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New Song: Hold Back The River for all instruments

Posted on September 11, 2019

Let’s learn this hit roots/rock song! You’ll notice it features strong contrast between sections, moving from gentle and sparse to powerful and driving. This musical contrast adds to the sense of drama and pushes the song forward. It’s a great songwriting technique and something to pay attention to when listening to music.

“Hold Back The River”, made famous by James Bay, is now available in Yousician for Guitar, Piano, Ukulele, Bass, and Singing.

Hold Back The River for Guitar
by: James Neilson, Music Education Designer for Guitar

In the melody exercise (level 4) you’ll play the main instrumental and vocal melodies from the song. Watch out for the quick position shifts starting in the bridge section – it can be tricky jumping up to fret 5 with your pinky.

In the cowboy chords exercise (level 5) you’ll be strumming some familiar cowboy chords: Am C F G, and an occasional Dm. Watch out for the quick 8th-note down-up strumming in some sections, and make sure you listen carefully to the beat to help you stay in time.

In the full rhythm exercise (level 7) you’ll play the original guitar part, featuring double stops and strummed chords. For the double stops, you may want to try hybrid picking (pick + fingers), or fingers only if you prefer. Notice the strummed chords include some slightly unusual shapes, but they’re actually just interesting ways of playing basic cowboy chords. It’s originally in D tuning (everything down a whole step), so you can choose to either retune or hit ‘Transpose’ and Yousician will raise the pitch so you can play along in standard tuning.

Hold Back The River for Piano
by: Sunny Choi, Music Education Designer for Piano

Accompaniment exercise (level 4)
Strengthen your chord reading and playing skills with this groovy song.

Melody exercise (level 5)
The melody line is full of syncopations. Play this arrangement to practice not only your note reading skills but also counting skills. Remember that a tie connects two same notes but you should not play the second note, instead just hold for the total duration of two same notes.

Accompaniment exercise (level 6)
This version is an ideal arrangement to play along while you sing, or to support other instruments that are playing along with you.

Solo Piano exercise (level 7)
Tackle the melody and the groove of this song with your two hands.

Hold Back The River for Ukulele
by: James Neilson, Music Education Designer for Guitar

The melody exercise (level 4) combines the instrumental and vocal melodies into one. Watch out for moving your fretting hand between first and second fretting positions during the song.

In the full rhythm exercise (level 6) you will be playing all the essential notes of the recorded guitar parts, with double stops and strumming, adapted for the uke.

Hold Back The River for Bass
by: James Neilson, Music Education Designer for Guitar

In the basic bass exercise (level 3) you will be practising two views to a rhythm: playing on the beat, and playing in between of the beats. The verse is mostly playing notes on three-AND and four-AND, while in the chorus the bassline emphasizes the beats.

The full bass exercise (level 5) includes the full recorded bassline. It is a nice example of simple yet effective bassline, with a few nice melodic fills and one juicy slide thrown in just on time to keep it interesting. The chorus will test walking your plucking hand fingers! If you start getting tired already during the first chorus, slow down the tempo a bit, and only play at full speed when you are able to play effortlessly.

Hold Back The River for Singing
by: Sonja Patrikainen, Music Education Designer for Singing

“Hold Back The River”, made famous by James Bay, is a perfect song for practicing rhythm and timing! Hold an eye especially on the verses: Only the first note of the melody line falls on a downbeat, but the rest are syncopated. Another thing to note is that the song is sung in two octaves: The lead singer starts off in a lower octave, then jumps up in the middle of the Bridge. You can choose to follow, or stay in one octave for the whole song. It really is up to you what feels most comfortable!

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