New Song: Heart-Shaped Box

Posted on January 30, 2020

Let’s learn this iconic grunge rock song! As with many Nirvana songs, it’s a great example of ‘dynamics’ – musical contrast between light and shade, loud and soft. Notice the quiet and thoughtful verses with the clean guitars and quiet vocals, compared to the huge chorus with big distorted guitars and aggressive vocals. Songs with a big dynamic range like this tend to keep your attention and give a strong sense of momentum.

“Heart-Shaped Box”, made famous by Nirvana, is now available in Yousician for Guitar, Ukulele, Bass, and Singing.

Heart-Shaped Box for Guitar
by: James Neilson, Music Education Designer for Guitar

In the basic riff exercise (level 2) you’ll play a simplified version of the main guitar riff, using single notes on the A-string and D-string. Concentrate on using the suggested fingers – it makes it much smoother and easier to play.

In the melody exercise (level 4) you’ll play along with the main vocal and instrumental melodies. It’s mostly in 1st position (index on the 1st fret), but look out for the quick jumps up to fret 5. Remember to use alternate picking (down-up) on the faster notes as needed.

The full rhythm & lead exercise (level 8) is the original iconic guitar part, including power chords, arpeggios, and some distinctive bends. It’s played in drop-D tuning, so you’ll need to lower the big E-string a whole step down to D. Have fun!

Heart-Shaped Box for Ukulele
by: Joona Hasan, Music Education Designer for Ukulele

In the melody exercise (level 5) you’ll be playing along with the main vocal melody, as well as some of the guitar parts. The melody is quite syncopated, which means a lot of the notes fall on the upbeats instead of the downbeats, so stay sharp!

In the rhythm exercise (level 5) you’ll be playing a combination of fingerpicking in the verses, and strumming in the choruses. Most of the song consists of the same three-chord progression with familiar chords, so you can really focus on perfecting your technique!

Heart-Shaped Box for Bass
by: Antti Halmetoja, Bass content specialist

In the basic bassline exercise (level 2) you’ll learn the basics of this iconic grunge song. There are only three different chords in this one but the rhythms vary a lot, so keep eye on them.

In the main bassline exercise (level 4) you’ll play all the fundamental parts of the original bassline. It’s full of eighth notes, so this is a great song to practice keeping a stable groove. Try this one with a pick!

The full bassline exercise (level 8) is the originally recorded bassline. This song has basically only three chords, but there are plenty of things to discover, including lots of hammer-ons, pull-offs, and slides. It’s in Drop D tuning, which means the E-string is tuned down a whole step.

Heart-Shaped Box for Singing
by: Sonja Patrikainen, Music Education Designer for Singing

With this song, remember to keep a nice and open feeling in your throat! Especially when the chorus jumps higher up, it’s very easy to forget about good posture and support, and that is when extra tension start building to the stomach and throat. So let go of the crunch, relax your breathing, and try to find the right kind of energy from your back by keeping your neck straight and activating the bigger back muscles under your shoulder blades.

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