I decided to do something a bit different this week from the ‘5 Guitar Licks’ style videos I’ve been doing recently. This is a lesson on a quick solo guitar arrangement of the Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields Forever”. It is one of the more commonly covered Beatles tunes by instrumental guitarists because of how well it lays on the guitar. Bill Frisell, Andy Timmons, and Duke Levine; have all done wonderful versions of this tune. This lesson will show you how to play the arrangement as well as teach you new, interesting chord voicings and techniques.
The arrangement begins on an A7 right where the original vocal melody starts. I fret the common open A7 voicing with my ring and pinky finger so I am free to use my index finger to bend the B string behind the nut. This is a technique I picked up from listening to Roy Buchanan and Jim Campilongo. Behind behind the nut in this example allows me to keep the rest of the chord sustaining easily.
The fourth bar shifts to Em. This minor 9th voicing always makes me think of the Police’s “Every Breath You Take” which is the same shape but uses a major 3rd to create a major 9th chord. After striking the chord, I do another behind the nut bend. This whole step bend is less about keeping the chord sustaining and more about the haunting quality it produces. The fifth bar is a F#7 chord and uses the behind the nut bend to play the melody. This example is made up of two bends. The first is a whole step bend and the second is a half step bend up on top of the already bent string. This creates a G-A-A# melody and with the release of the bend creates another really haunting sound.
The seventh bar is a common walk up over a dominant chord. I use this idea a lot in blues and jazz playing. It works well when moving up a fourth.
The B section starts with a E major triad with an open B string on top. In this idea, the D, G, and B strings stay the same while the low A string moves downward chromatically. It ends with a country sounding whole step bend over a rootless E7 chord.
The next idea is over an F#m chord. This section uses lots of extensions like the 9th and 11th which helps add interest while staying with the melody.
Bar 15 starts begins a section that uses lots of suspended chord voicings. The first is a Dsus4 that moves to a standard E triad. The second idea moves from A to E to F#m. I use a simple A triad, a Esus2, and a rootless F#m9. The B section ends with an arpeggio outlining Dsus2 to A.
After the B section the A is repeated once more until reaching the coda. The coda is a quick tag of the vi-IV-V-I progression using different voicings.