The Choice

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Though I haven’t played The Last of Us (not a gamer) The Choice has long been one of my favorite pieces of music by composer, Gustavo Santaolalla. He truly has a knack for the “major lift” which is why, I believe, his music is so affecting and popular. Often times he’ll start with a minor or dark verse — then lift into a chorus section that is so beautiful — it almost shimmers.

In the case of The Choice, the verse is in the A minor position and the chorus lifts to A Major. Musically, that’s tough to pull off. The natural inclination is to go to the C major position. Santaolalla has stated in many interviews that he “doesn’t read or write music”. Most likely he has a functional understanding of music theory, but he’s not bound by convention when it comes to writing music.

I wanted to update my performance of The Choice (from 7 years ago) and I started playing around and riffing on Gustavo Santaolalla’s initial melody. The result became, The Choice (a variation). Far be it from me to alter or extend Santaolalla’s original work. However, this was a ton of fun and I intend to do more arrangements like this — especially with early Last of Us material. I go off the rails at about 1:27.

You might also like to play…

The Last of Us (variation) + TAB. This was my first crack at re-imagining the theme as a medley.

The Last of Us (Cycles) + TAB. Presumably this is the central theme of The Last of Us 2.

The Last of Us: All Gone (No Escape) + TAB

The Last of Us (Astray) + TAB

Gear Used

For The Choice, I used my Cordoba C7 Cedar. It’s a warm and dark sounding guitar that still retains some high end tonal qualities. You can find a current list of my gear here.

How to play The Choice (a variation) | fingerstyle guitar

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The guitar tab for this arrangement is beautifully written across 3 pages. The Choice (a variation) is played straight through. You take take care to repeat the sections within the brackets 2x. I recommend this piece for intermediate guitar players and up. The original was a great song for pure beginners, but my variation is a little tougher.

I hope you enjoy playing this as much as I did creating it. Enjoy, the guitar tab is available below:

*The Last of Us: The Choice (a variation)

The original Choice is played on a guitar bass; and unusual instrument from the 60’s that’s neither a functional guitar or bass. The tuning ended up quite low in B.

My variation is played in C. You’ll tune your guitar like this — from low to high: C F A# D# G A#. This is two full steps lower than standard tuning. I drop the 1st string an additional full step to A#.

You may not have to tune this low to play The Choice (a variation). It still sounds really good at a full step down: D G C F A C. You notice the 1st string is tuned down and additional full step.


Written by:

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