How to Play Hope Springs Eternal by Mark Lincoln (Guitar Lesson)

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Mark Lincoln

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.

Taught by Mark Lincoln in Songs with Mark seriesLength: 30:22Difficulty: 3.5 of 5
This is a song that I wrote about five years ago when inspired by a couple particularly poignant lines in the movie "The Shawshank Redemption." I've always been deeply affected by film and I found this movie to be incredibly powerful on a number of levels. The song came together in a number of pieces and contains some fairly unusual chords, although I'll let you be the judge of that for yourselves. We'll also be incorporating the use of arpeggios which work well not only as part of the introduction, but as a bridge as well. So let's get to it shall we?!? Here are the chords that we'll be using for Hope Springs Eternal.

C add9

C add9 (type 2)

D add9


Am (type 2)


F maj7

C maj7

C (type 2)





Please familiarize yourselves with the chords above, especially the ones that you may not be familiar with. Some of them are parts of mini-regressions within the song and their forms will become more familiar to you as we go through them together.

Play Along

Exercise 1
Let's start with the introduction to this piece. This section occurs at the beginning, middle as well as at the end of the song and helps to break up the monotony of the strumming. We'll be using Cadd9, D add9, Am (type 2), C (type 2) and Fmaj 7 chords. Usually arpeggios are indicated using the numbering system where the lowest string or E-string is "6" and A-string "5", D-string "4" etc. or something like this:
E-string 6
A-string 5
D-string 4
G-string 3
B-string 2
E-string 1
If I tell you that we're playing the arpeggio pattern 5-4-3-2-3-2 over the Cadd9 chord then we're playing the strings A-D-G-B-G-B, does that make sense? This will become clearer when you watch me in the video as well. First we'll work with the chords Cadd9 and Dadd9 using the following pattern:
Cadd9: 543232
Dadd9: 5432345
C add9: 543232
Dadd9: 543543
Cadd9: 543232
Dadd9: 5432345
C add9: 543232
Dadd9: 543543
See if you can get the hang of this pattern and play along with me. If you need to stop the video and practice for a few minutes then now might be a good time to do it. Once you've gotten a better handle on the skill, then see if you can play it along with me at speed. The next chords in the intro are Am (type), C, and Fmaj 7 , and C (type) and we'll be using the following pattern:
Am (type2): 654345
C: 654345
Fmaj7: 654345
Cmaj7: 654345
Am (type2): 654345
C: 654345
Fmaj7: 654345
Cmaj7: 6543654365436543
As I'm sure you noticed, the last arpeggio (on the Cmaj7 chord) does a repetitive pattern. The reason being that this is the point at which the arpeggiated portion of the song ends and the strum begins. In a sense, the arpeggio is winding down and getting the listener ready for a change in the song. Once again, try and get accustomed to the patterns that I'm using and watch me closely in the video for more on this.

Exercise 2
Now let's get comfortable playing the verse chords of the song. We'll be using the Em7, D and Cadd9 (type 2) chords for this exercise. Notice in the video that I come into the initial strum pattern with a triplet, or three successive strums. This is done in essence so that the song has a clear line of demarcation away from the calm, passivity of the arpeggios into a more upbeat and rocking rhythm. The dynamic is changed clearly and without hesitation by doing this. From there we'll be using a down down down up for the most part. You may see me deviate away from this pattern even though the time signature of the piece does not change. Why do I do this, you might be asking? Is it to confuse you, to make the learning process more difficult for you? Of course not! But it is important to understand that rhythmic patterns often have slight deviations in them and as long as you have mastered the "feel" of the song, then you've got it! Simply try and get the same feel that I have with the rhythm and you'll have no problem getting the song down.

Play the three verse chords listed above and play them along with me in the video. Don't forget the triplet in the beginning!

Exercise 3
Now let's do the chorus chords shall we? We'll be using G, D, Am and C (type 2). These should be easy chords for most of you and hence this part of the song will be simple to master. Play the four chords along with me in the video paying attention to the strum pattern which is down down up up down, the timing of the changes, as well as the overall feel of this section. Again, if you need time to get the chords down or any other facets of the rhythm now would be a good time to stop the video, and then rejoin me when you're ready to play with me.

Exercise 4
The transition from the second chorus back into the arpeggiated intro chords (as I mentioned previously, the bridge as well as the outro is the same as the intro piece) is likely the most difficult part of this song and warrants some extra attention as well as practice. Let's take a closer look at this and see if we can work through it together.

We'll be going from the G-D-C chords, which are the final chords before going back to the arpeggios of the intro/bridge portion. Let's practice making this transition smoothly as it can be relatively difficult. Keep in mind that there really is an element of planing here, just as with any change in any song. What I mean is that you really need to shift gears from a cognitive perspective, in order to go from an all-out strum back into the quiet and paced feel of the arpeggio. In a way it's like coming to a screeching halt before careening over a massive precipice! Hence you'll need to prepare and plan for the drastic change in the feel of the song. Watch me closely in the video for more on this and work with me to get this transition spot on!

Exercise 5
This is simply an exercise to work on the lead break which although similar to the verse chords, goes like this: Em7, D Cadd9 (2), D. This manner of grouping the chords together makes this portion of the song a little more fluid and perhaps more conducive to a lead player, should I opt to have one. Play these chords along with me taking note of the energy that should accompany this section of the song.

So after all of your labors here is your shot to play it from arpeggiated intro to arpeggiated ending. Please remember that the numbers in parentheses indicate which version of the chord you'll be playing and if there's any confusion refer to the chord charts listed above.

->Please open the "song lyrics and chords" in the supplemental content section and practice the entire song<-

There it is, Hope Springs Eternal in its entirety. It's probably a good idea to master the guitar portion of the song before you attempt the accompanying vocal but that's certainly a decision for each of you to make on your own. But certainly go through each of the exercises separately until you feel you have perfected each section in its own right before you attempt to sing and play the song as a whole.

Other Important Notes...
1) Warm-Up - It is of the utmost importance that you spend some time warming up your voice before singing. If you're not familiar with the warm-up process or are curious about a good warm-up routine please take a look at my voice and performance series located here on the JamPlay site. Singing without a sufficient warm-up can impede you from singing at your best and may also cause permanent harm to your vocal chords.

2) Dynamics - Incorporating strum patterns with arpeggios is a great way to introduce big dynamic shifts, or high highs and low lows into any song. Hope Springs Eternal is no exception to this rule and when the two facets (strums and arpeggios)are joined together effectively, there really is no better way to create powerful dynamics. Of course, the two must be combined smoothly and with seamless transitions in order to create the desired effect. If you are finding that making the transitions smoothly in this song is difficult for you, please continue to work on it until you feel confident in the change. Having written this piece I know that the change from strum to arpeggio is probably the most challenging portion of the song.

3) Derivatives - Using different derivatives of certain chords can help to add a little bit of variety to any given song. Although it may become a little confusing while in the learning process, there is in fact a rhyme and reason for the chords that I've selected for this song. For example, in the arpeggio sections we're using an unusual Am:

Am (type 2)

This chord combined with the three that follow, creates a distinctive sound that is just not the same as using a conventional open Am chord. Further, each C-chord in the song works the best for the section in which it appears. For example, this Cadd 9 chord:

C add9

This chord works the best in the arpeggios because it uses only the first and second fingers and allows for a smoother change into the D add9 chord that follows. As you learn the song you will hopefully gain some insight into the various reasons behind the relative chord construction.

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.

tamartintamartin replied

I enjoyed the lesson, and your song. Thanks for teaching it to us.

Mark.LincolnMark.Lincoln replied

You're welcome Tam glad you enjoyed it! Mark

dagchristiandagchristian replied

Song is beginning to come to me now :D But in the tab, the arpegio pattern 654345 for the last chords , its not what you play in the video??

mike yunmike yun replied

it doesn't include the tab as you say it is in the lesson

Mark.LincolnMark.Lincoln replied

Hey Mike how are you? If you don't see tab as indicated please send a message into [email protected] and ask them about it. Thanks for letting me know! Mark

dagchristiandagchristian replied

Awesome. Looks difficult but have to have a try :) Loved the song!

Mark.LincolnMark.Lincoln replied

Thanks for the feedback Dag and great to hear from you! Where you been? Mark

dagchristiandagchristian replied

Im here but many many hours in front of you in the U.S.(norway) So not many live webcams sessions on me! Couldnt find the arpeggio in the supplemental content?

dagchristiandagchristian replied

Ups, never mind :D

J.artmanJ.artman replied

Awesome lesson Mark!

Mark.LincolnMark.Lincoln replied

Thanks Johnny Artman and let me know when you've done a recording of your own I want to hear it! Peace, Mark

jboothjbooth replied

Another great song Mark, you really do have a talent for making solo acoustic arrangements very rich. I've listened to all of the songs you have on Myspace and honestly I feel you come across live even better then in your recordings, which is a great thing! Too many musicians are all about the studio. Anyway, I'm rambling. great song!

Mark.LincolnMark.Lincoln replied

Thanks Mr. Booth for your praise, it means a lot to me coming from you my friend! Thanks! 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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