Coldplay, Altas for Classical GuitarI just returned home from a short vacation — where I intentionally didn’t bring a guitar or a computer. In the 48 hours since returning, I raced to get Coldplay’s new single, Atlas (for the upcoming Hunger Games: Catching Fire soundtrack) arranged for classical guitar ASAP —  a week after Atlas’s release.

The only unfortunate element of my blog is that I occupy a netherworld between evergreen material and timely material. Evergreen material is timeless.  You can post it and let it gestate. Most of the songs I transcribe/arrange for this blog fit that bill.

However, my evergreen material must be delivered in a timely manner — otherwise search engines will bury me under everything from: vocal performances of Atlas, to generic, user-generated tabs sites. This is nerve-racking as I believe wholeheartedly, that I put forth the best sounding, best looking, and most usable tabs in my niche.

Knowing this dynamic, I developed a specific set of principles to generate timely guitar arrangements:


I listened to Atlas quite a few times on the ride home from my vacation — as much as my wife could stand. Relentless listening, as I’ve mentioned before, is an underrated form of practice.

It’s easy to identify that Atlas has a simple structure: intro,  long melodic verse,  chorus,  long melodic verse,  double chorus,  end.  I then minimized the structure even further to: long melodic verse, and chorus.  These are the two parts that really matter.

I’m not overly concerned with intros and endings — so long as the core of the song works on my guitar.


The verse of Coldplay’s Atlas, had a similar chord feel to certain Radiohead and Thom Yorke songs.  Having learned a bunch of Radiohead’s material (and not just the arrangements on this blog), I began to conceptualize a Radiohead-esque chord scheme for Atlas.  How would Thom Yorke play this on guitar, had he wrote Atlas and not Chris Martin…


After I tested and confirmed my scheme for Atlas. I avoid analysis paralysis by taking pen to paper and moving forward with a first draft.  Also, once I’ve decided to arrange a particular song for this blog — I work on only that song and post until it’s done.

I never work on multiple songs, opting instead to bring my full attention to Atlas, or whatever I happen to be working on. Once the course is set, I do not deviate until I hit the publish button on my blog.


Once I have a first draft, I eliminate any and all unnecessary complexity. I’m on a time table, so I made this arrangement of Atlas as easy for me to play as possible. This is to our mutual benefit. I get the post up quickly, and you get the easiest possible rendition of Atlas for classical guitar.


(Note: Atlas is my premium content.)

How to Play Coldplay’s Atlas for Classical Guitar

Honestly, Coldplay lost me after X & Y — which I believe to be their last great album before the wheels came off with crazy outfits, and colored ribbons. However, in my opinion, Atlas is a total return to form.

Much like the brooding verses and lifted choruses of Rush of Blood to the Head, Atlas is a very thoughtful piece of music.

If you have ever played Blackbird (The Beatles) you can play Atlas for classical guitar.  The chord motif is similar between the two songs.  Although there are no difficult chord positions, and my tab is simple and easy to read, I can’t qualify Atlas as easy to play because of it’s length and duration.

However, Atlas is very easy to comprehend due to the simple structure of the song.

Enjoy, this was very fun to play. The tab is available below:

Atlas is tuned to 1/2 step down and Drop D — where your low E string is tuned down to the tone of your D string. The tuning is as follows from low to high: C# G# C# F# A# D#.  Depending on your tuner, it might look like this, from low to high: C# Ab C# F# Bb Eb.

Coldplay — Atlas (Tab)

Written by:

Matthew's dad, Jennifer's husband, bass player - New Invisible Joy, YouTuber, short-film composer, creator of modern content for guitar.