Gustavo Santaolalla: How to play The Journey (El viaje) for guitar

Posted on 12. Jun, 2014 by in Best of Intellimusica, Film Score, Gustavo Santaolalla, Premium Tabs

Gustavo Santaolalla

[Big news if you’re a Santaolalla fan. He has a follow up to Ronroco scheduled for release in July. I discovered this while searching for an MP3 of The Journey which will now be available on Santaolalla’s new album, Camino.]

El viaje

El viaje or The Journey is a classic Santaolalla piece, and it has long been one of my favorites.

Gustavo Santaolalla composed El viaje for the 2008 short-film, Where will life take you? The short was directed by Bruno Aveillan, as part of Louis Vuitton’s Journeys Campaign: an artistic return to the company’s core values of travel and adventure.

I have desired to play El viaje on guitar forever. The original is played on a ronroco: a tiny, Andean, guitar-like instrument that serves as Gustavo Santaolalla’s go-to choice for film scores.

Gustavo Santaolalla has a low-key instrumental album, aptly titled Ronroco from 1998. It’s a very relaxing, and ambient album to say the least. I highly recommend it for focused work, or meditation. Two of deeply spiritual songs from Ronroco, Iguazu and De Ushuaia a la Quiaca went on to spawn Santaolalla’s film-score career.

I had to wait until my aptitude for transcribing , and arranging on guitar was inline with El viaje. I remember attempting this song a couple of years ago, and I couldn’t come up with anything. Age age 37, even after 23 years of playing guitar, I’m still discovering my capacity as a guitarist.

Maybe one day I’ll finish Iguazu too. As of right now, I don’t have the right-hand finger stamina to complete it.

(Note: The Journey is my premium material. If you’re new to this blog, check out my free material to get an idea of what Intellimusica is all about.)

How to play Gustavo Santaolalla’s The Journey for guitar

-The guitar tab for The Journey is spread across four pages. Page 1 begins with the intro riff which I refer to as the Main riff in the tab.You’ll play the Main riff, then section A — the Main riff, then section B. Page 1 is played twice.

[If you can play The Last of Us, or any of the other Santaolalla songs on this blog, you’ll be in good shape for The Journey. Be sure to look for the Older Entries link at the bottom of the category page.]

-Page two of the tab is the bittersweet chorus of El viaje. None of the chord positions are difficult to play, but I’m switching between the low and high end of the neck pretty quickly. You don’t have to do that. The Journey has very loose timing, and the chorus sounds just as good played at a slow and moderate pace.

-Page 3 and 4 of the tab comprise the bridge. This is without a doubt the easiest part of The Journey.  After the bridge you’ll return to the first page of the tab and play it once thorough to close out the song.

The Journey is

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13 Responses to “Gustavo Santaolalla: How to play The Journey (El viaje) for guitar”

  1. Matt

    12. Jun, 2014

    Finally! This has been one of my fav’s from Santaolalla for a long time. Excellent job Evan!

    Reply to this comment
  2. Daniel

    12. Jun, 2014

    I don’t know whether I should thank you more for the excellent tab of this beautiful piece of music or the news that Santaolalla will release a follow up to Ronroco. Up to this day Ronroco is one of my favorite albums to draw and paint to. Its’ depth and intensity are, at least to me, absolutely outstanding.

    I love hearing about artists I admire putting out new music that I can’t wait to listen to. Desplat’s “Godzilla” was such a case to me. Off topic I know, but in my opinion it’s one of the best scores of this year so far.

    Thinking of much anticipated albums I’m really looking forward to John Powell’s “How to Train Your Dragon 2”. I would really love to hear you work on some of Powell’s material. His style, instrumentation and melodies are so unique, it might be quite interesting to transport it to a single instrument.

    Anyway, I haven’t had the time yet to play El Viaje – just like I haven’t had time to play most of your latest tabs properly – but I’m so happy you took the risk to work on this …

    I know we both think that this is one of Santaolalla’s greatest pieces and I can imagine it being quite hard trying to work on something you love because it makes it very hard to succeed and very easy to fail as a consequence. In my opinion, you succeeded. It’s not supposed to be the original song or the sound of the original but your own interpretation and I definitely feel some Evanesque touch to it. Haha!

    Anyway, I didn’t have any time to comment or basically do anything but work on my short animated film “Des Plumes dans la Valise” lately. This project got so much more complex and time consuming than I thought it would be but I hope it’ll be worth it. It’ll have to be done by the end of June and once it is I’ll be putting it out there. So until then, take this as an excuse for my lack of feedback ^^.

    Thanks for your constant high quality work Evan!

    Reply to this comment
    • Evan Handyside

      13. Jun, 2014

      Thanks Daniel, I could hardly contain my excitement when I discovered (by accident) that Camino was being released. Santaolalla needs an official website (other than mine haha!) to deliver his news and goings-on in a central location. I think it’s just his Facebook page for now. Yes, playing The Journey on guitar was never exactly going to emulate a muli-track ronroco song, but I got pretty close.

      I do appreciate your long comments when you have time to chime in. I enjoy reading them and your writing has gotten way better of the years! I typically go through and edit as I read your comment. I break up the long text and put into shortened paragraphs. That’s helpful if someone else is reading your comment.

      Also, going of topic is great. Let me know when your project is done and I’ll link to it!


      Reply to this comment
  3. ed

    15. Jun, 2014

    Hi Evan , I didnt know where else to ask you , but could you check out ” Carol of Bells’ and maybe make an arrangement for that song? However it does seem better doing it , when it’s Christmas :/

    Reply to this comment
  4. Chris

    20. Jun, 2014

    Hey Evan,

    slightly off-topic in regards to the song here, but I’ve been looking into buying my first nylon string guitar (having played electric/steel string for the fast few years) and was wondering if you’d recommend the Dolce- which fits well into my budget. After testing a few classical’s my biggest issues have been the inaccessible action for chord shapes past the tenth fret, lack of fret dots and and far wider neck than I’m used to.

    Would these be less prevalent in the Dolce or are they just something I’ll have to adapt to?

    Many thanks, Chris

    P.S. ‘The Journey’ may have just inspired me to make the transition at last!

    Reply to this comment
    • Evan Handyside

      21. Jun, 2014

      Hi Chris,

      Thanks for asking, I love gear talk!

      The Dolce is a small, comfortable guitar all the way around. It has dots on the 5th, 7th, and 9th frets — pretty easy to read. All Cordoba guitars (along with Yamaha’s, Alvarez, etc) have a truss rod in the neck so the string action can be set low or high. I recommend your guitar store doing the adjustment, or watching a YouTube video and taking care. All you need is an allen wrench and about 5 seconds. Only a small tweak of the truss rod will do the trick.

      There are also electric, cutaway Yamaha and Alvarez nylon-string guitars priced around the Cordoba Dolce. Those guitars tend to have low action, thin necks, and truss rods. Very versatile and easy to play. A cutaway is handy if you’re playing something high up on the fret board like The Last of Us.

      The guitars that you tested may have been right out of the box and put on the floor of your guitar store. That’s very common, and a guitar should be “set up” and adjusted before it’s given to a customer.

      But, to answer your question, yes — less prevalent with the Dolce, and you wont have to adapt. The Dolce is also a really cool little guitar + it comes with a substantial gig bag at no extra charge.

      Here’s a piece of the Journey on my Dolce!

      Reply to this comment
  5. Chris

    22. Jun, 2014

    I just checked with my local store and they dont have the Dolce in stock unfortunately. I’ve found the amazon link you’ve left here for the guitar however, so that could be a plan.

    Nice playing btw, I love Santaolalla’s style- its a shame It doesn’t translate too well onto steel string :\ Anyway, thanks a lot for the Info Evan- once I’ve mastered Healing Katniss I’ll definitely consider making the purchase!


    Reply to this comment
  6. Chriis

    11. Jul, 2014

    I love being introduced to new music, LOVE LOVE LOVE it! Thanks so much, you lleovy chickadee.Yay, this is just the music therapy I needed. ~xoP.S. I appreciate your post script, too. I’m all about supporting the musicians, and will do so.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Chris

    17. Jul, 2014

    Dolce arrived. Resubscribed to your premium content. Life is good :D


    Reply to this comment
  8. Brandon

    22. Aug, 2014

    Hey Evan,

    Just wanted to thank you for this insanely fun to play tab. I’m playing on a vintage 22 year old guitar that’s a lot like the one you play in the video and it sounds AMAZING. This is definitely going to be my go-to song for showing off my guitar haha.

    Reply to this comment

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