Unchained Melody - A lesson worth learning.
Unchained Melody - The Lesson explained
Unchained Melody is another one of those very 'in-key' tunes. I've done a few recently: Chariots of Fire, Lean on Me ... makes you realize that if you want a monster hit, don't stray too far out of key. The only deviation in this one is that Eb chord in the middle eight, other than that, all related chords. You could do worse with your time than to really study this one and analyse the progression because it certainly is a memorable tune. We remember the melody line, of course, but it's the progression that dictates what the melody line can do. You will notice in this tune that the melody is mainly chord tones (all melodies are) and that you can play most of it while holding the full chords.
Here's the progression in Roman numerals if you're into that kind of thing:
verse | I - - - | vi - - - | IV - - - | V - - - | I - - - | vi - - - | iii - - - | V - - - | X2
chorus | I - - - | V - - - | vi - - - | iii - - - | IV- - - | V - - - | I - - - | I7 - - - |
mid 8 | IV - V - | IV - bIII - | IV - V - | I - - - | IV - V - | IV - bIII - | IV - V - | I - - - |
verse | I - - - | vi - - - | IV - - - | V - - - | I - - - | vi - - - | iii - - - | V - - - |
chorus | I - - - | V - - - | vi - - - | iii - - - | IV - - - | V - - - |
outro | I - - - | vi - - - | IV - - - | V(11) - - - | I - - - |
Remember that upper case means major, lower case means minor. I recommend that you play the mp3 or the video a few times while visually tracking those numbers. The aim is to be able to hear the numbers, which does happen eventually. Believe it or not, there are not that many variations unless you get into fusion jazz or some other esoteric genre. Western music is built around very solid and familiar changes, all of which derive from this kind of 'diatonic' composition. Once you can hear this kind of tune, the variations come fairly easily, the most common being what I call 'majorizing the minors' and -- from time to time -- 'minorizing the majors'. You get to hear that after a while, but you have to really listen for a long time.
Notice that that Eb is a bIII. iii is the chord from the key (Em in this case) so you can see that the upper case means major (E) but it's flat ... Eb. This way of writing progressions is how it's usually done in recording sessions. We don't write chord names, we write the Roman numerals and when the key is settled on, we mentally translate the Roman numerals into chords. It's also called the Nashville Number System only they use normal numbers, not Roman numerals.
There's really not much else to report on for this one. I do a couple of little twiddly bits which you can either do or not, other than that it's pretty straight forward and it's nice and slow, too.
Notice that I play the passage that comes up bar 15 differently than when it comes up at bar 39. Take your pick of which you prefer, or do as I did and play it both ways. If you can think of different ways to play repeating passages it's a good idea to do so. Each way has it's own vibe and you can keep it all more interesting that way.
That little motif at bar 41 is a hammer on followed by two pull offs ... kind of fun to but if you find it too tricky, do as I did at bar 17. Much easier.
As always, it's the flow that matters. I was very loose with the tempo with lots of slow-downs and speed-ups. Keep it metronomic if you prefer, I like elastic tempos myself. It's a luxury we have when playing solo guitar. It's not as easy to do if you're playing with others.
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Guitar Lesson by Kirk Lorange
As 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.