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Lesson Sample

Looping Track 1

Teacher: Nirvana was built on the incredible songwriting talent and voice of Kurt Cobain. Their album Nevermind is considered the landmark recording of the 1990's alternative movement.

Teacher: Here is our opening riff.

Riff 1

Teacher: It is pretty much power chord rock here. The heaviest 3 strings of each chord are the primary notes with the 3rd finger barring all but the root. The note on the lightest string, in parenthesis, is more or less implied.

Teacher: The feel here is loose so fretting an extra note under the 3rd finger on the next string is part of the sound were after. Don't necessarily try for it but if it pops out, cool.

Teacher: The next tab is pretty much the same.

Riff 1 with muted notes

Teacher: Adding to the loose feel, mute the strings by lifting of pressure in the left hand between chords. Continue strumming to get these clicked, muted strings.

Teacher: To get these to fall in time each chord should be strummed down - down up in this sixteenth note feel.

Teacher: Notice the change in guitar tone as the drums and bass kick in. Simply set up with a distortion tone, then roll the volume knob back about half way for the intro. Then full volume when the band kicks in.

Teacher: Nirvana will employ the same riff but with different tones and dynamics to form song structures. A common songwriting move.

Teacher: Here is our same riff with a tag on the end.

Riff 2

Teacher: The ending bar alternates an F5 chord with open 6th string below. Then moves chromatically up to G5

Riff 3

Teacher: The same chords, new 8th note feel strumming pattern. Simply down on the beat and up off the beat. The catch is to keep the strum going but hit only the desired strings. Fret the full chord from the beginning.

Teacher: Here is a looping track to practice the 8th note strums to.

Looping Track 8th note feel (Drum+Bass only)

Teacher: Here is another similar part. Same root notes, different chord voicings.

Riff 4

Teacher: And a layering lick over this 'clean' section.

Lick 1

Teacher: A couple of scale choices work here. I treat it as a minor key center, 'borrowing' major chords from the parallel G major key.

G Dorian Mode

Teacher: It's got the Rock "major/minor" sound. The melody defines it more, and it tended to be minor. Let your ear be the guide here. Notice the pattern is written out on a single string. Kurt tends toward more melodies and less guitar heroics.

G Natural Minor Scale

Teacher: Keeping things on a string or two will force you to be less pattern focused and more focused on melody.

Teacher: And a final rhythm variation on these chords. Using two string power chords this time.

Riff 5

Teacher: Try struming this with all downstrokes. Then try alternating down and upstrokes.

Teacher: Finally try alternating between the two. Down-down-down-up. These are two different 8th note feels you want to be able to switch between at will

Teacher: Also notice the open strings between chord moves for more purposeful 'looseness'.

Teacher: Here is our bridge riff.

Riff 6

Teacher: E5 then C5 and then moving power chords chromatically down to the A5

Looping Track - Bridge

Teacher: The fingering shown is an alternate one to the '3rd finger barre' shown earlier. Either will work here.

Teacher: A simple filling riff on top here

Lick 2

Teacher: And then back to our starting part. Here are a couple final solo parts.

Looping Track - Main Riff

Lick 3
Lick 3

Cobain might make a solo a quote of the vocal melody line. Liberal use of hammer-on, pull-offs and slides give a more 'vocal' sound

Teacher: The last riff for tonight. All out of the G minor pentatonic scale

Lick 4

MoeFugga: how acurate is the transcription?

Teacher: Remember, this isn't a Nirvana song but a composed lesson sample to represent their sound.

G Minor Pentatonic

Teacher: Listen to Nirvana with this lesson's topic points in mind.

Teacher: Email me at for a private lesson on particular songs.

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