Jazz Guitar Lessons • What A Wonderful World • Louis Armstrong • Chords, Melody, Arpeggios, Videos
The Incomparable Louis Armstrong
The original recording
This song is in the key of F Major. For more info on flat keys, see the Misty (Chord-Melody) hub. The key of F Major has one flat: B. Since this chord chart contains only rhythm slashes, there is no need to insert the key signature. The song's time signature is 6/8. The top number tells you how many beats in the bar, and the bottom number tells you what kind of note gets one beat. Because of the way the pulses fall, 6/8 time is counted 1 and ah, 2 and ah, not 123, 456. This results in a strong 3/4 time feel. Each chord is played once per bar. Most of the chords are in the key of F. The only chords outside of the key signature are B7, Db, A7, F sharp diminished, Eb and D. The progression is transcribed with a mixture of barre chords and open chords.
What A Wonderful World: Chord Progression
What A Wonderful World Arpeggios
Arpeggios are simply, notes of the chord played individually, instead of strummed together. Quite often (as in this case) notes ascend up through the chord intervals then descend. Most of these arpeggios are just the top notes of the full barre chord. Try playing them as PARTIAL BARRES, that is, do not barre your fist finger across the entire fretboard. Instead, just hold down the notes that are necessary to form the chords. Eg: for the Gm, the first finger is barred across the top three strings, while the third finger is used to hold down the G on the fourth string. Partial barres are extremely useful. Full barres can be painful when employed for an entire tune. Partial barres allow the hand to relax.
What A Wonderful World: Arpeggios
What A Wonderful World • Arpeggios In C Major
In order to fit my partners vocal range, I had to transpose the song to C Major. Moving to this key, makes it easier to play the song, as most of the chords are open shapes. All the chords are moved down a fourth. Eg: descending from F to C: F E D C. Gm7 becomes Dm7, Am7 becomes Em7 and so on. When accompanying a vocalist, it is essential to compensate for their range as opposed to having them strain their voice with notes that are too high, or whispering notes that are too low. Capos are another solution.
What A Wonderful World • Key Of C Major
What A Wonderful World Melody
This is where the magic happens in this tune. I was amazed by how well the melody fits with the chord progression. All the main melody notes fall on chord tones (notes contained in the chord). This is a no-fail way of composing. The melody is 100% diatonic. This means that there are no notes outside of the key signature. An easy way to spot this is: if there are no accidentals (sharps, flats or natural signs in the body of the transcription), and the only notes that are altered are in the key signature, the song is diatonic. Just an extremely well written song, that flows seamlessly.
What A Wonderful World: Melody
What A Wonderful World: Rhythm, Arpeggios, and Melody
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Bending In Pitch
Why do we bend strings on guitar? Because we can! However, a number of things must be considered. Bending notes is not just for the sake of being able to bend them, the notes must be in PITCH. This is the tricky part.
In the tablature you will see that some bends are full and some are 1/2. Although there is no standard to tablature, this is the accepted way of notating the distance (interval) the note must be bent. A full bend is the most common. It is a distance of two frets. A half (1/2) bend is the distance of one fret. THIS IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT! Over-bending or under-bending results in a out of key pitch and is very dissonant to the ear.
How can you tell if your bends are in pitch? Try playing the target note, then bend the other note into it. EG: if the bend is full on the 12th fret on the third string (G), play the A on the 14th fret on the third string first, then go back to the G and bend it up until you reach the pitch of the A. You have to rely on your ears for this. They will tell you when you have reached the target pitch. Fingering is also very important. Whenever possible use a fortifying finger on the fret behind the normal fingering (that is, push up with two fingers).
In the example below, place your third finger on the 12th fret, and your second on the 11th fret. This will give you much more control over the bend. The hardest bend in the transcription is the A to Bb on the third string. It is a 1/2 (one fret) bend. Very easy to over-bend this. Good Luck!