Gustavo Santaolalla: The Journey | fingerstyle guitar
Photo by Matt Paul Catalano | Unsplash

The Journey

The Journey (El Viaje) was originally written for Louis Vuitton’s Journey campaign in 2008. The video has some really class cinematography to go with Gustavo Santaolalla’s world music. This piece eventually found it’s way onto Santaolalla’s Camino album in 2014.

I think it’s one of Gustavo Santaolalla’s best. It’s up there with Iguazu, and De Ushuaia a La Quiaca. The verse has an ambiguity that allows for the listener’s imagination. It’s neither major or minor — and you to draw your own sense from it.

Gustavo Santaolalla (probably unknowingly) makes excellent use of chord suspension — which I believe is the secret to some of his film score work. The 3rd note of a chord dictates most of the tonality. It is the 3rd, or flat 3rd that makes a chord major or minor. Major progressions sound hopeful, minor progressions sound melancholic.

However removing the 3rd, makes a chord (or series of notes) sound enigmatic and ethereal. This would have great application to film — as a sound designer can edit the music easily. Of course the chorus of The Journey is clearly comprised of major arpeggios which signals hope and contentment. It’s the give and take between these two tonalities where Gustavo Santaolalla’s genius lies.

You might also like to play some other pieces by Gustavo Santaolalla…

Brokeback Mountain 1 | fingerstyle guitar + TAB

Cordon de Plata | fingerstyle guitar + TAB

Iguazu (a variation) | fingerstyle guitar + TAB

How to play The Journey | fingerstyle guitar

I originally arranged this piece back in 2014 — but I wanted to rerecord it with my much improved audio quality. The original guitar tab was exceptional — so I kept it for this updated version. The guitar tab for The Journey is beautifully written across 4 pages and played straight through. I recommend this piece for intermediate guitar players and up. Enjoy, the tab is available below:

Page 1 begins with the intro riff which I refer to as the Main riff in the guitar tab. You’ll play the Main riff, then section A — the Main riff, then section B. Page 1 is played twice.

Page 2 of the guitar tab is the bittersweet chorus. 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 or moderate pace.

-Pages 3 and 4 comprise the bridge. This is without a doubt the easiest part of The Journey and completes the song.

Gustavo Santaolalla: The Journey | fingerstyle guitar

The Journey is tuned one whole step down. The tuning is as follows from low to high: D G C F A D. You could just as easily play it standard tuning — if you don’t mind a slightly higher tonality