The music in our Easy Guitar series includes single line melodies and simplified chords (where possible). Most of the music is suitable for someone who has been taking lessons for at least 6 to 12 months (the time will vary based on your progress). A total beginner may be able to use the music as well, but will likely require more time to learn the melodies and chords.
Music in our Easy Guitar series includes:
- Melody in notation and tablature
- Lyrics if the original music includes words
- Guitar chord diagrams above the music
- Basic first position chords (assuming you want to strum the chords). You should be able to play these chords and switch between them easily. We try to limit the speed and number of chord changes, but this isn’t always possible.
- Ability to read tablature. You will also benefit from the ability to read standard notation to help with the rhythms.
- Ability to play notes in first position with occasional notes higher than this.
- Ability to play simple rhythms. Note that many rhythms are simple, but you may encounter some triplets, 16th notes, etc. in some songs. It isn’t possible to simplify these in all cases. Some titles may include more complex rhythms, faster tempos, etc. These may not be suitable for all players, but are still relatively easy because they have only a single line for the melody.
Below is an overview of how chords are chosen for this series:
Preserving the Character of the Music - More complex chords are simplified where it's possible to do so without compromising the character of the music. However, this isn't always feasible due to the complexity of the music. Some music changes keys or mode, while other music would sound much different if certain chords were changed or omitted. The choice for some songs is between simplifying chords so much that it doesn't sound like the original music or having more difficult chords. We try to strike a balance between these things as much as possible, but the priority for this series is always on the melody. This ocassionaly means that the chords exceed the difficulty of the melody.
Simplified Chords - Chords for some songs have been simplified as much as possible, but the progressions and frequency of changes may still pose a challenge to some players. Other music already includes simple chords, so no changes are necessary.
Chord Changes - Chords shouldn’t change too frequently. A basic guideline we follow is to try to avoid more frequent changes than half notes in 4/4 at a moderate tempo. This isn't always possible where frequent chord changes are essential to the sound of the music. Simple chords or slower tempos may allow for more frequent changes.
Included Chords - Chords are generally limited to simpler first position chords such as C, D, E, F, G, A, Dm, Em, Am, C7, D7, E7, G7, and A7. Songs may occasionally include sus2, sus4, m7, and other similar chords that have easy fingerings. Barre chords or other more difficult chords are only used when there is no alternative.
Keys are selected based on their suitability for guitar. The most commonly-used keys include C major, D major, E major, G major, A major, E minor, and A minor.
The primary focus is on putting the melody in an easy key for guitar. This occasionally means the music is in a key that isn't as easy for singers.
We try to include up to 5 or 6 verses of lyrics within the music. Other lyrics may be included as text at the end of the music. Some lyrics may be omitted, but this is usually done only when there are too many verses to easily include (e.g., songs that include dozens of verses).
Lyrics may vary from the version you know. A limited number of songs include many variations in lyrics, none of which are standardized. It isn't always possible to create a version of the lyrics that is familiar to everyone.
Our priority for melodies is to make them easy to play on guitar. Vocal range is a secondary consideration. We do try to avoid including notes that are too high or low, but some songs have a wide enough range that this isn't possible.
Rhythms, Tempo, and Time Signatures
Complex rhythms are simplified where possible. For example, we may double the value of rhythms in order to avoid 16th notes. This isn't always feasible for all situations.
More difficult time signatures such as 6/8 may be changed to 3/4 when it results in simpler rhythms. This isn't done in all cases since some rhythms may become more difficult with this type of change.
Tempos are editorial suggestions in most cases. Feel free to choose your own tempo.