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Rock of Ages

Short, easy, beautiful piece.  Only twelve full measures, only three chords, all easy.  No barre chords.  No hard or fast changes.  Lots of fun expression-- it can make people weep.  And it’s in the public domain.  What’s not to love? 

Tempo is approximate; don’t even try to use a metronome.  You’ll find yourself wanting to adjust the tempo throughout the song, as you speed up and slow down for emphasis.  The count is approximate, too, as I found it confusing to try to put in sixteenth notes.

I recommend you try to stick with the chord strums and pinches as tabbed, as well as the slides, hammer-ons and pull-offs, at least until you get a feel for the arrangement.  Yeah, it’s easier without all that expression, but it’s not nearly as beautiful.  Done correctly, after three verses, you should see members of the congregation dabbing their eyes.

There are two ways to make a tremolo, and this piece requires both, depending on fretboard position.  For notes at the fifth fret and above, make the tremolo by vibrating the fretting finger along the string.  For notes below the fifth fret, vibrate across the string, or the tremolo will be weak, or even inaudible.

A few of the slides and changes require you to use specific fingers:

In the last two measures of the second line, use the middle finger for the slide, leaving the index finger free to fret the G on the 6th string in the last measure.  The ring finger then plays the B in the IV space of the third string, pulling off to G.  It’s not difficult at all, just unusual.

For similar reasons, in the second measure of the last line, I like to use the middle finger for the double slide on the 4th string.  In the next measure, the second note is actually part of the strummed chord, but is a quarter note, for emphasis, while the rest of the chord receives a standard strum. 

Try to hold the tremolo in the penultimate (next to last) measure as long as you can.  You can slide down to the D on the 2nd string if you wish, or play it separately as shown.  The rest of the song need not be played very deliberately for the first two verses, but the last time, play at half speed as shown, with great deliberation, emphasizing each chord separately.

The final chord may be played as a standard C if desired, but I think adding the G bass note with the little finger gives a fuller sound.  Tip:  Play the standard C for the first two verses, reserving the C/G for the final resolve of the song.  This chord is properly called, "C with a G bass," but guitarists often call it "C-slash-G," or "C-over-G."  Whatever you call it, it's a strong way to end a beautiful song.

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