It was a noble life ambition Jamie Findlay held as child: to become a doctor like his father. But then in 1964, at age seven, he shared in that huge moment of mass-transformation that changed the course of so many lives. “I saw the Beatles perform on The Ed Sullivan Show,” says Findlay. “I said, ‘Mom, dad, get me a guitar, please.’ It’s been downhill ever since [laughs].”
In this case, one less physician in the world has translated into one more great guitar teacher at Musicians Institute, as well as a great elective taught by Findlay called “The Beatles for Solo Guitar.” “I always loved the way the Beatles varied their harmonies within their songs,” says Findlay. “I liked figuring out what they did and then changing things up even further—you know, reharmonizing the melodies, inverting or changing the chords, finding ways to use open strings, etc. ‘Here Comes the Sun’ has a great little turnaround that’s perfect for doing those things.”
Findlay demonstrates the famous chord sequence in Ex. 1. “The song was originally played capoed up at the 7th fret, but I like to play it in open position, in D, which gives me room to move up the neck,” says Findlay. “You can count this section different ways, but really, it feels quite natural any way you interpret the meter. It practically plays itself— and it uses plain old cowboy chords—A, F, C, G, and D. The fun part is messing with those chords. We’re gonna mess ’em up real good.”
In the next five examples, Findlay presents some of his favorite variations on this section, each of which sounds equally alluring on acoustic or electric guitar. From Ex. 2’s clever descending bass line and Ex. 3’s moody Asus4b9 endcap to Ex. 4’s hypnotic open-D pedal drone and Ex. 6’s diminished intrigue, the harmonic highlights herein are many. The music feels most natural plucked fully fingerstyle, though players who are comfortable using a hybrid pick-and-fingers approach should be able to handle the mechanics as well. The first four variations each culminate with a V chord (one of various A harmonies) that leads the ears smoothly into the next variation. Ex. 6 carries us into the song’s extended V chord section in Ex. 7.
The great part about this lesson is that playing all of the examples back-to-back results in a seamless solo guitar piece that is quite captivating. “My advice on learning the moves is to start slowly,” says Findlay. “There is the old adage, ‘If you want to play fast, play slow,’ and it’s really true. Get those moves down so cold that the speed comes naturally.”
For more on guitarist/composer Jaime Findlay, visit jamiefindlay.com