Determining the fingerpicking melody of a song

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Joined: November 20th, 2018, 8:26 pm

Determining the fingerpicking melody of a song

Post by eric » November 20th, 2018, 8:31 pm

Hey guys im new to this but im trying to figure out the fingerpicking melody (with my right hand) of a few songs- like i want to know what strings i strum individually in what order, but i can;t find some of the songs online- is there any website i could use that could generate it- or any tips/ tricks i could get? thanks so much!!

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Alan Green
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Re: Determining the fingerpicking melody of a song

Post by Alan Green » November 20th, 2018, 11:18 pm

A lot of the time it's down to you and how you want to interpret the song.

If I go online and pull up - say - "Save Tonight" by Eagle Eye Cherry (I've been working on it with beginners this week so it's on top of the "e-mail to students" pile) then I'll find any number of tab sites which will tell me I need to play Em-C-G-D ad nauseam. What they don't tell me is the syncopation (strum pattern) - "how" to play those chords; that part I get from listening to the song on Spotify or YouTube.

Now, if I want to go fingerstyle, I can take the chord and pick out individual chord tones in a non-random order - bass note-1st string-3rd string-2nd string, for example, and that will do the job nicely. Some long sounds and some short sounds - dum-dummm-de-dum rather than dum-dum-dum-dum - and so long as my bass note is right then job done. Add vocals and away you go.

Now, if I want to go pure fingerstyle, like David Russell or Tommy Emmanuel (or check out my videos for Grade Exam students on the "Rollmop" channel on Youtube), then I'm going to need to add the melody (vocal line) in as well using my fingers. Tab sites won't routinely give you the melody. has loads of free stuff in the dual standard notation and Tab format so you get the melody but it won't necessarily have the songs you want. If you can read music, it's a no-brainer; just read the melody off the page, add in the bass notes and improvise the middle voices.

If you're just after working out the melody and can't read music, then make sure you're smack bang in tune, slow down the video on Youtube (from the settings cog on the bottom right of the playback window) or drop the mp3 into something like "Speedshifter" from ABRSM, grab a fresh coffee, pencil and paper, and listen-play-write-listen-play-write until you've got it all written down (that's not as hard as you think once you're in tune, although watch out for early Eagles stuff - they were out of tune in the studio on "Take It Easy").
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