‘Somewhere Home’ – a Celtic fingerstyle ballad from Mike Dawes
It’s a pleasure to be back with a brand new transcription for you this month. By request, I’ll be taking you through the dots to my song ‘Somewhere Home’.
This piece is a little different; it’s a Celtic fingerstyle ballad with a fun jig section in the middle. It’s a very powerful song to perform and a lot of fun to play. It’s track five on my What Just Happened? album. Thanks to Mark Grover for getting the tablature off the ground.
The song was written around the time I moved over to Bath and was subsequently exposed to a lot of traditional music. It’s based around repetitions and variations of a few key themes. In this issue, we’ll be breaking the back of the main theme. We are in DADGAD tuning with a capo on fret two.
For the most part, the song is in 6/8 time with a very free time feel. Do keep this in mind when performing it. It should be very loose and ocean-like (think waves); dynamic and smooth.
These first 10 bars, plus lead in, introduce the feel of the song through melody and harmony. You can instantly hear the Celtic vibe. Be sure to arpeggiate the chords gently with individual fingers, rather than strumming with the thumb where possible. Keep it as smooth as you can, with the notes ringing out like a sustained piano. Fill the space! Tempo is around 80bpm here and we are in the key of E.
In these bars, the theme continues to build using a traditional fingerstyle technique. The dynamic should be building at a subtle rate up to the transition to a more clear 6/8 time (as marked) where the playing becomes a little less free. Be sure to use your pinky for those harmonics in the third bar here. It helps to keep things fluid. Do also be aware of the subtle tempo increase!
This last example will take us all the way through to the conclusion of the first cycle of the main theme. We start by using our third finger to hit the seventh fret natural harmonics as the bass line moves upward. The eagle-eyed among you may recognise the E major scale in the second bar as the finger warm-up shape from a column I did a few years back. Remember to hit that seventh fret note with the pinky to help keep the arpeggio smooth.
As this example progresses, there are numerous shifts in tempo. This is to try and match the studio recording’s free time feel. Please do use the album audio as reference where possible.
Finally, as we duck and dive our way up the scale, we calmly drift back down to finish with a nice harmonic rake. This resolves the madness of the previous few bars and ties it all together. I’ve even left in the leading notes to the next column, just to be a tease.Good luck, and enjoy ‘Somewhere Home’.
Download the tablature: Acoustic Mag Somewhere Home 1