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How to Play The Story of Me by Mark Lincoln (Guitar Lesson)

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Mark Lincoln

The Story of Me

Mark Lincoln teaches an original song of his entitled "The Story of Me."

Taught by Mark Lincoln in Songs with Mark seriesLength: 17:16Difficulty: 2.5 of 5
In this lesson I'm going to teach you how to play my song entitled "The Story of Me" which is a tune that I wrote about seven years ago. The story contained within is fictitious in nature but does reflect some of the thoughts and feelings that I was contending with at that time. This is an example of a song that was born from a single melody line that I came up with in my sleep, and couldn't get out of my head when I awoke. I took the melody and continued to play around with it until I found the chords and words that accompanied it best. In this lesson I'll show you how to take a simple melody line and find the chords that should accompany it, as well as turn that into a pretty cool rock and roll song!

There are some who believe that a composition should be initially derived from chords and that without the initial chords to begin with, you are essentially lost. But what happens when you come up with a really cool melody line that you just can't seem to get out of your head? How do you find the "right" chords to accompany it and then where do you go from there? I'll show you how I did it in The Story of Me.

Here is the initial melody that I woke up with one lazy morning and couldn't seem to get out of my head:



The melody was simple enough and it seemed that maybe, just maybe I could find some chords and make a tune out of it. I figured out that the notes I was using were E-G B A-G-A-G-E, B-D-G-E-D-B-D-E as indicated in the tab above.

I knew I could start with an E major chord but I didn't want to go directly to a B-chord at that point, it just didn't sound right! So I experimented with some other chords to see what might fit and found that D-major worked great for the second chord in the progression although I couldn't figure out why it worked so well and came to me! B is in the key of D which made it the perfect chord for the B-note to be played over the top. And further, B minor is the relative minor of D so that turned out to be the best chord for the next step in the progression. So now I had the first three chords of the progression and A major, well, it just seemed to fall right into place as the next chord (and it has the E-note in its scale as well which is a prominent part of the melody line). I simply played a number of chords until I found the ones that seemed to fit well with the melody at hand. Subsequently, I found the "right" chords to accompany the haunting melody I had uncovered in my dreams. Here are the chords we'll be using for The Story of Me beginning with the verse chords that we just discussed:








The following four chords (E, D, Bm and A) can be played over the four verse chords as well by another guitar player to add thickness and variation:

E (13th fret)

D (10th fret)

Bm (7th fret)

A (9th fret)

Please play through all of the above chords and make sure that you have a good feel for them. If you want to, you can play through the verse chords, E, D, Bm and A while humming the melody to see how the melody line works played over the top.

The Boom
Many of you have heard me use this term when it comes to using your voice to gain momentum and power during a certain portion of a song. The Story of Me is no exception to this rule as you can use your vocals to really accentuate the chorus and/or bridge of the song to make it more dynamic. Watch me for more on this in the video and I'll show you how to add power and intensity during a given portion of a song.

->Please open the song chords and lyrics in the supplemental content<-

Well, there it is! Play along with me in the video or play the melody line that we discussed over the verse chords and see how it works for you.

Strum Patterns
Strum patterns for this song are as such: Intro and verse chords are strummed using or down down-up-down down up-down down-up-down and played using snap strums or continuous types of strums where indicated by the symbol "-".

The chorus chords are strummed using or down down-up-down-down up-down down-up-down (over the C chord), down down-up-down (over the Em7 chord), and or down up-down down-up-down.

The bridge chords are strummed using or down down-up-down-down up-down down-up-down during all four of the chords in this section. If you're confused about the notation and how it applies to the actual strumming, watch me carefully in the video for more insight.

Although the original recording is not currently available for you to hear at this time, the members of the band tried some fairly different and experimental types of instrumentation during the lead break. During the first part of the break we used classical guitars to fill in some of the space and during the C Em7 D portion of it we used a cello part. The cello added some interesting and very different tones to the feel of the break and allowed us to break away from the everyday and sometimes overused guitar lead break. Keep this in mind as well when you're doing some of your own recording as there's always room for experimentation and thinking outside of the box when it comes to innovation and recording.

Vocal Parts
During the bridge of the song there is ample room to allow for various and esoteric vocal parts including the use of call and response and rounds. These types of vocalizations can add a lot to a recording and help fill in dead spots in recordings, as well as make the overall sound more interesting to the listener. Watch me in the video as I experiment with some of these vocal tricks and think about how you might use them as well with The Story of Me.

Many of you have commented that you've noticed me using hammer-ons when I'm strumming chords and there's no question about it, you're right! I often incorporate hammer-ons even if it's simply one note within a chord as I'm strumming. Hammering onto one or two notes can add a little bit of flair to simple chords and a little fun for the guitar player as well. Keep in mind though that using hammer-ons is not essential to the integrity of this song and will not change the over-all sound if you opt not to use them.

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.

eshelrockeshelrock replied on January 16th, 2010

Mark, you are an inspiration. I love your explanation and energy. When writing songs do you find yourself starting with the chorus or a verse?

Mark.LincolnMark.Lincoln replied on January 19th, 2010

Ok Esh I think I understand your question better now....I usually start with a set of chords that likely become the verse so yes, the verse is usually the first and biggest driving force of the song. But, that's not always the case and sometimes I find a cool melody or a catchy hook that becomes the chorus so there really are no hard and fast rules to the process. Thanks for clarifying your question my friend, Mark

Mark.LincolnMark.Lincoln replied on January 16th, 2010

Hey Esh how are you? Um, I'm a little confused by your question, what do you mean? Mark

eshelrockeshelrock replied on January 18th, 2010

Hey Mark, I was wondering when you sit down to write a song if you begin with the chorus or do your begin with the verse. I guess I was wondering if the chorus or a verse drives your thoughts. Esh

gvanausdlegvanausdle replied on January 17th, 2010

Hey Mark I have already mastered the main gist of the song, strumming and all. It is a different arrangement of chords that I have never done and I love how it sounds. Of course the singing... well that is something else to be mastered.

Mark.LincolnMark.Lincoln replied on January 14th, 2010

Hey Peter thanks man! I really appreciate the feedback and the kind words as well! Mark

peterpaulpeterpaul replied on January 12th, 2010

Mark, Love this song. really cool. you are a great song writer my friend and a true artist. I've learned allot from your lessons. Thanks.

Songs with Mark

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Learning to play songs is a rewarding and enjoyable way to put your guitar skills to the test. This series is all about learning great songs.

Lesson 3

Jeni Lani

Mark Lincoln teaches his original song "Jeni Lani." He also throws in a good deal of useful music knowledge.

Length: 31:57 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 4

Zero Hour

Mark Lincoln teaches his original song "Zero Hour."

Length: 23:59 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 5

That's What She Told Me

Mark brings us one of his original songs with a punch. Here Mark teaches "That's What She Told Me."

Length: 33:31 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 6

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...

Length: 28:16 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 7

The Story of Me

Mark Lincoln teaches an original song of his entitled "The Story of Me."

Length: 17:16 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 8

Hope Springs Eternal

Mark Lincoln just does not stop writing great originals! Here he teaches a rather complex song called "Hope Springs Eternal." This song will test your ability to play arpeggios and chord transitions.

Length: 30:22 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 9


In this lesson Mark Lincoln teaches the famous Goo Goo Dolls song, "Iris."

Length: 37:52 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only

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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