The forerunners of today’s alternative scene, Ireland’s U2 provided an early glimpse of the alternative approach in the 80s with their unique brand of textural colorist/minimalist rock. Sunday Bloody Sunday, a classic track from the classic 1983 U2 album, War, ranks high as one of the finest cuts the band has ever recorded. A veritable showcase for the sonic imagery of The Edge (guitarist Dave Evans), it teems with anti-traditional elements: guitar sound effects and vivid musical colors which paint mental pictures in the listener’s ear. A masterpiece of textural rock Sunday Bloody Sunday is an important piece in rock history that unerringly points to the developments of the 90s.
Tune all six strings down one half step.
The familiar main riff, Riff A, which runs through the intro, verses and choruses, is an emblematic Edge chord figure made of simple three-note voicings on the top three strings. The three-chord progression of Bm-D-G6 [Fig. 1] involves two common triads and one uncommon triad, G6, revealing The Edge’s penchant for pan-diatonic sounds in his rhythm parts. Note that all three voicings share the D common tone (2nd string-3rd fret) as a thread of melodic continuity in the riff. Two fingerings are advisable for this progression. Both are offered to help make the changes flow smoothly and sound connected. Your choice. The verses also make use of Rhy. Fig. 1, a thicker, contrasting chordal part made of B5 and D5 movable power chords and a G barre chord.
The Edge is a master of devising simple but memorable open-harmonic figures which function as distinct hooks in U2’s songs. Sunday Bloody Sunday is just such a case. These open harmonics are played over the 5th and 7th frets [Fig. 2] and allowed to ring for a chiming effect. Lightly touch the string over the fret without pressing down and making contact with the fingerboard as in normal fretting. The open harmonics over the 7th fret create overtones one octave above the fretted pitch while the harmonics over the 5th fret generate overtones an octave and a fifth above the fretted pitch. The open harmonics in the first ending are shaken lightly with the vibrato bar.
The composed solo makes use of drones, both texturally and thematically. The Edge plays two strings at a time-one is actually fretted to produce a simple, sparse melody while the second is an open string which sounds with the melody notes as the droning tone. This drone melody is arranged in two-string sets [Fig. 3]. The first solo phrase in bars 1-4 uses the open B string with fretted notes on the high E, and the open G string with fretted notes on the B as the two string sets. The second half of the solo is played entirely on the top two strings. The fretted notes are played on the B string while the high E is the open string drone [Fig. 4].
It’s a part of U2 Sunday Bloody Sunday guitar lesson.
Below you can download PDF guitar tabs and sheet music of
Sunday Bloody Sunday with backing track
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