Orientation to the guitar
In order to play any song on the guitar, we need to understand some basic features of the guitar: the strings and frets. We can see in the picture below there are 6 strings. I generally refer to the string closest to the ceiling as the ‘top’ string (although it is the lowest in pitch). We also have the frets – we place our fingers on the frets to produces different notes. Notice there are dots on certain frets – these help you find positions on the neck quickly. Depending on what we are playing, we may strum all strings at once (usually with chords) or single strings at once (melodies and riffs).
Seven Nation Army: What does it sound like?
Listen to the following video of Seven Nation Army so you can get an idea of how the song sounds. Listening to it will help you learn it in several ways. Firstly it will give your ear a reference point to how the song should sound – this will help you to identify errors when you’re learning it. It will also help you get to know the structure of the song and how the various components come together.
Riff 1 and 2
Seven Nation Army is a simple song with minimum components. We only need to learn 2 riffs in order to play the song. The following video takes you through the two riffs and how to play them.
Putting it together: structuring our riffs and chords into a song.
The next step is to take the riff and chords we have learnt and start putting them into a finished structure. This is what makes a complete song. Lets have a look at the structure of Seven Nation Army:
Riff 1 x 12
Riff 2 once
Riff 1 x 4
Riff 2 once
This whole structure then repeats 3 times:
Verse 1, Pre Chorus, Chorus | Verse 2, Pre Chorus, Chorus | Verse 3, Pre Chorus, Chorus |
(In the original, there is a guitar solo after the chorus in the second verse – we will leave this out. Riff 1 continues throughout the guitar solo).
The following video takes you through this structure.
Extension Work 1: Turning riff 2 in to chords
The first thing we can do to get closer to the original song is flesh out the basic, single notes we’re playing in ‘riff 2’ into chords. We need to use the following chords:
The following video takes you through how to use these chords in place of ‘riff 2’: