This song was suggested to me from a friend, and I think it’s a perfect fit for this blog. I’ve been a Mark Knopfler fan for as long as I can remember.  He is truly one of the greatest living singer/songwriter/guitar players of all time.

The heaviest guitar riff from the 80’s was Money For Nothing (Mark Knopfler & Dire Straits). Even as a little kid –before I even conceived of playing actual guitar –that song made me involuntarily start air guitaring. 1:36 of this video.

Funny story about the lyrics too. I believe Mark Knopfler was sitting in a waiting room of Geffen Records. An MTV music video was playing on a television mounted to the wall, while two guys were installing a refrigerator off to the side. Knopfler wrote down what the two gentlemen were saying and commiserating about: “Now look at them yo-yo’s. That’s the way you do it. You play the guitar on the MTV. That ain’t workin’. That’s the way you do it; money for nothin’ and your chicks for free.

Mark Knopfler is a world class guitar player who has developed his own fingerstyle shorthand. Here’s a video where he explains his guitar style and sound. In the video, he plays mind blowing licks as an afterthought. You can see his eyes go into a trance like gaze everytime his starts playing his guitar.

Altamira (Mark Knopfler & Evelyn Glennie) is the title track from, Finding Altamira: a 2016 film about a Spanish archaeologist (Antonio Banderas) and his daughter (Allegra Allen) who cause worldwide controversy in 1879 when they discover cave paintings that are 10,000 years old. Here’s a short video where Mark Knopfler explains the music in the film.

You might also like to play…

Fingerstyle Blues in E + TAB

Spanish Guitar Improvisation + TAB

Tom Petty: Don’t Come Around Here No More (fingerstyle guitar) + TAB

…or anything from this archive.

Gear Used

For Altamira, I used my Taylor GS Mini Mahogany. It’s a great sounding little guitar. In effect, it’s basically a parlor guitar. You can find a current list of my gear here.

How to play Altamira by Mark Knopfler and Evelyn Glennie

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Altamira is minimalist but it does contain some rhythm instrumentation. Essentially Knopfler is playing a solo line for most of the piece. However, to make it sound good as a single lone guitar piece, I had to incorporate some of the backing chords into the lead melody.

I would characterize Altamira as relatively difficult. It’s best for intermediate to advanced guitar players.

The guitar tab is beautifully written across only two pages, and played straight through. You’ll take care to repeat the sections with in the repeat brackets. For the latter, you follow the arrow on the second go-around — which takes you to the ending.

Enjoy, the guitar tab is available below:

Altamira is played in a Drop-D tuning. Your guitar will be tuned like this (from low to high): D A D G B E

Finding Altamira: theme for guitar (Mark Knopfler & Evelyn Glennie)


Written by:

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