Learning The Chain by Fleetwood Mac
I have been learning how to play The Chain by Fleetwood Mac from the album Rumours. The chain is a good song to learn and discuss because it has many elements that can cause confusion when someone is trying to learn by ear. First, there are actually two guitar tracks so it is hard to decide which part to play. The part that is predominant to my ear may not be to someone else learning the song. Second, Lyndsey Buckingham uses an altered tuning on this tune. His sixth string is tuned down to D. This is known as Drop D tuning. If you do not know that before hand it can be rather frustrating. And third, He uses a capo on the second fret to raise the key a whole step. Again, if you do not know this it can be confusing and frustrating.
I have a process I use when learning songs. First, I try to learn it by ear. It is good ear training and it is fun to see how accurate I can get it. There are several tools I use when learning songs. First, I try to find the song on Spotify or Itunes. After I find the tune I import it into an app called The Amazing Slow Downer. With this app I can slow the song down, I can loop, and dissect the song piece by piece. Also, I can pan the mix hard left or hard right. Some songs have guitar parts mixed hard left or right, especially older songs. If I have problems learning the song after that, I will find the sheet music. If it is not in my collection, I will visit musicnotes.com. Their sheet music is usually accurate. A lot of the free tabs online are not accurate. But, we get what we pay for… or don’t pay for.
After playing around with The Chain I went on Spotify to see if I could find a live version so I could observe Lyndsey playing it with just one guitar. Sure enough, there is a live version from the live album called The Dance. I also found Fleetwood Mac performing this song on You Tube from their tour of the same name. Lyndsey played it quite differently than the studio version on Rumours. One big change was he had no capo and did the song a whole step lower than the original.
The Chain is cool because it can be performed as a solo piece on acoustic guitar. It has it’s roots in folk music. It can also be played in a rock band. The Chain is a great song and a pleasure to play.