If you want to learn how to play “Sunshine Of Your Love,” by Cream, this is a great place to get started.
This time we are taking a look at the song “Sunshine Of Your Love,” by Cream. This song was released in 1967 and was written by the bass player Jack Bruce after seeing a Jimi Hendrix concert and there were later contributions by Eric Clapton and Pete Brown. This song features a noticeable distortion on the bass, more likely to have been created by having pushed his Marshall amp too hard rather than by using a Fuzz pedal, though several types were available.
This song is a fun and fairly easy one to play, without a lot of changes to remember. There is a Verse and a Chorus that get altered a little, but that is pretty much all there is too it. This is a great song for beginners.
Key and Scale
The key of this song is somewhat hard to nail down. Technically the song is in the key of D Major but it sounds as though the Bass Guitar is being played in D Minor, specifically the key of D Minor Dorian. During the guitar Solo, the notes in the solo seem to come from the D Minor Blues scale, which can be derived from the D Minor Dorian scale. This is because it is very common in Blues music to play in a Minor key over Major chords.
D Major = D E F# G A B C#
D Minor Dorian = D E F G A B C
D Minor Blues = D F G G# A C
The Intro is an eight bar section of music that we will break up into two parts for easier inspection.
Intro, Pt. 1
The first four bars is a two bar section that repeats 1 time. It features the famous Bass line doubled by the Guitar. Let’s take a look at that now. (Fig 1)
Figure – 1
You can see how this Riff fits perfectly into the D Minor Blues scale.
Intro, Pt 2
For the second 4 bars of the Intro, the guitar begins to play some Major chords while the Bass Guitar drops down an Octave for the first two beats. Clapton changes the last two and a half beats of the second measure a little. Let’s take a look at it now. (Fig 2)
Figure – 2
Let’s take another look at those chords. (Fig 3)
Figure – 3
We can see with the help of these chord boxes that we are playing a D Major chord followed by a C Major chord which is followed by another D Major chord. This is the basic idea that we will follow for most of the song.
The Verse is a 16 bar section of music that we will break into three parts, so it will be easier to digest.
Verse, Part 1
The first eight bars of the Verse is the same two bar section as Pt 2 of the Intro, played four times. (Fig 4)
Figure – 4
Verse, Part 2
The second part of the Verse brings a change in the chords for four bars. It is a very similar two bar phrase that gets repeated but uses different chords. This is what it looks like. (Fig 5)
Figure – 5
Here is another look at those chords. (Fig 6)
Figure – 6
This time we are introduced to a G5, followed by an F5, followed by another G5. The rest of the section is very similar to the Intro Pt 1, but moved up one string, to start on the D string.
Verse, Part 3
The 3rd part of the Verse is just four more bars of Verse, Pt 1 (Fig 7 twice)
Figure – 7
The Chorus is an eight bar section of music that we will also split into two parts.
Chorus, Part 1
The first six bars is actually a two bar section that is played three times and it looks like this. (Fig 8)
Figure – 8
Here is another look at those chords. (Fig 9)
Figure – 9
Here, we are introduced to the A5, C5, and G5 5th chords, or “Power Chords.” The silence between the notes is almost as important as the notes themselves in this section of music.
Chorus, Part 2
The second part of the chorus is a two bar section of music with only one chord that looks like this. (Fig 10)
Figure – 10
Let’s take a look at the chord (Fig 11)
Figure – 11
We can see that it is simply an A5 chord that is strummed. This two bar section acts as the turnaround that brings us back to the beginning of the Verse.
Clapton plays the Guitar Solo after the second Chorus and he plays it over the whole next Verse and Chorus. Clapton uses his trademark “Woman Tone” for the solo, which he gets by turning the tone all the way down on the neck pickup (there is much debate about how to best get this tone). He gets his notes mostly from the D Minor Dorian mode and alternates between the 7th, 10th, and 12th positions. (Fig 12)
Figure – 12
Song Form and Overview
Once we have all of these parts learned, it’s time to put them together and play the song.
A = Intro Pt. 1 (Fig 1)
B = Intro Pt. 2/Verse Pt. 1/verse Pt. 3 (Fig 2)
C = Verse Pt. 2 (Fig 5)
D = Chorus Pt. 1 (Fig 8)
E = Chorus Pt. 2 (Fig 10)
Sunshine of Your Love
Intro = A A B B
Verse 1 = B B B B C C B B
Chorus 1 = D D D E
Verse 2 = B B B B B C C B B
Chorus 2 = D D D E
Solo = B B B B C C B B D D D E
Verse 3 = B B B B B B C C B B
Chorus 3 = D D D D D E E
This should get you started. Good Luck!