I Heard It Through The Grapevine

Learn How To Play I Heard It Through The Grapevine

Chords and Guitar Lessons

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Complete song – Electric guitar and live band

Improvising When Playing Rhythm Parts

During the intro, chorus tag, and outro we simply play an Ebm chord. This is also the section where there is room to add some licks in an improvised way.

A good starting point here is to copy or answer the other lines you hear from the BV’s and horns. Another, more subtle approach would be to move around the neck looking for different Ebm chord shapes.

In the step by step course, I’ll take you through how to create rhythm guitar parts for all sections of the song, all over the neck.

By doing this, you’ll be able to improvise your rhythm parts and licks, rather than memorize them.

Take this approach to playing guitar and you’ll be listening and adjusting your guitar parts to the band you’re playing with, rather than just playing your one memorized part (good idea when playing in a rock band, not so much in a soul band).

It also means you’ll get great at writing parts for original songs as you’re always exploring the neck and therefore always finding new parts.

Chord progressions

The verse chord progression is similar to that of a blues, although chord I is a minor chord.

||: Ebm | Ebm | Bb | Ab :||

The bridge starts on a Cm, chord VI, this creates a great effect as the 5th of the Cm is the major 3rd of an imagined Eb major chord.

Cm | Ab | Ebm | Ab |

The chorus moves between chord Im and IV. Although this is best seen as a II – V.

||: Ebm | Ebm | Ab | Ab :||

Guitar Lessons

I Heard It Through The Grapevine – Step 1

Today we start working on a new song in Marvin Gaye’s I Heard It Through The Grapevine.

This song has a very clever chord progression. The home chord, Ebm, feels different depending on what section it appears in.

Go to I Heard It Through The Grapevine step 1.

I Heard It Through The Grapevine – Step 2 (Free Preview)

During the verse, the Ebm feels like the I chord of a blues.

Sure, the order and length of the chords are different from a standard blues, but the overall feel is there. It’s just that the I chord is now a Im chord.

Go to I Heard It Through The Grapevine step 2.

I Heard It Through The Grapevine – Step 3

Today we continue our study of the Motown classic. We do so by looking at the bridge.

As always, I’m giving you a bunch of examples to practice to loops. Use these as a starting point to develop your own parts.

Go to I Heard It Through The Grapevine step 3.

I Heard It Through The Grapevine – Step 4

You already played Ebm – Ab during the bridge. During the chorus, each of these chords gets a bar each.

This movement of a minor chord, a dom7 a 4th up is found naturally in a II – V.

Go to I Heard It Through The Grapevine step 4.

I Heard It Through The Grapevine – Step 5

In this lesson, we take a look at four sections that all use the same chord.

I like to keep this section improvised but before I’ll let you loose to do the same, here are six examples of what you could play. Learn them first.

Go to I Heard It Through The Grapevine step 5.

I Heard It Through The Grapevine – Step 6

Last time, you got six examples you could play over the intro, outro, and chorus tag. In this step I want you to improvise.

Keep the loop on for half an hour, keep improvising for this entire time.

Go to I Heard It Through The Grapevine step 6.

I Heard It Through The Grapevine – Step 7

It’s that time again – time to play the full song!

By practicing all sections individually you know this song by now, all that is left for me to do is give you the TAB.

Go to I Heard It Through The Grapevine step 7.

I Heard It Through The Grapevine – Step 8

It’s your turn, don’t just play what I did, take it somewhere else, keep improvising to the live band backing track on a loop for half an hour.

Don’t think about it as just one performance, instead, see it as an opportunity to discover the fretboard.

Go to I Heard It Through The Grapevine step 8.

Related Pages


I bet you’re wonderin’ how I knew
‘Bout your plans to make me blue
With some other guy you knew before
Between the two of us guys you know I loved you more

Go to I Heard It Through The Grapevine lyrics.

Barrett Strong

Barrett Strong was the first artist on the Motown label to have a hit. The song was Money (That’s What I Want). Performed by Barrett, it was written by the president of the label and a sign of what was to come.

As well as having his own solo career, Barrett also wrote the lyrics to many of Motown’s biggest hits.

Go to Barrett Strong biography.

The Funk Brothers

Motown’s house band didn’t have an official name, only they knew they were the Funk Brothers.

The band played on pretty much everything Motown released until ’72 when they relocated to Los Angeles and the band found a note on the hit factory door.

Go to The Funk Brothers biography.

Marvin Gaye

Marvin Gaye helped to shape the Motown sound as a drummer, session singer, writer, lead singer and producer in the 60s and 70s.

Marvin’s biggest hits include I Heard It Through The Grapevine, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, Can I Get A Witness, and What’s Going On.

Go to Marvin Gaye biography.


Learning how to play guitar is best done through playing and learning from songs.

These Motown/Soul songs require you to learn how to play fractions of barre chord shapes and build improvised licks using pentatonic scales.

Go to Intermediate electric guitar course.

Intermediate Electric Songs

You can learn how to play these intermediate songs on the electric guitar.

Be My Baby, Can I Get A Witness, Get Ready, I Heard It Through The Grapevine, Jimmy Mack, Master Blaster (Jammin’), Money (That’s What I Want), My Guy, Rescue Me, Respect, Son Of A Preacher Man, Soul Man, and You Can’t Hurry Love.

Go to Intermediate electric songs.

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