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New Song: Back in Black for Guitar, Bass, and Singing
Posted on June 5, 2019
Let’s play this rock classic, with some of the biggest riffs you’ll ever hear! Notice it’s got a straight-forward underlying beat that’s easy to tap your foot to, but it also contains a lot of syncopated notes (played on off-beats). For example, the riff in the chorus starts in-between beat 1 and 2, right where you don’t expect it. This combination of a simple driving beat with lots of musical syncopation is a core part of lots of rock music, so take your time to listen carefully.
Back in Black for Guitar
by: James Neilson, Music Education Designer for Guitar
In the basic riff exercise (level 3) you’ll play along with a simplified version of the rhythm guitar riffs. Along with some cool single note riffs, it features three basic power chords: E5, A5, D5. Remember that they’re all the same basic shape, just moved to different strings. Watch out for the timing, as there’s a lot of syncopation (off-beats) which makes it tricky.
In the main riff exercise (level 5) you’ll play a slightly simplified version of the rhythm guitar parts – not the flashy lead parts just yet, but the power chords and single notes. There are some repeating fast sections, where you play a power chord 3 times quickly. You can choose to use all down-strokes if you can play them fast enough, or down-up-down, just like strumming a cowboy chord (but with only two strings).
Let’s play the full rhythm guitar part with the full rhythm exercise (level 9), including the iconic fast descending lick in the intro/verse riff. There are lots of fast and syncopated sections, so you’ll need to start slow to get the coordination and timing down. Pay careful attention to your picking directions – you may need to experiment with different ways to pick each section, so you can play it fast enough, but also get the right groove.
The full rhythm & lead exercise (level 12) will let you tackle the iconic rhythm and lead parts to this song, which are both treasure-troves of classic blues-rock ideas. The two(!) guitar solos use mostly the Em pentatonic scale across the whole neck, plus some other notes, especially the b5 or blues note. As always you’ll need to start slow to nail it, but pay extra-careful attention to the sound and feel, as there’s so much to learn from this song. A huge part is the attitude, so make sure you dig in and play it like you mean it!
Back in Black for Bass
by: Vellu Halkosalmi, Music Education Designer for Bass and Ukulele
The basic bass exercise (level 2) focuses on locking in with the drums by playing along the beat together with the kick drum, and also on practicing three fretting positions (2nd, 3rd, and 4th) throughout the song. Most importantly, remember to rock out!!
The intermediate bass exercise (level 5) catches most of the cool stuff from the full bassline. The main focus here is the rhythm, so watch out how the rhythm alternates between playing steady 8th notes and syncopated rhythm together with the guitars. Using a pick is recommended for the authentic AC/DC sound.
Playing rock bass just can’t get much more fun than this full bass exercise (level 8). It has moments of steady groove, syncopated riffing with guitars, pull-offs, hammer-ons, slides, many quick position shifts with fretting hand and whatnot. Grab a pick, if possible use a fender precision-style bass (or any with humbuckers in it) to get that punchy rock-style tone and rock away.
Back in Black for Singing
by: Sonja Patrikainen, Music Education Designer for Singing
This song is sung in a high register! Try transposing it to a range comfortable for you and learn it well that way first. Once you’re familiar with the song, you can try to sing it in the original key.
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