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This Masquerade - 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

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!