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Waltzing Matilda - A fingerstyle guitar lesson.

Guitar Lesson by Kirk Lorange
Difficulty Rating: Intermediate

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I did a version of this great old tune a few years ago, back before the widescreen format that I use now, so I thought I'd do a re-make. I also changed the arrangement a bit.

It's still in our favorite key -- G -- and it still sticks strictly to open chord shapes, so you won't be encountering any dreaded barre chords.

I have written a sort of intro to this one. I used the chorus section and made it just melody line and bass line, so if you're just starting out with finger style, this section would be good practice for you. You can leave the rest for later on when your hands are more obedient. The bass line I came up with is a steadily rising line that starts way down on the 6th string and winds up on the 2nd string before dropping back down to lower registers. The well known melody sits above. Learning this alone will be great discipline for both hands as you'll need to keep adjusting the spread of strings and fingers to accommodate the various intervals. Finger style guitar is all about finger independence and coordination, and this intro will give you lots of both once you learn it. The intro is highlighted in the tab below.

Of course, you can simply learn the melody line and forget about the bass line if you're new to this way of playing. Just take your time, follow the tab and you'll get it down no problem. Remember: you're the boss of those fingers, they will do what you tell them to ... eventually. I've always found when learning these kinds of things that I reach a point where it all blurs out into nonsense. That's when I take a break, have a cup of tea or take a walk -- whatever -- and when I come back to it, it all starts to fall into place and make sense.

If you're a little further down the track playing wise, I think you're going to enjoy playing the rest of the tune. I've let the difficulty rating increase over time with this so if you can always just leave those tricky bits toward the end out and repeat the easier sections.

For Example:

Measure 10 is the easy version of measure 14
Measure 11 is the easy version of measures 15 and 22 ...

The chorus, which I see as measures 17 to 20 inclusive, is probably the trickiest section as I've come up with a chord melody arrangement for it, meaning that you need to move from one chord shape to the next quickly and smoothly. You'll see -- and hear -- that those measure are a combination of melody line (the highest notes), bass line (the lowest notes) and chords (the in-between "meat-in-the-sandwich" notes).

In bar 17 you'll see a chord named D/A. That's a 'slash chord'. It means that I'm playing a D chord but using A as the bass note instead of the root, D. Another one appears in measure 18, this time a D/C. The first is a 'second inversion', meaning that the chord is played with its fifth as bass note; the other (D/C) is a third inversion, meaning that the chord is played with its seventh as bass note ... in this case the flat 7 since the chord is dominant. You need not take any notice whatsoever of the preceding analysis if you don't want to. It's just theory gobbledegook, but some of us (like me) are interested in that kind of thing. It's always good to know what you're playing.

Another odd looking name for a chord is that Am7add11 ... again, don't let that kind of thing intimidate you. It's just a bunch of notes that sound right together and can be named in a number of ways. I chose to see it as an A minor flavor because of its context. It could also be seen as a D7sus4 chord.

(If you're a chord geek, it's an Am7add11 because: its root is A, the open A string; its minor third is the C note on the third string; its 7th is the G note on the 4th string. That's the Am7 bit. The 11 is that D note on the second string. That D would be called a sus4 in most circumstances, but here it doesn't replace -- or 'suspend' -- the 3, it's added to the minor seventh chord, and it's added above the 3, which makes it 11 (7+4=11). So: A minor seventh add eleven.) So the chord's spelling would be 1-7-3-4 ... no 5 there, but if you let the top E string ring out, it's a full chord since E is the 5 of an A chord. (See Chords)

I can't think of anything to add to this ... I doubt many of you actually read these rambling dissertations, but if you do, read this: grab that guitar and get to work learning this. Why? Because it's fun, it's a beautiful tune and music is good for the soul.

Guitar Lesson by Kirk Lorange

Kirk LorangeAs 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.

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