Introduction to Rescue Me + Chorus chords and exercises
Welcome to the first lesson of the intermediate electric guitar course!
The first song we learn is ‘Rescue Me’, a Motown classic from 1965, sung by Fontella Bass. The song reached #1 on the RnB charts and #4 on the Billboard charts.
For bands playing other peoples songs, this has become an easy classic to add to a Soul/Motown repertoire.
Before we look at the chords or structure of the song, let’s have a listen to the original. If you never heard the song before, listen to it on repeat at least five times.
Step 1 – 10 – 2o min
Bars and beats
A good idea when working out a song is to make a Bars and Beats Chart, this is what it would look like for ‘Rescue Me’.
Rescue Me – Key of A – 122 BPM
Outro Chorus 8
Outro Chorus 8
If you take as a habit to always do this you get a better overview of the song and can quickly see when parts are repeated.
In ‘Rescue Me’, the intro and instrumental sections are identical, meaning you have three sections to work out in the song.
Using the bars and beats chart, listen to the song again and make sure you understand the arrangement.
In the next step, we’re going to learn how to play the two chords that make up the majority of the song, all over the neck.
As well as mapping out the fretboard with A and D chords, this will give you some ideas for what to play over the actual chorus of ‘Rescue Me’.
Step 2 – 30 min
The chorus of ‘Rescue Me’ mainly moves between the two chords A and D. To develop a good guitar part for it you must first ensure you can play these two chords anywhere on the neck.
Using this loop of the chorus, practise as each exercise show.
In example 1, the first chord shape can be seen as either an open A or a G shaped A. When playing a fraction of a chord like this, the two shapes overlap.
The D chord could be seen as either an open D or a C shaped D. Again, the two shapes overlap.
When playing a part for a song it’s important to keep the number of strings to a minimum. Experiment with playing only two strings from the chord shapes, rather than three as the TAB show.
In example 2, the shapes are more clear. The A chord is a G shape, the D chord is definitely a C shape.
As you can see in the first two exercises, the chords are played on the beat using a staccato approach. Cut the chord off early so it doesn’t ring into the next strum. Do this by letting go of the strings on the fretboard, effectively muting with your fretting hand.
The strumming hands’ pendulum movement should be at 16th note pace and must never be interrupted.
This way, adding the extra 16th note is easy.
Ensure all rhythms are played ‘snappy’. The length of the rest after the chord is as important for the groove as the placement of the actual rhythm.
In example 3, we play the E shaped A, followed by the A shaped D.
This is possibly what you’ll end up playing the most when you play the full song.
In example 4, what shapes used are, just like in the first example, debatable.
The A chord is using a D shape, or is it the top part of a C shape? The answer is, they overlap.
The D chord is a G shape.
Finally, in example 5 we play a C shaped A chord and an E shaped D chord.
This final example uses great chord shapes for this song. By moving up the neck and playing higher notes, we increase the intensity.
One idea could be to play these shapes towards the end of the song.
Today you mapped out the fretboard using A and D barre chords. You played these using the same rhythm as the chorus of ‘Rescue Me’.
We also looked at some extra things you can do when playing a rhythm like this such as sliding into a chord and maybe adding an extra 16th note rhythm here and there.
Hopefully, this took you just under an hour to complete and you now feel relatively confident playing fractions of these barre chord shapes.
Next time we will use a similar approach as we learn the verse and that turnaround at the end of the chorus we didn’t do today.
See you then!
Dan (your guitar guru)