Lana Del Rey

Lana Del Rey’s dark, brooding take on this classic tune fit the mold of Intellimusica — yet it was unconventional enough to expand my guitar playing beyond my typical go-to moves.

If you’re a fan of the original Once Upon a Dream, you’re not likely to be fond of Lana Del Rey’s slow, minor version. Much like the Sigur Ros version of The Rains of Castamere, I was instantly compelled by the darker edge of Maleficent’s trailer song.

I was able to get into some sophisticated sounding chord shapes that are still easy enough for intermediate level guitarists to play. Many of these same chord shapes were utilized by the venerable Jeff Buckley in songs like So Real.

For instance, rather than play a minor bar chord, Jeff Buckley would stack it in the shape of an open G position (0:36 of the above video). All this while capturing dissonant open strings in the process.

In our case, the end result is a legitimate instrumental guitar piece that is both — smooth sailing for intermediate guitar players, and very doable for beginners (with roughly 6 months experience).

(Note: Once Upon a Dream is my premium content. You can check my other Lana Del Rey arrangements here. Please comment to let me know what you think, or if you have any questions. You’re email will not be used or published.)

How to play Lana Del Rey’s Once Upon a Dream for classical guitar

The tab for Once Upon a Dream is neatly split between two pages. The order of play is simple: you’ll play page 1, then page 2, then page 1 again.

Although I’m oscillating between a G major and B minor shape in the very beginning, the B minor shape does not have to be barred — as you’re only playing the middle four strings of the chord. I only mention this because, as a guitar teacher, bar chords seem to be a sticking point for beginner guitarists.

However, you will have to be agile, as in: able to move quickly and easily. I haven’t written about this for a while — but fret board agility is mostly a matter of your mentality.

From the standpoint of my student population: there are those who hesitate when faced with difficult things — and there are those who just do it. Often I’ll witness a student unnecessarily belabor a chord position. When they begin to tense up and struggle I typically say something to the effect of: relax, breathe, it’s no big deal. Gently put your fingers into position and play. It’s helpful to repeat that to yourself whenever you perceive something as difficult.

So don’t unnecessarily struggle. Adopt a can-do, yet relaxed mentality about everything with guitar. You’re only a few minutes of practice away from accomplishing your dreams.

Enjoy, the tab is available below:

Once Upon a Dream is tuned one whole step down. The tuning is as follows, from low to high: D G C F A D. 

Maleficent — Once Upon a Dream — Lana Del Rey


Written by:

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