Geronimo was written by Hank Marvin, the lead guitarist of the early British rock band The Shadows. It was originally released in 1963. It seems to have generated many cover versions and adaptions right from its first release. This transcription is an aggregate of several recordings. Including a performance by OldGuitarMonkey. This a great YouTube channel resource that was introduced to me by some students.
The name of the song of course refers to Geronimo (Goyaalé) the Mescalero-Chiricahua leader form the Bedonkohe band of the Apache tribe in the area that is now modern day the New Mexico and Arizona region of the United States.
This is a transcription for:
• Ambitious upper level beginners who have accumulated some experience.
Otherwise it is more for:
• Intermediate players who are comfortable with devices and techniques such as; double stops, double stop barre, complete range of fretboard, syncopations (off beats), sixteenth note (semi quaver) rhythms and a performance tempo of 137 beats per minute.
Further to the above:
• Advanced players can perfect the general musicianship elements such as; use of vibrato, dynamics and phrasing, personalised fingerings, guitar and amp tone etc…
It is fair to say that many of the phrasing nuances of slides and grace notes are unavailable within open string approach for beginners. I’m hoping this resource will still be of value as a general guide or at least a time saver for more advanced players wanting to perform Geronimo.
I have made the fingerings as friendly and as playable as possible for the beginner level players. I have where possible kept to the open position with open strings used when available. This piece is melodically within the key of A minor/C major.
This means that it is predominantly the natural notes or white keys of the piano being used. This is a pretty safe place to be in comparison with other keys that have a more complex footprint (key signature) for guitar like say B Major (five #’’s, or black piano keys) which leaves us with only the B and E strings as available open notes.
I suggest that the sixteenth note figures from the B section (from bar 25) be played with down up alternate picking with the down pick always landing strictly on the down beat. (Where you feel your foot wants to tap "down")
In bar 26, if you can manage it, you can barre your first finger to get the B and E string simultaneously, both at the first fret. This will highlight the F chord in the harmony.
Contact me if you would like more about these kinds of techniques.
The form of this version of Geronimo is a nice simple Intro AA B A Outro form.
If the concept of 1st and 2nd endings is new to you, just remember, you only play the A section ending number “1” ONE TIME and you only play the A section ending number “2” on the SECOND TIME through the section. I hope this helps clear up how this works.
Although we are focused on the melodic performance of Geronimo I am including some information on the chords and progression the song. If you want more information contact me with questions or requests.
Harmonically Geronimo is a fairly standard and understandable structure that falls within our established western music theory framework. It follows the patterns of chord progression consistent with A minor and its relative key C major. The chords you would need to know are:
A min Cmaj Emaj and E7 Fmaj Gmaj and an anomaly of A major for the ending.
The A major chord which does appear in the melodic tab/score is a type of Picardy cadence or Picardy third. It is when the predicted ending minor chord of a minor key piece or section resolves to the major version of the ending chord instead of the predicted minor. Geronimo does this at the end with a reiteration of the minor major difference as an effective ending. Some may not agree it is a “Picardy moment” because of this vacillation… but there are bigger things in this world to worry about in this world…
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