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RENT – Detailed Notes on the Guitar 1 Book

Music, Lyrics & Book: Jonathan Larson
Year: 1996

In this article I provide a detailed review of the Guitar 1 book for RENT. I discuss its level of detail and accuracy, identify any errors I noticed, and my approach to playing it. A similar review of the Guitar 2 book can be found here. For details of the equipment I used and my thoughts on playing the show, see my article Playing RENT – Guitar 1 and Guitar 2. The bulk of the article is a song-by-song review of the Guitar 1 book, which is easier to understand if you have the book to refer to. I hope my review will be useful for guitarists preparing to play the show.

DIFFERENT VERSIONS OF THE GUITAR 1 BOOK
There are three versions of the Guitar 1 book for RENT:

  • Hand-Written: the original hand-written version of the score.
  • Typeset: the typeset version superseded the hand-written version, and is now the official licensed rental material provided by MTI. In terms of content, there are no significant differences between the Typeset and Hand-Written versions.
  • School Edition: also typeset, but with edits to tone down some of the more adult content. I provide a list of changes made in the School Edition here.

rent-handwritten-vs-typset

I have played several productions of RENT, and used all three versions of the book. This review is based on the current Typeset version of the Guitar 1 book, although I do offer some comments on the School Edition, mainly to point out errors. I’ve also played a “combined” book, where I covered both Guitar 1 and Guitar 2 parts in the absence of a second guitarist. I provide details of how I combined the books here.

GENERAL NOTES ON THE GUITAR 1 BOOK
RENT has an enjoyable and interesting Guitar 1 book, without being overly complex or technically demanding to play. However, it is long (Act 1 is 90 minutes), and it’s sung through, so the music never stops; you are always busy and have to stay focused.

The book can mostly be played as written, and where slash notation and chord symbols are used, you usually just reach for the most obvious chord voicings (often power chords). There are several numbers which lack adequate detail, most notably #14: “Out Tonight”, #18: “Santa Fe” and #38: “What You Own”. In the case of “What You Own” there is so much missing from the score that I prepared my own charts. I address these issues fully in the detailed song-by-song review below, but in general, where detail is missing, the best approach is to listen to the Original Broadway Cast Recording to get a better idea of what to play.

Having to fill in missing details means you have to put more effort into preparing for the show, but does allow some latitude to interpret the material. It’s worth spending time getting the parts right before going into rehearsals.

Another minor complaint is that the book doesn’t always indicate whether you should be playing electric or acoustic guitar. I provide full details below, and listening the cast recording helps as well (Note: the School Edition incorrectly calls for the electric guitar on most of the acoustic guitar numbers, which I put down to sloppy editing).

Page turns are mostly OK throughout the book. There are a few quick ones, but none are impossible. There are also a few very quick guitar changes. In the detailed notes below I identify these, and make suggestions for changing effects pedals and setting capos in advance of when they are needed to allow these quick instrument changes to be made.

RENT School Edition - Seattle Children's Theatre, 2018

RENT – School Edition at Seattle Children’s Theatre – 2018.
Image courtesy of Seattle Children’s Theatre & ©2018 Eva Blanchard

ELECTRIC GUITAR SOUNDS
I describe my equipment setup for RENT in detail in the companion article, Playing RENT – Guitar 1 and Guitar 2. For the purposes of this review, it is sufficient to state that I used four basic guitar tones:

  • Clean: either pickup position 4 (bridge and middle pickups), or 5 (bridge pickup only). Crisp and bright.
  • Overdrive: bridge pickup, single coil mode. Warm, slightly compressed, fairly bright, with just a bit of breakup in the sound.
  • Heavy Overdrive: bridge pickup, humbucker mode. A thick, warm, distorted heavy tube overdrive.
  • Distortion: bridge pickup, humbucker mode. Heavily distorted, slightly harsh, with an edge (but not full metal).

My intent in using three overdrive/distortion tones was to provide more sonic variety to the guitar parts and to best serve the mood and style of the material at various points in the show. I indicate where each tone is used in the detailed notes below.

SONG-BY-SONG DETAILED REVIEW
The following notes give specific details on how I approached playing each number in the Guitar 1 book (Typeset version). They are intended to be suggestions and practical insights, rather than an “instruction manual”. RENT is a pretty flexible score and I hope every player will find their own way to interpret the music. If there are no notes on a particular number, it is because Guitar 1 is Tacet throughout. The notes will be most meaningful when read in conjunction with the book itself.

Before The Show
Set the delay and tremolo pedals to the settings to be used for #07: “One Song Glory” and #12a: “Tango Maureen” respectively. Both of these pedals require changes to settings later in the show, so you should check/reset them before the downbeat.

#01: Tune-Up A
Instrument: electric guitar, bridge pickup with coil tap.
Tone: clean (bright, single coil sound).

This number is meant to be played on stage by the character Roger. Every production of RENT I have played has expressed an intention for the actor to play the on-stage guitar parts, but it’s only actually happened once! So, you should be ready to play the on-stage guitar parts throughout the show.

Technique: this number involves repeatedly de-tuning and re-tuning the low E and A strings while picking 1/8 notes. To eliminate the risk of the guitar being out of tune at the start of #3: “Rent”, I avoided any actual re-tuning by using the tremolo arm instead (operate the tremolo with your fretboard hand). I played the number exactly as written.

#02: Tune Up B
Instrument: electric guitar, bridge pickup with coil tap, switching to humbucker mode at m.38.
Tones: clean, then heavy overdrive from m.38 to end.

More “on-stage guitar”, so refer to the notes on #01 above.

Technique: I played this number as written. After m.37 I made a quick change to humbucker pickup (which is still fairly bright on my Anderson) and changed the amplifier channel to heavy overdrive. There’s a short solo, then a quick page turn and you’re straight into #03: “Rent”.

#03: Rent
Instrument: electric guitar, bridge pickup, humbucker mode.
Tone: heavy overdrive throughout. For the high arpeggios at m.41-42, m.68-69 and m.106-107 I added chorus.

I think this is my favorite number in the show to play. After the low key opening of the Tune Ups, this is where the show really announces itself. It’s an explosive, fast and exciting number which is always a lot of fun for the band. Guitar 1 drops out for long sections during the verses where Guitar 2 picks up the rhythm. It’s more fun playing a combined book where you get to play the whole number.

Technique: on the whole note Gm chord at m.23 I used the tremolo arm for vibrato, as heard on the cast recording. I usually throw in a little widdly lead break over the D chord at the end (m.189). Otherwise I played the number as written.

#06: Tune Up – Reprise
Instrument: electric guitar, bridge pickup with coil tap
Tones: clean m.1-14, then heavy overdrive for m.15-18.

More tune-ups! See notes on #01 above.

Technique: I played the number as written. There’s a very quick page turn into #07: One Song Glory, combined with effects pedal changes (switch to clean channel and turn on delay pedal) which can be tricky. If using a capo in #07, the fermata at the end of m.12 is a good place to quickly put it on.

RENT School Edition - Seattle Children's Theatre, 2018

“This won’t tune! So we hear…”
Image courtesy of Seattle Children’s Theatre & ©2018 Eva Blanchard

#07: One Song Glory
Instrument: electric guitar, bridge pickup with coil tap.
Tones: clean with delay m.1-44 and m.63-94, overdrive m.45-60.

Technique: most of the song is played using a clean tone, palm-muted with delay. The score calls for a 210ms delay, but what you really need is a 1/8 note delay and that will depend on your tempo. I set the delay mix fairly high, and with a decay giving 4 to 5 repeats. For m.45-60 (the rhythmic section in the middle of the song), I used an old Ibanez TS-9 Turbo Tube Screamer overdrive.

The whole song has to be played crisply, precisely and mostly exactly as written; the guitar is exposed throughout, and this song is in Gb major – 6 flats! I kept making mistakes in the melody section, so I transposed the whole number into F major and played it with a capo at the first fret. The best time to fit the capo is at m.12 in the previous number.

Using a capo also gives you a better voicing for the Ebm chord at m.59-60 (you can play it like a first fret Dm voicing). For the chords in m.45-60 (overdrive section) I used full, low voicings. For the final Ab chord I played harmonics at the 13th fret on the D,G and B strings (remember, I used a capo!), as heard on the cast recording.

There are some fairly quick pedal changes and page turns to be made in this number, as follows:

  • m.1: quick page turn from #06, change amplifier to clean channel, engage coil tap on bridge pickup and turn on delay.
  • m.44, beats 3 and 4: delay off, overdrive on.
  • m.61-62: overdrive off, delay on, quick page turn.

#08: Light My Candle
Instrument: electric guitar, bridge pickup in humbucker mode.
Tone: clean with chorus throughout. Using the bridge pickup on humbucker setting gave a bright tone with a bit more warmth than the single coil sound. The chorus effect is fairly subtle, just a gentle warble.

Technique: I played the number as written. The part alternates between sections of ringing arpeggios and palm-muted melody. For the final Eb chord at m.134, I used a low Eb5 voicing (Eb, Bb, Eb) at the first fret.

#10: Today For You A
Instrument: electric guitar, bridge pickup with coil tap.
Tone: clean.

Guitar 1 plays G7#9 chords in measures a and b, and is tact for the rest of the number. Oddly, the part in the School Edition book is different. There, Guitar 1 is tacet for measures a, b, 1 and 2, then plays a rhythm part for m.3-10.

#11: You’ll See
Instrument: acoustic guitar.
Tone: the score calls for “Chorus throughout”. I always end up not using the chorus pedal – I find the clean tone of the acoustic sounds better.

Technique: this number involves a lot of fairly fast and repetitive picking. I used a pick rather than fingers to get a clean, sharp attack. The part is very exposed, especially in the first verse (m.9-26), so you have to play crisply and accurately. The Guitar 1 and 2 parts are also closely intertwined, so it’s important to keep a steady time – this is an easy number to rush.

The part on the Broadway recording is actually more complex than the score in places. For example, after the first verse Guitar 1 has a series of whole notes, whereas the recording continues a fast picking pattern. One of these days I might transcribe it. In the meantime, I played this number as written.

The score is a little light on dynamics markings. Measures 5-8 (intro) should be forte. I played the verses mezzo piano, and the “You’ll See” refrains mezzo forte. The last note of the song (end of m.90) should have a fermata and be left to ring (the School Edition score actually has these markings).

At the end of the song, place a capo at the first fret to be ready for #13; “Support Group”, then change to electric guitar. There’s very little time to fit the capo later.

RENT School Edition - Seattle Children's Theatre, 2018

“You should try it in heels…”
Image courtesy of Seattle Children’s Theatre & ©2018 Eva Blanchard

#12a: Tango Maureen
Instrument: electric guitar, bridge pickup with coil tap.
Tone: clean with tremolo throughout. The Broadway cast recording has a slapback echo as well, but I didn’t use this (too much messing around with pedal settings!).

Technique: this is a fun number to play and is something of a departure from anything that’s come before – a little more Broadway. I played this exactly as written. It’s not particularly difficult, but quite exposed. I used a capo at 2nd fret from m.71 to the end (the key shifts up a step). It’s possible to play without using a capo, but much easier with, and you have enough time to fit it during the dialog break (m.58-70).

At the end of the song, quickly remove the capo, turn off the tremolo, turn on distortion and make any pickup changes needed to set up for #14: “Out Tonight”, then make a quick change to acoustic guitar (which should already have a capo at the first fret) for #13: “Support Group”.

#13: Support Group
Instrument: acoustic guitar, with capo at 1st fret for m.1-10.
Tone: clean – no effects.

Technique: more exposed picking, this time it’s straightforward arpeggios. The guitar is especially exposed in m.1-10. The tempo is slow and steady and it’s really important not to rush this number, to preserve its solemn feel. After m.10, I removed the capo (even though it’s not indicated in the score) to play m.44-56; it’s very difficult to play fluently if you don’t. This section is usually taken slightly faster. At the end of the number, quickly place the capo at the second fret (ready for #16: “Will I”, then make a quick change to electric guitar. I played this number exactly as written.

#14: Out Tonight
Instrument: electric guitar, bridge pickup in humbucker mode.
Tone: distortion throughout, except m.85-92: clean with chorus.

Technique: this number is the first of several in the score where the charts lack adequate detail. If you play what’s written, you’ll mostly just be banging out power chords and that’s not what is needed. As a starting point I suggest reading through the charts, while listening to the Broadway cast recording. You’ll get a good idea of the style, voicings and the many fills and flourishes required to bring this number to life. I’ve played “Out Tonight” enough times now to have settled on my own version, not too different from the cast recording. One of these days I’ll transcribe it! Once you have a part properly worked out, this number is a lot of fun to play, and a chance for the guitar to really cut loose.

There’s a quick guitar change leading into this number, so I recommend making the necessary pedal and pickup changes at the end of #12a: “Tango Maureen” (see notes above). During the song, switch distortion off/chorus on at the end of m.84, then chorus off/distortion on at the end of m.92. There’s also a quick page turn at the end of m.92.

#15: Another Day
Instrument: electric guitar, bridge pickup in humbucker mode.
Tone: distortion m.1-97, heavy overdrive m.114-168.

Technique: the score for this number also lacks detail, although this is less problematic than in “Out Tonight”. Mostly, where slash marks are given, you should go for the obvious power chord voicing. The guitar rhythms here are quite distinct and should be followed as written, especially in the verses. However, in the choruses (28-39 and m.86-97) there are differences between the rhythm markings in the original and School Edition scores. Comparison with the Broadway cast recording reveals that both are partly right! Take a listen and work it out.

At m.114 the song changes to a half-time feel for the “No Day But Today” section. I usually change from the “angular” distortion sound to a smoother “heavy overdrive” tone for this section, as it suits the warm, fuzzy vibe better. During the 16-measure rest from m.98-113, I also fit the capo at 2nd fret to the acoustic guitar if I haven’t already done so at the end of #13: “Support Group”. You don’t have time to do this during the direct segue into #16: Will I”. The change to acoustic is fast and I sometimes drop out after m.164 (4 measures before the end) to make sure I hit the downbeat of #16.

#16: Will I
Instrument: acoustic guitar or 12-string acoustic guitar, with capo at 2nd fret.
Tone: clean – no effects.

Technique: this whole number is identical to the 4-measure phrase in the first section of #13: “Support Group”, shifted up half a step, and played 15 times. Once again, the guitar is exposed and it’s important to keep a steady pace and not rush. The number is very repetitive and it’s easy to get lost; a few markings on the score can help with that. I marked the start of each repetition of the melody (every 4 measures). Remove the capo at the end of the number.

In recent productions I have taken to using a 12-string acoustic guitar for this number. It suits the material, sounds lovely and adds more variety to the guitar sounds in the show.

#17: On The Street
Instrument: electric guitar, bridge pickup in humbucker mode. Capo at 3rd fret.
Tone: distortion.

Technique: this is a brief and simple number. The guitar plays a short melody twice at the end of the number, underscoring an angry exchange between actors on the stage. The idea is for it to sound aggressive, without being too loud. The 3rd fret capo isn’t really necessary, but does allow you to use an open A string and let it ring slightly, so I tend to use the capo. At the end of the number, set up for #19: “I’ll Cover You”, before switching to acoustic guitar (remove capo, change pickup setting to bridge and middle pickups – Position 4. Turn off distortion and turn on compressor).

#18: Santa Fe
Instrument: acoustic guitar (see notes below).
Tone: clean no effects.

Technique: there is inconsistency between the original RENT, the School Edition and cast recording on instrumentation for this number. The original Guitar 1 score is silent on whether to use acoustic or electric guitar; the School Edition indicates electric guitar with capo at 2nd fret; the cast recording uses acoustic guitar. I strongly recommend going with the acoustic guitar. No capo is needed because Guitar 1 does nothing more than play bluesy fills in the latter part of the song.

The score gives almost no information on what to play, other than indicating bluesy fills at m.85-86, m.93-94, m.117-118 and m.141-148. I suggest listening to the Broadway cast recording to get an idea of what’s needed, and then improvise. Fills should be sparse. You can add further fills at m.95-116 and some very light fills at the end of the song (m.149-157).

#19: I’ll Cover You
Instrument: electric guitar, bridge (in single coil mode) and middle pickups (Position 4).
Tone: clean with compressor throughout. The compressor adds a little warmth and sustain, and accentuates the attack on the palm-muted sections.

I love this song. After a lot of hinting, Angel and Collins’ love is placed front and center, to a gentle, shuffling heartbeat of a rhythm. It’s a beautiful, tender moment, and is the beating heart of RENT, despite being overshadowed by the more famous “Seasons of Love”.

Technique: for Guitar 1 the first part of the song is a simple single-note shuffle rhythm on C. It should be played just slightly palm-muted, and you need to lay back into the beat. The score lacks detail. I played simple fills at the end of every eight measures through the verses (m.11, 19,27,35, 67, 75). Measures 52-59 at the end of the first verse require fills throughout, and I played these high (14th-16th frets). Measures 100-127 are rhythm playing, and the notation in the book is nothing like what should be played (see example below). I played a long ascending run starting at C on the D string through m.120-123. Mostly this song is about rhythm, feel and texture. The guitar sits low in the mix, adding some “shimmer” for want of a better word.

ill-cover-you-excerpt

#20: We’re OK
Instrument: electric guitar, bridge (in single coil mode) and middle pickups (Position 4).
Tone: clean with compressor throughout. The compressor accentuates the attack on the palm-muted notes.

Technique: I played this exactly as written. It’s a simple part, mostly slurred 1/8th note pairs where the first is picked firmly and the second is a hammer-on.

#21: Christmas Bells
Instrument: electric guitar, bridge pickup in humbucker mode.
Tones: distortion (guitar solo section, m.99-126), heavy overdrive (end section, m.191-244).

Technique: this is a long number with lots of complex counterpoint vocals, and not so much to do for the guitar. There’s a big solo between m.99-126, which should be played as written, and aggressively. I used my distortion tone for this section. The final section of the song has a lot of single low notes, for which I switched to my warmer heavy overdrive tone.

#22: Over The Moon
Guitar 1 is Tacet in this number, but it’s a good moment to adjust the settings of the delay and tremolo pedals for Act 2. The delay is set for a long, single delay for solos, and the tremolo is set for use in #38: ”What You Own”.

#22a: Over The Moon – Playoff
Instrument: electric guitar, bridge pickup in humbucker mode.
Tone: heavy overdrive.

Technique: This brief playoff number should be played as written for m.1-8, then Guitar 1 improvises a solo for m.9 to the end. I occasionally use a wah pedal for the solo section, but it isn’t really necessary.

RENT School Edition - Seattle Children's Theatre, 2018

La Vie Boheme
Image courtesy of Seattle Children’s Theatre & ©2018 Eva Blanchard

#23: La Vie Boheme / I Should Tell You
Instruments: electric guitar, bridge pickup in humbucker mode throughout, except for m.267-270: acoustic guitar.
Tones: heavy overdrive throughout, except m.283-358 (Roger and Mimi “I Should Tell You” section), clean with chorus. Acoustic Guitar: no effects.

Technique: this is a glorious and riotous end to the very long Act 1. Guitar 1 is Tacet for the first half of the number, making a grand entrance with the “Musetta” solo at m.223 (assuming the on-stage guitar isn’t playing it). Some tips for this number:

  • m.223: stay focused throughout the first half of the song. The solo at m.223-224 is a key moment and it’s easy to get distracted and miss the cue!
  • m.239-254: play heavy power chords. Between m.243-246 the score calls for “pick muted a la Police”, but provides only slash marks. I suggest palm-muted arpeggios with low voicings (2nd-4th frets).
  • m.267-270: change to acoustic guitar after m.255 and play these 4 measures with the soft part of the thumb. Change back to electric guitar after m.270 (even though the score doesn’t say to do so), switch to a clean sound and turn on the chorus pedal.
  • m.283-358: this is the “I Should Tell You” section between Roger and Mimi. Play clean with chorus pedal. A subtle delay might also be nice, but I don’t use one. This section has to be played with fingers to play as written. The single notes given at m.335-338 are meant to be the top notes of chord voicings, which should be played at the 7th fret. After m.358 switch back to heavy overdrive and turn off the chorus.
  • m.367-374: use volume pedal swells for each note.
  • m.392-420: play big, rhythmic power chords throughout, irrespective of the chord names given (for example, play B5 instead of B2 at m.394). The power chords work better. You can really dig in at this point as the number builds to a big finale.
  • m.422: the big “siren wail” as Mimi and Roger kiss. I usually add a clean boost to get some feedback and make liberal use of the whammy bar here.
  • m.426: button at end of song. I recommend playing an F#5 power chord, not F#2.

#24: Seasons Of Love A
Instrument: tambourine! I always enjoy playing tambourine for this number! Slap the tambourine against your other hand to accent beats 2 and 4 of each measure in the 16th notes sections.

#25: Happy New Year A
Instrument: electric guitar, bridge pickup in humbucker mode.
Tone: heavy overdrive.

Technique: this number is mostly just riffing on power chords. It’s another part of the score that lacks sufficient detail. No voicings are provided in the score but it’s just the obvious voicings throughout. Where a rhythm is given, it should be played as written. It is worth listening to the Broadway cast recording to get a better idea of the feel of the number. A few tips:

  • Simple fills should be played at the ends of m.12, 16, 24, 88 and 92 (listen to recording for examples). No fills are indicated in the score, so these will need to be marked in.
  • m.17-19: continue playing chords, but palm-mute slightly.
  • m.43-56: this is a reprise of #20: “We’re OK” and should be played in a similar style.
  • m.93-95: continue playing chords, but palm-mute slightly.
  • m.100: I used the whammy bar to slightly dive bomb off the end of the whole note Bb power chord.

#28: Happy New Year B
Instrument: electric guitar, bridge pickup in humbucker mode.
Tone: heavy overdrive.

Technique: this is a continuation of #25: “Happy New Year A”. The score is equally vague but the advice given for Part A applies here. Some specifics:

  • Simple fills should be played at m.m.4, 8, 68, 72 and 80.
  • m.9-11: continue playing chords, but palm-mute slightly.
  • m.14: error in the score. The chord should be G5, not D5.
  • m.18: use the whammy bar to slightly dive bomb off the end of the whole note Bb power chord.
  • m.23-30 and m.43-50: this is where the characters on stage are arguing and the music gets very tense. I played this a bit more freely than it’s written (see example below) and allowed the notes to ring out loud and long.
  • m. 51-56: there’s a guitar solo here, but it should be fairly quiet so as not to drown out the vocals. The idea is to be angry, wailing and slightly discordant. I played bent unisons starting at a high C and made use of the whammy bar.
  • m.73-75: continue playing chords, but palm-mute slightly.
  • m.84: use the whammy bar to dive bomb off the end of the whole note C power chord, a little more definitively than for the previous instances.

happy-new-year-b-excerpt

#29: Valentine’s Day Crossover
Instrument: acoustic guitar (note: the School Edition incorrectly says to use Electric Guitar).
Tone: clean no effects.

Technique: a simple, short scene change piece. Play exactly as written. At the end set a capo at the 2nd fret (for #32: “Without You”) before changing to electric.

#30: Take Me Or Leave Me
Instrument: electric guitar, bridge (in single coil mode) and middle pickups (Position 4).
Tone: clean with compressor throughout.

Technique: Maureen and Joanne fall out, to a very groovy shuffle. This is a lot of fun to play, and Guitar 1 has a chance to play some flashy, clean, bluesy fills. It’s another number where the score lacks detail, so once I again I recommend listening carefully to the Broadway cast recording to get a feel for what’s needed before diving into working out a part.

Some tips:

  • For the verses (m.28-39 and m.65-72), play exactly as written and palm-muted.
  • For the chord voicings, I generally played medium voicings using the top 4 strings, between the 5th and 10th frets.
  • Fills: required at m.55, 60, 95-96, 101 and 108-110. For the m.108-110 fills I played a very specific melodic fill, which is transcribed below.
  • The chords at the end of m.110 are G, and I played this at the 3rd fret.

take-me-outro-fill

#31: Seasons Of Love B
Instrument: tambourine again! Slap the tambourine against your other hand to accent beats 2 and 4 of each measure. After m.16 change quickly to acoustic guitar for the segue into #32: “Without You”.

#32: Without You
Instrument: acoustic guitar, or nylon-string acoustic guitar, with capo at 2nd fret (note: the School Edition incorrectly says to use Electric Guitar).
Tone: clean, no effects.

Technique: this is a sad and very emotional moment in the show. The guitar opens the number solo, and it’s really important to get the tempo right and keep it steady throughout – do not rush! The whole number is played note-for-note as written. While it’s not particularly difficult, it is very repetitive, and it’s easy to get lost. I recommend writing some of the vocal lines into the score to help keep track of where you are. At the end of the number, set a capo at the 1st fret on the acoustic guitar, ready for #36: “Halloween”, before changing to electric guitar.

I usually use a nylon-string acoustic for this number. It suits the material very well, and (like the 12-string acoustic in #16: “Will I”) adds more variety to the sound of the show.

RENT School Edition - Seattle Children's Theatre, 2018

“Live in my house, I’ll be your shelter…”
Image courtesy of Seattle Children’s Theatre & ©2018 Eva Blanchard

#35: I’ll Cover You – Reprise
Instrument: electric guitar, bridge (in single coil mode) and middle pickups (Position 4).
Tone: clean with compressor throughout.

The most heartbreaking moment in the show. Angel has died, the cast eulogizes him, then Collins, broken, steps forward to sing this reprise of their love song. It’s immensely powerful.

Technique: this is another number that’s lacking in detail. I offer the following suggestions:

  • m.22-29: play volume swell chords, as called for in the score. Low voicings work best.
  • m.30-41: play laid back rhythm. The score has just slash marks; my suggestion for the rhythm is given below.
  • m.42-47: the rhythm given in the score should be played, and this section is louder.
  • m.44: the score says to revert to volume swells here. This is an error (it should be at m.48).
  • m.48-52: much quieter again. Only slash marks are given. I suggest reverting to volume swell chords (like m.22-29).

ill-cover-you-reprise-excerpt

#36: Halloween
Instrument: acoustic guitar, with capo at 1st fret (note: the School Edition incorrectly says to use Electric Guitar).
Tone: clean, no effects.

Technique: this number should be played exactly as written, note for note. Like many of the picked acoustic parts in RENT it’s important to keep a steady pace – don’t rush! This is actually only half the guitar part – Guitar 2 has the other half. The two mesh to form one whole part (listen to the cast recording and you’ll get the idea). This is another reason to keep the tempo steady: Guitar 1 and Guitar 2 must be completely synchronized throughout. When I play a Combined book, I play both of the parts, which is tricky. At the end of the number, remove the capo before switching to electric guitar.

#37: Goodbye Love
Instrument: electric guitar, bridge pickup in humbucker mode.
Tone: heavy overdrive.

Technique: this is a really long number, but Guitar 1 only plays for a few measures. This is a moment where various characters vent their anger at each other. Play loud. Some tips:

  • m.41-46: play power chords. Whole notes are shown, but you can play a little more freely.
  • m.47-48: still using power chords, I suggest playing quarter-notes for m.47 and eighth-notes for m.48. Crescendo throughout and play increasingly aggressively, then back to whole note power chords at m.49, but LOUD!
  • m.49-61: play as written. Play piano from m.58 onwards.

#38: What You Own
Instrument: electric guitar, bridge pickup in humbucker mode.
Tone: overdrive (I used an Ibanez TS-9), with slow, subtle tremolo.

The score for this number is transcribed almost completely as slash marks and fails to provide enough detail for playing the number. It’s necessary to listen to the Broadway cast recording to get a reasonable idea of what to play. I provide an example below – 4 measures from the chorus as written in the score compared with how I played them. I also provide a complete chart for the number as I played it here.

#38: What You Own excerpt

Technique: Guitar 2 has a lot of the action in this number, but Guitar 1 is still busy. Some suggestions to help you navigate the sea of slash marks:

  • m.22-38: play a slightly palm-muted 1/8-note rhythm. This is the intro and first verse.
  • m.39-46: play the rhythm as written in m.39-40. Play all the accented notes and mute all of the others (atonal clicks). Keep the rhythm going through m.41-45, then play a ringing E5 (i.e. no 3rd) at m.46.
  • m.46-58: more slash marks! I played a series of ringing arpeggios through the chorus (as shown in the example below). The subsequent choruses should be played similarly (m.79-92, m.127-140 and m.127-144).
  • m.40: error in the score. This should be a D, not C.
  • m.59-60: play m.59 as written, and a ringing E5 chord for m.60 (no 3rd in the chord).
  • m.63-78: another verse. Play as per m.31-46.
  • m.93-94: play ringing, loud, whole-note A2 chords.
  • m.95-102: play big, ringing chords.
  • m.103-110: in this 8-measure rest, fit a capo to 1st fret, to allow you to keep using ringing, open voicings for the final chorus after the key change.
  • m.111-125: I played root notes only for each chord.
  • m.145-152: I played high voicings at the 8th fret on the top 3 strings for the Ab2 and Bb2 chords, and a fast staccato rhythm.

Reading through all the details above, the best advice I can give on understanding how to play this number is to listen to the Broadway cast recording, and look at my chart.

#40: Finale A
Instrument: electric guitar, bridge pickup with coil tap.
Tone: clean (bright, single coil sound); clean with chorus m.136-139.

Technique: this is one more reprise of the tune-ups which started the show. See notes on #1: “Tune Up A” above. At m.136, add chorus and play the 4-measure melody as written. After m.140, turn the chorus off, switch to the heavy overdrive sound and turn on the delay, before changing to acoustic guitar.

#41: Your Eyes
Instruments: acoustic guitar (m.19-37), electric guitar, bridge pickup in humbucker mode (m.42-58).
Tones: acoustic guitar is clean with no effects. Electric guitar uses heavy overdrive tone, with a long, single-repeat delay and a clean boost for the big solo at the end of the number.

Technique: the number should be played exactly as written.

  • m.19-37: the acoustic part is all delicate, picked arpeggios. Guitar 2 starts the number, with Guitar 1 coming in at m.19 to fill out the sound.
  • m.38-41: very quick change to electric guitar for a huge solo. You can’t miss the cue at m.42, so it’s important to set the overdrive and delay on at the end of the previous number, as noted above.
  • m.42-58: big solo! Play loud, expressively and lyrically. Fade out slowly at the end of the number. Turn off the delay and clean boost at the end of the number.
RENT School Edition - Seattle Children's Theatre, 2018

“No day but today…”
Image courtesy of Seattle Children’s Theatre & ©2018 Eva Blanchard

#42: Finale B
Instrument: electric guitar, bridge pickup in humbucker mode.
Tone: heavy overdrive.

Technique: this is the grand finale. Play “grandly” and boldly. Some tips:

  • m.38: Guitar 1 comes in with a big D power chord. I recommend a long pick slide leading into the downbeat of m.38.
  • m.38-65: all the chords should be played as power chords (no 3rd). Play big, sustained power chords using obvious voicings as written for m.38-53, then shift into the rhythm as written from m.54 onwards. At m.54, the F# power chord should be at the 9th fret, not down low at the 2nd.
  • m.73-89: play as written.
  • m.90-98: there’s a long sustained C# note right through these measures. To keep it going, I suggest adding a clean boost at m.90 to start generating some feedback, then control the feedback with the volume pedal. I usually add a bit of subtle whammy bar in at this point as well.

#43: Exit Music (“I’ll Cover You”)
Instrument: electric guitar, bridge (in single coil mode) and middle pickups (Position 4).
Tone: clean with compressor throughout.

This is an extended reprise of #19: “I’ll Cover You”, with a solo for everyone. Guitar 1 has the lead from m.3-20 the third time through. See notes on #19 for tips on rhythm and technique. Much as I love this song, it’s makes for a slightly anti-climactic curtain call. Most productions I have worked on have used either #43: “Finale B”, starting at m.54 (i.e. the loud bit!), or the last part of #38: “What You Own”.

LINKS – ON THIS SITE
RENT Combined Guitar Book details – measure-by-measure details of how to prepare a combined book
List of differences between RENT and RENT School Edition (focuses on Guitar books)
#38: What You Own – chart for my guitar part, as played
RENT – A Perspective On An Iconic Musical
Playing RENT – Guitar 1 and Guitar 2 (includes full details of equipment used and setup)
RENT – Detailed Notes On The Guitar 2 / Keyboard Book

LINKS – EXTERNAL
RENT – Wikipedia page
RENT – Original Broadway Cast Recording
RENT – Licensing Information (MTI)
RENT School Edition – Licensing Information (MTI)

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