How to play Joe Satriani’s Tears In The Rain

How to play Joe Satriani’s “Tears In The Rain”

In today’s blog, we’ll cover the first half of Joe Satriani’s “Tears In The Rain”. You can find this song on Joe’s “The Extremist” album. I strongly recommend you get this fantastic album.
Some of the benefits you’ll get from learning “Tears In The Rain”: it will improve your

  1. finger picking technique,
  2. chord knowledge, and
  3. fretting hand strength and flexibility.

The song is in 6/8 time signature. It’s in the key of A minor. The fingerpicking pattern, order in which to pick the strings, and rhythmic placement of the notes are consistently the same throughout almost the whole piece: Thumb plays the bass note followed by index, middle, ring, middle, index. There are only 5 bars towards the end of the song where the rhythm changes a bit, but we won’t get to that because we’re only covering the first half of the song here.

One common mistake students make trying to learn pieces like this, is that they try to put all their fingers down for the whole chord shape all at once. This is ok when the chords are simple or physically easy on the hand, but more often than not in this style of music, the chords are anything but easy to finger. This creates a forced-sounding performance or pauses between the chord switches, in essence breaking the flow of the music.

Fingering the full chord at once is an unnecessary struggle because we’re only hitting one note (string) at a time anyway. Top-level performers who play fingerpicking or classical style music, only put the fingers down that they have to put down when it is necessary to do so, not ahead of time.

Conversely: while you shouldn’t try to finger all the notes of the next chord all at once, you also don’t want to lift up your fingers after picking the notes in this piece. That is another common mistake in the performance of compositions where the melodies are chord arpeggio driven, such as in “Tears In The Rain”. You want to let all the notes ring out for the whole bar, otherwise, the performance would sound choppy.

Here it is:

Have fun!

On a different, I learned last week that there is a Frank Zappa documentary coming up.
I am dying to see this. Here’s the trailer.


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