Learn how to play The Scientist on one acoustic guitar!
‘The Scientist’ is a single from the band Coldplay. The song had a great music video, telling the storyline backwards.
Originally composed and performed on the piano, this one guitar arrangement use an open tuning, something Coldplay do a lot of, especially on their first (and in my opinion best) album.
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.
The Scientist chord progression
In most piano players favourite key of F, these are the chords for the Intro/Verse/Outro:
||: Dm7 | Bbadd9 | F | Fsus2 :||
The Chorus have some strange extensions, the progression is simple, using only chord IV – I – V.
| Bbadd9 | Bbadd9 | F | Fsus2 | x2
| Cadd11/G | Cadd11/G |
Finally the Instrumental section is just two chords.
| F | Bbadd9 | F | Fsus2 |
Take the Intermediate Guitar Course to get the TAB and full explanation of what’s happening in the video lesson.
Playing in an open tuning
The extensions created in ‘The Scientist’ are mainly achieved by utilising the two top open strings, now tuned to to C and F.
Many are the artists who have based their arrangements and sometimes their entire set upon open tunings.
John Martyn, Nick Drake, Joni Mitchel and Ani Difranco have all created signature sounds with their tunings, sometimes ending up with one tuning per song!
If you feel this could be the way forward for you, be warned! Scale shapes will not be the same anymore and it can be very difficult to organise a live set full of open tunings.
To get going in the world of open tunings, start by changing only one or two strings. This will ensure you have a chance to know what’s going on on the fret board.
Saying that, once the open tuning bug has bitten, it might never let go!