Playing 'The Midnight Special'.  

Posted by T ZAMAN in , ,

The song 'The Midnight Special' uses predominantly the chords A and D, and at the end of the song you will need to play the chord G. You will notice that these are chords that you have already learned, so you should have no problems playing and changing between them. Also you will notice the strum used in the song is exactly the same as the strum that we practiced in lesson 4.

Now, I realise that this song might not be in the style that you are specifically into, but it is a good song to just get you started at playing something and using the chords that you have learned. In the full JTeam Method course, we cover many more styles including pop, rock, jazz, blues, metal and funk. So don't be worried if this song is not your thing. It's just there to get you up and rolling, and stringing some chords together.

Today we will be using chords that you already know and using a strum that you have already practiced. Not only that, we have practiced using both these chords and this strum with changes. So you can see how we have systematically built you up, so that playing this song is just another simple step in developing your playing.

Today, like yesterday, I am going to teach you a new warm up pattern. This one will be a touch more difficult than the last few. This pattern starts on the first fret and the sixth string (thickest string). You will play all six strings and use all your fingers. As always with these exercises, I would like you to use the correct fingering.

Warm up:

Video and Audio Available:

Dial Up Broadband
QuickTime - Exercise 1 (1.25 MB)
WindowsMediaPlayer - Exercise 1 (2.79 MB)
QuickTime - Exercise 1 (3.35 MB)
WindowsMediaPlayer - Exercise 1 (4.54 MB)
Audio mp3 - Exercise 1 (712 KB)

In the above warmup, you will have noticed that the frets you play have the same numbers as the fingers you use. This should make it easy to remember what to play. So now after playing that, your fingers should be warmed up and ready to play.

Let's move onto learning 'The Midnight Special'...

As you already know how to play the chords and the strum for the song, all we really need to work on today with this lesson is getting you to remember the changes and getting into the feel of the song. The first part of ‘The Midnight Special’ is the chord D followed by the chord G. Interestingly the WHOLE song uses the same structure, the guitar plays the same progression in both the verses and the choruses. In tomorrows lesson I will also give you a chance to play along with other instruments, but today we will try and work with a singer and your guitar.

You will have noticed by now that I like to break things down and give them to you in small, manageable steps. Nothing is going to change for this lesson. There are going to be four parts to this lesson. Firstly I want you to listen to the song, then I want you to try and play it by yourself, thirdly I would like you to play it with another guitar, and finally we will get you playing it with a singer. I have broken it down into parts like this so that you should have no problems taking each step forward.

Now I would like you to just listen to the song. You will hear that there are only two instruments playing (note; it is common to hear the ‘voice’ being called an instrument). Listen carefully to the guitar part, you will be able to hear that it holds the song together and maintains its rhythm.

'The Midnight Special' mp3 (5.34 MB)

Ok. So, listening to that you would have noticed that the guitar is laying down the rhythm of the song with the singer coming out over the top. That is the goal of a good rhythm guitarist, to lay down a solid groove so the singer can be clearly heard and the rhythm of the song is maintained.

Now you have heard what the song should sound like, I am going to give you a chance to play the start of it. Below I will TAB out what I would like you to play and the strum I would like you to use. This song starts in D, continues for two bars then changes for two bars of G before it returns for two more bars of D, it then finally goes to two bars of A. The strum used, is exactly the same as the one we looked at in lesson 4, so you should have no problems linking in with it.

This is the longest piece of TAB I have asked you to read and play along with, but like I said you have done all the parts of it before. Now is the time to put it all together and play. This time I would like you to just try and play in your own time. I would like you to consider this a piece Section. Play this piece of music until you feel you are getting it together. Make sure that it is tight and sweet sounding before you move on to the next. One last thing... all the tracks in this lesson have a click in period of 2 measures (8 clicks) before you start playing. So, when you play the following exercise, wait for 8 clicks before starting.

The Midnight Special (Section 1)

Audio Available:

Audio Audio mp3 - Exercise 2 (896 KB)

Once you feel like you have mastered that piece I want you to practice it some more, and then some more as in essence that same section repeated over and over is the entire song! The song structure is simple and easy to follow. I have written out how many times you play the chord progression section below:

The Midnight Special (structure)

  • Chorus) Play section 1 twice
  • Verse 2) Play section 1 twice
  • Chorus) Play section 1 twice
  • Verse 3) Play section 1 twice
  • Chorus) Play section 1 twice
  • Chorus) Play section 1 twice

At this point, I would like you to practice the structure with all the changes in your own time until you feel confident with the piece. Note that the whole song is quite long, and without someone singing and can feel very repetitive, try singing along (if you can) as you practice.

Now that you have had a chance to play the song by yourself, you should be getting used to the chord changes. Now I would like for you to play along with my guitar track and the vocal tracks. This will feel a little harder as you will have to keep time with my guitar. Focus on playing in time and if you make any mistakes, just restart. Listen to the count on the track for your cue in.

In this part of the lesson you will be playing the exact same TAB that you have played in the last exercise. If you can do this then you have mastered this piece and you really are developing as a player.


Play along with the following guitar and vocal track:

Audio Available:

Audio vocal track mp3 (5.34 MB)



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