Chords and strumming

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Cannonball chords

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About Cannonball

The original recording of ‘Cannonball’ by Damien Rice contains up to six guitars playing different lines. All these parts weave the different melodic lines into each other, creating a dream-like soundscape.

Spy Tunes’ one guitar arrangement is a combination of these parts.

A capo has been used to get into the same key as the original. What you hear is the key of Bbm, however, you think of ‘Cannonball’ as if in the key of Em.

Chord progression

The verse chord progression is simple, mainly varying the extensions of the VI chord to add9, min7 and sus4, making the verse clearly ‘in minor’.

The chorus chords follow the simple I – IV – V movement which puts the chorus in major.

This switch between a minor verse and a major chorus is pretty common in modern songwriting. ‘Roxanne‘ and ‘Dreadlock Holiday‘ are merely two other examples.

To get the complete TAB for what happens in the video, take the advanced guitar course.

In the course, we don’t just learn to play the guitar part note for note, we also play the vocal melody of ‘Cannonball’.

Playing around chords

One of the main techniques this arrangement uses is to play around chords. This is essential when backing a singer on your own and is best applied using an improvised approach.

To sound great, you can’t just play your rehearsed part. You need to also communicate with the singer, hold back when they are active and add flourishes when they’re not. It is in this space between two musicians that the magic of a performance appears.

The first chord, which we think of as an Em, uses the chord extensions of 9th and b7th and stems from chord VI and the Aeolian mode.

When you know a chord and the scale that the chord comes with, it’s easy to add melodies. You just pick notes from the scale, observe which ones sound best, remember and repeat them.

The more you learn about the song and the modal scales it contains, the better your parts will sound.

You will be drilled in how to play in any mode and arrangement for one acoustic guitar when you take the advanced course.

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