Author Archives: Teo Lazarov

Six songs, three chords, how hard can it be?

Occasionally you will need to add some new songs to your jam. Now this doesn’t always have to be difficult. As we like to say: keep it simple so nothing can go wrong. That’s why we’ve selected six songs that are built up from a maximum of three chords per track. This way you can keep it simple.

Evergreens always do well around the campfire. And a lot of golden songs are not too difficult to play either. Below you will find six tracks, all of them can be played with only three chords. Not all the chords of the songs below are the same of course, we don’t want you to get bored.

Satisfaction – Rolling Stones

Satisfaction by The Rolling Stones is the classic example of a three-chord song. It follows the traditional blues progression in which the verse consists of two chords, and the chorus uses a third one. In this case it is the pure basis of E, D, and A. And yes, there is a B7 in the song. So technically speaking there are four chords in this track. But the role of the B7 is so insignificant that you can neglect it and play an E instead.

All Apologies – Nirvana

All Apologies of the nineties heroes Nirvana is written in a drop D tuning. That means you’ll have to tune the lower E string of your guitar one tone down to a D. That’s why the chords you see are a bit strange. Fortunately, there is wonderful tool called the capo. When you put a capo on the fourth fret, the chord progression changes into the familiar basic triads A, D, and E.

Wicked Games – Chris Isaak

When it comes to powerful songs, Wicked Games by Chris Isaak is definitely such a track. The ambiguous text, the ever-increasing tension and the sultry desire that the track radiates fits into any jam. The chords are also super basic, namely Bm, A, and E. Okay, Bm might indeed be a bar chord, but it really isn’t that much different from the B major.

Blurred Lines – Robin Thicke ft. T.I, Pharrell

It doesn’t get easier than Robin Thicke’s hit with Pharrell. The song consists mainly of the chords D and G. The most important is the strumming pattern, which is essentially that you play the chord on the first beat of the bar only. In the transition to the chorus you hear a bass lick that starts on the C note and works its way up to the D. Here you can just play a C. That’s all you need to know for playing Blurred Lines.

Nebraska – Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen is a must in a campfire jam. Just because the guy is classical rock hero. Like All Apologies, his song Nebraska has a somewhat challenging chord scheme, that is, until you put the capo on fourth fret. Try it for yourself and watch how suddenly everything changes to the basic E, A, and D.

Walk of Life – Dire Straits

For the grand finale we have a really timeless song. Even if you don’t know the Dire Straits, you know this tune. Walk of Life is one of the most famous songs the band ever made. Again, this track consists of only three chords. The E, B, and A are again combined in a success formula. Now all you have to do is practice the vocal line. Check our Campfire Essentials channel for more songs to spice up your setlist. Happy jamming!

The B major stands for Blues – chord of the week

The chord of the week is the B major. A diverse triad that does not get enough credits by a long shot. It’s not always easy being the fifth above E. That is why we are focusing our spotlight on the somewhat difficult bar chord. Keep an eye on our Instagram for more chords of the week.

Whether you like it or not, you can’t ignore bar chords. One of the most commonly used finger placements in this category is the B major. You often encounter this chord because it is an essential part of the key E. But let’s not forget that there are plenty of beautiful songs written in B major as well.

Cocaine – J.J. Cale

Cocaine by J.J. Cale is a good example of a track in which the B major flourishes. It’s a song that not only caused a lot of controversy when Eric Clapton made a cover of it in 1977, it is also a classic example of how an artist can cleverly criticise a drug that gained popularity among youngsters in the 1970’s.

The track consists of some tricky chords like C#, G# minor, and A#. One way to bypass these grips is to place the capo tool on the second fret. As you can then see, the chord scheme transforms into more familiar chords, with the only exception of F#. Of course this triad does no longer have any secrets for us, since it has already been the chord of the week previously.

Crossroad – Robert Johnson

And now that we’re on the subject of blues. Robert Johnson’s song Crossroad is one of the first blues tracks to appear on vinyl. The song is about the guitarist standing at a crossroads. Will he sell his soul to the devil for sublime guitar skills or will he chose the long road of hard work? Spoiler alert: he sells his soul for rock ‘n roll.

The song consists of a standard blues progression that repeats itself over and over. Take a good look at the chords, as you can see there are some chords in which the seventh note plays an important role; don’t be shocked, just try it out. These are finger placements that you don’t often encounter, so it’s nice to be able to use them in context for once.

Thunderstruck – AC/DC

AC/DC is known as a hardrock band, but when we take a closer look at the chord progression of their song Thunderstruck, we clearly see the resemblance with blues. For example, a chord diagram built around three chords and variations on them, in this case B, A, and E.

This hardrock classic is a nice track to jam on at the campfire. Make everyone sing along with “Thunder!” The track is also a good opportunity to practice some basic chords. Enjoy, and happy jamming!

Historic album of the month – Live Killers by Queen

One of the world’s most influential bands release their first live album at the apex of their musical abilities. This, we think, describes a more than suitable candidate for a glance into rock history’s rearview mirror. That’s why this month we shine a light on the celebrated Live Killers by Queen. This record has, since its release in 1979, changed the definition of a rock show.

Thirty nine years ago in June, one of the world’s most extravagant acts released their first live album. At that time they had already recorded seven studio albums over a span of nine years. Live Killers is a compilation of a multitude of shows that the band played during their tour in Europe at the beginning of 1979.

Queen

Before we zoom in on this historical record, let’s travel back in time to the year 1970. The year that the band Smile falls apart and its young guitarist Brian May, then midway through his doctorate in astrology at London’s Imperial College, wants to be a full time musician. May and Roger Taylor, drummer and dentistry student, decide to find a singer to accompany them. A good friend and fan of Smile catches their eye, Farrokh Bulsara, born between the palm trees of Zanzibar. Bulsara’s itching to start his career as the frontman of a rock band.

As an art student he conceptualizes the band’s image from the get go as full of grandeur, provocation, art and a thick guitar sound. The name of the band should catch this in one stroke. In this starting period Bulsara and May are separately working on tracks, one called March of the Black Queen, the other White Queen. All three artists agree that the word ‘queen’ has the powerful feel that they’re looking for.

Freddie Mercury

After joining the band Bulsara immediately changes his name. He was looking for something more in line with a band that’s called Queen. Chris Smith, keyboard player for  Smile remembers it well. In the documentary Days of Our Lives (2011) he recollects how, one night, his buddy Farrokh sits in a bar with his hands covering his face.

‘I asked him if something was the matter’, says Smith. ‘He looks at me and tragically announces that he can’t be a popstar anymore.’ Upon asking ‘why’ Farrokh stands up and shouts out: ‘Because I, Freddie Mercury, will be a legend!’ The keyboard player grins. ‘No one took Freddie serious back then.’

Bombastic glam rock

The rock ‘n roll guitar riffs by Brian May, the stringent drumming by Roger Taylor and the exceptional vocal reach of Freddie Mercury, all fall right into place from start. When the group is complemented by bass guitarist John Deacon in 1971, who also appears to have a voice of gold, Queen is ready for liftoff.

With songs like Seven Seas of Rhye, Now I’m Here, Love My Life and of course Bohemian Rhapsody of their first three albums the band is creating a whole new sound. It’s rock, but with some new flavors, a special sauce of opera, theater and ballet. The different layers in the vocals sound like Brian Wilson’s wall of sound on steroids. In the instrumental pieces the piano and guitar are on a par with each other, which in most rock music is unheard-of at that time.

Punk era

At the end of the seventies the band’s popularity is receding, because they cannot connect with the younger audiences. The media also doesn’t hold the band in high regard anymore, on the contrary they print (extremely) critical articles and reviews. For example when Freddie Mercury muses about a combination of rock ‘n roll and ballet, this becomes the pinnacle for a negative article with the telling title: “Is This Man a Prat?”

It’s a period that’s characterized by a growing popularity for punk rock in the United Kingdom. Bands like the Sex Pistols and black Flag are slowly moving into the mainstream. Queen’s bombastic rock is not the pleasure trove it once was for the big audience. Nevertheless there is a big faithful group of fans that keep supporting the band.

In a reaction to these developments Freddie Mercury and Brian May are each working on a song that will immortalize them and make them into legends. We Are the Champions and We Will Rock You are going to be Queen’s answer to the changing musical landscape of the western world. Both songs have gathered a larger than life status over the years, and they have intrinsically altered rock music.

Stadium rockers

At the end of the seventies the act has grown so popular that they standardly perform for a sold-out stadium. This is when the usage of the term stadium rock comes into full swing. Their whole show and performance are adapted to the grandeur of the stadium. Everything is bigger, more bombastic, and has more extravagance. From the lighting to the outfits and the way Freddie addresses the public.

Along the way Mercury learns not be fazed by the huge audiences that move like waves in front of him. On the contrary, he starts to play games with them. One his favorite activities in between the songs is to engage the public in a play of call and answer. A skill that would later be adopted by bands like Guns ‘n Roses, Pantera, Nirvana and Faith No More.

Live Killers

This is the period that Queen records the album Live Killers. It’s a snapshot of a group that is full of passion and growing towards the top. They’re at the height of their potential and their eagerness, spirit and will to proof themselves is noticeable in every tone, riff and vocal punch. They have the raw energy, musical hunger and theatrical complacency of a band that’s at the top of their game.  

The album is put together from of a mixture of different performances taken from their European tour from January until March in 1979. The band mixed the tracks themselves in their then recently bought Mountain Studio in Montreux, Switzerland. In an interview Brian May and Roger Taylor later proclaimed the adrenaline rush to be so intense during those shows that they had trouble recollecting which song belonged to which show.

Remarkable

While the album went double platinum in America and shined at the top of the British charts, the band was not at all pleased with the sound and the mix. Nonetheless it’s a record full of remarkable compositions and melodies.

The opening for instance is a faster version of We Will Rock You. The songs Killer Queen, Death on Two Legs and Bicycle Race have been put into one medley seamlessly melts them together. Mercury’s voice is clear and deep, like we’re used to from their  studio albums. The band plays rigidly and doesn’t defer from using different kinds of effects that we also hear on the record, like heavy echoes and delays.

End of an era

Over the course of the eighties Queen matured into one of the biggest and most renowned bands of the world. But, after a gig in Sun City, South Africa they were accused of supporting apartheid, which made for a undeserved blot on their image. Their big revival for the public eye came with their appearance at the immense charity drive Live Aid in Wembley Stadium in 1985.

The show that Freddie Mercury puts on here is of such a high caliber that all the performing artists, from Phil Collins to David Bowie and Elton John bow their heads for the kings of arena rock. It comes as no surprise that this show was chosen by the BBC as the best live performance of all time. But we shouldn’t forget that the band made their first steps on the path to true stardom with the Live Killers record. A historical moment to be cherished. happy jamming! 

Johnny Cash loves it as much as the Prodigy – F sharp is chord of the week

Brace yourself because this week’s chord of the week is the triad F sharp. It has been used by many a hit making machine, from Johnny Cash to the Prodigy. Check it out for yourself below. Curious about more chords of the week? Follow us on Instagram.

Before we give you a list of bangers to play along with, we want you to take a closer look at the fingering of the chord itself. What strikes you? As you can see this chord has the same finger placement as the barre chord F major. If you lower the F figure one fret, the barre disappears and all that remains is an open E major.

Hotel California – Eagles

In other words, this figure always forms a major chord when your guitar is tuned in E. The chord depends on the root tone you fret on the lower E string. So, now that you’ve deciphered another piece of the guitar neck, it’s time to get started on the F sharp. And what better place to start than with this evergreen by The Eagles.

This song consists of all the basic chords and a little bit of challenge. You will find some interesting variations on the F sharp. Look carefully at the F sharp 7 and the F sharp minor. In both cases it’s a matter of lifting just one finger from the basic position of the F sharp chord. The same applies to the B major and the B minor. Check the chords here.

Living Dead Girl – Rob Zombie

Shock-rocker Rob Zombie is a genius in terms of making a standard chord progression sound unique. Living Dead Girl is a good example of this. The track consists of only four chords of which three are basic triads.

The chords are A, G, E and, of course, the F sharp. That’s it. The only somewhat difficult chord is the barre F sharp. Practice a little with the vocals and you can amaze people if you include this song in your standard jam. A good song is not necessarily difficult.

Fire Starter – Prodigy

Have you already mastered Hotel California? If so, congratulations! The next song has almost the same chord progression. Although the Prodigy track Fire Starter is from a completely different genre – and generation – it has a lot in common with The Eagles’ hit.

Here we again see the use of the F sharp and the F sharp minor as well as the B and the B minor. Both minor chords, as you already know, differ only a fret from the major. You have to practice a bit with the timing, but that’s what the weekend is for of course.

Folsom Prison – Johnny Cash

Did we already mention that the biggest outlaw in country music wrote one of his most badass songs in F sharp? Yes, we did. Johnny Cash was known for his black suits, his love for the Indian community and his aversion to authorities. All this is reflected in the song Folsom Prison.

In this song the man in black sings about his imprisonment in Folsom and what led to it. At first glance the chord progression may look a bit impressive with triads like C sharp and C sharp 7. Don’t be deterred and try them out. If it’s a bit too difficult, you can also use the transposition tool and lower the song a fret. Try it and see what happens. Happy jamming!

How to choose an electric guitar for beginners

Choosing a new guitar is a beginner’s first important step. After all, you’re at the advent of an infinite adventure. So, choose wisely, efficiently and make sure you ‘inform yourself before you wreck yourself.’ Just like in part one and two of this series we’ll focus on choosing your first guitar. In this case an electric six string.

An instrument is like a tool, so it’s important that you know what you want to use it for. It’s counterproductive, at the least, to use a sledge hammer to straighten out thin nails in a spongy wooden board. Just as demolishing a brick wall with a screwdriver is quite a challenge. As we’ll see learning to play guitar adheres to comparable rules. So, think carefully about what you want to learn and choose the instrument that best suits your needs.

Why an electric guitar?

Why choose an electric guitar at all? You can also tinker with and sing along to an acoustic specimen. Right? No. Well, to follow the ‘what suits your needs’ dictum; if you want this, then an acoustic instrument is for you. But that’s a story for another article.

So, what’s your incentive? Maybe you aspire to be the next Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton or Dimebag Darrell. Then this post is for you. We briefly explain how an electric guitar works, we’ll get you acquainted with the basic models and which brands are preferred by which genre. See this article as a convenient starting point for your search.

Difference between acoustic and electric guitars

There’s an obvious, yet essential difference between an acoustic six string and an electric six string. The first amplifies the strings’ vibrations through the hollow body of the guitar, that functions as a sound box. The latter’s functioning is a little more complicated.

An electric guitar has magnets attached to the body that pick up mechanical vibrations, which is why these parts are called pickups. They transmit the vibrations as an electrical signal through the guitar’s jack output, and via a cable into your amplifier. This whole process depends on electric power and signals. That’s why it’s called an electric guitar, and of course the sound is electrifying.

Sound

The sound of the electric guitar does not solely rely on power. Below we will discuss the other important factors that make up the sound. This will give you a good idea of what an electric guitar does and what you need to pay attention to when you choose one.

We’ll discuss the impact of the type of wood that is used to produce the body and neck. This is not as decisive as with an acoustic instrument, but it still plays an important role. Another factor to be aware of are the guitar’s pickups, which can alter the sound in different ways. And last but not least, of course, there are the different brands and models that match the sound of particular genres.

Body

Let’s start with the body. Different electric guitar models have different types of sound boxes. These are almost always made of wood. The type of wood is important when it comes to the weight of the instrument and the tone and color of the sound. For example, mahogany has a full and thick sound, but it’s fairly heavy in terms of weight. Essen wood is light and the sound is clear and higher than other woods. This way every type of wood has its own characteristics, as you can see here.

In addition to the material, it’s also important to note that there are three types of body shapes. The solid-body means that the sound box consists of a solid piece of wood. In contrast, a semi hollow-body has a small hollow space between the front and the back of the sound box, similar but slightly smaller than that of an acoustic guitar. In the case of the hollow-body this space is even larger. Both often have a carved-out F-shaped figure in order to enhance the resonation of the sound.

Single coils

The body of the guitar houses most of its electronics, i.e. the pickups, switches and wires. These are essentially copper-wound magnets that absorb vibrations of the strings, making it possible to amplify the sound. There’s many different pickup brands. But in the end, you can divide them all into two groups: single coils and humbuckers.

The single coils produce a clear and thin sound. They are often used in funk, blues and grunge. If you’re looking for that Jimi Hendrix sound, keep in mind that he mainly played on guitars with single coils. Also remember that the advantage of a thinner sound is that you can always make it thicker with effect pedals. The other way around is much more cumbersome.

Humbuckers

At first glance humbuckers look like two single coils that are glued together. That’s true to a certain extent, but because of the way they are wired, a humbucker is really one independent element and not two.

You can test the different sounds by using the switch, also on the body, to alternate between the different pickups. Depending on the guitar, you can switch both single coils on at the same time or one at a time. Compare the sound with that of a humbucker.

The humbucker sound is thicker and fuller than a single coils’. This makes it ideal for heavier genres like rock, hard rock and metal. From Slash to Dimebag Darrell, humbuckers all the way. Do you like John Mayer? Than you shouldn’t pick a guitar with humbuckers.

Stratocaster

John Mayer plays – just like Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix – on a Fender Stratocaster. This is one of the most iconic models. It’s probably the first model you think of when you try to picture an electric guitar.

The instrument is classically equipped with a solid-body and three single coils, although some deviant versions are equipped with humbuckers. It has twenty-one frets, two tone controls, one master volume and a pickup switch. Want a bluesy, funky sound? Then this is your guitar. It has a typical screeching sound that’s still recognizable when you thicken it with effects.

Les Paul

Just like the Stratocaster, Gibson’s Les Paul model is a classic. It’s a solid-body equipped with two humbuckers, two tone controls, two volume buttons and a three-way pickup switch. You can send the signal through the upper, lower or both humbuckers.

You could say that the Les Paul is exactly on the other side of the spectrum, opposite the Stratocaster. A Les Paul model has a heavy, full and deep sound and is also heavier in terms of physical weight. Not that fitting when you want to play crystal clear tunes, because they sound a bit woolly. But, it’s perfect for heavy riffs, full chords and thick solos. Slash, Zakk Wylde, Lenny Kravitz and Jimmy Page use this monster for good reasons.

Streamliner

To reproduce that ol’ growling rock ‘n roll sound of Chuck Berry, or the fine sound of Chet Atkins, you need a hollow-body. Gretsch’s Streamliner is one of the best-known guitars in this category. The humbuckers give a specific heavy sound, but the high tones are a bit slenderer.

This guitar model also lends itself to blues. It’s for good reasons that Bo Diddley usually played on a Gretsch Streamline. The ‘king of rock ‘n roll’, Mr. Presley, was also fond of it. So, if you love that nice vintage sound, check out the hollow-body models.

Artcore

Ibanez is known for its heavy solid-body guitars, which are often used in the metal genre. But the guitar manufacturer also made the semi-hollow Artcore in the seventies. Together with Gibson’s ES-335 this is one of the most famous semi hollow-body guitars.

These guitars are perfect for country, blues and fusion. You can use it in any direction you want. The sound is full of crisp and clear mid-tones. This allows you to combine the warm and full characteristic of the hollow body with the tight sounds of the solid-body. These guitars are often equipped with humbuckers.

Many others

To keep it simple we will not go into too much detail, lest we deliver you a headache. The models discussed in this article constitute the basic designs for the various other electric guitars that came after. Still, we can’t ignore a number of other varieties of the electric six string.

If you’re a real metal head it pays to immerse yourself in brands like B.C. Rich and Dean, besides Ibanez and Gibson of course. As a rocker you should also check the Jaguar and Telecaster models from Fender. Gibson’s SG series are also a must to try out in a music store, it’s the favorite guitar of both Angus Young and Tony Iommi.

Choices, choices, choices

We understand, you read all this and think, “What is it all about? I just want to play on a good and not too expensive guitar. Just give me some concrete brands! It would be really nice to be able to do that, but as you might suspect it will not happen.

You have to work out for yourself what guitar fits your needs. For a cheaper alternative you can also look at what brands offer good copies of the more expensive ones that were mentioned above. Don’t buy a far too expensive Fender right away and never play on it!

Walk into a music store and start trying one guitar after another with this basic knowledge. Take your time with it, because the better your choice, the longer you’ll enjoy it. As with everything else in life, the following applies: ‘proper preparation prevents poor performance’. Happy jamming!

Happy Birthday Sir Paul McCartney!

It’s Sir Paul McCartney birthday today. The former Beatle has reached the respectable age of 76, but this does not prevent him from touring, composing and experimenting with new styles and technologies. In recent years he has worked with Kanye West, Lady Gaga and Rihanna, among others.

Artists who participate in ‘this game’ after their thirties are sad, said the twenty year old Paul once in an interview about pop music. Now that he’s turned 76 and still going strong, we must conclude that in his mind he’s still far under thirty. Between 2013 and 2018 he did two major world tours – Out There and One on One. In addition, he never stopped delivering new work. A versatile man with an unceasing urge to create, as you can see in the list below.

Rihanna – FourFiveSeconds

In 2015, the former Beatle wrote a song for pop idol Rihanna, FourFiveSeconds. The arrangement of the track consists of a guitar, an organ and a cello. Kanye West also sings along in the song. The track became a hit and McCartney performed together with Rihanna and Kanye during that year’s Grammy Awards.

Kanye West – Only One

The collaboration with Kanye West doesn’t end with the FourFiveSeconds track. McCartney writes the song Only One especially for the rap star. A song in which Kanye’s mother, who is no longer alive, speaks encouraging words from heaven about his work, his life and his daughter.

The song originated when Paul told Kanye about his own mother. She died when McCartney was very young. Later on the pop star wrote a song about seeing her in a dream, Let it Be.

Guiness Book of Records

Sir Paul McCartney is not only a musician but also a world record holder in the Guiness Book of Records. The track Yesterday is the most captured pop song ever. But that’s not the only thing McCartney keeps a record in. The impressive number of 43 platinum songs coming from his hand has not yet been matched.

High in the Clouds

The creative urge of the former Beatle doesn’t end with music making. McCartney wrote the children’s book High in the Clouds in 2005. The story is about the squirrel Wirral who’s in search of  paradise after his forest is destroyed and his mother dies during the disaster.

The pop star has wanted to make an animated film based on his book for years and it seems that it will actually happen in 2018. Meanwhile, McCartney has also written a number of songs for the soundtrack in which he collaborates with Lady Gaga, among others.

Happy Birthday

So, age is only a number. Sir Paul McCartney is the living proof of this. How nice that the pop icon himself has written a song with which we can congratulate him. Where Disney owns the rights of Happy Birthday to You, Sir Paul McCartney has his own version of the theme. With a good dose of rock ‘n roll this track is perfect for almost every B-Day jam. Check it out. Happy jamming!

The biggest gangster among the triads is the G major – chord of the week

There is no bigger G than the G major in the guitar universe. This triad fits in gangster hip-hop as well as in country and pop. That’s why this week we’re presenting the G major as chord of the week. Check out our Instagram for more chords.

When you’re beginning to play guitar one of the first handles you will learn is the G major. This chord, together with the D, C, A and E, makes up the basis of many songs. We’ve put together five tracks for you to jam along to, so you can learn which other fundamental root tones combine best with the G major by playing many songs in this key.

Wish You Were Lord – Pink Floyd

The song Wish You Were Here from Pink Floyd’s 1975 album with the same name is a must in every summer jam. The track is fresh and sounds cheerful at times, yet at the same time it is drenched in melancholy. This is due to the special combination of chords that all fall into the key of G major. Think for example of an E minor seven or an A7sus4. This is a good moment to overcome the fear of these difficult names and to strike the chords themselves. That doesn’t sound too bad now, does it?

Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd

For the beginning guitarist Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd is a great opportunity to practice the basics. With chords like Em, A, D, G and F you get all the G major standard combinations in one song. For the advanced guitarist the challenge is to play along with the licks. Actually, learning to play Sweet Home Alabama is like killing two birds with one stone. Kid Rock was inspired by this song for his own track All Summer Long. So you kind of learn to play both. Try it.

The Rain Song – Led Zeppelin

As an advanced guitarist you sometimes need a little challenge, but you don’t want to sound too mushy. If that’s the case The Rain Song is the track you’re looking for. If you don’t have any plans for the weekend, just grab the chord scheme and take your time. Pay close attention to the way Jimmy Page subtly blends a G minor into a G minor seven, which then seamlessly flows into a C minor. The trick is to listen carefully and to keep practicing.

Banana Pancakes – Jack Johnson

If you’re going to chill on the beach this summer with your guitar, then this song by surfer boy Jack Johnson is a good addition to your jam. In this track Johnson uses a lot of seven chords. These have a dreamy sound and provide the atmosphere that is so characteristic of the song. Don’t be deterred by an A7, G7 or D7. As you can see here, in a seven chord less is more.

White Iverson – Post Malone

Did we say that the G major lends itself to every genre? You can see that in this track by Post Malone as well. White Iverson is just like Banana Pancakes and Wish You Were Here dreamy and groovy. You would almost expect that this song also consists of seven chords. The opposite is true. The Post Malone track is made up out of relatively standard chords.

Surprise the audience around the campfire with this less obvious song, even though the vocals are a lot harder to master than the accompaniment. Happy jamming!

Covert covers – part two

And, did your mom unfriend you on Facebook after you told her that With a Little Help From My Friends is not from her favorite Joe Cocker, but a song by The Beatles? Get ready for some more mind blowing trivia, because this is part two of Covert Covers. Now, just think about how your father would react when he hears that Red Red Wine wasn’t written by UB40.

“What?” We hear your thinking. “Red Red Wine is not by UB40?” Yup! Sorry for shattering the illusion, but more about that later. Let’s start with something lighthearted, like the Ku Klux Klan.

What a Man – Linda Lyndell

Do you remember that advertisement from Coca Cola? No, not the one with Santa Claus. The other one, where a group of women are goggling a young man who’s mowing the grass. Yes. Exactly. That one with the tune: “whatta man, whatta man, whatta mighty good man… say it again.” The song became a hit in 1994 when Salt ‘n’ Pepa released the track with a guest performance by En Vogue.

The original, however, dates from 1968 and was written by Linda Lyndell, a singer who had a lot in common with Ike and Tina Turner and with James Brown. Lyndell had received threats from the Ku Klux Klan, because she was a white woman singing black music, so she retreated from performing. In 2003 she sang What a Man live for the first time ever.

Venus – Shocking Blue

While we’re on the subject of advertisements. Do you still remember the television ad for Gillette women’s razors? This also includes an arrestingly catchy number, something like: “she’s got it, oh baby she’s got it,” excellent to singing along to under the shower. What are the names of those ladies who sing it? Yes, the girls of Bananarama!

The original however, is by the Dutch band Shocking Blue, who, in their turn, were inspired by an American group The Big 3 and their track The Banjo Song. The main riff is the same as in Venus, only in the American version they sing “Susanna!”

There’s a Limit to Your Love – Leslie Feist

So, now the tone is set. Brace yourself, because the next covert cover from 2013 melted many a girl’s heart. The track appeared on James Blake’s nameless album. Of course we’re talking about There’s a Limit to Your Love.

The performance is just like the video clip, pretty awesome. But the song itself is just a cover. Leslie Feist recorded The Limit to Your Love three years earlier. The version from the Canadian singer-songwriter is much more jazzy than the adaptation of James Blake.

Girls Just Want to Have Fun – Robert Hazard

Cyndi Lauper’s 1983 song Girls Just Want to Have Fun became a powerful anthem for young women immediately after its release. When we hear the words from her mouth, they have a different meaning than when they are spoken by a man. Still, it’s a cover.

Four years before Lauper released her version, Robert Hazard had already recorded the track. His song is written from the man’s point of view. Lauper adapted the song with his consent and released it on her record She’s So Unusual. Since then, the song has been covered numerous times by many artists like Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry and Janet Jackson.

Red Red Wine – Neil Diamond

And now for the grand finale, the revelation among revelations. Well yes, an expert probably knew this fact already, but some of the editorial staff’s faces hardened for a moment when they heard the news that Red Red Wine was not written by UB40.

The original belongs to no one other than Neil Diamond and it’s certainly not as cheerful as the British version. Whereas UB40 made the text sound like an adolescent hangover, a musical ode to the cry “I’m never going to drink again!” In the original track from 1968 we hear the pain and sorrow of a man who drinks in order to stun and forget. What a difference, right.

From Justin Bieber to Metallica anything goes in E major – chord of the week

This week we’re placing the toughest major chord in the spotlight. The E has a powerful, full sound, so you can use it in every genre. From heavy metal to hip-hop, from hip-hop to pop, nothing’s too crazy for the E. 

As you may have seen on Instagram, this week’s chord is the E major. This is a versatile key that plays an important role in both classical and contemporary pop music. It’s actually not very surprising since your guitar is tuned by default in an open E. The diversity of the chord can be found in the list of tracks we have compiled for you.

Love Yourself – Justin Bieber

Pop idol Justin Bieber has always been a hit machine. The song Love Yourself is no exception. The characteristic guitar carries the track from beginning to end. Although this song sounds very simple, it has some nice challenges. It quickly changes chords and there are a few chords that you won’t find in every song. I am talking about the F-sharp minor and the C-sharp minor. Check it out for yourself.

Berlin – Thomas Azier

Speaking of pop idols, Dutchman Thomas Azier, who lives in Paris, is well on his way to conquer the world. The song Berlin of the album Rouge is an ode to his previous base where he wrote his debut album Hellas. In this track he describes the German capital through the eyes of a young artist. The song is written in E and in the chord scheme we see a number of challenging chords, such as the C-sharp, the C-sharp minor and the B.

Under the Bridge – Red Hot Chili Peppers

The men of the Red Hot Chili Peppers now look like an older version of Justin Bieber. It’s hard to imagine that they were ever young, tough and anything but poppy. The raw sound of Under the Bridge from the album Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magik from 1992 kind of reminds us of the good old days. The song has a Hendrix like vibe and chords like E major7, F-sharp minor and G-sharp minor show how diverse the key of E is. This track is a challenge for the advanced guitarist. Try playing along.

Welcome Home (Sanitarium) – Metallica

As already mentioned, the E chord fits into any musical style. It doesn’t sound too cheerful, but it doesn’t sound too sad either. It is melancholic, serious and powerful. Since this is the lowest sounding chord on the guitar, the E lends itself perfectly to dark genres such as metal. Try something new and play along with Metallica’s Welcome Home (Sanitarium). The song is a fun challenge for its divers rhythms and the usage of chords like the B, the B minor and the F-sharp.

Satisfaction – The Rolling Stones

Yes, we already know, you can’t get enough of the E. The Rolling Stones know that feeling all too well. They even wrote a song about it. Satisfaction is one of the most famous songs of the British rock band. If we look at the chord scheme, we quickly see that it consists of the three basic chords E, D and A. In addition, The Rolling Stones use the B7 jazz chord to add a little more color to the track. Try to play along. Happy jamming!

Historic album of the month – Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys

If Sir Paul McCartney himself says that without this album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band would not have been made, you know it’s a historic piece of art. We’re talking about Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys. After this timeless record was released in 1966, the world of pop music was never the same again.

If you listen to the work of The Beach Boys until 1965, you will hear a good connection with an adolescent view of the world. Most of the songs are about cars, the beach and surfing. In other words, the band lives up to its name. And then it happens, Brian Wilson hears The Beatles’ latest album Rubber Soul.

Rubber Soul

By his own account, the Beach Boys front man smoked a few big joints before listening to the newest work of his British colleagues. Years later, in an interview, Wilson says: “Wow. It just blew my mind.” The producer feels a strong connection with Rubber Soul.

It’s an album with no unnecessary filling material, he says. Each track is as good as the rest and fits perfectly into the whole. You’ll only find strong compositions on the record. “I don’t know why, but I felt a sense of competition after listening to Rubber Soul. I wanted to make something better than this record,” Wilson later confesses His goal would become making the “greatest rock album ever made.”

The Beach Boys

Until then, the work of his own band was lighthearted. This is one of the reasons why the act has been successful with young teenagers. When Wilson dives into the studio at the beginning of 1966, to start the work on Pet Sounds, everyone expects he will produce sounds that are similar to All Summer Long (1964), Beach Boys Today (1965) and Summer Days (1965).

The young producer, however, has other plans. He uses the knowledge he has acquired while making the previous albums to do something completely different. Thinking of Rubber Soul, Wilson composes songs in which orchestration plays an important role. For this he hires the same musicians that have recorded for Mr. Wall of Sound himself, Phil Spector. They play strings, oboe, horn and harpsichord, among other things.

Brian Wilson solo album

With songs like Caroline No, Wouldn’t it be Nice and Sloop John B, Pet Sounds is sometimes called a Wilson solo album. Not only did Brian Wilson write eleven of the twelve tracks, he also took a year off from touring to do so. While The Beach Boys are touring America, the front man is working in the studio.

Wilson looks back on this period of his life as a process of maturity in which he struggles with panic attacks and has difficulty dealing with social situations. The album reflects this struggle and could be seen as a way in which the artist comes to terms with himself.

In 1965 Wilson decides to indefinitely withdraw himself from touring with The Beach Boys and do what he does best, create music. The texts on Pet Sounds reflect these developments. Wilson dares to look inwards and express the emotions associated with the transition from boy to man.

Tony Asher

What Lennon is to McCartney, Asher is to Wilson. Asher is a writer who is hired to help Wilson with his lyrics. After a meeting in Los Angeles the two exchange some ideas. Wilson later approaches the copywriter of jingles and advertisements with a request. He wants to work with someone he has never worked with before. Asher agrees, and the two quickly start working on Pet Sounds.

“Most of the time, Brian played me a melody and said what the theme of the song should be,” says Asher in a documentary about Pet Sounds. “I wrote a piece of text that could go along with the music. Brian listened to it and then continued. Sometimes he came back with another piece of music, or with a lyrical idea of his own. That’s how it went back and forth. In the end, the choice of words was mostly my work. I translated his ideas into smoothly-flowing sentences.”

Wall of Sound

When The Beach Boys return from touring in December 1965, Wilson awaits them with twelve new compositions. The musicians start recording Pet Sounds right away. The band members quickly give Brian the nickname Dog Ears, because they have to record harmonies take after take and Wilson is always dissatisfied with what he hears, while for the rest of the band it all sounds the same.

“Apparently he heard things that a normal person couldn’t hear,” his brother jokes in an interview. “Maybe he heard even when someone didn’t have pure thoughts while singing!” The vocals are not the only thing that Brian completely dives into. The artist is fascinated by producer Phil Spector’s so-called “wall of Sound.” With his productions for The Beatles, among others, Spector is able to create a literal wall of sound, which becomes his trademark.

He does this by orchestrating simple melodies and having them performed by several musicians and instruments. He also uses classical techniques such as antiphonals, instruments as harpsichords in rock and often of course strings as an accompaniment. Wilson uses these acoustic tricks and techniques on Pet Sounds. The album itself is an ode to Phil Spector, this is also evidenced by the fact that his initials PS are in the title, Brian openly states after the release of the record.

Pet Sounds

The album was released on the sixteenth of May 1966 and reaches the top 10 of the Billboard rankings. It is kind of a disappointment for the band as their earlier records easily ended up in the top three. Pet Sounds is so unique and innovative that the record company refuses to finance a decent marketing campaign.

Instead of pushing the new record, the label reacts in fear and quickly releases a Best of the Beach Boys album to reduce losses. As a result, Wilson’s masterpiece hardly has the chance to shine in his own country. Abroad however is a totally different story.

Recognition of the Masters

During their tour, after recording Pet Sounds, The Beach Boys visit London. There, Keith Moon of The Who arranges a meetup with John Lennon and Paul McCartney. John and Paul listen carefully to the new record. At the end of the album they play it again for a second time. Paul McCartney is speechless and calls the track God Only Knows “my favorite song of all times.”

Later, McCartney and Lennon confess that Pet Sounds was the inspiration for their album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Good news travels fast and a lot of great composers listen with adoration to Wilson’s record. After hearing Wilson’s masterpiece, Elton John says he’s never heard such a beautiful and subtle production before in his life.

The birth of Post Rock

“Stick to the formula!” One of co-front man Mike Love’s most famous quotes from Rolling Stone magazine, which he has never said, according to himself. It refers to Pet Sounds and the discussions the band had with Brian Wilson. According to a Rolling Stone journalist, the band members did not want to deviate from their success formula and argued over it during the production of the record.

Whether this is true or not, one thing is certain, Wilson did not only turn his back on the formula, he rewrote it. With Pet Sounds he paved the way for musicians who wanted to evolve in the rock genre. It’s a life beyond rock, the beginning of post rock. Without Pet Sounds, there would be no Pink Floyd, Talking Heads, Jefferson Airplane, or even Deftones.