Scroll down for full video lesson (with tab) of Dust in the Wind.
Dust in the Wind by Kansas is one of my favourite fingerpicking songs to teach students because it uses a great right hand pattern that runs through the whole song. It not only teaches you how to play a very useful pattern but also how to build stamina and keep it going for 4 minutes.
Dust in the Wind Song Facts:
- Released - 1977
- Album - Point of Know Return
- Written by Kerry Livgren
- Peaked at no. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100
- Originally the progression was just an exercise to help Livgren's fingerpicking techniques.
- Key - C major
- Tempo 94 Bpm
The song uses travis picking technique throughout with the thumb constantly alternating between two bass strings. I strongly recommend getting very comfortable with the pattern first before you try and learn it with the chord progression.
Here's just the fingerpicking pattern played on a C chord:
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The great thing about the intro to Dust in the Wind is that it only uses the above fingerpicking pattern across the A, D, G and B strings. It's all based around a C and an Am chord, with lots of reasonably simple variations played on each chord.
If you're wanting to increase your chord vocabulary then this is a great song to learn. Hopefully it will give you some of your own ideas and help you with your own writing.
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On to the verse and the pattern is still the same but sometimes you have to skip certain strings with your thumb. This is a great exercise and you must work to get it very comfortable.
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The chorus to Dust in the Wind continues in a similar fashion to the verse and the intro with some tricky hammer ons coming on the Am in the final bar.
Finally the only other missing part of the song is the instrumental. Here the strings take charge and the acoustic guitar lays a nice blanket of arpeggiated chords for them to play over. Despite the uncommon chord shapes, we're still playing the exact same pattern with the right hand.