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New Song: Roller Coaster with Guitar Notation, Tab and Lyrics

Play the song:

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For the score of the guitar part and the lyrics, please see below.

Cannabalising a nursery-rhyme is cheap trick but in this case it serves me well. In each verse a stolen line gives me a fine platform from which to plunge into…

In brief, this is a song about (…) and the alienation it causes and the need to conceal it and put a brave face on it in public – especially with work colleagues and even with close friends. The use of fairground imagery and the nursery-rhyme lines gives a sense of grotesque burlesque, I hope; a sense of the absurdity of acting in the external world in a way that is so remote from what goes on in the internal one.

The fact that the song is about (…) might surprise some since the guitar part is in a bright Major key and sounds pretty upbeat except during a couple of interludes. (Actually, if I mute the vocal in the studio the guitar part sounds for all the world like a cheery guitar ditty… oh, well.)

As with most of my songs, the guitar part and the tune came first within which was embedded the words. This song is hard to play and I haven’t played it since I recorded it; consequently I don’t perform it. Yet. What do you think? Should I take it out and about? Will it behave in public?

Download the tab & notation: Roller Coaster Guitar Part (429)

Roller Coaster

One, two, buckle my shoe
I live in a coloured caravan
What colour would you like it to be today?
Climb on board and I will change it if I can

Blood of mother, blood of father
Flows through these varicose veins
Add an eye of newt and a fat rat’s tail
And a bottle and a half of cheap champagne

Three, four, knock on my door
Step into the amusement arcade
I am a bundle of fun I am a barrel of laughs!
This joker here sharper than a razor blade

Drunk or sober sorrow steps over
And sits on the very next stool
And says “Gravity now is the most profound
It’s in the deepest sky it’s on the highest ground”

Five, six, pick up sticks
Listen to the rattle of the drum
The band is playing just for you
Don’t turn away please come

Seven, eight, don’t be late
The roller coaster’s ready to begin
Close your eyes now; hold on tight
Who knows where goes this flight tonight

She said “If you were a man you’d take you coloured caravan
And get rid of that melancholy hue
Paint it purple and pink instead of black and blue”
She said “If I were you that’s what I would do”

Nine, ten, big fat hen
Waiting for a cockle-doodle-do
I get dizzy spells, I get most unwell
But I’d still rather be me than you

© 2014 Dave Keir

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(Original) Guitar Notation and Tabs


I have had a fun weekend with my favourite notation program writing out the guitar parts for some songs. I have been meaning to get down to this for some time and I’ve been postponing it “until tomorrow” for weeks. But I’ve been afforded some kick-back time while recuperation from a rather savage attack of ‘flu. Also, If I’m going to maintain my policy of offering these scores as freebies when I post MP3s of new songs, then it has to be done.

Curiously, it can be quite illuminating writing your stuff down because often you see little some of the devices you use when making stuff up more clearly on paper (or on a screen). Things like rhythmical figures or melodic turns that pop up again and again, for example. I can also see occurrences of awkward fingering and solutions can often present themselves. This latter is a real bonus; particularly if I haven’t yet ingrained the fingerings through practice for gigs or recording. If I have, then it’s a bit of a double-edged sword…

A less edifying experience is the score playback quality within the program. I’ve tried grand pianos, wind ensembles, virtual guitars and whistles which the program offers, but none of them adds to the vibe of the guitar part. Certainly, It can be arresting to hear your ragtime inflected guitar break rendered by a bank of basoons but it’s of nearly no help at all when trying to finesse the notation of a curiously syncopated phrase in your playing. One time the program thought some cavernous church organ sound was ideal for one of my slow but highly chromatic efforts and the result was so creepy I had to turn the studio lights up bright. Another time a Breton bagpipe (according to the program’s menu) belted unbid (by me) from the the studio monitors. But the worst to date was the calamity which happened within my headphones involving a jazz influenced tune – of which I’m very proud – and something listed on the programs’ menu of sounds as “orchestral stabs”. In fact, if I didn’t need to check my notation for stupid errors, I’d leave playback well alone.

On the other hand, the program is outstanding in its way with guitar tablature. All it takes is drag-and-drop from the standard notation staff onto the tab staff and voila! A wee bit of editing will always be needed since a note can be played on various strings and often the clever program is not quite clever enough – but nevertheless it is a huge labour saver. When it’s all done, there is a little feeling of satisfaction when I print off a score. There’s something fine about a piece of written music. It’s a tangible thing and has an aesthetic beauty of its own.

But the biggest advantages remain the improvements to guitar parts that suggest themselves in the course of simply writing them down.