Chords and strumming

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Starman chords and strumming


‘Starman’ is a single off the legendary and groundbreaking album ‘Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars’ by the legendary David Bowie.

There are some very unusual chords played in ‘Starman’, the Bbadd#11 being the one that stands out the most.

To make the one guitar arrangement sound as full as possible, other chord shapes have sometimes been used which didn’t feature in the original.

The most obvious example of this is the initial open position Gm chord that starts off the verse.

‘Starman’ is in the key of F, not a very common key for songs written on the guitar. The key of F is much more common on the piano, which hints at what instrument the song was written on.

You get the strumming pattern as well as full TAB of what happens in the song when you take the intermediate guitar course.

Chord progression

The intro starts off with the unusual Bb#11 chord.

| Bb#11 | Bb#11 | Fmaj7 | Fmaj7 | x2

The verse is more traditional with its II – I – V progression.

| Gm | Gm | F | F | C | C7 |

| F Ab Bb | x2

| A | A11 |

The chorus and instrumental section look like this:

| F | Dm | Am Am/G | C C7 | x2

| Bb Bbm | F D7 | Gm C |

| Bb | F | C | F | Bb | F | C |

Chord extensions

Use the video lesson to work out how to fret the unique chord shapes. This is how they’re built:

  • Bbadd#11 – This is a normal major chord with an added #11 on the open E string.
  • Fmaj7 – This is just an F chord with the maj7 added on the top, again an open E string.
  • Gm – This is the open position Gm shape, very unusual. Bowie doesn’t use this shape but I like it!
  • C7 – This is the dom7 version of the V chord.
  • A11 – This is a slightly modified version of the standard 11 chord shape. Usually, you don’t play a root on the top string.
  • Am/G – This is an Am chord with its 7th in the bass. Compare it with what happens in ‘Sunny Afternoon’.
  • D7 – This is a standard open position D chord which has been extended to a dom7.

All these chords are not part of the F major family, some go outside the key. Get the full lesson for ‘Starman’ in the intermediate course.

Related Pages

Starman – Lyrics

StarmanDidn’t know what time it was and the lights were low
I leaned back on my radio
Some cat was layin’ down some rock ‘n’ roll, ‘lotta soul he said
Then the loud sound did seem to fade
Came back like a slow voice on a wave of phase

For complete lyrics, go to Starman lyrics.

David Bowie – Biography

david-bowie-thumbDavid Bowie was an English singer, songwriter, actor, multi-instrumentalist, producer, arranger, and audio engineer.

His biggest hits include ‘(Is There) Life On Mars?’, ‘Starman’, ‘Ziggy Stardust’, ‘Let’s Dance’, ‘China Girl’ and ‘Heroes’.

To find out more, go to David Bowie 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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