How to Play A Song For You by Mark Lincoln (Guitar Lesson)

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Mark Lincoln

A Song For You

Yet again, Mark brings his unique songwriting style to JamPlay with an original song. "A Song For You" is a more difficult song that features a Latin feel and a strong punctuated chorus line. This one is sure to bring some groove to your playing. It also provides an opportunity to develop your stretching technique.

Taught by Mark Lincoln in Songs with Mark seriesLength: 28:16Difficulty: 3.0 of 5
A Song For You by Mark Lincoln
This is a song I wrote a few years ago that has a very different feel from many of my other songs. As you will most assuredly notice, the song has a sort of staccato feel (staccato: composed of notes that are short and detached) that is, in a way, reminiscent of a Latin feel. This type of rhythm can be fairly challenging especially when it comes to singing over the top but I have confidence in you all! We'll go through the ins and outs of the rhythm, the best way to go about singing it, as well as the chords that we'll be using for the song. And away we go.....

Here are the chords we'll be using for A Song For You:


Bm maj7

Bm (ver 2)

Bm 7th fret (ver 3) (7th)

G major7


E 7th fret (ver 2) (7th)




Please familiarize yourself with all of the chords necessary for A Song For You, focusing especially on the changes between the verse chords. As you have probably already noticed, some of these chords are particularly difficult and take some finger strength and dexterity to manipulate them accurately and without muting strings. Take as much time as you need to master those chords as singing over the top of chords you have not acquired will be even more difficult.

Play Along

Exercise 1
Let's spend a little time working on the chords and the manner in which the different parts flow together. In this first exercise we'll work closely with the verse chords and the staccato rhythm that I mentioned earlier. Watch me closely in the video as I play the rhythm over these chords using the strum down down down-down. Notice how I am plucking the bass note rather than doing a full strum on the first and third strums. This is part of how I am obtaining the staccato sound in this song. Play along with me using the chords Bm, Bm maj7, Bm version 2, and G maj7.

Walking the Line
You have probably noticed by now that the main difference between each of the four chords in the verse is simply one note. We are literally altering the bass note as we change chords and walking a bass line down from B to G. Keep this in mind as we go through the next exercise.

Exercise 2
Re-do exercise 1 again but this time use the concept of finger glue (grouping fingers together as if they were glued) and make the Am shape using only your second third and fourth fingers. Place those fingers on the 3rd and 4th frets like this:


Make sure you have good contact with the fret board and are avoiding muting strings. Once you feel comfortable with this piece of the exercise, now place your first finger onto the A-string and continue through all of the chords in the verse. Do you notice any difference in your ability to hit all of the chords more cleanly this time? If not then keep doing this exercise focusing on creating a strong foundation with the above three-finger chord.

Exercise 3
Now play along with me as we go through the verse chords into the chorus chords. Notice how I'm changing, opening up the strum as we go into the verse? This is a great way to alter the dynamics of the song, simply by changing from a muted type of strum to a more open type. Follow my lead on this and change your strum accordingly.

Exercise 4
Now let's play the bridge chords together, D, A and C. Again take note of the difference in strum patterns between the verse/chorus and this section. Not unlike the chorus strum, this also utilizes an open type of strum pattern which helps to differentiate it from the rest of the song. Play along with me until you've grasped this section of the song.

*Just a quick note- Bm (2) is simply an indicator that you should be using the Bm version 2 listed in the chord section above, and Bm (3) is the barred version. E (2) is the barre as well.

->Open up the "Lyrics and Chords" item in the supplemental content section to view and practice the full song<-

Well there it is, A Song for You, literally as well as figuratively. See if you can play the chords all the way through before you attempt the vocals with it unless you feel confident that you can pull it off. Obviously the most difficult parts are the verse chords but the rest of it is, well, a piece of cake?

Other Important Notes
1) Walking down the bass-as we discussed earlier the only difference between the four chords in the verse is the bass note, which is continually descending. Having this in mind can be helpful when your playing through the chords in lieu of the fact that the main note(s) that need to be emphasized are those bass notes. In other words, focusing your strum pattern on or near the bass note in each chord will help to keep the emphasis on the changing bass note especially since that really is the only note changing from chord to chord. Does that make sense? If it doesn't, take another look at those chords listed above and take note of what exactly is changing from chord to chord. Focusing your strum and positioning your picking hand on or near the note that is being altered can help to emphasize what specifically is changing, especially in a progression like this.

2) Derivatives - Hopefully you noticed that there are two barre chord versions of the Bm and E chords that are part of the chorus chords. Switching chord positions up can help to add a differentiation to the overall sound of the song and help to make it a little more interesting sounding. Make sure to take note of where these chords are played in the overall context of the song.

3) Palm Muting - This is a technique that most of you are familiar with but may not have mastered. Each person uses this integral technique in a different way and finding your own way to apply it is extremely important, especially in the realm of playing rhythm guitar. Watch me in the video as I'm playing through the verse chords, and how close in proximity I keep my hand to the fretboard. You'll notice that the ball of my hand (opponents pad) or the meaty area beneath the thumb is basically resting on the strings while I am strumming as well as the flats of my fingers or the outside flat area beneath the finger nail. I use both of those parts of my hand in order to control volume as well as the sound that am getting out of the guitar.

4) Strum Change - Again pay close attention to the changes that occur in this tune in terms of strumming.
A. Verse - Which is strummed using palm muting and also uses a technique where you are striking the bass note and then strumming afterward.

B. Chorus - Which is strummed using a more open type of strum allowing the strings to sound out and increase the relative volume and intensity of the song.

C. Bridge - Also utilizes a more open type of strum but not quite as loud or with the same intensity as the chorus strum.
5) Pausing - Hopefully you noticed in the tab that there is a pause after the first chorus. Adding pauses and silence into a song can help to add drama and an element of suspense to a simple tune like this. Watch me in the video as well for insight into how to make a simple device like a pause work for you in this song.

6) Falsetto - There are undoubtedly some high notes in this song and many (if not all) of you will need to stretch into your falsetto range in order to hit them. In particular is the section:
"please don't hit the brakes or I might crash and burn again"
This is a particularly challenging section to sing and you may want to spend a little bit of time working on this piece alone. As most of you are familiar with me telling you by this point, make good and sure that your voice is properly warmed-up (see my performance series for more on this) so that you'll be able to hit the notes correctly but also so that you'll avoid doing any harm to your vocal chords.

Exercise 5
After a thorough vocal warm-up, sing along with me through the falsetto section. If you find that you're experiencing any discomfort or tightness in your voice, neck, or tongue stop the exercise and work more on warming yourself up. Stretching out your entire body can help with this process, especially the legs, back and neck muscles. Once you've gone through the warm-up more thoroughly, try this exercise again. Keep in mind that singing out of your range is one of the main catalysts for vocal problems including nodes so be careful and pay attention to your body's signals. If you're feeling discomfort or getting hoarse, stop singing!

Video Subtitles / Captions


Member Comments about this Lesson

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

ganeshnat1ganeshnat1 replied

this lesson is great, and u have a very nice voice, thanks for sharing your compositions with all of us, u are a great teacher :) oh and by the way, my name is Ganesh

axeattack196axeattack196 replied

Hey Mark, great song, great fun to play - BUT: I'm struggling with the vocals in the verses. I just can't get the rythm together with the vocals. Do you have a tip for me? I'd really love to play and sing that properly :-)

Mark.LincolnMark.Lincoln replied

Hey Axe,tune in for one ofmy live Q and A's ifyou will be easier to help you through this live. Thanks, Mark

eduartboudewijneduartboudewijn replied

Hey Mark, great song. I really enjoy trying to play your originals, keep it up ;)

Mark.LincolnMark.Lincoln replied

Hey thanks Ed great to hear from you! Mark

tammy7689tammy7689 replied

mark!!!...your awesome!!!....i love the song and as always you are a amazing teacher...keep up the great loving these songs

Mark.LincolnMark.Lincoln replied

Thanks Tam Tam you're awesome too! See ya soon, Marky Mark

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Mark Lincoln

About Mark Lincoln View Full Biography Mark Lincoln was born in S. California but was raised near Portland Oregon in a town called Beaverton. When he was twelve years old, he began his journey into the realm of the creative by composing poetry and was later published in a journal called "In Dappled Sunlight." He wrote for four years until his older sister blessed him with his first guitar, an old beat-up nylon stringed classical guitar. Mark played that guitar for five years, continuing to compose his own lyrics and starting the process of matching his own words with chords that he was learning on the guitar. He learned to play chords from his friends and from music books that he both bought and borrowed. Mark cited his four biggest influences, at that point at least, as The Who, Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull, The Rolling Stones.

Mark cites his most current influences as Radiohead, U2, older music by REM, and Peter Gabriel amongst others. He performs with two acoustic guitars, one being a six-string M-36 Martin with a three-pieced back for increased bass response, and a Guild Twelve-string which is his most recent acquisition. Mark is fond of saying that the twelve-string guitar is better because you get two guitars for the price of one, but he still plays his Martin equally as much and with the same passion.

Mark ended up in Fort Collins Colorado where he currently lives, works as a Marriage and Family Therapist, and continues to write, teach and perform music. He currently performs with a group called "Black Nelson" as well as with a number of other seasoned professional musicians including his cousin David, a virtuoso lead-guitar player. Mark has performed in many of the smaller venues in Denver and Boulder, as well as some of the larger ones including the Fox Theatre, The Boulder Theatre, Herman's Hideaway, and also at The Soiled Dove where he opened for Jefferson Starship as a soloist. Some of Mark's originals are also available for your listening pleasure on MySpace.

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