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Legally Blonde The Musical – Detailed Notes on the Guitar Book

In this article I take a deep dive into the Guitar book for Legally Blonde The Musical.  I provide some general observations on playing the book, take a look at how it was put together and outline my approach to playing the book as a whole, before going into a detailed song-by-song commentary.

In the detailed commentary, I describe my approach to playing each number and the different electric guitar tones I used, providing tips on technique and identifying any errors I found in the book.  This section of the article will be most useful to readers who have a copy of the book to refer to and is intended to help players preparing to perform the show.

For my thoughts on the show, my experience playing it, a detailed rundown of my rig and further detail on guitar sounds I used for the show, see my companion article, Playing Legally Blonde The Musical – Guitar.

GENERAL OBSERVATIONS ON THE GUITAR BOOK
The Legally Blonde Guitar book is long, complex and detailed.  It’s difficult enough to be challenging material for most players and is too complex to sight read accurately; you do have to spend some time becoming familiar with the material to do it justice in a performance setting.  I was less than satisfied with my first two runs at the book, in 2014 and 2016, so when the opportunity came to play back-to-back productions in 2018 I spent several weeks honing my playing before going into rehearsal.  By the end of the process I felt that I finally had the measure of the book.

Like all Laurence O’Keefe scores, the material is sophisticated and key changes abound, so you often end up playing in keys that are less than ideal for the guitar.  To add to the complexity, many songs have been transposed down half a step from their original key in whole or in part (singers in London clearly can’t reach the same high notes that Broadway singers can!).  With so many key changes, a capo doesn’t help you.  You just have to know your fretboard well.

The book is well assembled and has no impossible page turns, although a few are pretty quick.  Nevertheless it sometimes feels a little “schizophrenic” and confused, with odd and occasionally gratuitous instrument changes.  I attribute this to the evolution of the book, which I believe to be as follows.

  • Step 1: the Broadway production of Legally Blonde was scored for two separate guitars. This can be clearly heard on the cast recording, and #16a in the book still says “Guitar 1” at the top of the page.
  • Step 2: the US touring production was re-scored for one guitar, by combining the two books. This explains the very many and occasionally unnecessary instrument changes.
  • Step 3: the US touring book was used for the London production, but several songs (or parts of songs) were lowered half a step. This accounts for some of the more difficult keys in the book (although this is O’Keefe, so there will always be a difficult key sooner or later… )

The London version is the book that MTI provides as rental materials for the show (clue: the book has “Legally Blonde (London) written on almost every page!).  The editing is mostly good, although there is occasional sloppiness, as I describe in the detailed review below.

PLAYING THE GUITAR BOOK
Although this is a rock show, it’s actually scored for a small, 13-piece orchestra, and it helps when approaching the material to think of yourself as part of an orchestra, rather than a rock band.  In practical terms, this means that you should play the material as written, and avoid improvising or simplifying unless the book directs you to do so (e.g. by use of slash marks).

Both chord voicings and rhythms are specifically spelt out for most numbers, and I found that the rhythms are very tightly integrated with the bass, drums and brass parts, so when you play them accurately it really adds to the impact of the music.

In a large ensemble, you will soon step on somebody else’s part if you depart from the book.  Where a production uses reduced orchestration, you do have a little more latitude with your playing, but for the most part following the ink is really the way to go for this show.

The book uses a lot of interesting and unusual sequences of triads and inversions throughout.  I can’t decide if it was put together by a keyboard player, or just a very flashy guitar player.  You’re forever running up and down the neck!  It takes some time to learn it all, but I can offer this simple piece of advice: spread your fingers over 4 frets on the D, G and B strings!  A large proportion of the spelt out chord sequences can be played ergonomically in this way.  Of course it’s more complicated than that, but it’s a good place to start as you try to work it all out.

BASIC ELECTRIC GUITAR TONES
In my companion article, I provide a detailed description of the virtual rig I set up using the Line 6 Helix for this show.  For the purposes of this article, it’s worth mentioning that my basic electric tone comprised a clean/dirty mix distortion, with the balance of clean and dirty sounds varied as needed from song to song.  Other effects were added in each song as needed.

My decision to go with a digital board (rather than stomp boxes) was driven by the number of quick and radical changes in tone required throughout the book, which I attribute to the fact that it was combined from the two original books.

Image courtesy of SHOWTUNES Theatre Company and © 2018 Chris Bennion

What You Want…
Image courtesy of SHOWTUNES Theatre Company and © 2018 Chris Bennion

SONG-BY-SONG DETAILED REVIEW
In this review I ignore a few small scene change and underscore numbers, but otherwise cover the entire Guitar book.  I describe instruments and electric guitar tones I used, provide technique tips, details of departures I made from the written score, clarifications where the score is vague, and identify errors in the score.  This section is intended primarily for readers who have the Guitar book to refer to, and is intended to provide ideas and suggestions for players preparing to play the show.  While I hope it will be useful, it’s not intended to be an “instruction manual” – everyone will play the book differently.

Errata: the book has errors in #1, #2, #11a and #21.  See the notes on each number for details of the errors.

#0: Overture
Instrument: electric guitar, pickup position 4 with coil tap on bridge pickup.

Tones: I used my basic distortion sound for m.2-9, and a clean chorus sound for m.10-31.  The chorus model was based on the TC Electronics “Tri-Chorus”.

Technique: I played this number exactly as written.  For the tricky picked section in 3/4 time (but counted in 1), I suggest playing at 12th position for m.10-24, jumping quickly to 5th position for m.25 onwards.

#1: Omigod You Guys
The first of many very long, high-energy production numbers in Legally Blonde…

Instrument: electric guitar, pickup position 4 with coil tap on bridge pickup.

Tones: I used my basic distortion sound for most of the song, with the following additional tones.

  • Clean: a slightly compressed clean sound for m.158-169 (see below for comments on errata in measure numbers in this section).
  • Lead: a louder, fatter distortion, with a 450ms, single repeat delay for m.182-188.
  • “Andy Summers”: a Police-style flanged, chorus distortion sound, for m.18-20, m.29-31 and m.58-60 (there are some quick effects changes in and out of these sections).

Technique/changes:  I played this number mostly as written, but with the following changes (mainly to reduce the number of pedal changes and to correct a few missing pedal changes):

  • 10-17: I didn’t change to a “Clean” sound as directed in the score, because palm-muting the arpeggios takes out most of the distortion anyway. I did the same thing for m.21-28 and m.50-57.
  • 18-20, m.29-31 & m.58-60: for the “Andy Summers” sections, I played the chords as written, but added in the melody notes from Guitar 2 on the Broadway recording, giving a combination of both original Broadway guitar parts (listen to the Broadway CD and you’ll get the idea).
  • End of m.31: the “Andy Summers” sound should switch back to distortion.
  • 32-45: this is the chorus section. Some of the voicings are a bit odd as written, especially the Dm11 on beat 2 of m.36.  I filled these out a bit, and played 3-string voicings on the D, G and B strings throughout.
  • 47, beats 3 and 4: I played only the upper note of the octave pairs.
  • 49: I ignored the “Mild Distortion – Lead” sound change.
  • End of m.60: the “Andy Summers” sound should switch back to distortion.
  • 100: I added in F and Bb notes on beats 1 and 2 respectively (like the recording – I have no idea why they’re missing from this score). I ignored the “Lead (Full Vol.)” sound change.
  • End of m.109: I ignored the “Lead (full volume)” sound change.
  • 135: I played only the upper note of each octave pair in this measure.
  • 170: switch from Clean sound back to Distortion.
  • 197-198 (which should be numbered m.196-197): I omitted the Bb from the Ebsus/Cb voicing.

There are a lot of fast chord changes in the final section (m.196 onwards), which run all the way up the neck, then down, then up again.  It’s worth practicing these to get them right.

Errata: there’s some weirdness on pages 5 and 6 of this number, starting at m.163.  Corrections as follows:

  • The empty measure numbered m.163 should be deleted.
  • Every measure from m.164 to m.206 (the end of the song) is too high by 1 (i.e. they should be numbered m.163 to m.205).
  • The rehearsal marks numbered m.170, m.174, m.182 and m.190 are all correct (but because of the incorrect measure numbering, there appear to two measures with the same number for each of these measures).

#2: Serious
Instruments: electric guitar, pickup position 4 with coil tap on bridge pickup, switching to acoustic guitar for the last 4 measures (m.85-88).

Tones: I used the following.

  • 1-47: Clean Chorus sound, plus a subtle 420ms delay with about 2 repeats.
  • 49-57 and m.69-72: Disco Wah sound (clean, slightly compressed).
  • 58-59: Fat Lead sound, with a single repeat 450ms delay.
  • 73-76: Clean (no effects).

Technique/changes:  I played the number mostly as written, with the following adjustments:

  • 9-11: I used palm-muting throughout.
  • 73: I switched to the Clean sound at the start of m.73, not the end of m.74 as shown.
  • 86: the key of this number has been lowered half a step from the original. The big Eb sus voicing in m.86 would originally have been a 6-string E sus, but is now impossible to play as written.  I played a Bb/Eb/Ab triad at the 3rd fret on the G, B and E strings.

Errata: there’s a note at m.33, “Acoustic Gtr. Cue”, which is probably a relic from one of the original Broadway scores.  This appears to be shoddy editing, because there is no acoustic guitar.  Ignore the note and play m.33-36 as written.

#3: What You Want (Part 1)
This is the first of two numbers in the show that are so huge they’ve been split into two parts.  The most high energy number in the show (and there is stiff competition for this distinction), it’s a blast to play.

Instrument: electric guitar, pickup position 4 with coil tap on bridge pickup.

Tones: I used the following:

  • Overdrive: I mixed more clean sound into my distortion to get a crisp, but not overly distorted sound, and added some compression. This tone is used for most of the number.
  • Clean: no effects. Used in m.87-94 only.
  • Clean Chorus: bright, clean chorus sound with subtle 420ms delay. Used in the reggae section between m.108-150.
  • Lead: fat overdriven lead tone: used in m.151-154 only.

Technique: this number is very tightly orchestrated and arranged.  It’s important to play the rhythms more or less as written, crisply and accurately throughout.  Most of the chord voicings are written out in the score and should be played as written; I offer suggestions below for some of the important places where only slash marks are provided.

Changes: I played the part as written, with the following changes.

  • 6 onwards: I didn’t switch to a “clean” sound (as noted in the score). I used a light Overdrive through most of the song, including the disco sections.
  • Verse section (m.6 onwards): no chord voicings are given – just slash marks. I recommend playing ascending voicings on the D, G and B strings.  I provide an example below.  You can do this for every verse.
  • Disco section (m.21-28, and many, many other places): I mostly played just octaves, omitting the middle note of the triad (the 5th). It sounds crisper and rings better.
  • 87-94: switch to Clean sound.
  • 95: switch back from Clean to Overdrive.
  • 107-150: switch to Clean Chorus for the reggae section.
  • 151-154: switch to Lead sound, then back to Overdrive at m.155 for the segue into Part 2 of this number.
ecommended voicings for verse sections of #3-What You Want

Recommended voicings for verse sections of #3-What You Want

#3a: What You Want (Part 2)
Instrument: electric guitar, pickup position 4 with coil tap on bridge pickup.

Tones: I used the same tones as for Part 1, as described above.

  • Overdrive: I used this for the whole number except for m.92-101.
  • Lead: fat overdriven lead tone: used in m.92-101.

Technique: this number is a continuation of #3, and the same advice on technique applies: play as written, with rhythms crisp and accurate.

Changes: I played this number exactly as written, with only the following changes.

  • 18: I didn’t switch to the “Clean” sound as written, but stayed with my light Overdrive.
  • 18-26: slash marks – see notes and example of suggested ascending chord voicings in Part 1 above – this is just a half-tone higher.
  • 27-30: I played fast rhythm using voicings at the 13th fret on G, B and E strings. I provide suggested voicings below.
  • 92-100: switch to Lead sound, then back to Overdrive at m.102.
Recommended voicings for m.27-33 of #3a-What You Want Part 2

Recommended voicings for m.27-33 of #3a-What You Want Part 2

#4: Harvard Variations
Instrument: mandolin.

I played this as written, taking care to play the staccato in m.48-49 and tenuto in m.56-57.  It’s an odd little melody and I had to practice a few times to get it right (some people can really play the mandolin, but I freely confess that I am bluffing…).

Image courtesy of SHOWTUNES Theatre Company and © 2018 Chris Bennion

Image courtesy of SHOWTUNES Theatre Company and © 2018 Chris Bennion

#5: Blood In The Water
Instrument: hollow body guitar (archtop).

This is the nearest thing in Legally Blonde to a classic Broadway showtune, and the only appearance of the archtop guitar.

Tone: the score has notes calling for a “Freddie Green sound” which is best achieved using heavy gauge phosphor bronze strings on an acoustic archtop.  I went for something a little more “Wes Montgomery tone meets Freddie Green rhythm”.  I had flatwound strings on the guitar and played with my thumb and fingernails.  I used the warm sound of the neck position floating humbucker running through a Roland JC-120-style preamplifier model on the Line 6 Helix.

Technique: most of this song is rhythmic comping along with the drums.  There are more slash marks than in any other number in the book, and many unusual jazz chords to stretch your musical vocabulary.  I worked out voicings which were generally below the 7th fret, and used mainly the middle four strings on the guitar.  Some particular things to note:

  • 12 and m.14: the harmonics shown can’t be played, because the song is one of several which was lowered half a tone for the London production. I played these at the 13th and 14th frets.
  • 173-178: this shows both slash mark rhythm and rests, with a note saying “(cue only)”, which is probably the result of shoddy combining of the books. I chose not to play these six measures.

It’s far from being the most difficult number in the show, but I always made more mistakes in this number than any other.  Must be all those odd jazz chords!

#6: Positive
Instrument: electric guitar, pickup position 4 with no coil tap on bridge pickup.

Tones: I used the following.

  • Distortion: a slightly less full-on distortion than usual, blending more of the clean sound into the mix (somewhere between the sounds for “Omigod You Guys” and “What You Want”). Switching to the humbucker on the bridge pickup gave a slightly less bright sound than I used for most numbers.  I used this tone for most of the song.
  • Boost: identical to the Distortion sound, but with a clean boost added for the “rap” section in m.45-52.
  • Wah: clean sound with wah-wah for m.7-11 and m.25-29 (the start of each verse).

Technique/changes: like all of the electric guitar parts in Legally Blonde, the chord voicings are mostly written out in detail.  I played the part as written with the following modifications:

  • 7-11 and m.25-29: I played these measures using a clean sound with wah.
  • 13: you can play the D7sus voicing at the 10th fret with an open G string.
  • 19-21 and m.37-39: I didn’t mute the melody line.
  • 34-36: I voiced the Em, F2 and D7sus chords at the 7th, 8th and 10th frets respectively.
  • 45-52: I added a boost to the sound to thicken it up a bit for the rap section. For the downbeat of m.47 and m.49 I played an E5 chord at 7th fret (instead of the low E), then a glissando down to the low E for beat 2 (try it, it makes more sense than what’s written).
  • 64: I played the C5 voicing at 12th fret, not 15th as indicated. I ignored the “Funky, quirky sound” and “(back to Police sound)” directions.
  • 69-70: I voiced the Dm and Eb2 at the 5th and 6th frets respectively.
  • 76-77: I voiced the D#m and E2 frets at the 6th and 7th frets respectively.

#7: Ireland
Instruments: 12-string acoustic, mandolin.

This is one of several numbers where a slight messiness creeps into the combined book.  I assume that the 12-string and mandolin parts would originally have been played separately by two guitarists.  The combined book calls for a change from 12-string to mandolin over only 5 measures in 3/4 time, but counted in 1 – so, 5 beats.  It can’t be done.  I usually drop out of the 12-string part at the start of m.99, giving me 11 measures (beats) to get to the mandolin.  Even then it’s a quick change.  Apart from adjusting the timing of the instrument change, I played the part as written.

#7a: Ireland (Reprise)
Instruments: mandolin, 12-string acoustic.

More “Celtic Moods”… You have 8 measures to make the change from mandolin to 12-string, but it’s a bit longer because there’s a rallentando at m.47 and a fermata at m.50B.  If you’re bold, you might even have time to play m.47-50 on the mandolin, even though they are marked “Cue only”.

Technique: I played this as written.  For the 12-string chords at the end (m.50c-52) play forte with big voicings.  The D chords in m.50G, m.51 and m.52 look suspiciously like leftover mandolin voicings.  I played a big D5 voicing (D, A, D, A) at the 2nd fret.

#8: Serious (Reprise)
Instrument: electric guitar, pickup position 4 with coil tap on bridge pickup.

Tone: I used a Clean Chorus sound, plus a subtle 420ms delay with about 2 repeats (the same tone as used in #2: “Serious”).

Technique: I played this brief number as written.  For the chords where no voicings are given, I used low voicings (1st to 3rd frets).

#8a: Party Music
Instrument: electric guitar, pickup position 4 with coil tap on bridge pickup.

Tone: I used a Clean Chorus sound, (the same tone as used in #2: “Serious”, but without any delay).  I added the delay back in for the F#m reggae chord in m.15.

Technique: this is just a brief piece of underscore.  I played low voicings, quietly!

#9: Chip On My Shoulder (Part 1)
The second number in the show which is so long it’s split into two parts.  A whole year of plotline plays out during this number!

Instruments: acoustic guitar throughout, switching briefly to electric guitar with a clean tone for m.188-202 (pickup position 4 with coil tap on bridge pickup).

Technique/changes: I played this part mostly as written, with following modifications:

  • 16-22: I played chord voicings starting at the 1st fret and working up to the 7th by m.20, as this suits the material.
  • 88: this is a tricky voicing, and it’s not Bm (more like Bm7 (add 2).
  • 110-111: I played the root notes of the various named chords.
  • 134-135: I played low voicings (1st fret) for these measures.
  • 161-162: I played the root notes of the various named chords.

#9a: Chip On My Shoulder (Part 2)
Instruments: acoustic guitar throughout, switching briefly to electric guitar with a distorted tone for m.106-114 (pickup position 4 with coil tap on bridge pickup).

Technique/changes: I played this part mostly as written, with following modifications:

  • 51-62: I played low, full chord voicings.
  • 63-64: I played the root notes of the various named chords.
  • 124-131: I played the spread Eb/G and Ab6 voicings exactly as written. The guitar is solo here, so it’s important to get this right.
  • 132-139: I played low, full chord voicings.
  • 140-141: I played the root notes of the various named chords.
  • 165-167: this is a tricky, fast little set of chord changes, which is easier to play if you have a guitar with a cutaway body. I started at 10th fret and ran up to 13th for the F, then played a G,C,F voicing of F2 at the 12th fret to finish off.
  • At the end of this number, I recommend setting the electric guitar effects ready for #11: So Much Better, while you have some time to do so, as there are some fast guitar changes coming up.

#10: Run Rufus Run/Elle Reflects
This brief little number and the subsequent lead-in to #11: So Much Better is one of the places where it becomes obvious that this is a combined book.  You start on 12-string, then switch quickly to 6-string acoustic for just one measure(!) at m.26, then play Nylon-string for 4 measures in #11, before switching very quickly to electric.  That’s four guitars in about 25 measures and 90 seconds.

Instruments: 12-string acoustic for m.1-18, and 6-string acoustic for m.26.

Technique: I played full, low 12-string voicings for m.1-11, and jumped to the 5th fret for the Vamp at m.15-18, before changing quickly to 6-string acoustic.   Change quickly to Nylon-string acoustic at m.27.

#11: So Much Better
A Big, vibrant finale to Act 1.  Everybody loves this song, and most productions I have played have used a section of it for Bows (typically m.78 to the end).  It’s classic O’Keefe – 10 key signatures in only 124 measures.  The guitar part is busy with most of the chord voicings written out, and it should be played as written to keep locked in with the rhythm section and brass.  It takes some practice, because the part doesn’t repeat itself much.

Instruments: Nylon-string acoustic for m.10-13, then very quick change to electric guitar, pickup position 4 with coil tap on bridge pickup for m.17 onwards.

Tones: I used my basic Distortion tone for the whole number from m.17 onwards, except for the “more muted” section (m.34-48) for which I used a clean sound, with just a hint of overdrive.

Technique/changes:  I played this number as written, with the following adjustments.

  • 20: the low Eb cannot be played (this number was dropped half a step from the original). I played an Eb5 voicing at the 6th fret.
  • 72-77: the score gives rhythm and chord names only. I played high chord voicings at the 14th and 15th fret, as shown below.
  • 80-83: I ignored the “CUE ONLY” direction and played these measures as written.
  • 92: I ignored the “(lead)” direction and stayed with my Distortion tone.
  • 94-97: I played high chord voicings at the 10th-12th fret on the G, B and E strings.
  • 98-100: I played low voicings at the 2nd-4th fret.
  • 117-122: I ignored the “Heavy Dist.” Direction and stayed with my Distortion tone.
Recommended voicings for m.72-79 of #311-So Much Better

Recommended voicings for m.72-79 of #311-So Much Better

#11a: Entr’acte
This is basically #11, from m.78 onwards, shifted up half a step.

Instruments: electric guitar, pickup position 4 with coil tap on bridge pickup.

Tones: I used my basic Distortion tone for the whole number, except for the “Super Lead” section (m.24 onwards) for which I added a clean boost and tweaked the EQ for a fuller lead sound.

Technique/changes: I played this number as written, with the following adjustments.

  • 3-6: I ignored the “Cue only” and “8va if poss.” Directions and played these measures as written.
  • 17-20: I played high chord voicings at the 10th-13th frets.
  • 24: I added a clean boost as described above and kept it on to the end of the number.

Errata: the D/C# chord in m.38 is incorrectly written as a C#5.  Shift the whole voicing up half a step to play a D5 voicing.  Other instruments have the C# root.  I think this is a transposition error.

#12: Whipped Into Shape
Yet another high energy number, and one that’s very popular with the audience. It’s also a big, exposed moment for the guitar, with a busy, challenging part.  There are several effects changes which would require multiple pedal changes on a stomp box-based board.  The difficulty this presents was one of the main drivers of my decision to use a digital effects setup for this show.

Instruments: electric guitar, pickup position 4 with coil tap on bridge pickup.

Tones: I used the following tones.

  • Clean, with wah: main verse and chorus sections (m.3-27 & m.43-63).
  • Clean: Callahan dialog sections (m.30-42 & m.64-82) and lead in to guitar solo (m.83-88).
  • Distortion with delay: guitar solo (m.93-114) and Pesante chorus (m.115-122 beat 1).
  • Distortion with wah: Big Funk Rock section (m.122 beat 3-130).
  • Distortion with delay (again): guitar lead line (m.131-134).

Technique/changes:  more than any other number, I played this song exactly as it’s written, note for note.  I offer the following tips on technique:

  • 43: muted 16th notes with wah: open the wah slowly over the whole measure.
  • 88: quick change from Clean to Distortion with delay at the end of this measure.
  • 99 onwards: I played this starting in 6th position.
  • 107-110: I played chord voicings on the G, B and E strings, starting with Bm at the 14th fret and working down to F#7 at the 9th fret.
  • 122: quick change from Distortion with delay to Distortion with wah on beat 3.
  • 130: quick change from Distortion with wah to Distortion with delay leading into m.131.
  • At end of number, set effects ready for the end of #14: Take It Like A Man.
Image courtesy of SHOWTUNES Theatre Company and © 2018 Danielle Barnum

The Girls of Delta Nu…
Image courtesy of SHOWTUNES Theatre Company and © 2018 Danielle Barnum

#14: Take It Like A Man
This is pleasant enough, but it’s one of the more disposable moments of the show, and indeed has been cut from the “Jr.” version of the show to keep the running time down.  It’s mostly acoustic guitar with just a short section of electric at the end.  This requires a very quick guitar change over only 3 measures (less than 10 seconds) so I recommend setting the effects on the electric at the end of the previous number.

Instruments: acoustic guitar for most of the number (m.1-107), then electric guitar, pickup position 4 with coil tap on bridge pickup for m.111-123.

Tone: the score calls for a “U2 The Edge type sound w/delay”.  I used my basic clean/distortion mix, with slightly less of the distortion tone than usual, plus a 300ms delay with 22% feedback, and level mixed at 25%.

Technique/changes:  I played the number mostly as written.  Tips on technique:

  • 37-64: I used low, full chord voicings at the 1st to 4th frets.
  • 90-93: I used low, full chord voicings at the 2nd to 4th frets.
  • 100-107: low, full voicings at 2nd fret, jumping to 6th and 7th fret in m.107.
  • 108-110: very quick guitar change to electric.
  • 116-123: play at 11th fret with open high E string. The score shows 8th notes but I made this a bit busier and added in some 16th notes.

#14a: Kyle The Magnificent
A short piece of incidental music.  There are several dialog cues, so watch the conductor carefully!

Instruments: electric guitar, pickup position 4 with coil tap on bridge pickup throughout.

Tones: I used a Clean tone with wah for most of the number, and a clean tone with a 450ms delay for m.20-22.

Technique/changes:  I played this number as written.  Tips on technique:

  • 1A: hold back on the glissando a little as you open the wah up, then slide down. Sounds great!
  • 15: cycle the wah quickly as you hold the chord.
  • 17-18: cycle the wah from closed to open on every note in the run.
  • 20 & 22: watch the conductor carefully to time the glissandos. It’s important to cut off cleanly with the rest of the band.

#15: Bend And Snap
The show jumps the shark one more time: Paulette the hairdresser can now see Elle’s imaginary Greek Chorus, inexplicably.  Cue huge, hilarious (and immensely popular) dance number…  This is one of the most fun numbers in the show to play.  You can really dig in and let go with the wah, and there are no pedal changes!

Instruments: electric guitar, pickup position 4 with coil tap on bridge pickup throughout.

Tones: Clean tone with wah throughout.

Technique/changes:  I played the number as written, with the following adjustments:

  • Wah: make liberal use of the wah effect throughout. Nothing is too over-the-top in this number.
  • 11-16: I used chord voicings mainly on the middle 4 strings for the chorus. I started with Am7 at the 5th fret, then D9 in the same position, up to 7th position for the F9 and back down for the remaining chords.  I used the same pattern in all other chorus sections.
  • 98-105: the final chorus. I played a slightly busier rhythm, especially for the F9 chords, really digging in and making extensive use of the wah.
  • 108: watch the conductor carefully for the cue into this last measure.

After 15: To The Courtroom
Short scene change number.

Instruments: electric guitar, pickup position 4 with coil tap on bridge pickup throughout.

Tone: the score gives no advice on tone.  I used a clean sound for this and #15B: Lovers!

#16: Gay Or European
The comic highlight of the show: a polka about how Americans stereotype Europeans!  This is a lot of fun to play and it’s mostly mandolin.

Instruments: electric guitar, pickup position 4 with coil tap on bridge pickup for m.1-26, and mandolin m.37 onwards.

Tone: Clean tone with palm muting for the electric guitar part.

Technique/changes: this number should be played more or less as written.  Pay special attention to the articulation marks (staccato, tenuto, sforzato, etc.) for the mandolin part.  Following them really brings out the part.  I made the following changes:

  • The mandolin chord voicings for the first verse (m.45-64) are fuller, 4-string voicings, whereas most of the subsequent voicings are 2- or 3-string. I found these sounded brighter and made the mandolin cut through more, so I played most of the voicings in the first verse the same way (it also makes it easier to play!).
  • The 3-string chord voicings for the 1/8 notes in m.107-109 are beyond my technique, so I just played the top note (melody) of each chord.

#16a: Gay Or European – Playoff
Instrument: mandolin.  See notes on #16 above.

#17: Legally Blonde
The only “down” number in the whole show (don’t worry, it’s just a one-off).  The fact that this is a combined guitar book is evident again in the frequent guitar changes.

Instruments: nylon-string (m.21-101), electric, pickup position 4 with coil tap on bridge pickup (m.101M-121), acoustic guitar (m.129-162), nylon-string (m.175-178).

Tone: I used a Clean tone with chorus, as directed in the score.

Technique/changes: I played the number as written, with the following adjustments:

  • 73-80: I played full chord voicings at the 2nd position.
  • 107-121: the electric guitar part is very quick. I played it at the 3rd position (Eb fingering) and used a pick, but it’s slightly easier to finger pick.
  • 122-129: very quick change to acoustic guitar, and it’s important to hit the F# inversion at m.129 cleanly, and voice it as written.
  • 163-174: change back to nylon string to play just the last 4 measures!
  • 177: I played the F# at the 13th fret.

#18: Legally Blonde Remix
At this point the show starts rushing to wrap up the plot before it runs too long (and it does indeed run a little long).  This long, complex number is essentially underscore with delusions of grandeur and as the title suggests is mostly an up-tempo rehash of the previous number, with a splash of “Ireland”.

Instruments: electric guitar, pickup position 4 with coil tap on bridge pickup for most of the number; 12-string acoustic for part of the “Ireland” reprise (m.108-164).

Tones: I used the following.

  • Clean with wah: used for the opening vamp (m.1-3), and the disco wah atonal clicks in m.81-84.
  • Light Distortion: all other sections of the song except when playing 12-string. I used the usual Clean-Dirty mix, with the Dirty mixed a little lower than usual.

Technique/changes: I played this exactly as written.  There are a lot of dialog cues and safety vamps.  The conductor has to lead this number decisively and the band just needs to follow.  Tips for playing:

  • 49-50: I played an Eb5 voicing at the 1st fret (Eb, Bb, Eb) on the D, G, and B strings for m.49, then just reached over to add in the low G root for m.50.
  • 104-111: fairly quick change to 12-string acoustic guitar.
  • 112-163: 12-string section for reprise of “Ireland”. I played low voicings where no specific chord voicings were given.  From m.152-164 the chord changes come very quickly so it’s worth practicing these.
  • 165-171: very quick change back to electric guitar.
  • 216-221: disco octaves: I played Ab octaves on the G and high E strings at the 13th fret.

#19: Scene Of The Crime
The plot steamrollers on with another slab of the “Legally Blonde” (up-tempo) reprise, then a quick reprise of “Omigod You Guys” to finish off as Elle wins her court case.  By now you just want it to be over…

Instruments: electric guitar, pickup position 4 with coil tap on bridge pickup throughout.

Tones: I used the following.

  • Light Distortion: all sections of the song except the final vamp at m.85-86. I used the usual Clean-Dirty mix, with the Dirty mixed a little lower than usual.
  • Clean with Chorus: m.85-86 vamp only.

Technique/changes:  I played the number exactly as written.  Once again, it’s really important for the conductor to lead decisively and for the band to follow.  Tips on technique:

  • 3-6: I played low voicings at the 1st fret for all the chords.
  • 29-30: you can use a slide for the glissando, as directed, but it’s not really needed.
  • 53-56: I played high voicings starting with C# at the 9th fret and ascending through m.55, the dropped to low voicings for the chords in m.56.
  • 85-86: this is a vamp with a Clean Chorus sound. It segues directly into #20: “Find My Way/Finale”, which is supposed to start on nylon-string.  Clearly this can’t be achieved.  I recommend playing the first note of #20 on electric, then making the guitar change quickly in m.2-10 of #20, where the guitar is Tacet.

#20: Find My Way/Finale
Elle declares victory in this syrupy last song (but not without the Paulette subplot getting yet another sneaky moment in the middle).  Everyone smiles and we get one more reprise of “Omigod You Guys” to bring it all to a close.

Instruments: nylon-string guitar (m.1-110); electric guitar, pickup position 4 with coil tap on bridge pickup (m.120-169).

Tones: I used my basic Distortion sound for the whole electric guitar section.

Technique/changes:  I played the number as written.  The nylon-string guitar meanders – it’s like scripted noodling.  It isn’t particularly difficult, but it doesn’t “roll off the fingers” very intuitively, so I recommend practicing it to get it to flow a bit.  Tips on technique:

  • 69-70: I played a 6th fret voicing of Eb sus.
  • 111-119: fairly quick change to electric guitar.
  • 142-145: this ascending run of triads involves a lot of fast and awkward chord changes and a run right up the neck. It’s quite challenging to play accurately.  If you want to simplify it, just play the top note of each triad.

#21: Bows
Bows includes brief passages from (in turn) “Legally Blonde Remix”, “Ireland”, “What You Want”, “Legally Blonde”, “Omigod You Guys” and finally “Legally Blonde Remix” again.

Instruments: electric guitar, pickup position 4 with coil tap on bridge pickup throughout.

Tones: I used the following.

  • 1-5: Light Distortion. I used the usual Clean-Dirty mix, with the Dirty mixed a little lower than usual.
  • 5C-13: Lead. This is a guitar solo, melody of “What You Want”.  I added a Clean Boost and single repeat delay to the Light Distortion.
  • 14-28: Light Distortion. This is an excerpt from “What You Want”.
  • 29-37: Clean. An excerpt from “Legally Blonde”.
  • 38-44: Lead. Another brief guitar solo.
  • 46-49: Clean with Chorus. Arpeggios – still “Legally Blonde”.
  • 54-77: Light Distortion. This is a section from “Omigod You Guys” followed by more “Legally Blonde Remix” to finish off.

Technique/Changes:  I played this number as written.  Tips on technique:

  • 14-17: I played high chord voicings at the 13th and 14th fret, as described in #3a above.
  • 20A-20E: I played low power chord voicings on the E and A strings.
  • 30-37: I played low, full chord voicings.
  • 70-75: I played high G octaves at the 12th fret.

Errata: at m.70, the dynamics marking should be fortissimo, not pianissimo.

#22: Exit Music
This number is identical to #21, except that it omits the 3-measure quote from “Ireland” at the start (m.5A-5C), and the “power chords” section (m.20A-20H).  It also doesn’t have the dynamics marking error at m.70.  The measure numbers for #22 correspond to the equivalent sections in #21, so all of the notes for #21 above apply to #22.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Kevin Wright #

    Thank you so much for all of this information. I will shortly be playing Guitar for this show for a short rum (5 shows) in the UK. When I received the music I was a bit daunted by the complexity of it all. Your notes and comments have proved invaluable to me over the last few days. Well done – and Thank you.

    Like

    July 9, 2019
    • Hi Kevin, you are welcome, and thank you for the feedback. LB is a tough book – took me more than one production before I was happy with my performance. Good luck with the show!
      Best regards
      Anthony
      PS Heathers is even harder!

      Like

      July 9, 2019

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