December 2017

Petty Chords

All you need to play Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin'” is right here.

Click on the thumbnail images below to access “Free Fallin’” accompaniment charts for standard Modern Band ensemble instruments (guitar, keyboard, bass, drums). Scroll down to see a video of Petty performing the song with his band the Heartbreakers during Super Bowl XLII in 2008.


A few notes about the symbols and terms here:  1) The guitar, bass, and keyboard charts all include thick, straight lines that denote the starts and ends of measures. In between these lines are smaller diagonal lines that stand for beats. There are four beats to each measure, meaning that the song is in 4/4 time. 2) The guitar chord diagrams show how the chords should look on the fretboard. Their positions on the neck are indicated by the numbers to the left of the diagrams, which tell you what the lowest fret is. The numbers inside the black dots indicate which fingers of your fretting hand to use on which notes. 3) The Xs above the bass diagrams represent strings that shouldn’t be played. 4) The chord diagrams in the main section of the keyboard chart show that chords can be formed a few different ways by changing the order of their notes. A fancier word for this is inversion, which you may notice in parentheses next to the B-flat chord, which is played with the root note (B-flat) as the middle note. It’s still the same chord as it would be if you played the root note as the lowest note, but changing the note order brings out interesting new characteristics. 5) At the bottom of the keyboard chart, the Iconic Notation and Standard Notation sections both show how to approach the rhythms of the chordal accompaniment, also known as “comping.”  In the iconic section, the left hand (black) plays root notes at the same time as the right hand (light gray) plays full chords.

If you still have questions about what’s in these charts, ask your teacher.