The Many Ways to Play

Most people pick up the guitar in order to play a song. Not necessarily a specific song, but rather the idea of playing a song on the guitar. Maybe the guitarist is also singing the song. Or someone else is, should the guitarist not be all that comfortable singing.

Or maybe it’s learning just a part (the guitar part, of course!) of a particular song, like the solo of “Stairway to Heaven” or the intro to “Sweet Child o’ Mine,” that inspires someone to take up guitar.

Whatever the reason or inspiration, and whatever the song, the question that usually comes up next is that of what, to you, constitutes “playing a song?” For some, it’s as simple as strumming a few chords. Others may decide that nothing less than a perfect note-for-note duplication of the original recording will suffice. And, of course, there are no end to the arrangement possibilities between those two points.

With our various Guitar Noise song lessons, we try to give you as broad a range of choices as possible. We have lessons where our arrangements are fairly close to note-for-note transcriptions, such as “Hey There, Delilah,” or “Three Marlenas” or the first of our two lessons on “Scarborough Fair.”

Then there are those such as “Ventura Highway” or “Cat’s in the Cradle” or “Wake Me Up When September End,” where the arrangement has been created to allow the guitarist to be a little more creative, while still giving the listener enough of the flavor of the original song to appreciate. Our three R.E.M. song lessons (“Man on the Moon,” “Driver 8,” and “Losing My Religion“) definitely fall into this category.

And we also encourage you to be even more creative with your guitar accompaniment in our two latest lessons, “The Circle Game” and, especially “Crazy Love,” where the spare guitar accompaniment compliments the vocal much in the way a pianist might.

The bottom line is that regardless of what song you want to play, remember that there are all sorts of ways to play it. Don’t settle for learning just one. Use whatever happens to be your first arrangement as a starting point and explore as many possible variations as you can. That’s what playing guitar (and music) is supposed to be about.