Mad World


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Watch this video lesson

Focusing on the left hand and all chords used in this song

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I think the material is excellent. I’ve benefited so much. I’ve now begun to improvise with some confidence and have written songs that feel authentic. I can now develop musically in a broad and rich way. Your work has illuminated an exciting path forward.– Roger

‘Mad World’ is a song written and first made famous by Tears For Fears in 1982. Two decades later, Gary Jules had a Christmas #1 with it as a cover.

Spy Tunes’ version is a one guitar arrangement of Gary Jules’ piano ballad version.

The song is not centred in the traditional natural minor (Aeolian, chord VI). Instead, ‘Mad World’s key centre is over Dorian (chord II), just like ‘I Wish‘ and ‘Scarborough Fair‘.

In the guitar courses, we examine what playing in a mode really means, using Mad World as one of the first examples.

Chord progression

There are relatively simple chords for ‘Mad World’, the verse is just this:

| Em | G | Dsus2 | A |

The intro/chorus/bridge/outro is even simpler:

| Em | A | Em | A |

All chords are from the key of D major, however, D is not the home chord, Em is (chord II).

This is why you could say that ‘Mad World’ is “in Dorian”.

When we study ‘Mad World’ in the course, we use videos as well as TAB to learn the arrangement to perfection. We even look at playing it fingerstyle.

Mad World in the guitar course

In the intermediate guitar course, ‘Mad World’ is studied in depth. The full lesson covers:

  • The meaning of the chord progression
  • The picking pattern
  • How to play it finger style
  • The pentatonic scales that outline the intro melody
  • A complete TAB chart

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