by Black Pumas • Lesson #396 • Oct 21, 2021
Print-Friendly Song Sheet 2 pages
Follow along with my print-friendly guide for this song! It’s available for purchase at Musicnotes.com, the web’s leading provider of licensed sheet music.
On the fence? Here's a guide I made showing the purchase & print process, including answers to common questions about my song sheets.Buy at Musicnotes.com
Save 50% on this song sheet by applying the March 2023 code at Musicnotes checkout: FXSDV8DUHV (click to copy). Thanks for being a Premium supporter!
Song Notes Premium includes a 50% discount code you can use when buying any of my licensed song sheets. For the current month's code, upgrade to premium or log in.
Hey, friends! I had the pleasure of going to the Austin City Limits fest a few weekends back – and without doubt, the band that left the biggest impression on me was the Black Pumas. I’ve had them on repeat most of the past week, and it’s their hit song COLORS (from their debut 2019 album) I’d like to share with you today. Straight up –– give this song a listen! It sounds both old and modern, packing some retro/soul/gospel flavors on top of grooving rock foundation.
- 0:00 Lesson Overview
- 2:32 Chords Used (no capo, Key of F#m)
- 3:56 Chords Used (capo 2, Key of Em)
- 7:10 Strumming Patterns (4 options)
- 11:15 Jangly Intro Riff (w/ tab)
Musically, this song uses an 8 measure chord progression that repeats the entire time. The fact that it never gets old (and they’re able to pull so much out of it) is a real testament to the musical brains behind the band. I’ll be using a capo 2nd fret to simplify to avoid barre chords and make it more strum-friendly.
It’s the diminished chord in particular that provides the real magic in this song. It creates a bass-line walkup between the final three chords of the progression (from D to D#dim7 to the Em) – which is incredibly effective at grabbing the listeners ear. As I note in my video, I very much recommend you check out Michael Palmisano’s Guitar Teacher REACTS video where he dives into this song, giving a solid breakdown of all the music theory concepts at play – especially around the diminished chord. Note, I’m adding the 7th tone to the D#dim chord just to make it easier to play.
Other songs that use this same diminished chord
When learning this song, I realized that this isn’t the first time I’ve encountered this diminish chord shape (D#dim7). Here’s the other lesson I’ve made that use the D#dim7 – and in all cases, it’s following the D-major chord – which creates that walk-up sound.
- Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground by Willie Nelson
- Please Come Home for Christmas by the Eagles
- I Won’t Give Up by Jason Mraz
I hope y’all enjoy! Remember to give Colors a listen, and check out Michael Palmisano’s reaction video if you want a intermediate/advanced breakdown of the theory. Thanks all, and enjoy!
Watch the Black Pumas perform this live in studio
Watch Michael Palmisano’s reaction video to this song
His music theory knowledge is amazing, especially seeing how quickly he can pick this song up and identify what’s going on.
Enjoy my lessons? Buy me a beer!
If this and my other lessons have proven helpful to you, please consider making a one-time donation to my tip jar. Contributions of any amount help make this project possible (including the many, many hours I put into it).
Subscribe to my YouTube channel
Be sure to never miss a lesson by subscribing on YouTube. I put out 2-3 new videos every week. These include full song lessons, as well as covers, practice tips, behind-the-scenes updates. Thanks!
March 27, 2023
Beginner Lead Guitar with the Star Spangled Banner
March 19, 2023
Brown Eyed Girl
March 14, 2023
Major Scales in Open Position
March 10, 2023
Tips for Strumming & Singing at the Same Time
March 7, 2023
Interstate Love Song
March 2, 2023
New Course: Beginner Chord Guide!
February 24, 2023
How to Fingerpick in 3/4 Time (feat. "Amazing Grace" & John Prine)
February 13, 2023
Adam Sandler's "Grow Old With You," Without Barre Chords
Browse my all lessons
By lesson type
- Strumming & Rhythm
- Walk-Ups & Walk-Downs
- Learning Barre Chords
- Travis Picking
- Learning Chords
By musical genre
By musical key
By popular artist
- Johnny Cash
- Tyler Childers
- Tom Petty
- Neil Young
- Chris Stapleton
- Willie Nelson
- Guy Clark
- John Prine