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La Mer - A Fingerstyle Guitar Lesson.

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


This Lesson explained


This one is for my dear mother who I visited recently in Vancouver. She's 100. She's had quite a life and she's always loved music. She told me her favorite tune has always been "La Mer" (The Sea, in French), a tune I remember hearing all my childhood, so I told her I'd do an arrangement and a lesson. Not that she will be learning the piece on guitar, but I'm sure she'll enjoy listening to it.

The song was written by Charles Trénet and covered by many, including Frank Sinatra and Bobby Darrin who sang the English version "Somewhere Beyond The Sea". I had a quick listen to a few versions to refresh my memory and thought 'Oh yeah, easy, no sweat'.

It wasn't that easy. Not that are any weird changes in the progression, but the tune does change key three times and finding a nice, clean pathway through the changes in all keys was not as easy as I first thought. It took a while to finally settle on an arrangement that felt right, that allowed the piece to flow, that I could present to you as something worth practicing up.

The tune is in C, then changes to E, then to G (so I did get our favorite key in!), then back to C. It was the E section that gave me grief but I eventually came up with a way of piecing together a fairly simple way through it.

So it starts in C and starts as a basic I -- iv -- IV -- V progression. Very familiar sounding (thanks in part, I guess, to this very song). It does that twice, then it takes an interesting turn by the insertion of an E7 into the progression leads nicely into an Am chord, then a couple of bars later there is an F to A7, echoing the C to E7 earlier ... very nicely done, Charles. The turn-around is also unusual in that a D7 appears which seems to indicate a key change to G, but the G becomes a dominant 7 and leads us back into a repeat of the whole thing in the original key of C. It's very clever.

At the end of the repeat, all of a sudden a B7 comes into play and we're into the key of E, playing the same melody line over the same changes, then a D7 appears, a V chord of G and we're in the key of G, for real this time ... same melody line and changes ... then that root chord becomes G7, the V chord of C, and we're back in the original key for one more pass. The ending is mine: G# to A# to C.

If you're anything like me, you'll find a lot of the moves quite challenging. Again, not because unusual chords arise, but because of the way the fingers need to move around the fretboard. Maybe I'm just getting too old and stiff!

You might want to click the little Settings Icon on the video (the cog) and slow the speed down to half speed to make it easier to see what I'm doing.

Hope you like it!