John Stowell’s ModernChordMelody
“I Wish” is a tune I wrote a few years back.
The title is kind of funny because I was at
a friend’s preschool class, and I didn’t have
a title for the song, so I asked the kindergartners, “Does anyone have an idea for a
title?” A little blonde girl raised her hand
and said, “I Wish,” so that became the title.
I found out later that Stevie Wonder also
used the title, but that’s okay. This tune
has a lot of interesting things with some
stretches, open voicings, and it’s played
very slowly. It should be fine after you’ve
played it a couple of times.
combination with close intervals of a fretted note (major or minor 2nd). The right
hand is critical here. I use a combination
of pick and three fingers to achieve a balance between the notes in my chords, at
the same time making sure that the melody
is the prominent voice in the chord. I will
also use the flesh of my middle finger to
play some individual notes. That technique
evolved accidentally over time, and I found
myself enjoying the warmth of the sound.
The trick with using pick and fingers together is in learning to achieve the proper balance. As an exercise, try playing familiar 4-
note chords and use the pick and remaining
three fingers to get everything working.
I think chords are initially a little intimidating when you open a chord book and see
hundreds of different versions of chords
in C minor or D major on the first page.
You wonder if you’ll ever learn them. In
my experience, if you learn chords in the
context of an arrangement, it’s much easier
to keep track of those fingerings, and once
the arrangement has been played enough,
you’re going to find yourself internalizing
those sounds, and remembering those fingerings. Over time, they can be extracted
from that arrangement and used elsewhere.
Here are some details worth noting in the
melody as written: a number of chords used
here employ open strings, in some cases in
Now I’d like to talk to you about the
chords I’m using in “I Wish.” Here’s the first
change: I’m taking a very simple B minor