Photo by ayumi kubo | Unsplash

21 Grams

I completely lifted my right-hand technique from composer, Gustavo Santaolalla. He effectively arpeggiates chord shapes by rolling through them with his fingers. This is a beautiful way to voice chords, and pretty easy to do with a little practice.

The best way to learn Gustavo Santaolalla’s technique is with his minimalist piece, Did This Really Happen? This song is from the film, 21 Grams; a 2003 American drama film directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu (The Revenant, Babel).

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(some very easy to play pieces by Gustavo Santaolalla)

Finch: Ball Throw + TAB

The Motorcycle Diaries: Chichina + TAB

Amores Perros (guitar themes) + TAB

How to play Did This Really Happen? by Gustavo Santaolalla

Did This Really Happen? is actually an étude; a short musical composition, typically for one instrument — that can be used as an exercise to improve the technique of a player. Gustavo Santaolalla plays the verse slowly, then the chorus utilizes some pretty fast finger rolls.

Each chord is comprised of 4 notes on 4 strings. You’ll line your thumb, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd fingers with the strings and pluck in succession. After a few tries it becomes really smooth and efficient.

On the fast bits — just do your best while maintaining control. Commit yourself to playing this piece 2x per day, for 7 days. You’ll be amazed at your results by the week’s end. Good luck, the guitar tab is available below:

**Gustavo Santaolalla: Did This Really Happen? (21 Grams)

This piece is played in standard tuning.