Solo Guitar Arrangement – Gary Jules ‘Mad World’

Lesson Introduction

I had a lot of requests lately for the Gary Jules and Micheal Andrews version of ‘Mad World’. The original Tears For Fears version is an absolute classic but there is something about the haunting arrangement of Gary Jules that seems completely timeless. I think a lot of people first heard this on Donnie Darko (such a good film) but it comes around pretty regular with every generation. This was single from the 2001 Gary Jules album, ‘Trading Snakeoil for Wolftickets’ and was written by Roland Orzabal of Tears For Fears.

Before we dive in to the lesson grab yourself a copy of the sheet music (with TAB) from Sheet Music Plus here!

Initially I set out to create a very basic open chord version for beginner student. As time passed I found myself bringing in elements of Micheal Andrews piano arrangement and vocal melody into my version. Before I knew it I found myself arranging a full version for solo guitar for my more dextorous students. Despite being arranged initially for solo guitar this arrangement would also work well with a vocalist for a beautiful duet.

To make the arrangement possible and accessible, the piece has been arranged in A minor. To play this arrangement in the original Gary Jules key of F minor simply place a capo on the 8th fret. If you want the Tears for Fears version put the capo on the 9th (this may be a little cramped for some acoustics).

Performance Notes

  • The arrangement requires a basic knowledge of fingerstyle technique. The bass line should be played with the thumb throughout with the remaining fingers focusing on the melody. If you are struggling to get separation between the parts try dampening the lower strings with the side of the palm.
  • As the piano utilises a sustain pedal in the original, aim to let notes ring out were possible and if played amplified add reverb to increase the overall ambience.
  • The only challenging chord shape in the piece is the first D chord of the Chorus which should be approached with a barred C shape.

If you have any other problems with the piece leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible!

Final Thoughts

I hope you found this lesson and the arrangement useful for your own performances. I’d love to hear your performance of the piece, put a link to your video/audio in the comments section below and I’ll take a listen. The next solo guitar arrangement on the list is the 90’s classic ballad ‘Kiss From A Rose’ by Seal. Thanks for reading!

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