Walking On The Moon (Sting)
Composer : Sting
- Matched Reciprocal
- Audio mp3
Walking On The Moon
Released in 1979 on the Police album “Reggatta de Blanc” is surely one of their biggest hits. Written by Sting, a mix of rock and reggae, it highlights the individual qualities of each member of the group. Obviously those of Sting as a bass player/vocalist/songwriter but also those of Andy Summer for his science of sound, placement and his art of bringing “open” chords in a rock context and especially for this track the drumming of Steward Copeland, whose interventions (passed in a delay) gives all the rhythmic character by filling the space.
It’s interesting to compare the versions of the 80’s tracks, with this juvenile post-punk energy, and those of the 2008 tour (almost 30 years later) which seems almost wise but where all the new arrangements show the maturity of these extraordinary musicians.
For the Stick I chose an instrumental version where I tried to transcribe the bass, the guitar and the melody. The song starts with this mythical intro. The left hand plays the bass but also some power chords (without third) to reinforce the harmony and the pulse reggae. The right hand plays the “open” chords of Andy Summer’s, these fourth chords which fall under the fingers on the Stick thanks to the specific tuning. With the contribution of the D minor triad of the left hand (bar 1) we find ourselves with a magnificent D minor 11 chord which transcribes perfectly the color of the group. Then on the end of the bass riff (bar 3) note the descent of the triad Bb then C in the right hand on the left hand power chords (fundamental chord / fifth without third)on the power chords (fundamental chord / fifth without third) of the left hand, a chord that sound like a kind of C 9sus4 (Bb on C) resolving to C very simple. With one difference: the 1st time (bar 3) the voicing goes up, the 2nd time (bar 8) the voicing goes down. These are small details but but they reflect all the subtlety of Andy Summer’s playing, a guitarist that I think is underestimated.
On the verse (letter A) the right hand takes the melody while the left hand continues the bass, while integrating the main guitar parts. Chord on the 2nd beat (bar 10) and power chord on the 2nd and 4th beats (bars 12 and 13) to reinforce the reggae side of the rhythm. Note that the melody being quite repetitive is finally never the same rhythmically. All the melodic art of Sting.
Back to the intro and second verse. Comes the chorus with a bass anacrusis in eighth notes (bar 34). I chose to play the melody with two sounds in thirds. Small subtlety measure 37: as it is delicate to play thirds in eighth notes, I chose to play the “multi-voice”. The C is played in half note with the 3rd finger on fret 13 while the E is played in eighth notes by alternating 1° and 2° finger on fret 12. This is a good approach to this technique that I use in many tunes. If at first this passage seems too difficult to you, you can of course play the single note melody/bass, it sounds very good too. The bass is at the same time reggae and rock. Put down the quarter note triplet of bar 36. Bar 38 I added an A minor where there was only a G minor. It’s my personal touch 😉
There, all the parts have been seen. The rest is just repetition. Given the modal side of the piece, you can very well develop a personal part on a solo or on the Ad Lib at the end. The left hand alone lays the rhythmic and harmonic bases of the piece; it’s up to you to play what you want by improvising with the right hand.
Walking on the Moon sounds wonderful on the Stick, thanks to the open harmony in fourth, and to the space that the piece gives off. Don’t be afraid to let the notes, the chords, play on the resonances, the space, the harmonics.
In fact, you’d think this piece was created for the Stick.