Intermediate Acoustic Songs

Intermediate Acoustic Guitar 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.


1234

‘1234’ is played in drop D tuning, this means that you lower the 6th string from an E to a D.

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

The intro to ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’ is a guitar version of the string arrangement from the original recording.

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.


American Pie

‘American Pie’s chords can be tricky to remember since the same chords seem to be repeated in lots of different ways.

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.


Angie

‘Angie’s chord progression constantly strive to go back to Am, which is chord VI. This makes the song in the key of Am.

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

This song has a great maj7 chord lick as the main riff, just like another song in the intermediate course, ‘Fast Car’.

‘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.


Beautiful

‘Beautiful’s chords could be seen as if played in either the key of Eb or Ab or both at the same time!

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

Only using C, F and G chords, ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’ keep up the interest by adding bass lines and a mystery half time bar.

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

The chords for ‘Breakfast At Tiffany’s’ are very simple, it’s the speed of the picking that is hard.

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.


Dreadlock Holiday

‘Dreadlock Holiday’ is played with a capo in order to sound good on just one acoustic guitar.

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

This song has very few chords and a sparse arrangement. You can learn so much from this type of arrangement when you write your own songs.

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.


Fast Car

This song is played differently to how Tracy Chapman played it. Instead of finding the chords higher up the neck, my arrangement is playing it using open position 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

Being in the key of D and using a clever bass line, ‘Hey There Delilah’ manage to take an extremely common chord progression and make it feel fresh.

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

This classic soul/blues classic mainly rely on a repetitive dom7 chord riff.

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.


I’m Yours

A huge hit in 2008 from Jason Mraz, Spy Tunes actually recorded this song before it was officially released.

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.


Kiss Me

‘Kiss Me’ use a static chord for the verse, changing the extension from major to maj7, to dom7 and then back to maj7 again.

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.


Last Request

Paolo Nutini’s first single ‘Last request’ is played with a capo in the video guitar lesson. We did this so the key would be right for the singer.

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.


Mad World

‘Mad World’ is a piano ballad in Dorian that in this arrangement has been adopted to just one acoustic guitar.

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.


Red

‘Red’ by Daniel Merriweather is in the key of E major and only use the I, IV, V and VI chord throughout the entire song.

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.


The Scientist

This arrangement uses an open tuning when playing ‘The Scientist’ by Coldplay, which originally was performed on the piano.

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

There are some very unique chords played in ‘Starman’, the Bbadd#11 being what stands out the most.

‘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.


Sunny Afternoon

‘Sunny Afternoon’ has a bass line to create a looped pattern for the intro/chorus tag in a minor key.

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

This song only has four chords, so very simple. The instrumental section simply modulates down a tone to create some variation.

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.

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