Acoustic songs with barre chords!
These songs don’t settle for just the basic open position chords. Instead, we move up the fret board to play what is called barre chords. We also include bass lines, a few melodies, some extended chords and even a few slash chords in these arrangements.
Mad World, for example, has a solo melody for the intro, don’t memorise it, instead think of it as what scale is used and what interval it starts on.
Following this path enables you to understand and connect with the music, rather than relying on muscle memory and rehearsed patterns.
Because of the drop D tuning, we need to alter the way we fret a G chord, the root will be on fret 5, rather than 3.
If you want to learn more about playing in an open tuning, this is a great place to start.
Go to video lessons: 1234 chords.
A Change Is Gonna Come
Think of this song as if in the key of G. By applying a capo on fret 2 you’ll be in the same key as the original, A.
When you take the intermediate course we first learn it as in the video, then create a second guitar part using barre chords.
Go to video lessons: A Change Is Gonna Come chords.
By hearing each chord as a number you can follow the vocal melody and don’t actually have to memorise the progression.
You’ll learn more about how to predict musical movement like this when you take the course.
Go to video lessons: American Pie chords.
All chords are actually very common in ‘Angie’, maybe even standard. However, the order of them is slightly unusual.
To use this approach of common chords, but with unusual movement is the most obvious way to write a song with hit potential.
Go to video lessons: Angie chords.
‘Babylon’ is played using a capo on fret 1, so what you hear is in Eb, but you think in D.
The chorus has a repetitive progression that is only varied at the end of each line. Progression tricks like this are very common in songs that become hits.
Go to video lessons: Babylon chords.
It’s tricky to play chords in keys such as Eb and Ab when you don’t play with a capo. All chords will be barre chords.
This makes ‘Beautiful’ a proper challenge for the fretting hand. The intermediate course help you with how to tackle these type of challenges.
Go to video lessons: Beautiful chords.
Blowin’ In The Wind
The bass line is notated as slash chords and played with a capo so what you hear is in the key of D.
This was Bob Dylan’s first hit, half a century later, he regularly plays this classic at gigs.
Go to video lessons: Blowin’ In The Wind chords.
Breakfast At Tiffany’s
Using D, Bm and A (with some extensions) for the verse we only change to D, A and G for the chorus.
Seemingly simple, ‘Breakfast At Tiffany’s’ is actually the last song you learn in the course, this is down to the speed of the instrumental part.
Go to video lessons: Breakfast At Tiffany’s chords.
This all works out really well until the song modulates up a semitone. How do you move a capo and play at the same time?
The guitar course discusses this further, you don’t have to have an assistant like I do in the video lesson!
Go to video lessons: Dreadlock Holiday chords.
Empire State Of Mind
One of the main lessons here lies within understanding how the simpler or more spacious the arrangement is, the bigger it sounds.
Originally played on piano, this song has been arranged for just one acoustic guitar.
Go to video lessons: Empire State Of Mind chords.
You’ll find out why and more about the original as well as the difference between the arrangements in the intermediate course.
Perhaps the most difficult part is to move from a finger style verse to a strummed chorus.
Go to video lessons: Fast Car chords.
Hey There Delilah
Executed with a perfect balance between “heard it before” and “sounds new”, this song became a worldwide hit after being marketed over two albums.
Go to video lessons: Hey There Delilah chords.
I Can’t Stand The Rain
As the chorus kicks in we find chords from outside of the key that create a great contrast to the first, blues influenced riff.
Ann Peebles had a hit with it and so seemingly everyone else who covered it!
Go to video lessons: I Can’t Stand The Rain chords.
Using an old demo from 2005 we took this song and made it our own thinking if Jason isn’t gonna release this, then we are!
Using the most common chord progression found in hit songs it is perhaps the unusual key of B that makes it feel slightly different.
Go to video lessons: I’m Yours chords.
The chorus uses a standard progression although we start it from a slightly unusual point. This small change makes it feel new enough to be a hit.
Studying movements like this is what will enable you to write songs yourself.
Go to video lessons: Kiss Me chords.
In order to get the same key as Paolo, simply play the same chords without a capo.
Using a seemingly simple chord progression, there are actually some very strange movements going on here. The intermediate course digs deep and uncovers all about it.
Go to video lessons: Last Request chords.
All chords are from the key of D major, however, D is not the home chord, Em is. This is why it’s ‘in Dorian’ where we call chord II home.
The intermediate course takes it all the way and explains how this is more common than you may believe.
Go to video lessons: Mad World chords.
We get different extensions depending on what chord is used in conjunction with the open strings that keep ringing through all chords.
The original recording is a huge production, orchestrated by the genius that is Mark Ronson. Still, take all that away and we still find a great song.
Go to video lessons: Red chords.
By allowing the top two strings (tuned to C and F) to be a part of every chord we get different extensions for the chords that are unique and bind the progression together.
If you want to get into playing using open tunings, this is a great example.
Go to video lessons: The Scientist chords.
‘Starman’ is in the key of F and there are more little odd movements than the Bbadd#11 to discover.
For example, I’ve even managed to sneak in an open position Gm chord into this one guitar arrangement.
Go to video lessons: Starman chords.
When the chorus starts, the same major key is applied and we get a great sense of positive relief.
Going from minor to major like this is one of the best tricks to apply when you want to create tension and release writing a song.
Go to video lessons: Sunny Afternoon chords.
Whistle For The Choir
We recorded ‘Whistle For The Choir’ in two keys for two different singers, try both and consider how each key suit the song and what it means to the arrangement.
In the intermediate course, we learn from this as we play the same progression in all four keys, all over the neck!
Go to video lessons: Whistle For The Choir chords.
Learn from the songs!
To learn these songs are just the beginning, take the intermediate course and you can learn from them and in doing so unlock the guitar fretboard.
Not only will they reveal how barre chords can be used in different positions, how scales are weaved into an arrangement but you will also learn how to write songs and guitar parts.
All you have to do is study these songs in great depth and know what you’re looking for. There really are great lessons to learn from each and every one of these songs.