Here is another favourite song of mine that I love to teach to beginners – ‘Candy’ by Paolo Nutini. The song features a very interesting strumming pattern that can be really simplified for our purpose here, as well as an array of the most common chords that every beginner guitarist should know – Am, Em, C, G and D.
This song was suggested to me some years ago by one of my private guitar students, and it quickly became one of my favourites tunes to teach to my beginner guitarists.
Paolo Nutini is a Scottish born artist with some Italian roots. His father is of Italian descent, and he hoped that Paolo would follow his steps into the family fish and chips business … well, luckily, he didn’t! Instead, he chose the life of a roadie which he did for a few years and then later decided to form his own band. According to Wikipedia ‘Candy’ is one of Nutini’s highest-charting singles in Scotland – https://en.wikipedia…
What I like about the song is the vibe it creates. Its ‘simple’ harmonic structure combined with Paolo’s great voice is what creates a really memorable song. (I put simple into quotation marks (”) because it can be so easy to misinterpret ‘simple’ for simplistic). By simple, in this case, I mean great, as it takes a true master of craft to create a great song that looks simple on the surface but gives you that spark and excitement when you listen and play it.
The chord structure is perfect for the beginner guitarist for a few reasons. Firstly, the layout of Paolo Nutini’s ‘Candy’ makes it a great practice song for, not only the A minor and E minor chords but the trouble maker G and D transition. It is one of the ‘practice songs’ I like to teach to students as it really targets those two G and D chords later followed by C and G in the outro part of the song. Secondly, the chord structure sounds very melodic and pleasant and it is very fulfilling for a beginner guitarist to play.
Please pay attention to the way that you finger and approach the chords A minor and E minor. A lot of guitarists like to target E minor with fingers two and three (especially whilst transitioning from the A minor chord). There is nothing wrong with that, but in this particular song, it may create some bigger issues. Since the very next chord G, requires fingers one and two on the low E and A strings, you will end up with an uncomfortable switch. I would suggest sticking to the fingerings of the chords from the chart below as this will give you the most optimised approach.
Spend some time working on the chords in isolation. At this stage, don’t worry too much about the full strumming pattern and simply strum each chord once to give your ears a musical reference.
If you are not so good with the names of the chords and you are struggling to remember them, you can use this stage of learning to improve in this area. Simply strum each chord and say the name of the chord out loud, that way, you will really link the sound and the name of the shape in your memory, and very soon you’ll master it.
The strumming pattern is a fun part of this song. On the surface, it may look very complex, but there are ways to simplify it, and it will still sound great!
The strumming pattern that I used commonly with my beginner students is down – down – up. What I mean by that is that you strum down on beats one and two, then strum up in-between beats two and free. I know it may look confusing, but please watch the video for the full explanation. This concept is also explained in detail in my online guitar lessons available to subscribers.
OK, that’s enough of this introduction, let’s watch the video and let me know below how you like ‘Candy’ by Paolo Nutini? What is your favourite strumming pattern for this song?
Darius | Guitar Couch Lessons