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Somewhere (There's A Place For Us)

Guitar Lesson by Kirk Lorange

PlaneTalk Online

For a mere $4.95, you can download the Guitar Pro file and a printable PDF of the tab/notation of this lesson. The fee helps me to pay for the hosting and running of this site and allows me to create more of these lessons. Click here to order it. Thanks!

This is another of those tunes I've been hearing for most of my life. West Side Story first hit Broadway in 1957. I was 8 years old, we had just moved from Havana Cuba to Spa Belgium* and I remember hearing this on Radio Luxembourg. It made a deep impression on me.

I've done this in Dropped D again -- I do love Dropped D -- and I must warn you: this one is tricky, or at least this one has a tricky passage. I spent many hours trying to smooth out my performance, looking for alternative, hopefully easier, positions but to no avail. So I persisted and finally got a half decent take. If I knew more about adjusting the action on an acoustic guitar I would have worked on it a bit. Up around the 12 fret, my Palm acoustic is just a little uncomfortable, but as they say: a poor craftsman should never blame his tools.

This is such a great composition. I used Leonard Bernstein's original orchestral arrangement as my guide. I encourage you to have a listen ... such a lush, evocative sound.

The opening is a fairly familiar sounding chord progression, very diatonic (related chords only) apart from the C.

So we have the first V chord in the opening bar (A7) which leads to:

| I - IV - | vi - V - | I - IV - | V - - - | iii - iv - | IV - bVII - | V - - - |

so that bVII chord is the outside chord, the C. The A/G in the tab is just an A7 chord with the 7 in the bass. The G/A is just an A11 which functions as a V chord. So, as I say, nothing too much out of the ordinary. That repeats up to the C, and then ... Key change!

The C acts as a I chord and then we have a vi chord (Am), a IV chord (F) but it's a dominant 7 so it acts as a V chord to a new I chord, the Bbmaj7 so another key change then ... I'm afraid I'm not savvy enough theory wise to track the next part.

Who cares? It just sounds so cool.

Eventually, through the F to E to C#m we get back to an A chord, the V of the original key of D.

So, for me, it's those bars 17 to 24 that tested my mettle. Hopefully you will find it a little easier than I did.

The chord I didn't mention above is that Gm/A. A G minor chord played over an A bass. I stumbled onto that chord in a previous lesson (Free as a Bird) and remembered it as a substitute for A7 in the key of D. It works just as well in this tune.

Anyway, enough of all this dissecting, the fact is, it's a beautiful piece of music that you're really going to enjoy playing once you get it down. If you're anything like me, you're going to have to put some time into those 7 or eight measures before you can play it with some sense of musicality.

Until next time!

*My dad worked for a multinational tire company that sent him -- and the family -- here, there and everywhere.


For a mere $4.95, you can download the Guitar Pro file and a printable PDF of the tab/notation of this lesson. The fee helps me to pay for the hosting and running of this site and allows me to create more of these lessons. Click here to order it. Thanks!