Take Me To The River Step 1 (Free Preview)

Take Me To The River Step 1 (Free Preview)

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Chord progression & Initial transcriptions

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Chord progression & Initial transcriptions

Welcome back,

Today we start working on a new song in Al Green’s legendary composition Take Me To The River.

Before we get into the various sections, let’s first get an overview of the chord progression as this is one of the main reasons this song feels so unique.

The verse and chorus has the same bass line, but the chords differ. During the verse we find a bVIIx, IV, bIIIx. That’s D, A and G in relation to our home which is the key of E.

The bridge is even more adventurous with its bVIx (C), bIIIx (G), bVIIx (D), IV (A).

During the M8, we get a serious dose of harmonic release as the VI (C#m) and IV (A) chords provides some release from the tension that is the home of E7. However, this doesn’t last long. Soon we get back to tension as the M8 finish with a bIIIx (G) and a V7 (B7).

Here’s what all this looks like in a super simple chart.


Once we have this overview, the next step is to transcribe the main characteristic parts of the song (bass, strings, and horns).

Following this, the challenge lies within combining these into a one acoustic guitar arrangement.

Here’s what the bass does during the verse and chorus.

Make sure you can see how the bass line is outlining an E7 chord. Notice how the play on the minor and major 3rd gives the line its bluesy feel.

Here are the horns during the chorus.

This is classic call and response. First we go up, then down. The hammer-on towards the end is super important. Just like the bass line combined minor and major third for a bluesy effect, we here combine the 6 and b7 for a similar result.

As we start putting this arrangement together, you’ll discover how applying hammer-on’s and slides is what will make this work.

Lastly, here’s the initial string part for the intro. A clave rhythm is used here which means that the rhythmic figure takes up two bars.

Next time, we start working on how to play the verse in detail.

See you then!

Dan (your guitar guru)

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