SOMETIMES THERE’S MORE TO NAILING a classic riff than simply playing the right notes at the right time, because all guitarists inject their own unique X Factor, a “feel” thing that can be difficult to capture in print. Case in point: David Gilmour’s iconic main riff from Pink Floyd’s “Money,” which certainly isn’t hard to navigate once you learn the correct sequence of notes, but proves that how you play a riff is just as important as which notes you play.
Ex. 1 depicts how this shuffle-eighth-based figure in 7/4 typically appears in print, but even though all of the notes shown are correct, playing the riff this way will sound stiff and slightly anemic. Why? Listen closely to the original studio recording from Dark Side of the Moon and you’ll discover that Gilmour—consciously or not—adds numerous “ghosted” artifacts between the actual notes he’s playing to bring the riff to life.
Ex. 2a illustrates the first of five such embellished variations, this one adorned with four added ornaments: an upstroked, muted, single-string “chick” in the middle of beat three; a pair of microtonal, quarter- step bends (beats five and seven); and a ghosted open A upstroked on the and of beat six. Ex. 2b loses the “chick,” but adds an oddball upstroked natural harmonic (C, the b7 of the D string) located two-thirds of the way between the second and third frets on the and of beat three. This was probably intended to be an unconscious muted-string “chick,” but this happy accident increases the riff’s coolness factor tenfold. Ex. 2c follows suit with slightly more aggressive half-step bends played on beats five and seven.
Finally, Ex. 2d adds a new upstroked “chick” on the and of beat three, and replaces the previous ghosted open A on the and of beat six with a fifth-fret natural harmonic that raises the same note two octaves, while Ex. 2e features the same harmonic shifted back to the and of beat three and restores beat six’s open-A ghost note. Study the whole track and see how many more cool quirks you can find. My full, albeit uncredited, transcription appears in The Dark Side of the Moon - Guitar Tablature Edition (Music Sales). Happy hunting!