Intermediate Acoustic Guitar Course Week 4

A Change Is Gonna Come + Pentatonic scales!

Welcome back, last week we went key signature crazy! This week we are going to look at adding pentatonic scales to our open position chords.

We will do this so we can add licks when we play Sam Cook’s classic ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’.

But before we get into all that, let’s look at the basic progression and strumming pattern so you can start playing the song.

Week 4 – Step 1 – 15-30 min

In ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’ we using a capo on fret 2 and play as if in the key of G. Because the capo is on fret two, what you’ll hear is actually in the key of A.

If you ask a friend to play a long you need to tell them it’s in A, however, with a capo, you will think in G. Here are the chords:

snurra02Verse/Chorus

| I | I | I | I | II | II |
| VI | VI | I | I | II | IV IIIx7 |
| VI | VI | I | I |

in the key of G:

| G | G | G | G | Am | Am |
| Em | Em | G | G | Am | C B7 |
| Em | Em | G | G |

Bridge

| II | II | VI | VI | x2
| II | II | VI | VI I/III |
| IIx7 | IIx7 | V7 | V7 |

in the key of G:

| Am | Am | Em | Em | x2
| Am | Am | Em | Em G |
| A7 | A7 | D7 | D7 |

A Change Is Gonna Come Chord Variations

In the Verse/Chorus you see a IIIx7, instead of a a III. This means that chord III has been transformed into a dominant7 chord. So a B7, rather than a Bm.

This is one of the most common variations we can make to our 7 chords from a key.

The bridge has a I/III chord, this is a G/B. The note B is part of the G chord so it’s still a G, just with a different bass note. This leads better to the next chord, an A7.

The A7 is another variation, should have been an Am. In roman numerals this is written as a IIx7.

A Change Is Gonna Come Strumming Pattern

This song is in 6/8 time. This means that you count to 6, with the middle of the bar on 4. Count like this:

1 2 3 4 5 6, 1 and 4 being the beginning and the middle of the bar. This is a different kind of feel to 4/4 time. Listen to the video and play along to hear what it means.

The basic strumming pattern looks like this in notation:
A Change Is Gonna Come Basic Strumming Pattern
Should you apply this to the entire progression, using alternating bass notes you’d end up with something like this:
A change is gonne come basic
This is not exactly what I do in the video, I add pentatonic fills but the arrangement will get you through the song so you are familiar with the chords, the basic strumming and the 6/8 feel.

In a few days time we will look at the Intro and how to play the fills. Here’s the video to play along with.

Week 4 – Step 2 – 15-30 min

In order to play the pentatonic fills you need to first learn the pentatonic scales.

Usually you would do this up the neck as this is simpler to see the patterns. Kind of like learning barred chords before open position chords.

However, as ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’ use open position chords you need to play the pentatonic scale using open strings.

Here are the various scales I use in the song to add licks.

G Major Pentatonic – open position

The G major pentatonic is a scale that contain five notes. The G major chord contain three notes so it’s only two more to learn!

G Chord: G B D
G Major Pentatonic: G A B D E

Whenever you practice a scale, always first play the chord shape. This is very important as the scale shape follow the chord shape. This connection is vital.

Here’s the open position G chord and pentatonic scale in a Chordacus picture:
Ggsmap_short
The chord is outlined in red, and completed with yellow to show the full scale.

Practice this by playing first the chord, then the scale, followed by the chord, like this:
G Major Pentatonic
A Minor Pentatonic – open position

The A Minor Pentatonic can also be played using open strings.

An Am chord contain three notes, the minor pentatonic has five so, again, we just add two notes.

Am Chord: A C E
A Minor Pentatonic: A C D E G

Here’s a Chordacus picture outlining both the chord and the scale:
Aamsmip_short
The chord notes are still in red, the scale is is now in blue (all minor scales are blue, all major are yellow)

Just like with the G, first play the chord, then the scale, finish off with the chord again, like this:
A Minor Pentatonic
E Minor Pentatonic – open position

The E Minor Pentatonic can also be played using open strings.

An Em chord contain three notes, the minor pentatonic has five so, again, we just add two notes.

Em Chord: E G B
E Minor Pentatonic: E G A B D

Here’s a Chordacus picture outlining both the chord and the scale:
Eemsmip_short
The chord notes are red, the scale is blue.

Just like with the G and Am, first play the chord, then the scale, finish off with the chord, like this:
E Minor Pentatonic
C Major Pentatonic – open position

The C Major Pentatonic can be played using open strings.

A C chord contain three notes, the minor pentatonic has five so, again, we just add two notes.

C Chord: C E G
C Minor Pentatonic: C D E G A

Here’s a Chordacus picture outlining both the chord and the scale:
Ccsmap_short
The chord notes are red, the scale is yellow.

Just like with the G, Am and Em, first play the chord, then the scale, finish off with the chord, like this:
C Major Pentatonic
Spend no more than 30 minutes practicing these four different scale shapes.

Remember to always play the chord before and after you play the scale.

Conclusion

Today you learned the basic chord progression and strumming pattern for Sam Cook’s ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’.

We also looked at four different pentatonic scales.

In three days time we will learn the Intro and some licks that you can fit in as you strum.

See you then!

Dan (your guitar guru)