. It may seem too easy at first to simply keep a low G repeating but you'll quickly see that it's not. Keeping it steady and musical is a challenge in itself. You'll hear that I'm varying the dynamics by altering the intensity of the notes, but making sure the tempo is regular and unaltered.

The melody line starts on the 2 beat of the measure and this is where it gets tricky. You really do need to take your time with it as some of the melody notes fall between the bass notes, some are played together. That's what needs to be mapped out mentally at first and played very slowly. Let your muscle remember the sequence before picking up the tempo. Once muscle memory kicks in, you're on your way to to the next stage, which is making it all flow like music. I've said it many times before: The flow is the music; the music is the flow.

The first two passes through what I call the verse are just bass line and melody line. Then comes what I call the chorus. I found it nicer to have the bass line stop there and open it all up, so this part is fairly straight forward. Just watch what fingers you're using to grip the chords. It took some experimenting to come up with a way that doesn't get them all tangled up and I think the way I do works best. The video will show you how.

The second two passes incorporate the chords and it gets a little bit trickier again. Here you need to keep the bass line droning away, play the melody line as before and add the chord changes (which, happily, are very simple) and let those chord ring out the whole time.

The second chorus is the same as the first apart from a little twiddly bit that you can either do or leave out.

I end it with a repeat of the verse but the bass line is now two to the bar instead of eight. You might want to come to this section first as it's easier.

As always, make it fun!