Magazine article Acoustic Guitar

Sultans of Swing

Magazine article Acoustic Guitar

Sultans of Swing

Article excerpt

When AG recently surveyed readers about what songs they'd like to learn, the most requested selection was "Sultans of Swing." This came as a surprise, as the track, which the British rock band Dire Straits released in 1978, has not a lick of acoustic guitar in it. But ask and you shall receive, as they say.

Presenting "Sultans" in the magazine was a bit of a challenge, as the tune has sections of varying lengths-the verses are anywhere from 16 to 20 bars-precluding repeats, and making it prohibitively long to transcribe each and every note that guitarist Mark Knopfler played on the original recording. By my calculation, it would have taken up around 20 percent of the magazine. That said, I've notated the song's meatiest parts-the intro, chorus riff, and first guitar solo, which translate nicely enough to the acoustic guitar.

There are two electric guitars on the studio version-one dedicated to lead and the other rhythm-and the intro notated here captures a little of both. This section is drawn from the D natural minor scale (D E F G A BB C) and falls neatly under the fingers in fifth position. Starting in the fourth bar, stop the fifth-fret G with your third finger and then use that finger for all the other seventh-fret notes. Use your first, second, and fourth fingers, respectively, for notes at frets 5, 6, and 8.

In the chorus, Knopfler uses compact, threenote voicings on an inner string set, rather than more typical full voicings, to create a memorable riff. …

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