My new column will be for those wanting to learn music and for musicians of all levels from beginners on up, including promoting musicians. I decided to write this column because of my love for music and teaching others. I will be giving tips and advice on buying and caring for musical instruments as well as a few riffs, tricks and some easy chord progressions for beginners and intermediates (Note that my students are taught the basics of chord-scale relationship, which is a must in order to understand music theory.).
This month, I will go over a song written and recorded by Ben E. King in the early '60s. According to BMI, "Stand By Me" has been performed more than 7 million times and recorded by such artists as U2, Bon Jovi, Otis Redding and John Lennon, to name a few. It's a song we all know and many love. The I, VI, IV, V chord progression remains the same throughout the verses and chorus. This song is in the key of A Major but I like to play it with a capo on the second fret. The added tension on the strings allows me to get a little fret buzz as I play the walking bass lines leading up to the chords. I chord=G major; VI chord=E minor; IV chord=C major; V chord=D major. Play along with just the chords or play the walking bass lines leading up to each chord. If you don't own a copy of the song you can find many versions on Youtube.com.
It's a fun song for all and a great example of less is more. Four chords plus a great melody equals BillBoard hit song.
For songwriters - try using the same four chords and make up your own melody on top of them. It might not be so easy to get the Stand By Me melody out of your head. Good luck!
Tip of the month: For those of us who can never find a plectrum or pick, throw a couple of them in the sound hole of your acoustic or slide a few between the body and pick guard of your electric. Simple habits will make your practice time more enjoyable.
Remember, play it the way it was written ... with passion!
Johnny Charron is the owner of Rockin' Johnnys, 103 Lake St., Suite 1, Rouses Point. His column will appear each month in the North Countryman. Charron has been a musician since the age of 14 and has been teaching others for 15 years. He can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 297-ROCK (7625).