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How To Play Music From Star Wars, Rocky, and Last Of The Mohicans On Guitar

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This might be a pointless piece of trivia to most of you, but I still can’t believe Daniel Lanois, one of the producers of U2’s Joshua Tree album, won’t let Billy Bob Thornton release the director’s cut of All The Pretty Horses that has his score in it!

The movie is adapted from one of my personal favorite books of all time and I’d love to see the 4 hour version, and hear the “haunting” score Lanois composed for it.

But I’m not surprised really because a movie without a great soundtrack is a dreadful experience. Can you imagine watching Goodfellas without all those Rolling Stones tracks? Or Vertigo without Bernard Hermann’s score?

The only movies with no music are the ones like Ingmar Bergman’s which nobody watches, and I should know. I seem to be the only person who loves watching his films, but the silences he creates are dreadful to most.

Music can make or break a movie because harmonies and melodies take the viewer exactly where the movie is set. And with this article, I’ll show you how the guitar can transport listeners to other locales too.
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I believe that in this century, music will break out of the suffocating limits of genre.

(No, the picture has nothing at all to do with my post. I just like Homer Simpson…..)

The more global our culture becomes, the more necessary it will be to create a song whose most important factor is not whether it has guitars or not, but whether it has succeeded in entering the everyday reality of the listener.

Our primary tools as guitarists have been barre chords, three chord progressions, distortion, pentatonic scales, etc. instead of the fundamental “rules” of harmonies and rhythms we need to learn how to use instead.

And when you consider the fact that we prefer listening to albums, you’ll understand why creating a musical panorama, like the movies do, is your best bet.

Think of a great Metallica song like “One”. It’s got slow tempos and fast tempos, arpeggiated harmonies and power chord riffs, and a song structure that allows the listener to experience several emotions within 7 minutes.

What if you extended a musical structure like this across an entire album?

It would be like creating an entire world of your own!

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

These 10 tabs will give you a glimpse of the other worlds the guitar can take you and me if we can take the time to imagine them.

And a couple of things to point out. Those 1/2 symbols you’ll see in the tabs are just bar markers. It’s a weird wordpress thing.

Also, PLEASE use your ear and play the tabs as I discuss them. These are more like fragments than arrangements because it saves me time, and helps you get the essential music parts to play it. It won’t be hard if you take the time to match what you see to what you hear.

 

DownloadedFileScotty Doesn’t Know From Eurotrip

---------------------½-------------------½----------------
---------------------½-------------------½----------------
---------------------½-------------------½----------------
-------5-5--4-4--5-5-½-----5-5--4-4--5-5-½------5-5--4-4--
---------------------½-------------------½-3-3------------
--3-3----------------½-5-5---------------½----------------
-----½--------------------½
-----½--------------------½
-----½--------------------½
-5-5-½-7-7--5-5--4-4--5-5-½
-----½--------------------½
-----½--------------------½

Sorry I couldn’t resist!!!

Poppy punk rock tunes will always be associated with movies like American Pie and Eurotrip, and this one is a great model for getting that sound.

It’s all based around the G major key and has a rising bassline that creates the variation in the riff.

To play it, you’ve gotta keep your hand in 3rd position while using your thumb to play the A note in the second bar.

Theme From Lawrence of Arabia

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D           Edim7      D           Cm     D
-10--5---------6--9--ú--10--5----2--3-----ú----
-10--7----7--8-------ú--10--7----3--4-4---ú----
-11--7----7--6-------ú--11--7----2--5---5-ú-7--
-12--7----7--8-------ú--12--7-------5-----ú-7--
-12--5----5--7-------ú--12--5-------3-----ú-5--
-10--5---------------ú--10--5-------------ú----

Megadeth guitarist Marty Friedman instilled a love of exotic intervals inside of me, and then Tchaikovsky and Wagner accelerated it with their music like Tristan Und Isolde and the Slavonic March, respectively.

Dark, exotic sounds are a part of heavy metal, jazz, and even some pop music like Britney Spear’s “Toxic.”

Totally not kidding. 🙂

A hint I’ll give you to creating exotic harmonies like this is to combine chords that don’t fit together in a key like D major, which is what this theme is set in. Edim7 and Cm aren’t a part of D major!

Start looking more closely at some of the music you play, and see whether it stays strictly within a key.

You’ll be surprised.

To play this you’ll have to pay close attention to the way you hit the top voice and change to other chords. A trick for switching to the dim7 chord is to keep your hand in the barre chord shape, but use your 2nd finger to play the bass note.

Lux Aeterna From Requiem For A Dream

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  Gm                  Ebmaj7   D7
½-6-5-------6-5-----½-6-5------8-----------½
½-8---8-----8---8---½-8---8----10-11-10-11-½
½-7-----7---7-----7-½-7-----7--11----------½
½-5---------5-------½----------0-----------½
½-------------------½-6--------------------½
½-------------------½----------------------½

 

  Gm                                 Adim7
--6----6-3--3---6---½-6-3-3---6----6-5-5--½-6----6-5-5--
--8-8--8-3--3---8-8-½-8-3-3---8-8--8-4-4--½-8-8--8-4-4--
--7-7--7-0--0---7-7-½-7-0-0---7-7--7-5-5--½-7-7--7-5-5--
--8-8--8--------8-8-½-8-------8-8--8-4-4--½-8-8--8-4-4--
--------------------½----------------0-0--½--------0-0--
--------------------½---------------------½-------------

 

-6-6-½-6-6-5-5--3--6-6--6-6-5-5--3--6-6-½-6-6-5-5--3--3-3-
-8-8-½-8-8-4-4--3--8-8--8-8-4-4--3--8-8-½-8-8-4-4--3--3-3-
-7-7-½-7-7-5-5--0--7-7--7-7-5-5--0--7-7-½-7-7-5-5--0--0-0-
-8-8-½-8-8-4-4-----8-8--8-8-4-4-----8-8-½-8-8-4-4---------
-----½-----0-0--------------0-0---------½-----0-0---------
-----½----------------------------------½-----------------

 

--3-3-3-3--5-5-5-5-½
--3-3-3-3--4-4-4-4-½
--0-0-0-0--5-5-5-5-½
-----------4-4-4-4-½
-----------0-0-0-0-½
-------------------½

I love this piece of music! And the tabs I came across made no attempt to put chords onto this melody.

That’s one of the biggest steps of all music! Ugh!

Psychological terror is represented in music with dissonance, atonality, and eerie intervals like the major 7th.

I mention that interval because there’s a YouTube video you can watch where Buckethead plays a tapping lick using descending major 7ths. Google “Buckethead Guitar Lesson” and you’ll find it.

But also think of the movie The Shining directed by Stanley Kubrick.

He used a piece of music called “Threnody For The Victims Of Hiroshima” that uses 52 stringed instruments to create eerie, strange intervals to represent the state of mind that Jack Nicholson’s character has deteriorated into.

To play this, you’ve got to maintain the melody in the top voice in both riffs. If you have trouble with the Adim7, you can also substitute a D major chord instead.

The very first tab is an arrangement of the first melody played on synths, while the next one takes a part of the string section. The rhythm for the latter riff will vary according to which part of the piece you want to play.

Just know that even though the tab doesn’t cover everything, that these two cover most of the song.

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“Why So Serious” from The Dark Knight

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-----------------------------------------------------------
--3v--4v--5v--6v--7v--8v--9v--10v--11v--12v--13v--14v--15v-
-----------------------------------------------------------
-----------------------------------------------------------
-----------------------------------------------------------
-----------------------------------------------------------

 

------------------------------------½
-3-3-3-3--3-3-3-3--3-3-3-3--3-3-3-3-½
------------------------------------½
------------------------------------½
------------------------------------½
-0---(let ring)------Drop-D---------½

 

-----------------------
-----------------------
-----7-----5--5-5-5-5--
-----7-----5--5-5-5-5--
-----5-----3--3-3-3-3--
--0-----0--------------

These riffs set in D minor also tell you another thing.

Music can be simple too! Not everything needs exotic melodies and difficult-to-play chord shapes, even though they’re fun to create.

This one uses nothing but palm muted 16th notes on D to create the modern sounding theme for the Joker.

The addition of low-pitched bass notes and a slowly building chromatic line gives the riff its menacing feel. And it does all this by breaking away from the standard chord shapes we’re so used to with guitar!

When you allow yourself to imagine new ways to play the fretboard, then you’ll get new sounds.

Theme from Once Upon A Time In The West

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     D  D/C#      Bm   Am7    G             Dmaj7
---½-2----3-2---½-----------½-7-15--14-12-½-14---12--½
---½-3--------5-½-3----1--3-½-8-12--------½-14-------½
-2-½-2----------½-3----0----½-7-0---14-12-½-14-------½
---½------------½-4--3-2----½-------------½-0--------½
---½----4-------½-2----0----½-------------½----------½
---½------------½-----------½-------------½----------½

 

 Bmsus4                 F#m      G           Dmaj7
-12--10--(10)-8-10----½--------½-7---------½-2--
-12--12--(12)------12-½-10--10-½-8-------5-½-2--
-11--11--(11)---------½-11-----½-7---7-----½-2--
-9---9---(9)----------½-11-----½-9---9-----½-0--
----------------------½-9------½-10--------½----
----------------------½--------½-----------½----

I had to do TWO Ennio Morricone themes.

The sounds of the old west is best represented with a guitar, but he uses minor key flavored riffs like those found in Spanish guitar music to avoid the “home on the range” feel typical to country music.

The one above though is a major key based piece, while the one below is minor all the way……

Il Triello from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

-------------------------------------½----
-------------------------------------½----
-------------------------------------½-0--
--2-3------2-3------2-3------2-3-----½-0--
------5-0------5-0------5-0------5-0-½-2--
-------------------------------------½-3--

 
The first example will be a little more difficult just because there’s more parts to remember. But if you have some knowledge of the fretboard and your theory, you can easily remember where each piece goes.

The other example is not too hard although the 16th note phrase can be tricky to maintain because you need to mute the open note, which will prevent them from bleeding into each other.

“Married Life” from Up

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G       Gmaj7           Em     A
---7---½-7---------7---½-3--------
-8---8-½-7-------7---7-½-5----3-5-
-7---7-½-7-------7---7-½-4----4-6-
-9---9-½-5-------5---5-½-5----2-7-
-------½-5-------5---5-½----------
-------½---------------½----------

 

  G   A               D
--7-½-5----7-5------½----
--8-½-5--8-8-5--8-5-½-3--
--7-½-6----7-6--7-4-½-2--
--9-½-7----9-7--9-5-½-0--
----½---------------½----
----½---------------½----

You want to talk about a piece that fits with the movie, it’s this one. It’s based in the G Lydian mode, and the harmonies derived from that help create the happy, dreamy sound of the progression.

To play it you must practice smooth chord transitions like in our previous riffs.

And a little extra for ya is the sad chord change that accompanies the very end of this piece. You just play the XX9787 G shape, and then the XX9777 Bm shape.

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“Promentory” from The Last of the Mohicans

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     Dm             repeat 1X
---½---------------½----------------½
---½---------------½----------------½
---½--------10-9-7-½-9p7-----7------½
-5-½-7-5h7---------½-----10----10-5-½
---½---------------½----------------½
---½---------------½----------------½

 

     C             repeat 1x
---½-------------½-3------------½
---½-------5-3h5-½---5-5--5p3---½
---½-5-4h5-------½------------0-½
-7-½-------------½--------------½
---½-------------½--------------½
---½-------------½--------------½

 

    F                             C
--½--------------½-3------------½--------------½-3---------
5-½-6-5h6--6-5h6-½---6-6--6p5-3-½-5-3h5--5-3h5-½---5-5-5p3-
--½--------------½--------------½--------------½----------0
--½--------------½--------------½--------------½-----------
--½--------------½--------------½--------------½-----------
--½--------------½--------------½--------------½-----------

Nothing makes you wanta to throw down quite like this theme does!

Why!?!? Because the harmony has a lot in common with the rock music you and I love. (but I’ll explain that another time)

The key to playing anything resembling a lead guitar piece is to find the easiest left hand position to stay within. Great guitarists don’t move their hands a lot because it allows their lines to sound smoother!

Never change hand positions unless you can’t find another way to play the next note or piece.

Almost anything can be rearranged on the guitar in order to be played more easily.

Again, I friggin love this theme!!!

Darth Vader Theme (Imperial March) from Star Wars

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 Am       Fm    Am Fm   Am            F            Am
--------------½------------½----------1---½------------½
------------1-½------1-----½-5--5--5--1-1-½-----1------½
-2--2--2------½-2-------2--½-2--2--2--2---½-1------2---½
-2--2--2--3---½-2--3----2--½-2--2--2--3---½---3----2---½
-0--0--0------½-0-------0--½-0--0--0------½-3------0---½
--------------½------------½--------------½-1----------½

 

  Am              Ebm                Fm
--5------5--4-3-½-2-1-2------------½------------------½
--5------5--5---½-1---------4--3-2-½-1-0-1----------1-½
----2-2--5--5---½--------3-----3---½-1---------1------½
----2----7------½-1----4-------1---½--------3-----3---½
----0-----------½------6----6------½-----------3------½
----------------½------------------½-1----1----1------½

 

------------½
------1-----½
-2-------2--½
-2--3----2--½
-0-------0--½
-----------½

As much as Star Wars was a part of my and everyone else’s childhood, a part of me can’t stand doing this one because my college marching band played this ALL THE TIME!!! But I digress.

This is for you, not me.

John Williams music will haunt the ears of us all for generations to come I’m sure.

To play this one, you once again gotta be aware of that top melody voice. Everything else in the piece is there to support that.

And a trick for handling dense tabs like this is to simplify it to a recognizable chord shape. This will depend on your knowledge of the fretboard, but hopefully this one’s not too hard as they’re built off barre chord shapes. (Minus the Ebm shape)

Rocky Theme (Gonna Fly Now)

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     C                     C
---½---------------------½--------------------½
---½------------5--------½------------8-55-5--½
-5-½-5-55-5-55--5-55-5-9-½-9-99-9-99--5----5--½
---½-5----5----------5---½-10---10----5----5--½
---½-3----3----------3---½-----------------3--½
---½---------------------½--------------------½

 

 Em7                                       Dm7      Em7
-0-00--0-00--0-0----0-½-0-00--0--0------½½-5--5-7-½-0------
-3-33--3-33--3-3----3-½-3-33--3--3--5-8-½½-6------½-3--5-8-
-0-00--0-00--0-0----0-½-0-00--0--0------½½-5------½-0------
-2-22--2-22--2-2----2-½-2-22--2--2------½½-7------½-2------
----------------------½-2---------------½½-5------½-2------
-----------------1----½-0---------------½½--------½-0------

 

   Dm7       Em7    F                      Em7
½--------------0--½--------------------1-½-0----½½
½--3-1-3---1-3----½--------------------1-½-3----½½
½--2---------0----½-5-55--4-4--2-2--0--2-½-0----½½
½--0---------2----½-7-77--3-3--3-3--3--3-½-2----½½
½-----------------½-8-88-------3-3--3----½------½½
½-----------------½----------------------½------½½

And for the grand and epic “I-dominate-everyone-at-guitar” finisher we’ve got the theme from Rocky!

While writing this article, I actually forgot to include this one and I told myself, “There’s no way I can publish this without the Rocky theme.”

After writing down several reminders to myself basically saying “Get it done!” now everybody can enjoy it.

The only thing is, like our other themes, they’re not the easiest to play if you want all the musical nuances on a single guitar.

Many of the suggestions I’ve made before apply here. Find the shapes, watch the top voice, and practice smooth changes.

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Another tip for anyone who’s having trouble playing any of the more difficult tabs is to practice strumming the chords and/or playing just the very highest notes. I’ve done this not only to learn how to play difficult Chet Atkins stuff, but also to learn how everything is made.

That’s the biggest hint to how I did all of this that I’ll give you here.

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If you want a sequel (har har) to this article, then please comment below and tell me what songs I forgot.

I’m not going to do “My Heart Will Go On” but I know there’s several pieces that I either forgot or didn’t take the time to do.

Once again I hope this will satisfy many people because in my opinion these were made by some of the most famous movie composers for the most famous movies.

If you’d like to know more about I was able to create and arrange these tabs, and extract the secret musical knowledge from them, then please sign up for my newsletter……






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