Here's How to Figure Out Chords to 'The House of Rising Sun'
Dear Guitar Player,
Two days ago I gave you some advice on how to pick out chords:
-Tune up your guitar
-Try to see if Am/Dm/E chords fit anywhere in the song
-Don't spend time guessing hard chords - find out the easy ones first!
-Find the key chord, and try chords 5 halftones up/down
-Find a single note that fits somewhere in the whole verse -
it might be the key.
Today I'll guide you to figure out chords to 'The House of
the Rising Sun' using Chord Pickout. Perhaps you already
play this song, but it's a good example to show you some
But before we start I need you to bear one thing in mind.
The more you tune your ear to guess chords without the
software, the more the software will be of help. As your ear
becomes more musically trained, it becomes easier to
memorize songs and play them. Software is a tool to help
strengthen your ear when you don't know where to start. And,
of course, it makes the overall process faster as it shows
you the chords if you're not completely sure how to receive
them by ear.
So let's start.
Firstly, open the song in Chord Pickout. After it loads,
you'll see a blue sound wave with chords over it.
Let's hit 'Play' and listen to the song. If you listen to
the first 11 seconds or more, you may have a feeling that
the same chord pattern repeats again and again. This might
be true so let's check it out.
Chord Pickout shows us the chords it thinks are being
played. It shows the root note (ie 'A', 'C'), as well as the
type (major, minor or seventh). At this stage, it won't
distinguish majors from minors, so let's try to play the
chords it shows both in major and minor.
Take your guitar, and begin to try every chord the program
shows us. On the recording I have, Chord Pickout displays
00:00 A A7 Cm Dm
00:07 F A Am Em A Am Em E
The song starts, and we try A, then A7. Does it fit? Maybe
it fits, but we should also try Am? Strum Am - and it fits!
The song definitely starts with a minor chord. Once you hear
this chord fit, no other chord suggestions are required as
you'll be sure that the song starts with A minor.
The next chord is Cm, but it has irregular fingering, and a
composer will rarely play Cm after Am (especially if Am
opens the song). If a song starts with Am (and remember what
I said about 90% of pop/rock songs?), then most probably
more easy chords will follow like D, E, or C. With this
song, it looks like C will be a good fit! So rewind the
song, play Am, and then C. Bingo!
The next suggestion is Dm. But did you just hear that solemn
sound of D major played in standard fingering? If you play a
lot of guitar, you'll know that specific and unmistakable
sound of D. It is the only chord that gives you the very
feeling of something bright, clear, and optimistic. Play D,
then any other chord, and you'll hear how the sound differs.
And - it's sonic opposite - Dm is specifically despairing
and sorrowful. Once you can spot the difference, you'll
never confuse Dm with D.
So the third chord is D. Rewind the song, play the sequence
of Am - C - D that we've found, and discover how they fit
Let's look again at the chords:
00:07 F A Am Em A Am Em E
Next is F - and obviously it is. After this it might be Am
or A, but once we've got Am, it most likely won't be
followed by A major. So play Am - C - D - F - Am from the
start and see if it fits.
What's next? Next might be Em, but first you should listen
to it. The bold sound of E major can never be confused with
Em! Play Em, then E as they differ drastically (in the
standard tuning, of course).
So it looks like we just figured out the whole intro! Here
it is: Am - C - D - F - Am - E.
The verse begins, and we hear that the chords repeat with
little modification, which are now easy to figure out on
your own. Just rely on the progression we picked out, and
you'll easily find out the whole song.
In the next lesson we'll find out the chords to a song that
shot straight to the top of charts recently, 'Resistance' by
Muse. Here is the download link to Chord Pickout if you
missed it in the previous email:
Please feel free to let me know if anything in this email is of
use, or if you have any suggestions.
Chord Pickout Team