Thursday, November 13, 2008

Oh Happy Day

Today I've figured out how to play the outta this world song "Oh Happy Day" by Edwin Hawkins Singers (1969). It's very simple, but also very effective on the guitar. Many people, myself included, have experienced the burst-into-tears irresistible shock to the system upon hearing this song (I first heard it when I was a young kid), so I feel it's really worth our time learning how to perform it.

The opening lick alternates between B minor and E major. It then switches to alternating between A major and D major, until it switches to brief F#7, and then back to B minor/E major.

The bridge (in double time) is E7 and then A major/D major vamp, ending in E7.

Simple, and so incredibly beautiful. Enjoy!

Santana "Give me Love"

One of the most underrated ballads ever recorded, "Give Me Love" is a pearl in the mud that is worth every effort seeking after and transcribing. Recorded in 1977 and released on Santana's album "Festival", this gem represents one of the pinnacles in the genre I like to call spiritual pop (Santana was famous for recording a long streak of spiritual pop music, mostly on albums such as "Caravanserai", "Welcome", and "Borboletta").

The ballad in question here was recorded in a steady, even tempo, in the key of F. The shimmering opening chord arpeggio, played gorgeously by Carlos, gives way to a brief introductory vamp. The horn section enters, followed by the fantastic lead vocals by Leon Patillo. The rest defies being put into words. Just go there and listen for yourself.

Here are the chords:

Opening arpeggio -- E minor 7 (pinky on the second string, third fret, index on the fifth string, second fret, all other strings open)

Opening vamp -- C major 7/G minor 7 (both chords played on the third fret)

The main progression:

C major 7 - G minor 7/C7/F major 7 - Bb7/Bb major 7/B major 7/C major 7



Written by Stanley Myers, "Cavatina" rates as one of the most beautiful songs ever recorded. Its lush harmonies are worth studying; I'd like to offer my rendition here.

The song is in the key of E. I usually play it on the guitar in the fourth position, barring the fourth fret with my index finger and then grabbing the C-shaped chord. This formation then sounds the E major chord, with the major third (G#) in the bass.

Now, you may choose to strum the chords, or to arpeggiate them (meaning, to pluck the strings one by one). Or the combination of both approaches. It's all a matter of personal taste.

The way I hear the harmonic movement in this song, it starts with E major and moves into E major 7. Others seem to hear it as moving into G# minor rather than E major 7. The difference is rather slight, but nevertheless E major 7 sounds better to my ears. You voice that chord by grabbing the E major in the fourth position (as described above) and then simply lifting your middle finger off the fifth fret.

From E major 7 the progression goes to A major (in the fifth position), then three frets down to F# minor (grab it on the second fret). You may choose to stay on the F# minor for the entire bar, or to switch to B11 on the second half of the bar. Try both options, see what sounds better to you, and then stick to it.

Next move to B7, voiced on the second fret. Jump back to E major on the fourth fret, then E major 7 (same formation you've started with).

Now, switch gears to playing A major 7 on the fourth fret. Second half of the bar is F# minor, then G major 7 on the second fret, then C major 7 using open third, second and first string.

Close the phrase by playing B11 using open second and first strings, while fretting the second fret on the third string and fourth fret on the fourth string, followed by B7 on the second fret, and finally go to the open E major chord.

The above concludes the part A. Go back to the top, play part A again.

Now switch to part B. It starts with C# minor 7, played on the fourth fret. You then move to F#7 on the second fret, hop up to B major fretted on the seventh fret, then to B major 7 fretted on the sixth fret. Go to A major on the fifth fret, then up to B7 on the seventh fret, then back to E major on the fourth fret, followed by E major 7 on the fourth fret.

Finish off by playing A major 7 on the fourth fret, going down to F# minor on the second fret, then G major 7 on the second fret, then C major 7 using open strings, B11, B7 on the second fret, and finally finish off by playing open E major chord.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Moonlight Serenade

Here is how to play this famous song by Glenn Miller:

In the key of Bb, start with F6 by fretting F on the B string, 6th fret with your index finger. The pinky holds the bass note C on the low E string. Hold that chord for the duration of the bar (4/4).

Now change to B diminished, by placing your middle finger on the B bass (7th fret, low E string); bar B, G and D string with your index on the 6th fret and ass ring finger on the 7th fret of the G string. Hold for the entire bar.

Switch to Bb6, by moving your middle finger one fret down, to the Bb bass note (low E string, 6th fret). Place your ring finger on the B string 6th fret, pinky on the 7th fret G string, and index on the 5th fret D string. Hold for the entire bar (four beats).

Go down to the 3rd fret and play C9 chord.

After four beats, go up to the 8th fret and play F major 7. Then play F7 in the same position. After that, switch to F9 on the 8th fret.

Now go down to D7. After that, go up to the 10th fret and play G minor #9 (your pinky should la Bb high note on the B string 11th fret). After that, play standard C13 on the 8th fret.

Finally, go all the way down to F major chord, on the 1st fret. Play the turnaround -- C diminished for 2 beats and then C7 for 2 beats. You're done.