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Three Chord Song (Guitar Lesson)


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Steve Eulberg

Three Chord Song

Steve progresses to a three chord song - "This Land Is Your Land." This song features the primary triads in the major tonality.

Taught by Steve Eulberg in Singing with Guitar seriesLength: 14:24Difficulty: 1.5 of 5
Chapter 1: (04:39) Three Chord Song Steve opens Lesson 3 with a performance of the song that you will be learning in this lesson. In this lesson, Steve teaches a basic arrangement of "This Land Is Your Land" written by Woody Guthrie. This song is Guthrie's response to the classic Irving Berlin tune. "God Bless America."

Primary Triads in a Major Key

Steve's arrangement of the song is comprised of only three chords. These three chords are the "primary triads" in the key of G major. The primary triads of any major or minor key are the I, IV, and V chords. Remember the hand trick that Steve demonstrated in previous lessons to determine the I, IV, and V chords in the key of G major. Respectively, these chords are G, C, and D(7). Often a dominant seventh chord is substituted for a regular major V chord. This creates a stronger resolution back to the tonic (I) chord.

Many songs in the rock, blues, and folk genres feature only three chords. Consequently, mastering the materials that Steve presents in this lesson will enable you to play a vast number of songs. For example, the most basic form of the 12 bar blues progression contains only three chords. In the rock genre, Nirvana's "All Apologies" only contains three chords: D, G, and A. These are the primary triads in the key of D major.

Learning the Melody

Remember to study the key features of a melody before you actually try to sing it. For example, what is the range? Does it span an entire octave or more? Where do large intervallic leaps occur? Is the melody predictable? Where do the phrases end and begin? What pattern do the phrases follow? Do the chords change in a predictable fashion along with the phrases?

It is also a good idea to learn the lyrics before singing the melody. This will cut down on the number of new things that your brain must process in order to sing the melody well.

Lyrics

This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to the New York Island,
From the redwood forest to the Gulf Stream water,
This land was made for you and me.

As I went walking that ribbon of highway
I saw above me that endless skyway,
I saw below me that golden valley
This land was made for you and me.

I roamed and I rambled and I followed my footsteps
O'er the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts,
While all around me a voice was sounding, saying

In the squares of the city, in the shadow of the steeple
In the relief office, I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry I stood there asking,
--Is this land made for you and me?

As I went walking, I saw a sign there;
On the sign it said "NO TRESPASSING,"
But on the other side it didn't say nothing--
That side was made for you and me!
Chapter 2: (05:31) Chords and Where to Play In the previous two lessons, Steve outlined a specific process that should be followed when learning to sing and play a new song. At first, only strum when the chords change. The chords change every two bars, so you'll actually be holding each chord for a total of eight beats. Then, strum in half notes. Next, strum on each beat in a steady quarter note rhythm. Finally, strum in eighth notes. This requires that you alternate your strumming direction continually. For an extra challenge, add an alternating bass line. Practice this entire process with a metronome.

Watch as Steve plays through the song while only strumming whole notes. Pause and rewind this scene as necessary to learn the lyrics and the melody. The next time through, just sing along with Steve. Then, sing by yourself without playing. After that, strum whole notes while Steve sings. Next, sing and play along with Steve. Finally, do all of this by yourself. You fill find that it is much more difficult to perform the song without a skilled guide to sing along with.
Chapter 3: (04:12) Different Ways to Strum Once you have mastered the song using the instructions outlined in the previous scene, your next step is to play the chordal accompaniment with the boom–chuck rhythm and an alternating bass line. At first, do not attempt to play the accompaniment in this manner while singing. Learn how to play the guitar part first. Then, add the vocal melody back in.

If the boom-chuck is unfamiliar to you, go back to Steve's Phase 1 lessons as well as the Phase 2 Bluegrass series. Also, visit the Bluegrass series to learn how to apply a walking bass line to the key of G major. Playing a walking bass line in conjunction with singing this melody isn't too difficult because the bass notes move in the same rhythm as the melody. However, this is not the case for many songs. If this is too much for you to tackle at this time, learn some other basic folk tunes and play them with the strumming rhythms above. After tackling a few more songs in this fashion, you should be better prepared for the walking bass line. Steve concludes this lesson with a performance of the song played with a walking bass line. Listen to him carefully and compare your version to his.


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Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.


phbr23phbr23 replied on May 19th, 2012

Thanks Steve. The lesson on the walking baseline is exactly what I wanted.

stevebockstevebock replied on September 6th, 2011

Steve, Good lesson. I feel I'm ready for the walking baseline but got a little lost in your explaination. You moved a little fast through it.

ciaran_123ciaran_123 replied on August 28th, 2010

Steve - Love the platt

coolclaycoolclay replied on October 29th, 2009

Same here. I like the lesson, but the video is not that clear on the walking base line.. it is hard to see your fingerings on it and you said that it was frets 4 3 2 1 but it is not as you never do a 4th fret. I belive that this is similar to the walking base line in Jim Dinnings basic lessons and it sounds alright. Btw, I prefer staff to tabs thanks

joel r22joel r22 replied on July 9th, 2008

Steve, First I'll say that I really enjoy your teachings and found this to be pretty easy until I got to the walking baslines. Tab on this would make it a bit easier, But ending on a high note This site is great....thank you

daveyboy51daveyboy51 replied on May 25th, 2008

Great lesson series Steve, keep it coming, love the history chat with the lesson.

birchybirchy replied on May 24th, 2008

yeh, tedted3. I can follow the basic strumming and base chop on this, but fall apart trying to get the walking base line. It needs tabs so we can "woodshed" the tune.

rblgeniusrblgenius replied on May 21st, 2008

Loved it great lesson. This is great for working on vocals as well as guitar training

tedted3tedted3 replied on May 21st, 2008

Thanks Steve. I really enjoyed these last few lessons. Playing and trying to sing is a real challenge for me. I do much better reading tablature and then trying to get the rhythm. Could you tab out the walking bass lines one day?

Singing with Guitar

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Singing and playing the guitar together can add another dimension to your ability as a musician and guitarist. This skill is particularly useful for those who enjoy playing rhythm guitar.



Lesson 1

One Chord Song

Steve Eulberg launches this lesson series by teaching a one chord song. Starting with easy songs allows you to isolate your voice and guitar playing.

Length: 14:12 Difficulty: 1.0 FREE
Lesson 2

Two Chord Song

Steve advances to a song that features two chords. This time around you will learn "Mary Had a Little Lamb."

Length: 17:40 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 3

Three Chord Song

Steve progresses to a three chord song - "This Land Is Your Land." This song features the primary triads in the major tonality.

Length: 14:24 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 4

Four Chord Song

Steve demonstrates how to sing and play the song "BINGO." This song can be harmonized with either four or five chords.

Length: 13:10 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 5

Increasing the Difficulty

Steve Eulberg ups the ante with a more advanced sing-along lesson. He teaches you how to play and sing the song "Take It Easy" by the Eagles.

Length: 12:07 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 6

Learning Songs

Steve talks about some of his favorite resources for learning and discovering new songs.

Length: 8:36 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 7

Down in the Valley

Steve Eulberg teaches the classic folk song "Down in the Valley."

Length: 17:09 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 8

Sunshine On My Shoulders

Steve Eulberg teaches the John Denver song "Sunshine On My Shoulders" in this Singing with Guitar lesson.

Length: 31:27 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 9

Last Thing on My Mind

Steve Eulberg teaches the essentials of singing and playing the song "Last Thing on My Mind."

Length: 27:39 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 10

How Songs Behave

Steve talks about how songs and tunes behave in this lesson. This information will make basic songs easier to play along with.

Length: 13:53 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only

About Steve Eulberg View Full Biography An Award-winning multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter, Steve Eulberg weaves mountain and hammered dulcimers with a variety of unusual instruments to create thought-provoking, smile-inducing, toe-tapping acoustic experiences.

He has sung and composed for religious communities, union halls, picket lines, inter-faith retreats, mountain-top youth camps, as well as the more familiar venues: clubs, coffeehouses, bookstores, festivals, charity benefits and showcase concerts.

Born and raised in the German-heritage town of Pemberville, Ohio, Steve was exposed to a variety of music in his home. Early piano lessons were followed by trumpet in school band, and he became self-taught on ukelele and guitar and harmonica. Mandolin was added at Capital University where, while majoring in History, he studied Ear Training, Voice and took Arranging lessons from the Conservatory of Music.

While at college, he first heard hammered and mountain dulcimers, building his first mountain dulcimer just before his final year. Seminary training took him the west side of Denver where he built his first hammered dulcimer. With these instruments, he was able to give voice to the Scottish, English and Irish traditions to which he is also heir.

Following marriage in 1985 to Connie Winter-Eulberg he settled in Kansas City, Missouri. There he worked cross-culturally in a church of African-Americans, Latinos and European Americans, with music being a primary organizing tool. He moved with his family in 1997 to be nestled beside the Rocky Mountains in Fort Coillins, Colorado.

Founder of Owl Mountain Music, Inc. he teaches and performs extensively in Colorado and Wyoming with tours across the US and the UK. He delights in introducing the “sweet music” of dulcimers to people in diverse settings and in addition to his own recordings, has included dulcimers in a variety of session work for other musicians.

In 2000 he was commissioned to create a choral composition featuring dulcimers for the Rainbow Chorus in Fort Collins. It was recorded in the same year (BEGINNINGS). He is currently at work on a commissioned symphony that will feature hammered dulcimer and Australian didjeridu.

Eulberg passionately believes that music crosses cultural and language barriers because music builds community. Influenced by a variety of ethnic styles, his music weaves vital lyric with rap, rock, folk, gospel and blues. Audiences of all ages respond well to his presentation and to his warm sense of humor.

Steve is a member of Local 1000 (AFM), The Folk Alliance, BMI and BWAAG (Better World Artists and Activist's Guild).

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