You can learn how to play Roxanne by The Police!

Roxanne was the first single from world famous British band, The Police. It was written by Sting who in ’84 left the band to pursue a solo career.

Originally part of a new-wave/punk-pop band, Sting later settled down and wrote more jazz-influenced material. Since The Police, he has surrounded himself with the best session musicians that money could buy.

We can all learn a huge amount from how this prolific songwriter pens a hit song, be it an early or late composition.


Roxanne’s verse chord progression descends from VI – V – IV – III – II, before it moves up again from V to VI.

To make this work as a one guitar arrangement, place a capo on fret three and think of Roxanne as if in the key of Em, like this:

| Em | D6 | Cmaj7 | Bm | Am7 | Dsus4 | Esus4 | Esus4 |

The last chords are neither major nor minor. This means that when the verse starts again, you really feel at home in Aeolian (chord VI), clever stuff!

The chorus, which feels at home in major, uses the chords I, IV, V and VI.

That’s G, C, D and Em if you put the capo on fret three.

In the guitar course

My version of Roxanne is an attempt to capture what the band played, but on just one acoustic guitar. We achieve this by breaking up the strumming, playing lower strings when the bass played on the original.

In the first step, we look at a transcription of the guitar, bass and drums to work out what rhythm is best suited for the verse.

This gives us four examples to play the verse. This is then easily developed for the bridge.

Roxanne never changes key, it does however clearly move from a minor verse to a major chorus.

This is seemingly the simplest way to write a song but actually, it’s the hardest as you have no tricks to rely on. Few artists can do this well, Sting is one of the masters.

In just four lessons, you have everything you need to play Roxanne, just like I do in the video above. But we don’t stop there.

Following learning the one acoustic guitar arrangement, we play the vocal melody (with extreme attention to detail) and even improvise over the verse progression.

In the advanced acoustic guitar course, we don’t just learn the tune, we learn from it.

Roxanne – Guitar Lessons

You can learn how to play Roxanne by The Police!

Step 1 (Verse)Step 2 (Bridge)Step 3 (Chorus)Step 4 (Complete song)Step 5 (Vocal melody)Step 6 (Aeolian, master exercises)Step 7 (Aeolian Improvisation technique)Step 8 (Aeolian Improvisation technique, part 2).

Roxanne – Lyrics

Roxanne, you don’t have to put on the red light,
those days are over, you don’t have to sell your body to the night.
Roxanne, you don’t have to wear that dress tonight, walk the streets for money,
you don’t care if it’s wrong or if it’s right.

Go to Roxanne – Lyrics.

Sting – Biography

Sting is an English musician who, prior to his solo career, had a band called The Police, with Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers.

Formed in 1977, The Police reached worldwide success after releasing their first single Roxanne only a year after they formed the band.

Go to Sting – Biography.

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