Yesterday - A fingerstyle guitar lesson.
Yesterday - The Lesson explained
This tune is the most covered Beatles song ever, with over 2200 renditions recorded over the years apparently. I figured it was about time I did mine so here it is. Yesterday, by Paul McCartney.
I did mine in G. I notice on a YouTube version that Paul played it in F, although he's playing G chords. I guess he must have tuned the whole guitar down a tone. G is definitely the best key for this. It's such a familiar tune that I'd never really stopped to look at the progression properly until I stated arranging it. That F#m, the second chord, is a bit of an intruder in the key of G, as is the B7. The F# should be F#7b5 to be in G, and the B should be a minor chord, not a dominant 7th. But they both serve as a very neat way of getting to the Em, which is the relative minor in the key of G. I realized that it's the same little trick that Hoagy Carmichael uses in 'Georgia on my Mind'. In fact, up until the D chord, it's exactly the same progression as Georgia.
I kept my arrangement as clean and simple as I could. I did experiment with that great eighth note strum that Paul uses, looked at ways of incorporating the melody line into that feel, but it all got way too cluttered for my liking, not to mention complicated to play.
I start out very straight forward, playing around the G and F#m chord shapes, then move the melody line up in 6ths, which are like back-to-front 3rds. In other words, the notes are the same as you find in 3rds, but what is usually the 'top' note is played an octave lower. So instead of counting up three scale degrees you count down 6. They always line up nicely on guitar necks too, which is handy. That brings us to the C chord (the IV chord of G) then the V chord, D7. Instead of working the melody line around the D chord shape there, I opted for a nice jangly way of using open strings over that section.
The melody then hits a nice sus4 over that G chord ... I threw in an E note there to to make it even closer to a C chord, then on to that nice resolve using an A major chord (not the minor from the key of G) and ending on that C to G.
Repeat that whole thing. I did it pretty much note for note although the resolve is a little different. I use the C# bass note under the A instead of the root. It moves nicely down a semitone to the root of C.
The middle section cleverly uses the same chords as the verse section, but with different timing. It starts with that F#m (added 11th to be strictly correct) then to the B7 again, then the Cs and Ds. You'll see a chord I called a B11 there ... Bsus4 may have been a better way of naming it ... or even F#m/B? Whatever. Play those notes!
You'll hear that I decided to add that wonderful cello line from the original version leading up to that B11. It only happened in the second time through in the Beatles version. The line passes through an F note, turning that G into a momentary G7 and it was always the bit I couldn't wait to listen to. So outrageous.
A bit of a slide up the neck and more 6ths to close out the middle 8 then another repeat of the verse.
Hope you like this rendition. It's not very difficult, no finger gymnastics, not outlandish stretches.
See you next time!
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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.