Kansas, an adventurous and multifaceted progressive rock band of the 1970’s, enjoyed an impressive array of hit songs, including the ambitious and artistic opus “Carry On, Wayward Son.” Dust in the Wind, a Top 10 single from 1977’s Point of Know Return album, is one of their most popular and enduring tunes. It reveals the softer side of Kansas with layered steel-string acoustic guitars, light percussion, and violin, producing a gorgeous tapestry of sound.
Gtr. 2 is in “Nashville Tuning.” Replace the 3rd-6th strings of your acoustic (or electric) guitar with lighter gauge strings tuned one octave above standard pitch. This is the equivalent of using the octave-above strings of a 12-string set on the 3rd-6th. Recommended gauges would be .010 for G, .014 for D, .024 for A, and .028 for the low E. Nashville Tuning has been used by guitarists as diverse as Keith Richards, David Gilmour, and Joe Satriani, among many others. A Nashville-tuned guitar works beautifully as an alternate and complementary orchestral guitar color – especially when added to a standard-tuned guitar part, as is the case in Dust in the Wind.
Dust in the Wind features an animated, folk/country fingerpicked figure in a style known as “Travis Picking” (named after the great country player Merle Travis). As an aid to mastering the basic pattern, begin by isolating the plucking articulation of picking hand first. Play this pattern on the open 5th, 4th, 3rd and 2nd strings only, concentrating on the interaction between thumb and fingers [Fig.l]. In the example, the classical fingerpicking nomenclature is used (p=thumb, i=index and m=middle). After you’ve gotten the pattern to flow smoothly and confidently, apply it to a C major chord (first chord of Rhy. Fig. 1) and apply the same articulation. Finally, apply the articulation to the open-chord progression of Rhy. Fig. 1. The chords and progression in the intro, verses and choruses all use this Travis-picked pattern or a close variation of the pattern [Fig.l].
The violin solo acts as an instrumental bridge in the song. Behind the violin solo, the guitars play an unusual three-chord progression involving simple two-note shapes over an open A pedal (5th string). This characteristic progression is yet another twist on the age-old Aeolian-mode harmonic pattern of Am-G-F (“Stairway to Heaven,” “All Along the Watchtower” et al) – which is one of the frequently exploited chord sequences in rock. Note that the open B string is played throughout the changes and creates a colorful addition to the progression, adding some intriguing dissonance in the Am and F(#ll) voicings [Fig. 2]. The finger-picking pattern is identical with the articulations established in the intro of the song [Fig. 2].
The outro provides an atmospheric closure to the song. In this section, a new fingerpicking pattern is introduced. Again follow the steps presented earlier to master the articulation-isolate and practice the picking pattern, then add the chords. The three recurring chords. Am, Asus2 and Asus4bl3, are all based on the open A minor form with additions or subtractions [Fig. 3], and are most easily seen as extensions of that basic shape.
It’s a part of Kansas Dust In The Wind guitar lesson.
Below you can download PDF guitar tabs and sheet music of
Dust In The Wind with backing track
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