Alternating Bass Note Fun with "Don't Worry, Be Happy"
Lesson #448 • Aug 8, 2022
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In this week’s lesson, I’ll show you a fun alternating bass note exercise that you can use to play the song “Don’t Worry Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin. This song only uses four chords, played over and over in the same progression: C-Dm-F-C (play two full measures of each chord). But instead of strumming it, I’ll show how you can use alternating bass notes (always played on the 5th and 6th strings) for each of the four chords. Combined with a light percussive slap in between each bass note, we’re left with a nice groove that you can whistle/hum/sing over, if you please.
In addition to this core exercise, I’ll show additional variations on the riff — showing how you can use power chords, barre chords, or even open chords and get a similar result. This one is relatively easy to get started with, so let’s jump on in! Timestamps for my video lesson:
- 0:00 Lesson Overview
- 0:52 Chord Shapes & Progression
- 1:47 Alt. Bass Notes, At A Glance
- 4:52 Adding Percussive Flourish
- 6:05 Barre & Power Chord Options
- 9:40 Bass Note Finger Options
- 11:24 Playing Along with Bobby McFerrin
Bobby McFerrin’s Album Version
Note, this is played in the key of B — which is a half-step lower in pitch than the Key of C exercise I show in my lesson. If you want to use what I teach (C-Dm-F-C) to play along with Bobby’s version, tune your guitar down a half step. Or, you can play what I teach but move all fretted notes down one (e.g. 3rd fret notation in my tab means play 2nd fret).
Here’s a few other lessons I’ve made which explore similar use of bass notes & percussive rhythm guitar.
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