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Rock Guitar Lessons • Dust In The Wind Guitar Lesson • Kansas • Fingerpicking, Violin Solo, Chords, Tab, Video, Lyrics.

Updated on March 22, 2020


Dave Hope (bass), Phil Ehart (drums, percussion), and Kerry Livgren (guitars, keyboards, synthesizers) formed a progressive rock group in 1970 in their hometown of Topeka, Kansas, along with vocalists Lynn Meredith and Joel Warne, and keyboardist Don Montre, keyboardist Dan Wright, and saxophonist Larry Baker. The band went through some lineup changes (even forming two versions of Kansas, at one point), Ehart was replaced by Zeke Lowe and later Brad Schulz, Hope was replaced by Rod Mikinski on bass, and Baker was replaced by John Bolton on saxophone and flute.

Leftoverture (their fourth album) was a major breakthrough for the band, hitting number 5 on Billboard's pop album chart. Point of Know Return peaked even higher, at number 4. Leftoverture and Point each sold over four million copies in the U.S. Both 'Carry On Wayward Son' and 'Dust in the Wind'. 'Dust in the Wind' was certified gold as a digital download by the RIAA in 2005, almost 30 years after selling one million copies as a single. Leftoverture was eventually certified five times platinum by the RIAA in 2001. To say that the band achieved phenomenal success is an understatement. They continue to tour today, to sold out crowds.

The Song

'Dust In the Wind' is a beautifully written composition. Strong chord progression, melody and lyrics, they must have known it was a hit song form the first playback. It is a staple in music stores, almost as popular to play as 'Stairway To Heaven'. The fingerpicking is a strict common pattern, but quite difficult to play at the recorded tempo. I recommend starting slow, making sure all notes are clean, then gradually increase the tempo. In fact, this is the way to approach learning any song. If you can't play it slow, you can't play it fast! The tempo is around 96 bpm, but the mixture of eights and sixteenths are still hard to execute at this speed.

The Intro

The chord progression is beautiful. The intro is based around two chords, C Major and A minor. Am is the relative minor to C Major, they share the same key signature (no sharps or flats). The song is diatonic, meaning it is contained in one key: C Major. During the intro, the bass notes of the cords remain static, while the upper melody notes change. The fingerpicking pattern has the common form of the bass notes (played with the thumb), maintaining (in this case) a strict eighth note pattern (1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and). This is sometimes referred to as an 'educated thumb'. It is the index and middle finger that add the syncopated spice to the sound. This pattern continues throughout the song. I have notated the pattern in the first measure: T (thumb) I (index) M (middle). It will take some time to get the pattern 'rolling', that is where is sounds smooth, but diligence will pay off!


Dust In The Wind Intro

The Verses

The upper notes of the chords, follow the vocal melody line, a really nice sound. This section is a little more difficult to play, as the fingerpicking no longer concentrated in the middle four strings for the most part. The G Major shape, is simply the third finger on the sixth string. There is no need to finger the entire chord. The Dm7 is the most difficult switch in this section, due to the fact that the pick hand is now concentrated in the top four strings. This is a tough switch from the G shape preceding it. The G/B slash chord is a nice lead in to the C Major. Use the second finger of the fret hand for the B and the fourth finger for the D. This will make the transition to the C Major much easier. Also, I have left out the embellishments, such as hammer ons and pull offs, to simplify the piece.


Dust In The Wind Verses

The Choruses

Extremely nice chordal movement in this section! The D/F sharp, can be fingered two ways: the first finger on the F sharp, the second on the A and the third on the D, or, the thumb of the fret had can be employed here to 'grab' the F sharp on the sixth string, by bringing it over the top of the neck and actually fretting the note with the thumb. This is very common, and used my many players in all genre. Jimi Hendrix employed this technique frequently, as do many country players. I prefer to use my fingers as opposed to the thumb. Whatever works though. The G Major is the same fingering as the verse, just the third finger. For the Am/G slash chord, use the fourth finger to pick up the low G. The bass movement is chromatic in nature: F sharp on the D Major, G on the G Major, A on the Am, G on the Am/G, back to F sharp. Great sound!


Dust In The Wind Choruses

The Solo Progression

This is where the song changes. This progression is still diatonic to the key of C Major, but some unconventional chord shapes. All the chords are contained in the four middle strings, but can prove quite challenging to execute cleanly due to the open strings. It is very easy to mute these strings with the edges of the fret hand fingers. This is not the sound that is wanted, the strings must ring together to sound correct. Fingering for these chords is essential. For the Am9, use the third finger for the seventh fret (A) and the first finger for the fifth fret {C}. Moving to the G/A, use the first finger for the fifth fret (G) and the FOURTH finger for the seventh fret (D). Slide the fingers back two frets to form the Am9 sharp 5. That way, you can grab the D on the second string with the second finger in the second half of the measure. Kind of tricky, but it works!

Solo Progression

Dust In The Wind Solo Progression

Dust In The Wind Complete

A Aeolian

This is the A Aeolian scale in the twelfth fret position. Position is loosely defined as the fret that the first finger falls on. A Aeolian is the sixth mode of the C Major scale, also called the natural minor scale. All these notes are diatonic to (contained in) the C Major scale. Scale spelling: A B C D E F G and octave A. The scale depicted here is a two octave scale starting on A (twelfth fret, fifth string) and ending on G (fifteenth fret, first string).

A Aeolian At The Twelfth Fret

Violin Solo Arranged For Guitar

All the notes of this solo are contained in the scale above. The only note outside of the scale pattern is the high A on the seventeenth fret on the first string. This note is still in A Aeolian, just outside of this particular pattern. Playing this note will cause you to shift out of the the four fret pattern. Watch the video for finger placement.


Official Video


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    • mediacreeks profile image

      Media Creeks 

      4 years ago

      Thanks for explaining it in this hub.


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