This lesson is based more on REM’s acoustic cover of The Troggs’ classic Love Is All Around. The original and the cover are the same in many ways; you should be fine if you only heard the original version. Anyway, by the time you crawled all the way to the end of this lesson, you will have learned how to spice up a simple chord progression using single notes, you’ll have played around with a strumming pattern, and you will mix it all together with a small riff or two. It is much easier then it sounds. So let’s jump straight into the song:
“Love Is All Around” was originally recorded by the Troggs (best known for the song “Wild Thing”) in 1967. It was covered by R.E.M. and released as the B-side to “Radio Song” in 1991. They played this acoustic version at their MTV Unplugged performance the same year.
Guitar Noise has easy guitar lessons featuring several R.E.M. classics. For a complete list of these lessons check out our R.E.M. music page.
The verse of this song contains only four chords, and luckily none of them should be very hard. The chords used are:
The basics of the verse are quite easy, after each measure you change to the next chord. When you are at the end, you start all over again with the D-major chord. So let’s start by just strumming each chord once, using a downstroke, and let it ring until the next chord starts.
Well this is easy. It will probably sound nice when standing at the very back of the stage with a good guitar player in front of you, but it isn’t likely to win you any awards. So we need to take a step forwards, right? Right. So let’s start by, (don’t be scared), strumming each chord twice. Still only use downstrokes.
Hmpf. It sounded a bit better, at least people will know you are there, although you are still at the back of the stage, behind that great guitar player. But since we want to play this song on our own (and I assume we do) we need to offer the thousands of fans something a bit more… interesting. We could do this by playing single notes, instead of a second strum of each chord. This should get us some variation. To make it easier for us, we simply play the high-e string, while keeping our fingers on the fretboard. Now let’s see how that sounds.
Well, it is a bit more varied now. Unfortunately the single notes don’t really stand out, since the contrast with the chords is minimal at best. Maybe we could try it without full chords altogether! So instead of each full chord, we’ll only play the lowest string of the chord. That should sound like this:
Now that was an improvement, wasn’t it? Each note sounds different, and you can still hear the chord progression. But something is still not really how it should be. It sounds a bit empty and ‘lacking’. So why not spice it up with, you guessed it, more notes. To keep it interesting, we’ll just do it like this: After you played the lowest string of a chord, play the string above it. And when you have played the highest string, play one below it. That should sound like this.
Aha! Now that sounds more like it. With just a bit of practice this should be relatively easy, and it sound really nice. Of course, there are always thing you can do now to improve it, but your own creativity should guide you there. Just to give one final advice on the verse part, don’t be afraid to play around a bit. Add in a full chord at the first beat to add some variation (Verse F), or play the single notes completely differently for a change (Verse G). Try something, play around, and who knows what you can come up with.
Now we are ready to tackle the chorus. The chorus uses pretty much the same chords, but in a slightly different way, while also slowing down a bit:
So how should we play this? Well, again we could start with the most basic pattern, strumming each chord four times using only downstrokes:
Ouch. As if someone is shooting with a canon at you. The chords are correct, but it sounds absolutely horrible nevertheless. What we could do here is add an interesting strumming pattern. How about something like:
1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +
D D U U D
Didn’t this sound nice? Even though it won’t really put you above Hendrix, it is nice and easy, and it fits quite well with the song. Of course, you might want to offer the screaming masses some more variation, by whipping out the mighty Single Notes once more. Let’s follow the same steps as we did with Verse G. So we start by putting down the full chords on each first beat, and then we just throw some single notes down.
Great, now we have two easy ways of playing the chorus, and as an added bonus they even sound good as well. So now we know both the chorus and the verse, so all we have to do is link them together. To this we’ll blatantly steal the two ‘original riffs’. Maybe not completely correct, but close enough to sound really good. The first riff, which we will call ‘Riff A’, is really, really easy. I don’t think you can find an easier riff anywhere else:
Easy, right? Ok, let’s move on to the second riff, which we’ll call, big surprise here, ‘Riff B’. It is a little harder, but still quite easy:
The outro is just as easy, and barely worth being mentioned. You just play the verse of your choice, and end with a full A chord. That’s it. When we sum up the song, it looks like this:
1) Play ‘Riff A’.
2) Play the verse (whichever version you want) multiple times.
3) Play ‘Riff B’.
4) Play the chorus (once again whichever version you like best) once.
5) Play ‘Riff A’.
6) Back to step #2
When you did this all a few times, play the verse again a few times and end on a full A-chord. Couldn’t be easier. If you have any questions feel free to contact me.