Air – Playground Love (Picking Arrangement)

1. Introduction : Fingerpicking arrangement

This song is not supposed to be played on guitar but on piano. To be able to play this kind of song, we have to take into account the way piano parts are composed : the left hand generally plays the bass and the main chords whereas the right hand plays the melody line. Sometimes if you watch piano videos, you can notice hands crossing each other and chords can be played by both hands to reach a broader amount of notes and so on. Piano is in fact an « horizontal » instrument.

Guitar, on the other hand is both horizontal and vertical. It means you can reach higher notes going down the strings or going up the fretboard. Why am I saying that? Because arranging piano parts implies to adapt your technique and the composition itself. The idea is always to get the simplest way of playing a song without changing it too much to be as close as possible to the original one.

For a guitar player, separating chords and melody line can be hard and very challenging (check out Tommy Emmanuel’s Beatles Medley and you’ll see what I mean). It often implies working with fingerpicking technique. The right hand’s thumb plays the bass line and the other fingers play chords structures AND melody. This arrangement I made for this song is pretty easy concerning the right hand. But difficulties also concern the left hand in fingerpicking! Very often, the chord positions differ from what you are used to and you have to adapt. The Air cover is not that hard but some parts can be tricky for the left hand. Let’s see that in detail! Oh, and by the way, don’t forget we’re using a capo on the third fret for this one!

2. Tablature

This tab is based on my cover available on youtube. It’s strictly personnal, not official. Of course you can share it, but please quote the blog address or the url of my youtube channel to motivate me! The next parts will give you some helps to play this cover.

Guitar Pro Version

PDF Version

3. Bass line

Let’s analyse the bass line in the first four measures.

Bass Line

The bass line is very important because it gives the « groove » of the song. As you can see, it’s not a linear line : the first D in the first and third measures is a whole note and last the whole measure (as you can see in red) whereas in the second and fourth measure it’s an other pattern with a quarter followed by another quarter you’ll let ring two more beats (giving a dotted half note in fact). To learn that pattern, feel free to play it without the rest of the chord so that you can really hear the rhythm ringing in your head. And playing a single note is simpler than playing the whole tab so it’s a good start!

About the rest of the song now…

Bass Line 2Measure 9 is the same as measures two and four so let’s see the other pattern in measures 10, 11 and 12 (and the rest of the song). You see the same starting point : two quavers, the second one ringing a little longer, you therefore have the same groove. But, the second D note no longer last three beats but only two. « Why? » you’re asking, « Why for God sake! »… Ok… just to add one last quaver on the last beat. This last quaver has to be played softly because it introduces the next measure. The blue curve is there to make it more visual but once again music is a matter of earing so play it to hear it.

3. Chords and melody

To simplify the explanations, I will give you the chord names as if there was no capo. For example the very first chord is not mentionned as a F7sus4 but as D7sus4. So let’s see…

  • Introduction : Measures 1 to 8

This introduction is made of 2 segments, each segment is made out of 2 chords.

First segment : you play a D7sus4 turning into a simple D7 shape. Use your index, middle and ring fingers to play both chords. Your ring finger will go from the G (3rd fret E string) to the F# (2nd fret E string).

accords 1The second segment is played higher. This time you go from a C9 to a D chord. About fingerings now. The C9 can be played using a barre across the 5th fret with the index finger and the B note (7th fret E string) can be played using ring finger or pinky. The D chord is played using index finger for the A note (5th fret E string), the D and F# using ring finger and the pinky.

accords 2

  • Verses (part 1)

Now we’re going to talk about the melody mixed with chord shape. Breath in… Breath out… Ready… Steady… GO!

Verse 1The red notes correspond to the melody line (the voice in the original song). As you can see it’s very simple. The only difficulty is to know which finger plays which note and it depends on the chord you’re playing. Here’s the tricky thing in fingerpicking guitar, sometimes the chords dictates you which fingers are free to play the melody and sometimes it’s the opposite.

Here, the chords are simple and the melodic notes belong, for the most, to the chord structure.

Let’s see the chords (in blue).

Accords 3Very simple chords aren’t they? Well no problem for the melody then. The only note you have to add is the D (third fret B string) on the third beat of the first measure and you know what? Your pinky is available for that! Isn’t it wonderful?

The right hand is pretty easy too throughout the song. Each time you see two notes (aside the bass), play them using the index and the middle finger. If you have three notes, either it implies a bass (played with the thumb) or simply add your ring finger. Feel free to adapt at your convenience, make it comfortable for you.

Measure 12, the green note turns the Am to a Am7 and leads you to the second part of the verse.

  • Verse (part 2)

accords 4Now it gets tricky… Melodic notes belong to the chords once again, but the chords (or at least their shapes) are not really common. The difficulty is to get used to them.Accords5The Fm6 is played using index, middle and ring finger, it allows your pinky once again to play the D (3rd fret B string), be sure to practice, it can be hard at the beginning. You can simplify it playing a Fm with a barre on the first fret (1-x-x-1-1-x), you’ll loose the 6th (open D) but it works fine too.

No problem for the E9 (seen in previous measures).

The Fadd2 is in fact a simple F chord (x-x-3-2-1-x) played with your first three fingers, the pinky being used to play the add second (F# on 2nd fret E string) which belongs to the melody line.

The trickiest chord is the A6 because it implies a huge gap between the 2nd and 5th fret. Also, you have to be very careful with your pinky : be sure not to mute the F# (2nd fret E string). The A and F# are played with a barre on the second fret.

  • Verse (part 3)

verse 3The only real difficulty in this part lies in the 25th measure. Let’s take a look at the chords once again.

accords 6The Cdim7 has a shape which looks like a mix between a F and a C so be careful when you play it (I often got confused playing a C so practise a lot!). Use your first three fingers once again to reach the D note with your pinky (I know it’s a routine now).

No problem for the Dsus 2 which is just a D chord (x-x-x-2-3-2) without the middle finger.

AND NOW IS THE MOST ANNOYING PART OF THE SONG : the transition between the G#dim and the A#7b5! The simplest way of playing it is to slide your middle finger from the B to the A# (E string) without moving the other fingers BUT you’ll see it’s really uncomfortable (in the normal position you would have to switch the index finger with the middle finger). Of course, this change is pretty fast and ends up on a slightly detached chord so you have to be very precise. Trust me, you’ll hate this part!…

  • Outro

…But you’ll love this one! I am proud to say that it’s a personnal addition to end the song (I can’t add the sax part… I’m sure really talented Fingerpickers could by the way).

It’s very simple to play and brings a smooth minor ending. It’s composed of three chords you play slowing down the tempo.

accords fin4. Conclusion

I trully hope I helped you to learn this song. Feel free to give feedback!

If you have any question, feel free to contact me through comments and I will adapt the article according to your needs. I also remind you that the tab is made according to my personnal arrangement, please quote the blog address if you want to share it!

Une réflexion au sujet de « Air – Playground Love (Picking Arrangement) »

  1. Ping : New Lesson and Tab : Air – Playground Love (Fingerpicking Arrangement) | Guitare débrouille

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