Chords and fingerstyle arrangement

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Blackbird chords and fingerstyle arrangement


Inspired by J. S. Bach’ ‘Bourree in E minor’ and a bird waking him up in the morning, Paul McCartney created a modern masterpiece in ‘Blackbird’.

A constant open G string, variations in a progression like IV – IVm and a change of key for the chorus, are the three main things you need to focus on to learn it.

There are seemingly two dim7 chords in there as well, although, upon closer inspection, only a fraction of a C#dim7 is actually used.

The second suspected dim7 chord, starting on a D# is not even minor, it’s a D#(b5), an altered chord. Get the full story of the entire arrangement, complete with TAB, in the advanced course.

Open strings as drones

The open G-string is used throughout ‘Blackbird’, giving the piece a ‘drone’ effect that ties the progression together.

The function of this open G-string changes, like this:

  • The A-shaped G chord at fret 10, the open G is the root
  • The Em, the G is a m3rd
  • The Eb, the G is the major third
  • The C and Cm, the G is the 5th
  • The Fadd9, the G is the 9th

In the advanced course, we look at all chords of Blackbird.

Time and key signatures

Throughout ‘Blackbird’ you’ll find different time signatures appearing. The most obvious one is the verse that starts in 3/4 for a bar, changing to 4/4 immediately.

This 3/4 time for a bar concept appears several times, there is also a 2/4 bar hidden in there.

‘Blackbird’ is mainly in the key of G but it does modulate to F for the chorus. The modulation is abrupt as it starts, making the first F feel like a bVIIx chord in relation to G.

To get back to the key of G, we play A7D7, in the key of F that’s IIIx7 to VIx7. In the key of G, they are IIx7 and V7 chords.

The index finger strumming technique

Unique to ‘Blackbird’ is the strange index finger strum technique. This is a homemade technique I’ve never seen before or since, which is strange as it’s so brilliant!

Combining the thumb plucking and strumming strings using a downward motion, the index finger strums the upper part of the chord up and down.

In the advanced guitar course, the index finger strumming is fully analyzed with TAB and rhythms.

Related Pages

Blackbird – Lyrics

blackbirdBlackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
Blackbird singing in the dead of night

For complete lyrics, go to Blackbird lyrics.

The Beatles – Biography

the-beatles-thumbThe Beatles are the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed band in the history of popular music.

The Beatles were the leaders of the so-called British Invasion. With their catchy Rock & Roll infused pop they took America by storm, creating hysteria everywhere they went.

To find out more, go to The Beatles biography.


Learning how to play guitar is best done through playing and learning from songs.

The advanced songs require you to learn 7th note chords and modal scales. This will be revolutionary for your understanding of the guitar fretboard.

To see all lessons in the advanced course, go to Advanced Guitar Course


These are pretty advanced exercises. You’ll be playing 7th note chords, arpeggios and modes all over the neck.

But don’t fret – As you’ve already mapped out the fretboard with pentatonic scales and barre chords, extending the concept is actually really simple.

Preview the exercises from the course here: Advanced Guitar Lessons


Learn how to play famous advanced songs.

‘Angels’, ‘Baby Won’t You Please Come Home’, ‘Blackbird’, ‘Cannonball’, ‘Close To You’, ‘Creepin’ In’, ‘Don’t Wait Too Long’, ‘I Shot The Sheriff’, ‘Over The Rainbow’, ‘Roxanne’, ‘Scarborough Fair’, ‘Sunshine Of Your Love’, ‘Take Me To The River’, ‘Tears In Heaven’, and ‘Wish You Were Here’.

To preview each song, go to Advanced Acoustic Songs

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Including detailed, but bite-sized explanations on how the music theory of each song is applied to the neck.

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