Intermediate Acoustic Guitar Course Week 13

Chromatic Speed Exercises + Angie!

Welcome back, today we are half way through this course, I hope you have enjoyed it so far. There’s plenty more to come!

The chromatic exercises have been somewhat neglected and we can’t have that so today we start exploring a series that, if practiced regularly, gives us great speed.

We also look at how to play The Rolling Stones smash hit ‘Angie’.

Week 13 – Step 1 – 15-20 min

Let’s learn how to build speed when playing with a pick!

The classic chromatic pattern in Spyder 2 is all well and good but you will hit a ceiling of how fast you can go pretty quickly. Usually between 110-140 BPM.

To get further you have to start chopping the exercise up.

Rather than playing four 16ths in a row you play two, leave the last two out, kind of like a bit of breathing space.

This will enable you to go much faster.

Let’s say you can play Spyder 2 at 120 BPM. After practicing with only two 16ths you might get to 145 BPM.

As you go back to Spyder 2, it is very possible you now can play it at 126 BPM or maybe even more.

Think of it like a sprinting exercise, as if you were sprinting in short bursts.

Here’s the exercise in video format:

Ensure you mute the last note by releasing the pressure of the fretting hand. Don’t let the note ring.

Using a metronome, push the BPM as far as you possible can.

Following this, go back to Spyder 2 (straight 16th notes) and see how much your BPM has improved.

Spyder 7

To take this concept to its extreme we can play only one 16th note. This may sound a bit strange, how can you build speed playing just one note?

By focusing on hitting it perfectly on the click and releasing the pressure instantly, that’s how.

It’s actually pretty hard, focus in and push that BPM as far as you possible can, go way over 200 BPM.

Here’s a video of me playing the exercise at a sensible speed:

Spend between 15-20 minutes practicing these two chromatic exercises. Finally, try Spyder 2 again.

What BPM can you now get to when playing Spyder 2?

Week 13 – Step 2 – 20-30 min

The time has come to learn (from) yet another song, this time it’s Angie by the mighty Rolling Stones.

Lets’ start off by looking at the chord progressions for the Verse, Chorus and M8 sections.

They are almost like a blues in minor and major!
Key of C
Verse/Instrumental/Chorus Tag

| VI | IIIx7 | V IV | I (V/VII) | x2
| Am | E7 | G F | C (G/B) | x2


| V | II VI | I IV | V |
| G | Dm Am | C F | G |


| II | VI | x3
I I IV | V |
| Dm | Am | x3
I C F | G |

Pretty simple open position chords for all these progressions. Only variation is the IIIx7 (E7), which sometimes is just a IIIx (E). Check video for reference.

This IIIx7 or IIIx chord strive to go back to VI but just like in ‘Empire State Of Mind’, we avoid this and always go to V instead.

The V/VII or G/B is sometimes left out, this is why it’s been put in brackets.

In terms of these progressions being like a blues, let me expand on that.

Angie is a blues?

A blues in Am is:


A blues in C is:

CFCGFC - G or G7

Compare the movements of these two blues progressions with the chord progressions of Angie and you’ll find:

  1. Am – E7
  2. G – F – C
  3. Dm – Am
  4. C – G

The only progression that can’t be traced to these blues progressions is: I – IV – V or C – F – G.

I – IV – V is more country, more singer/song-writer.

All this put together is what gives the song its blues/rock, singer/song-writer, acoustic-ballad kind of feel (and I do believe that’s a very popular genre!)

Strumming Pattern

Let’s move on to the strumming patterns, here’s the Verse:
Angie Verse
As you can see, it’s pretty much the same twice. In bar 4, sometimes play a G/B to lead back to Am.

The strumming changes slightly between the two progressions. In bar 1 we get a big empty strum on beat 1 as the singer cries: Angie.

When the Am comes back again in bar 5 it is almost as if beat two has skipped to beat one. Now the empty space is on beat three instead.

Bar 2 and 6 are pretty much identical, so is bar 3 and 7. Bar 4 and 8 are very similar.

Ensure you use all these subtle variations, they lock in with the vocal melody rhythmically.

Here’s the Chorus:
Angie Chorus
All rhythms in the Chorus have been played in the Verse already.

  1. Bar 1 is the same as bar 1 of the Verse
  2. Bar 2 is the same as bar 3 of the Verse
  3. Bar 3 is the same as bar 7 of the Verse
  4. Bar 4 is the same as bar 6 of the Verse

This type of repetition makes a song a hit. If the strumming wasn’t so defined it wouldn’t work as well.

Here’s the M8:
Angie M8
Plenty of repetition here! The Dm chords rhythm is answered by the Am rhythm. Like a call and response, this work great for a looped section.

The final bars clearly round off and calm down the rhythm, C and F are identical to how they were played in the Chorus.

The final G stops the song in its tracks. Strum beat 4 softer before you go back to the Verse again.

Here’s the video to play along with.


Today you learned that in order to gain speed, you must chop up the Chromatic Exercise and start playing it using rests.

We also looked at the main parts for ‘Angie’ and learned the importance of repetition in strumming patterns.

The more you practice playing these 16th notes rhythms the easier it’ll get learning a song like Angie.

In three days time we will learn the Intro for Angie.

See you then!

Dan (your guitar guru)