Blackbird chords



You can learn how to play Blackbird by The Beatles!

Inspired by J. S. Bach’s Bourree in E minor and a bird waking him up in the morning, Paul McCartney created a modern masterpiece in Blackbird.

There are a few things you need to focus on if you want to learn how to play Blackbird.

  • A constant open G string to bind the chords together.
  • A unique index finger strumming technique.
  • Variations in the chord progression like IV – IVm.
  • A key change for the chorus.
  • Odd time signatures for a bar only.

There are seemingly two Am-shaped dim7 chords in Blackbird, although, upon closer inspection, only a fraction of a C#dim is actually used.

The second suspected dim7 chord, starting on a D# is not even minor, it’s a D#(b5), an altered chord. Get the full story of the entire arrangement, complete with TAB, in the 8 lessons covering Blackbird in the advanced acoustic guitar course.


Open strings as drones

The open G-string is used throughout Blackbird, giving the piece a drone effect that ties the progression together.

The function of this open G-string changes, like this:

  • A-shaped G chord at fret 10, the open G is the root
  • Em, the G is a m3rd
  • Eb, the G is the 3rd
  • C and Cm, the G is the 5th
  • Dadd4, the G is the 4th
  • Dmadd4, the G is the 4th
  • D#(b5), the G is the 3rd.
  • Fadd9, the G is the 9th

Time and key signatures

Throughout Blackbird, you’ll find different time signatures appearing. The most obvious one is the verse that starts in 3/4, changing to 4/4 immediately.

This 3/4 time for a bar concept appears several times, but there is also a 2/4 bar hidden in there.

Blackbird is mainly in the key of G but it does modulate to F for the chorus. The modulation is abrupt as it starts, making the first F feel like a bVIIx chord in relation to G.

To get back to the key of G, we play A7D7sus4. In the key of F, that’s IIIx7 to VIx7. In the key of G, they are IIx7 and V7 chords.


Blackbird chords and lyrics


Chords for Blackbird

Intro

| 3/4 G Am7 G/B | 4/4 G |

The verse starts off just like the intro before it goes off on an elaborate chordal adventure.

| 3/4 G Am7 G/B | 4/4 G |
Blackbird singing in the dead of night.
| C C#dim Dadd4 D#b5 | Em Eb |
Take these broken wings and learn to fly.
| Dadd4 C#dim C | Cm G/B | A7 D7sus4 | 2/4 G | C G/B A7 | D7sus4 G |
All your life, you were only waiting for this moment to arise.

Verse 2 has two bars less at the end of the progression.

| 3/4 G Am7 G/B | 4/4 G |
Blackbird singing in the dead of night.
| C C#dim Dadd4 D#b5 | Em Eb |
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see.
| Dadd4 C#dim C | Cm G/B | A7 D7sus4 | 2/4 G |
All your life, you were only waiting for this moment to be free.

The chorus is in the key of F.

| Fadd9 Em Dmadd4 C | Bb6 C |
Blackbird fly,
| Fadd9 Em Dmadd4 C | Bb6 A7 | 2/4 D7sus4 |
blackbird fly, into the light of the dark black night.

This chorus is followed by an instrumental section, identical to verse 2.

| 3/4 G Am7 G/B | 4/4 G |
| C C#dim Dadd4 D#b5 | Em Eb |
| Dadd4 C#dim C | Cm G/B | A7 D7sus4 | 2/4 G |

This brings us to a chorus again.

| Fadd9 Em Dmadd4 C | Bb6 C |
Blackbird fly,
| Fadd9 Em Dmadd4 C | Bb6 A7 | 2/4 D7sus4 |
blackbird fly, into the light of the dark black night.

We now play another instrumental section, this time the chords are different.

| 3/4 G Am7 G/B | 4/4 G | G | G | 5/4 G |
| G Am7 G/B C | G/B A7 D7sus4 |

Finally, we play an outro verse, here the last line is repeated.

| 3/4 G Am7 G/B | 4/4 G |
Blackbird singing in the dead of night.
| C C#dim Dadd4 D#b5 | Em Eb |
Take these broken wings and learn to fly.
| Dadd4 C#dim C | Cm G/B | A7 D7sus4 |
All your life, you were only waiting for this moment to arise.
| G C G/B | A7 D7sus4 |
You were only waiting for this moment to arise.
| G C G/B | A7 D7sus4 | G |
You were only waiting for this moment to arise.

In the course, you get all the TAB you need in order to play Blackbird just like Paul McCartney did. Once this is achieved, we also develop a 2nd guitar. Learn this and we can play Blackbird together, like a folk duo.


Blackbird index finger strumming technique

Unique to Blackbird is the strange index finger strum technique. This is a homemade technique I’ve never seen before or since, which is strange as it’s so brilliant!

Combining the thumb plucking and strumming strings using a downward motion, the index finger strums the upper part of the chord.

Apparently, Paul learned how to play like this from Donovan, a Scottish folk artist who hang around The Beatles and Bob Dylan in the 60s.

Speaking of Bob, the rhythm of Blackbird’s strumming is actually the same as that of Blowin’ In The Wind.


Course preview (Guitar Lesson – Step 2)

In the first video above, starting at 2:21, you find a preview of step 2 from the course.

In this step, we play Blackbird in seven loops at a slow tempo of 74 BPM. Learn all seven loops and you have covered the entire arrangement.

In the preview, I’ll show you the first three. Here’s TAB for what I’m playing.

Example 1 is the intro and how we start a verse.

Example 2 is how the intro part is varied later on in the arrangement by manipulating the strumming of that A-shaped G chord.

Example 3 is the part where we start climbing chromatically from C.


Blackbird – Guitar Lessons

Blackbird by The Beatles is a legendary song that we simply must learn note for note, just like Paul McCartney played it.

Once this is achieved, we can learn from Blackbird by building a 2nd guitar part and playing the song together.

Go to Blackbird guitar lessons.


Blackbird – Lyrics

Blackbird singing in the dead of night.
Take these broken wings and learn to fly.
All your life, you were only waiting for this moment to arise.
Blackbird singing in the dead of night.

Go to Blackbird lyrics.


The Beatles – Biography

The Beatles biography.

The Beatles are the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed band in the history of popular music.

As the leaders of the so-called British Invasion, their catchy Rock & Roll infused pop songs took America by storm, creating hysteria everywhere they went.

Go to The Beatles biography.


Advanced Acoustic – 10 Songs

You can learn how to play these 10 advanced acoustic songs!

Angels, Blackbird, Cannonball, I Shot The Sheriff, Over The Rainbow, Roxanne, Scarborough Fair, Sunshine Of Your Love, Take Me To The River, and Wish You Were Here.

Go to Advanced Acoustic Songs.