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Adding Guitar to Anti-Hero by Taylor Swift on the Spot

Ayla Tesler-Mabe  /  Lessons / Dec 23

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In this video, Ayla Tesler-Mabe takes on the challenge to learn and perform a mystery song on the guitar. Prior to making this video, Ayla had no idea which song the Guitareo team had chosen for her. The secret song in question is Taylor Swift’s “Anti-Hero,” and Ayla has to figure out the chords and structure of the song; add her own guitar parts; and finally, perform the song front to back.

As Ayla listens to the song, there are a few things that stand out to her: the A major, E major, B major, C# minor chord progression, the strong drum machine presence, the excellent production work of Jack Antonoff, and the oscillating synth that carries the chords. These elements are important to take into consideration when it’s time to add some new guitar parts to the mix.

The objective of Ayla’s guitar playing here is to add to the overall production without overshadowing any of the existing instrumentation or vocals, which can pose quite a challenge for even the most experienced musicians. For this song, Ayla chooses to highlight the rhythm set out by the drum machine and add some fills in between the chord changes. Much like Jimi Hendrix would, she mostly uses the corresponding pentatonic scale for each chord as a basis for these fills.

The goal of this video was to give you some insight into how an advanced guitar player would approach learning and playing a new song. There is no right or wrong way to go about a task like this, and every player has a slightly different approach that can produce a totally different outcome – it’s what makes a guitarist unique! 

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