Mad World

Mad World

Chords and strumming

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Mad World chords and strumming


‘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

Related Pages

Mad World – Lyrics

Mad WorldAll around me are familiar faces
Worn out places, worn out faces
Bright and early for their daily races
Going nowhere, going nowhere
Their tears are filling up their glasses

For complete lyrics, go to Mad World lyrics.

Gary Jules – Biography

gary-jules-thumbGary Jules is an American singer-songwriter, best known for his cover of ‘Mad World’ by Tears For Fears. It became the UK Christmas number one single in ’03.

Following the worldwide success, Gary Jules kept selling his own CDs on CD Baby as well as the song being released through a label.

To find out more, go to Gary Jules biography.

Tears For Fears – Biography

tears-for-fears-thumbTears for Fears are an English pop band that has sold more than twenty-two million albums.

With hits like ‘Mad World’, ‘Seeds Of Love’ and ‘Everybody Wants To Rule The World’, Tears For Fears were one of the biggest bands around in the 80s.

To find out more, go to Tears For Fears biography.


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

The intermediate songs require you to learn barre chords and pentatonic scales. This will be revolutionary for your understanding of the guitar fretboard.

To see all lessons in the intermediate course, go to Intermediate Guitar Course


All those open position chords you learned in the beginner course now become barre chords and pentatonic scales.

You’ll map out the entire fretboard at this stage. Chord progressions become easier to see once played as barre chords and little licks will start appearing in your playing.

Preview the exercises from the course here: Intermediate Guitar Lessons


Learn how to play famous intermediate songs.

‘1234’, ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’. ‘American Pie’, ‘Angie’, ‘Babylon’, ‘Beautiful’, ‘Breakfast At Tiffany’s’, ‘Dreadlock Holiday’, ‘Empire State Of Mind’, ‘Fast Car’, ‘Hey There Delilah’, ‘I Can’t Stand The Rain’, ‘I’m Yours’, ‘Kiss Me’, ‘Last Request’, ‘Mad World’, ‘Red’, ‘The Scientist’, ‘Starman’, ‘Sunny Afternoon’, and ‘Whistle For The Choir’.

To preview each song, go to Intermediate 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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