Sunshine Of Your Love - Rhythm Guitar

Eric Clapton onstage in 1977
Eric Clapton onstage in 1977 | Source

Introduction

'It's getting near dawn...' Surely the story of a musician on his way to a girlfriend's place after a late night gig. But we won't go into the salacious details, as my aim here is to go through the guitar changes to support my online notation at musescore.com.

At Musescore I have also written the bassline. My drum part is nominal, as to analyse Ginger Baker using a score would require a suitably dedicated and dogged percussionist!

I will also be doing a YouTube video to complete the analysis. Guitarists who prefer tabs will, I hope, appreciate the fretboard diagrams that follow. I used these in my analysis of Al di Meola's solo from Sorceress.

I have focussed on the recorded version of Sunshine Of Your Love. This is an idealised notation by me, as Mr Clapton, blues man that he is, varies the riff somewhat on the recording. I guess also that he has never played it in exactly the same way since in his live performances, though I must confess I have never seen him live myself - unless you count the time I saw him in a fishing tackle shop in London's Pall Mall...



Jack Bruce
Jack Bruce | Source

The Song Intro

The key is D major. Sunshine Of Your Love is basically a blues with some variation around the fifth chord (A). The Intro sets the main riff for the song and is played in unison, more or less, by Eric and Jack Bruce on the bass.

Here is the notation:

Source

So, we are utilising the minor blues scale mainly based around the first position or block. I have shown the other notes of the scale to put it into perspective.

Play the higher D twice with the 3rd finger, then down to C with the 1st finger, then the higher D once again.

Then A, to Ab, to G (3rd-2nd-1st fingers) to the lower D (3rd finger), up to F (1st finger), then the lower D again.

Play the riff twice. That's pretty straightforward, I think.


Part 1

Here we are essentially repeating the D-D-C-D at the start of the intro. But we are fingering the D7 bar chord (as in the fretboard diagram) at the 10th fret and rapidly downward strumming the bottom 4 notes of the chord. Play in the D position twice, then in the C position at the 8th fret, then at the D position once again. Lift your fingers quickly off the strings after each play to produce a stacatto (if you're being formal) or chunky (if you're being slightly less formal) effect.

Part 2

Next we repeat the same A-Ab-G figure on the 5th string that we played in the Intro.

Following this, bar the DGB with the 3rd finger and strum down. (On the recording Eric varies this by just playing the the D and G or even returning to the intro riff.)

1st finger on the F and give it a half-tone vibrato. It's that blues thing where we can use either the major or minor 3rd and aren't actually sure which it is. It's a short note on which to achieve vibrato and it sings! One of the most brilliant single notes in rock history. Then finish with the 3rd finger on the D.

The riff that parts 1 and 2 form is repeated until the chord changes to G. The exact number of repeats varies and for this you'd best refer to my score or the original recording.

Part 3

'I'll be with you darling, soon...' and we're doing the same riff but in G. We're again barring the DGB with the 3rd finger. (You'll recognise this as being part of the G major bar chord starting at the 10th fret.) Strum down twice, then bar the CFA with the 1st finger and strum once, then the DGB again.

Part 4

So, we continue with our by now familiar riff, walking down D to Db to C (3rd-2nd-1st finger), then G with the 3rd finger, Bb with the first and again give it some vibrato. Finish with the D.

Play this figure twice. Then return to the riff in D, playing twice.

Part 5

'I've been waiting so long...' to get to the final part. Here you finger the open A major chord. This is subjective, but I go for the middle four strings..

...Then the C major bar chord at the 3rd fret but only sound the bottom 3 strings...

...Followed by the G major chord at the 3rd fret, again only sounding the bottom 3 strings

Cream
Cream | Source

For the specific timing of the AMaj to CMaj to GMaj chords I will have to refer you to my score, part of which is shown above, but if you've come this far you will probably know the song well enough anyway.

So, I hope you have found this useful. There now follows a short quiz, which is just the proverbial bit of fun.

A quick quiz

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