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How To Play Melodies From Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker On Guitar Tab

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Tchaikovsky Guitar Tab

Have you ever tried adapting one of your favorite classical tunes on the guitar, or do you just wish that more of them were available on guitar tabs?

Well mine aren’t perfect, but I believe these will hold over a few people especially if you’re also a Tchaikovsky fan like me!

In this article, I tabbed four of his most well-known melodies. 3 of these are probably driving you crazy because every car commercial and Duck Dynasty special is using this music.

They’re also not easy, but if you’re brave enough keep reading and check it out!

Tchaikovsky Guitar Tab

Transcribing music meant for orchestra or piano to the guitar is definitely an art form unto its self, and can be notoriously difficult.

My first attempts were some Wagner tunes and one of Liszt’s piano pieces, which I look back on and cringe.

I simply didn’t know how to handle these insane harmonies, and apply the scales and chords from my guitar books to something as intricate as what you’re about to see.

Before I tell you how to get started doing this yourself, let’s briefly review the fours riffs you see below.

 

Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy Guitar Tab Tchaikovsky

---0--2---3------15-12-15--14--11-12--10-10-10-
---0--1---2---4-::-12----12---------13--9--9-----
---0--2---3---5-----12-----14--11-15--10-10----
--------------7-----------------------------9--
----------------::-------------------------------
--0--0---0--0----------------------------------

-9-9--9--8-8--8--7-12--8-12-7---------------------
-8-8--8--7-7--7--8-12--7----8-------------8-5-8-7-
-9-9--9--8-8--8--9-9---8-9--9-------------5---5-8-
-8-8--8--7-7--7--------7----9---------------5---7-
----------------------------7-7---------------0---
----------------------------0---10-8p7--6---------

-8--7--15-15--15--14-14--14--12-12-12--11-14-12-14--11--
-10-8--14-14--14--15-15--15--11-11-11--10----11-----12--
-8--9--15-15--15--16-16--16--11-11-11--11----11-----11--
-10-9-------------16-16--16--11-11-11--9-----10-----14--
-9--7---------------------------------------------------
----0--14---------14------------------------------------

-----------------
-----------------
-----------------
-4p2p0-----------
-------4---------
----------0------

Believe it or not, this riff is all about moving your left hand in the most economical way, just like how I teach in my beginner’s stuff.

However a few other keys to nailing this riff include:

Barre-ing the 12th frets and the fifth frets when you’re at that position

Doing whatever it takes to make that top note ring out since this riff is ultimately a chord-melody

And to make sure you hit the bass notes in time

For the beginners out there, if you want to play this just play the top notes and you’ll at least be playing the main melody.

For you advanced guys, there should be several chord shapes you recognize like the diminished and dominant 7th shapes.

Let’s move on to the next one!

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Nutcracker March by Tchaikovsky Guitar Tab

----------------2-------------------------------------
-3--3-3-3--5-5--3--3--5--::-1-3-1-------------0-1-0-----
-4--4-4-4--4-4--4--4--4---2---2-4--2--------0-----2-0-
-5--5-5-5--2-2--4--5--2--------------5p4-0------------
----------------2--------::-0---0-3--4-5--------------1-
-----------------------------------------2--3---------

--------------------------------------10-----
-----------------------0--1-0------3--10-----
-----------------------0------2-0--2--11-----
-4-2---5p4-----7--5-4---------------4--12-----
-2-3----0-7-6----4-6-7----0-2-3-4--5---------
-----0----6-7-8------0-----------------------

Now this one’s a little bit easier. As long as you play the full chords like I’ve shown here, you’ll get the original sound.

The other part of the riff that comes after the riff at the first two bars is a little tricky. It’s really easy to trip this up, but if you look at it in 8th notes you’ll both hear and see how to play this.

Focus on playing 1 – 3 – 1 – 4, and then 2 – 5 – 4 – 0 in that third bar for instance.

By the way, to play any of these riffs you’ll need to use finger picking throughout. I suggest using hybrid picking with a pick and your fingers.

 

Nutcracker Overture Guitar Tab by Tchaikovsky

-6--11--10--8--15-13-6---11--10--8---6---10---8---
-6--11--11--8--13-15-6---11--11--8---8---8----10--
-7--8---10--9--14-15-7---12--10--8---8---9----10--
-8--8---12--8--13-15-8-------12--10--8---8----10--
------------------13-----------------6--------8---
--------------------------------------------------

-6--11--10--8--15-13-18--15--13--11--10--8--10--6---
-6--11--11--8--13-15-15--16--15--11--11--10-----6---
-7--8---10--9--14-15---------15--12--12--8------7---
-8--8---12--8--13-15-----13--15--13--12--10-----8---
------------------13---------------------8------8---
------------------------------------------------6---

This one and the next one may be the easiest riffs in this lesson.

Although it’s out of this scope of this article, being able to spot all the chord shapes will help you remember how to play them later on.

By the way, this riff is in Bb major. If you can see how all these shapes fit into Bb major, you’ll have a MUCH easier time learning this one.

I remember trying to learn riffs like this by stopping, starting again, looking back at the tab, and just giving up. DON’T DO THAT!

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Bonus, And How To Start Arranging Your Own Riffs

--2-------------0---2-------------------------
--3---------2-3-----3----------3--------3-----
--4-------4---4-----4--4----4--4-4-0----3--4--
--4-4---4-2---2-----4--4--4-4--3-----2--2--4--
--2---2---2---2-----2--2----2--------------2--
-------------------------------4---3----2-----

What you see above is my arrangement of the main theme for Swan Lake.

To see what exactly I’ve done, first play the top notes on the first three strings so that you’ll hear the melody.

Hope you enjoyed playing these! Now let me give you a few ways to start learning how to do this yourself…….

  • Start teaching yourself harmony so that you can understand how to put together notes into typical chords, and in unusual places like I’ve done above.
  • Learn how to identify and use these harmonies into a guitar riff
  • Unfortunately, you’ll have to learn to read music too. There’s no way I could do this riff without anything I’ve mentioned to you so far.
  • And you’ll have to learn and study Wes Montgomery and Chet Atkins tunes.

Sound like a lot of work? I feel you and it sucks!

Here’s what you can do instead. Join my email newsletter, and you’ll learn many of the concepts and techniques to making music like I’ve shown you in this article.






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