Harry Styles: Sign of the Times | fingerstyle guitar
Photo by Jon Tyson | Unsplash

Sign of the Times

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Harry Styles’ moonshot is much like Robbie Williams’ ascension in the early 2000’s: former British “boy-band” member goes solo, combining songwriting chops with sensational stage presence and charisma. The American version of this story would be Justin Timberlake.

Songwriting craftsmanship is deep in the DNA of the UK music. While every country can claim their genius musicians — the UK (historically and currently) still has the edge on the best rock/pop music. Harry Styles’ 2017 album has some of the best songwriting in contemporary pop.

In America, pop music (including pop country) has been devolving into formulaic progression of 4 chords. It’s a dumbed down mess, both musically and lyrically. Thankfully our blues, folk, and indie artists are some of the best in the world.

Harry Styles’ newest record, Finish Line, is still the best in current pop music — but there’s a handful of songs like Watermelon Sugar and Adore You that seem clearly designed to capture the US market. Which they did, BIG time. However, he crushed the 4 chord template, and Watermelon Sugar is a delightful earworm.

I’m also impressed with Styles’ acting performance in Dunkirk, and his comedic chops on Saturday Night Live. It seems that second coming of Justin Timberlake is actually upon us.

Sign of the Times is one of my favorite songs. It’s such an overt British anthem. It could easily be a Robbie Williams or Liam Gallagher tune. It worked out quite easily as an instrumental for acoustic guitar.

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Gear used

For this piece, I used my Cordoba C7 Cedar. You can find a current list of my gear here.

How to play Sign of the Times | fingerstyle guitar

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The guitar tab for Sign of the Times is beautifully written across 3 pages. I’m essentially playing one long passage, twice. You’ll play pages 1 and 2 straight through, two times. Page 3 is really just the ending riff.

I recommend this piece for intermediate guitar players and up. As always, I try to be as minimal as possible in my arrangements — so beginners can give it a shot too. Enjoy, the guitar tab is available below:

Harry Styles: Sign of the Times | fingerstyle guitar

I’m tuned down a whole step for this arrangement: D G C F A D. You could just as easily play it in standard tuning as well.

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