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This Masquerade - A Fingerstyle Guitar Lesson.

Guitar Lesson by Kirk Lorange

Know your fretboard
For this lesson, I will now be charging a small fee of US $4.95 for the Printable PDF of the TAB/Notation. Click here to order it.

The Lesson explained


Here is an arrangement I came up with for this great Leon Russell tune "This Masquerade". George Benson did a jazzier version back in the 70s and turned into a huge hit, won him a Grammy in fact, but Leon's original version is still the best, even with that odd singing style he had.

I did this in Am. It has a very familiar sounding chord progression (think Stairway to Heaven), the old minor to minor-major-seventh to minor-seventh move, but then it does a couple of key changes which makes it unique. I also used Dropped D, so lower that bass E string down a tone.

Minor Major Seventh? What's that I hear you asking. Simple: it's a minor chord (1-b3-5) with a 7 added. It's not the flat 7, it's the proper 7, the one from the major scale ... a major 7. It doesn't come up often and when it does it's usually in this context, as a kind of passing chord. You probably wouldn't want to write a tune suing a mM7 as the I chord, and if you did, it would never win you a Grammy, but as the chord you can fit between a minor and a minor seventh, it works a treat.

So, nothing too difficult about the opening two verses. You'll notice I treat the same section in two different ways -- two positions -- in bar 3 I play a little bar chord for the Am7, but in bar 11 I use a different shape which incorporates and open string. Same notes, different shapes, different sound, different effect. The second way (which also occurs in bar 35 has nice ringing quality about it. 

Then there's the key change(s). I can usually understand how composers come up with key changes. There's usually a chord that acts as a V chord to the new key that is somehow introduced into the progression, some kind of logic involved, some relationship between the two keys that makes musical sense. In this tune, I'm at a complete loss. I have no explanation. It just works. To jump, without any warning from Am to Gm is bizarre to say the least but then to change to F#m, again with no warning or connecting chord is ... insane. To then get back to the home key via two unrelated major chords is like something from another planet but ... it works. And it works beautifully. Leon is no longer with us, so we can't ask him what was going through his mind, and I'm sure someone out there who is far more savvy that me could explain it all, but I'm bamboozled.

It's also a right pain to play. There was no way out of those dreaded barre chord. I truly do loathe them. My index was never comfortable barring all six strings, it doesn't want to bend that way, and I've always avoided them like the plague. There was no option in this tune. I really did have to work on that section for a while, so don't feel bad if you do too.

I go back to a verse after the key changes and then I played some plucked rhythm guitar of the whole progression so I could play a slide overdub. It's such a beautiful melody, I just had to do it.

Have fun!



For this lesson, I will now be charging a small fee of US $4.95 for the Printable PDF of the TAB/Notation. Click here to order it.


Guitar Lesson by Kirk Lorange

PlaneTalkAs 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.

Related Lesson - A Song For You.



This MasqueradeThis Masquerade