Intermediate Acoustic Guitar Course Week 11

Maj7 chord shapes + Empire State Of Mind!

Today we learn how to extend a major chord into a maj7 chord.

We also start working on Alicia Keys’ beautiful version of ‘Empire State Of Mind’.

This was a huge hit in 2009 featuring Piano and towards the end, a full band.

Today you will learn a one guitar acoustic version!

Week 11 – Step 1 – 20 min

Before we start learning the song I want to show you how to play a maj7 chord.

Let’s do this in all shapes using the chord A so the open A string can ring throughout. Here’s the TAB:
A to Amaj7 Open A string
As you can see, I have put a normal A chord before each Amaj7 chord.

This is very important, it’s the connection between the two that identifies which note that changed.

This is what you need to know: the actual difference between the two chords.

The next step would be to play all these chords using the correct root note of each shape (rather than using the open string).

Here’s a video lesson on how to do that:

Spend no more than 20 minutes practicing your Amaj7 chord in all shapes.

If you can make it as musical as possible, then that’s the best way.

One idea is to pair the movement of the shapes with some kind of rhythm.

How you choose to fret the different shapes is up to you, I demonstrate a few different variations in the video.

Week 11 – Step 2 – 20-30 min

Let’s learn how to play ‘Empire State Of Mind’ on just one acoustic guitar.

We are replicating a piano part here so we want it to sound as big as possible.

As the song is in the unbelievably uncomfortable key of F# we simply put a capo on fret 2 and think about this as if in the key of E.

Here are the Verse/Bridge and Chorus progressions:

Key of EVerse/Bridge

| I | I | IVmaj7 | IVmaj7 | x4
| IIIx | IIIx |


| E | E | Amaj7 | Amaj7 | x4
| G# | G# |


| IVmaj7 | IVmaj7 | I | V | x2
| IVmaj7 | IVmaj7 |


| Amaj7 | Amaj7 | E | B | x2
| Amaj7 | Amaj7 |

With the two main progressions under our belt, let’s look at the exact TAB. Here’s the Verse:
Empire State Of Mind in E verse
As you can see, the first notes are quarter note triplets.

In bar 4 the Amaj7 is picked quickly one note after another, this is called a rake.

Here’s the Bridge section, the IIIx or G# chord. The aim here is to build tension, looks like this:
Empire State Of Mind in E Bridge
Aim to keep this rhythm exactly as written here, there is power in repetition!

This G# strives towards C#m or chord VI. This is where IIIx wants to go. But Alicia Keys doesn’t do that, instead she goes to the parallel major, chord I, and we get a lovely release.

Here’s the Chorus TAB:
Empire State Of Mind Chorus
In my opinion, there is too much notation here.

The first four bars are almost identical to the following four bars. It’s just the A that is played slightly different the second time around.

The last two bars follow the rhythm of the vocal as it goes: New Your, New York, New York.

Here’s the video to play along with:


Today you learned how to extend a major chord to a maj7. The most important part was that you identified what note changed.

Following this we put the Amaj7 chord in a song as we played ‘Empire State Of Mind’.

In three days time I’ll show you the M8 and Outro section as well.

See you then!

Dan (your guitar guru)