Paul McCartney's weird fingerstyle technique

by webmaster, Tuesday, September 13, 2022, 12:52 (532 days ago)
edited by admin, Friday, September 23, 2022, 10:49

BLACKBIRD (by Paul McCartney)

Much has been written and said about Paul McCartney's weird fingerstyle technique, and if anybody asked me to give it a name, I might probably call it "McCartney's thumb and index-fingerstyle" or "McCartney's picking and strumming pattern". If you are used to play "proper" fingerstyle, it's not advisable to have a go at this weirdo, cause you might end up with the same problem that I had, when I tried to nail down Lindsey Buckingham's odd picking pattern he uses on Fleetwood Mac's "Never Going Back Again". It took me approximately 2 days to get it into my head with the result, that I had problems afterwards to play the other stuff again, such as "Scarborough Fair", for instance. Guess I had to rearrange my synapses first, that somehow got into disorder ...
Nevertheless, "Blackbird" is a classic fingerstyle songs that simply can't be overlooked. So let's have a go at it. McCartney plucks two strings with his thumb and index-finger simultaneously. Then he strums the treble strings with his index-finger again and that's it. The D-String leads a rather lonely life and is only plucked three or four times during the song. Now forget about all this and let's try to activate the remaining two fingers of the picking hand, as well.

BLACKBIRD (The Beatles)

Written by Paul McCartney in the key of G in 2/4 time
Released on the album: The Beatles / The White Album (1968)
Blackbird on Wikipedia

thumb: x             Hammer on: h             Bend up: V                   Play or don't: ()
index: a             Pull off: p              Bend down: Λ                 Break: b
dirty: b             Slide up: /              Fret but don't pick: !       Downward stroke: 
ring: c              Slide down: \            Staccato: :                  Upward stroke: 
pinky: d             Arpeggio: ~~~            Mute: m

To stabilize your picking hand, put your ring on the e-string in the red marked part
Red colored exclamation marks offer additional fretting information
Keep 3d pressed in the green marked part

INTRO

e----------------------------------------|  picking pattern: 
b---0----------1a----------3d--------/---|  xb - a (3x)
g--------0-----------0-----------0-------|
D----------------------------------------|
A--------------0-----------2a--------/---|
E---3c-----------------------------------|
    <----------- 6/8 ------------>

e----------------------------------|-----------------------------------|  picking pattern:
b---12d-------12d-------12d--------|---12d--------12d-------12d--------|  xb - a - b - x - b - a (2x)
g---------0-------------------0----|----------0--------------------0---|
D----------------------------------|-----------------------------------|
A---10a------------10a-------------|---10a-------------10a-------------|
E----------------------------------|-----------------------------------|
          <---- 4/16 ----->                   <---- 4/16 ----->

e----------------------------------|------------|  picking pattern:
b---12d-------12d-------12d--------|---12d------|  xb - a - b - x - b - a
g---------0-------------------0----|------------|  xb
D----------------------------------|------------|
A---10a------------10a-------------|---10a------|
E----------------------------------|------------|
          <---- 4/16 ----->            1/2

1st verse

by ..., Wednesday, September 14, 2022, 23:44 (530 days ago) @ webmaster
edited by admin, Sunday, September 18, 2022, 23:51

1ST VERSE

... Blackbird singing in the dead of ...
e----------------------------------------|  picking pattern: 
b---0----------1a----------3d--------/---|  xb - a (3x)
g--------0-----------0-----------0-------|
D----------------------------------------|
A--------------0-----------2a--------/---|
E---3c-----------------------------------|
    <----------- 6/8 ------------>

... night ...
e----------------------------------|--------------------------------------|  picking pattern:
b---12d-------12d-------12d--------|---12d-------12d-------12d--------\---|  xb - a - b - x - b - a (2x)
g---------0-------------------0----|---------0--------------------0-------|
D----------------------------------|--------------------------------------|
A---10a------------10a-------------|---10a------------10a-------------\---|
E----------------------------------|--------------------------------------|
          <---- 4/16 ----->                  <---- 4/16 ----->

... take these broken wings and learn to ...
e-------------3a--------|------------5a-----------|  picking pattern:
b---5d------------------|---7d----------------/---|  xb - a (4x)
g--------0---------0----|--------0--------0-------|
D-----------------------|-------------------------|
A---3a--------4b--------|---5a-------6b-------/---|
E-----------------------|-------------------------|

... fly ...
e--------------------------------|-----------------------------------|  picking pattern: 
b---8d-------8d--------8d--------|---8d-------8d--------8d-------\---|  xb - a - b - x - b - a (2x)
g--------0------------------0----|--------0------------------0-------|
D--------------------------------|-----------------------------------|  
A---7b------------7b-------------|---6a------------6a------------\---|
E--------------------------------|-----------------------------------|
         <---- 4/16 ---->                 <---- 4/16 ---->

... all your ... 
e----------------3a-------|  picking pattern:
b---7d-------\------------|  xb - a - xc - a
g--------0------------0---|
D-------------------------|
A---5a-----------4b-------|
E-------------------------|

... life ...
e--------------------------------|-----------------------------------|  picking pattern:
b---5d-------5d--------5d--------|---4c-------4c--------4c-------\---|  xb - a - b - x - b - a (2x)
g--------0------------------0----|--------0------------------0-------|
D--------------------------------|-----------------------------------|
A---3a------------3a-------------|---3a------------3a------------\---|
E--------------------------------|-----------------------------------|
         <---- 4/16 ---->                 <---- 4/16 ---->

... you were only waiting for this ...
e---------------------------------|----------------------------------|  picking pattern:
b---3c--------3c--------3c--------|---2b---------2b--------2b--------|  xb - a - b - x - b - a (2x)
g--------0-------------------0----|---------0-------------------0----|
D---------------------------------|----------------------------------|
A---2a-------------2a-------------|---0---------------0--------------|
E---------------------------------|----------------------------------|
         <---- 4/16 ----->                  <---- 4/16 ----->

...  moment to arise ...
e---------------------------------|----------------------------------|  picking pattern:
b---1a--------1a--------1a--------|---0----------0---------0---------|  xb - a - b - x - b - a (2x)
g--------0-------------------0----|---------0-------------------0----|
D---0--------------0--------------|----------------------------------|
A---------------------------------|----------------------------------|
E---------------------------------|---3c--------------3c-------------|
         <---- 4/16 ----->                  <---- 4/16 ---->

Interlude

by ..., Friday, September 16, 2022, 08:31 (529 days ago) @ ...
edited by admin, Sunday, September 18, 2022, 23:52

INTERLUDE

e----------------------|--------------------------------|  picking pattern: 
b---5d--------3c-------|---2b---------2b-------2b-------|  xb - a (2x)
g--------0---------0---|---------0------------------0---|  xb - a - b - x - b - a
D----------------------|--------------------------------|
A---3a--------2a-------|---0---------------0------------|
E----------------------|--------------------------------|
                                 <---- 4/16 --->
e-------------------------------|-----------------------------|
b---1a--------1a-------1a-------|---0--------0--------0-------|  xb - a - b - x - b - a (2x)
g--------0------------------0---|-------0-----------------0---|
D---0--------------0------------|-----------------------------|
A-------------------------------|-----------------------------|
E-------------------------------|---3c-----------3c-----------|
         <---- 4/16 ---->               <--- 4/16 ---->

2nd verse

by ..., Friday, September 16, 2022, 16:58 (529 days ago) @ ...
edited by admin, Saturday, September 17, 2022, 10:49

2ND VERSE (same tab as 1st verse)

... Blackbird singing in the dead of ...
... night ...
... take these sunken eyes and learn to ...
... see ...                     
... all your ...
... life ... 
... you were only waiting for this ...
... moment to be free ...

Chorus

by ..., Saturday, September 17, 2022, 10:48 (528 days ago) @ ...
edited by admin, Tuesday, September 20, 2022, 11:12

CHORUS

... Blackbird ...
e------------------------------|-----------------------------|  picking pattern: 
b---10d-------\---8d-------\---|---6d---\-------5d-------\---|  xb - a (4x)
g---------0------------0-------|------------0--------0-------|  
D------------------------------|-----------------------------|
A---8a------------7b-------\---|---5b-----------3a-------\---|
E------------------------------|-----------------------------|

... fly ...
e-----------------------------------|-----------------------------------|  picking pattern: 
b---3d-------3d--------3d-------/---|---5d-------5d--------5d-------/---|  xb - a - b - x - b - a (2x)
g--------0------------------0-------|--------0------------------0-------|
D-----------------------------------|-----------------------------------|
A---1a------------1a------------/---|---3a------------3a------------/---|
E-----------------------------------|-----------------------------------|
         <---- 4/16 ---->                    <---- 4/16 ---->

... Blackbird ...
e------------------------------|-----------------------------|  picking pattern: 
b---10d-------\---8d-------\---|---6d---\-------5d-------\---|  xb - a (4x)
g---------0------------0-------|------------0--------0-------|  
D------------------------------|-----------------------------|
A---8a------------7b-------\---|---5b-----------3a-------\---|
E------------------------------|-----------------------------|

... fly ... into the  ...
e--------------------------------|-----------------------------------|  picking pattern: 
b---3d-------3d--------3d--------|---2c-------2c--------2c-------/---|  xb - a - b - x - b - a (2x)
g--------0------------------0----|--------0------------------0-------|
D--------------------------------|-----------------------------------|
A---1a------------1a-------------|---0-------------0-------------/---|
E--------------------------------|-----------------------------------|
         <---- 4/16 ---->                 <---- 4/16 ---->

... light of the dark black ...
e-----------------------------------|  picking pattern: 
b---1a-------1a--------1a-------/---|  xb - a - b - x - b - a
g--------0------------------0-------|
D---0-------------0-----------------|
A-------------------------------/---|
E-----------------------------------|
         <---- 4/16 ---->

... night ...
e----------------------------------------|  picking pattern: 
b---0----------1a----------3d--------/---|  xb - a (3x)
g--------0-----------0-----------0-------|
D----------------------------------------|
A--------------0-----------2a--------/---|
E---3c-----------------------------------|
    <----------- 6/8 ------------>

e----------------------------------|-----------------------------------|  picking pattern:
b---12d-------12d-------12d--------|---12d--------12d-------12d--------|  xb - a - b - x - b - a (2x)
g---------0-------------------0----|----------0--------------------0---|
D----------------------------------|-----------------------------------|
A---10a------------10a-------------|---10a-------------10a-------------|
E----------------------------------|-----------------------------------|
          <---- 4/16 ----->                   <---- 4/16 ----->

e----------------------------------|------------|  picking pattern:
b---12d-------12d-------12d--------|---12d------|  xb - a - b - x - b - a
g---------0-------------------0----|------------|  xb
D----------------------------------|------------|
A---10a------------10a-------------|---10a------|
E----------------------------------|------------|
          <---- 4/16 ----->            1/2

2nd interlude

by ..., Tuesday, September 20, 2022, 11:16 (525 days ago) @ ...
edited by admin, Tuesday, September 20, 2022, 11:19

2ND INTERLUDE

e----------------------|--------------------------|  picking pattern: 
b---0--------1a--------|---3d-------/---5d--------|  xb - a (4x)
g--------0--------0----|--------0------------0----|
D----------------------|--------------------------|
A------------0---------|---2a-------/---3a--------|
E---3c-----------------|--------------------------|

e----------------------------------------|  picking pattern: 
b---3c-------2b-------2b-------2b--------|  xb - a (2x)
g--------0--------0-----------------0----|  xb - a - b - x - b - a
D----------------------------------------|
A---2a-------0-------------0-------------|
E----------------------------------------|
                  <---- 4/16 --->

e-------------------------------|-----------------------------|
b---1a-------1a-------1a--------|---0-------0--------0--------|  xb - a - b - x - b - a (2x)
g--------0-----------------0----|-------0----------------0----|
D---0-------------0-------------|-----------------------------|
A-------------------------------|-----------------------------|
E-------------------------------|---3c----------3c------------|
         <---- 4/16 --->                <--- 4/16 --->
 

1st verse

by ..., Tuesday, September 20, 2022, 11:29 (525 days ago) @ ...

1ST VERSE (same tab)

... Blackbird singing in the dead of ...
... night ...
... take these broken wings and learn to ...
... fly ...                     
... all your ...
... life ... 
... you were only waiting for this ...
... moment to arise ...

End

by ..., Tuesday, September 20, 2022, 12:45 (525 days ago) @ ...
edited by admin, Wednesday, January 04, 2023, 11:23

END (same tab as interlude)

... you were only waiting for this ...
e----------------------|--------------------------------|  picking pattern: 
b---5d--------3c-------|---2b---------2b-------2b-------|  xb - a (2x)
g--------0---------0---|---------0------------------0---|  xb - a - b - x - b - a
D----------------------|--------------------------------|
A---3a--------2a-------|---0---------------0------------|
E----------------------|--------------------------------|
                                 <---- 4/16 --->
... moment to arise ...
e-------------------------------|-----------------------------|
b---1a--------1a-------1a-------|---0--------0--------0-------|  xb - a - b - x - b - a (2x)
g--------0------------------0---|-------0-----------------0---|
D---0--------------0------------|-----------------------------|
A-------------------------------|-----------------------------|
E-------------------------------|---3c-----------3c-----------|  Ritardando
         <---- 4/16 ---->               <--- 4/16 ---->

This is a short version of the song.
You may play the Chorus and 2nd verse again, if you like ... or go fly a kite.
I tabbed the song in two-four time, cause it seems to make sense.

Cotten Picking

by webmaster, Monday, January 02, 2023, 22:58 (420 days ago) @ webmaster
edited by admin, Saturday, March 04, 2023, 21:34

McCartney playing acoustic looks like a male version of legendary Elizabeth Cotten. Maybe such odd fingerstyle (using thumb and index-finger only) comes natural for left-handers playing right-hander guitars topsy-turfy!? To make things even more bizarre, Mrs Cotten didn't even bother to adapt the strings accordingly and played the treble strings with her thumb and the bass strings with her index-finger.

Wikipedia:
"Elizabeth "Libba" Cotten (1893–1987) was an American folk and blues musician. She was a self-taught left-handed guitarist who played a guitar strung for a right-handed player, but played it upside down. This position meant that she would play the bass lines with her fingers and the melody with her thumb. Her signature alternating bass style has become known as Cotten-Picking or Cotten-Style".

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2DCWfBkMSI&list=RDeEoW1uLQvQA&index=8

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