Guitar Lesson: Tomorrow Tomorrow

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Since posting my cover of Elliott Smith’s Tomorrow Tomorrow on YouTube a few months ago, I’ve received several requests for help from enthusiastic guitarists looking to learn the song themselves. Rather than address everybody in a brief reply, I thought I would make a thorough post explaining how I learned to play the more difficult parts of the song. If this post doesn’t cut it, let me know! I’ll be happy to field any further questions that you may have (post them as comments to this blog entry so that I see them when I go to make edits).

The Video

For referential purposes, here is the YouTube video to which this post refers.

Tab

Thanks to Fat Brian Wilson for supplying the PowerTab off of which I based my arrangement/performance. Here’s the final version as I played it:

Tomorrow Tomorrow
as written by Elliott Smith
as performed by Robby Grossman
originally appears on the 1998 album "XO"

All words and music by Elliott Smith
Transcribed by Fat Brian Wilson & Robby Grossman

Arranged for single guitar by Robby Grossman

tab v2

Tuning: D-G-C-F-A-D (Standard tuning, down one full step)

 Intro
  Q=86(16=s16)
  (Bm)
 4/4
  Gtr I
  |-3-| |-3-| |-3-| |-3-| |-3-| |-3-| |-3-| |-3-|
  S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S
|---0-0---0-0---2-2---5-5---5-5---5-5---2-2---0-0-|
|-------3-----------3-----------3-----------3-----|
|-4-----------4-----------4-----------4-----------|
|-------------------------------------------------|
|-------------------------------------------------|
|-------------------------------------------------|


  (A)
  |-3-| |-3-| |-3-| |-3-| |-3-| |-3-| |-3-| |-3-|
  S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S
|---0-0---0-0---2-2---5-5---5-5---5-5---2-2---3-3-|
|-------2-----------2-----------2-----------2-----|
|-2-----------2-----------2-----------2-----------|
|-------------------------------------------------|
|-------------------------------------------------|
|-------------------------------------------------|


  (C/G)
  |-3-| |-3-| |-3-| |-3-| |-3-| |-3-| |-3-| |-3-|
  S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S
|---3-3---3-3---3-3---3-3---3-3---2-2---0-0---0-0-|
|-------1-----------1-----------1-----------1-----|
|-0-----------0-----------0-----------0-----------|
|-------------------------------------------------|
|-------------------------------------------------|
|-------------------------------------------------|


  (E/G#)
  |-3-| |-3-| |-3-| |-3-| |-3-| |-3-| |-3-| |-3-|
  S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S
|---2-2---2-2---2-2---0-0---0-0---0-0---0-0---0-0--|
|-------0-----------0-----------0-----------0------|
|-1-----------1-----------1-----------1------------|
|--------------------------------------------------|
|--------------------------------------------------|
|--------------------------------------------------|


  (Bm)
  |-3-| |-3-| |-3-| |-3-| |-3-| |-3-| |-3--| |3|
  S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S  S S E S
|---0-0---0-0---2-2---5-5---5-5---5-5---/7-7---5-|
|-------3-----------3-----------3------------0---|
|-4-----------4-----------4-----------4----------|
|------------------------------------------------|
|------------------------------------------------|
|------------------------------------------------|


  (A)
  |-3-| |-3-| |-3-| |-3-| |-3-| |-3-| |-3-| |-3-|
  S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S
|---5-5---5-5---5-5---5-5---5-5---5-5---5-4---4-3---|
|-------2-----------2-----------2-----------2-------|
|-2-----------2-----------2-----------2-------------|
|---------------------------------------------------|
|---------------------------------------------------|
|---------------------------------------------------|


  (C)
  |-3-| |-3-| |-3-| |-3-| |-3-| |-3-| |-3-| |-3-|
  S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S
|---3-3---3-3---3-3---3-3---3-3---2-2---2-0---0-2-|
|-------1-----------1-----------1-----------1-----|
|-0-----------0-----------0-----------0-----------|
|-------------------------------------------------|
|-------------------------------------------------|
|-------------------------------------------------|


  (E/G#)
  |-3-| |-3-| |-3-| |-3-| |-3-| |-3-| |-3-|
  S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S E
|---2-2---2-2---2-2---2-0---0-0---0-0---0-0---||
|-------0-----------0-----------0-----------0-||
|-1-----------1-----------1-----------1-------||
|---------------------------------------------||
|---------------------------------------------||
|---------------------------------------------||


   Verse 1
    Bm                      Bm7           A6
    S S S S S S S S S S S S S S a S  S    S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S
||----2---2---2---2-----------2------2--|---2---2---2---2---2-----------0-|
||o---3---3---3---3-----------3------3--|---2---2---2---2---2-----------0-|
||------4-------4-----------2---2h4-(4)-|-----2-------2---------------0---|
||------------------2h4-2h4-------------|---------------------2h4-2h4-----|
||o-2-------2---------------------------|-0-------0-------0---------------|
||--------------------------------------|---------------------------------|


  1.
  C/G                                   E
  S S S S S S S S S S S S a S S S  S    S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S  S
|-------------------------------------|-------------------------------------||
|---0---0---0---0---0---0-----0----0--|---0---0---0---0---0---0---0----0---o||
|-------------------------------------|-----1---2---1-------1---------------||
|-----2-------2-------2---2s4---2-(2)-|-----------------2-------0-----------||
|-------------------------------------|-----------------------------4-(4)--o||
|-3-------3-------3-------------------|-0-----------------------------------||


  2.
  C/G                                   E
  S S S S S S S S S S S S a S S S  S    S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S  S
|-------------------------------------|------------------------------------||
|---0---0---0---0---0---0-----0----0--|---0---0---0---0---0---0---0----0---||
|-------------------------------------|-----1---2---1-------1--------------||
|-----2-------2-------2---2s4---2-(2)-|-----------------2-------2---0-(0)--||
|-------------------------------------|------------------------------------||
|-3-------3-------3-------------------|-0----------------------------------||


   Verse 2
    Bm/D                                Em/C#
    S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S  S    S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S  S
||------------------------------------|------------------------------------|
||o---0---0---0-------0-------0----0--|---0---0---0-------0-------0----0---|
||------4-------4h5-----5p4-----4-(4)-|-----0-------0h3-----3h4-----4-(4)--|
||------------------------------------|------------------------------------|
||o-5-------5-------5-------5---------|-4-------4-------4-------4----------|
||------------------------------------|------------------------------------|


  1.
  C                                   E
  S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S  S    S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S  S
|-----------------------------------|------------------------------------||
|---1---1---1-------1-------1----1--|---0---0---0---0---0---0---0----0--o||
|-----0-------0h2-----2h4-----4-(4)-|-----1---2---1-------1--------------||
|-----------------------------------|-----------------2-------2---0-(0)--||
|-3-------3-------3-------3---------|-----------------------------------o||
|-----------------------------------|-0----------------------------------||


  2.
  C                                   E
  S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S  S    S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S
|-----------------------------------|---------------------------------||
|---1---1---1-------1-------1----1--|---0---0---0---0---0---0---0---0-||
|-----0-------0h2-----2h4-----4-(4)-|-----1---2---1-------1-----------||
|-----------------------------------|-----------------2-------2---2---||
|-3-------3-------3-------3---------|---------------------------------||
|-----------------------------------|-0-------------------------------||


 Chorus 1
  E                                                     E/A E/B
                                                  T
  E S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S   E S S S S S S S S S S S S S S
|-------------------------------------|-------------------------------|
|-------------------------------------|-------------------------------|
|---1-------2---1-------1---1---1-----|-----2---1---1---1---1---1---1-|
|-------2-----------2---2---2-------2-|---------------------2---2---2-|
|-----------------------2---2---------|---------------------2---2---2-|
|-0---0---0---0---0---0-0-0-0-0---0---|-0-0---0---0---0---0-0-0-0-0-0-|


See video for rhythm:
  C        G5         A      E
  H         H         H      H
|-0---------3-------|-0------0----|
|-1---------3-------|-2------0----|
|-0---------0-------|-2------1----|
|-2---------0-------|-2------2----|
|-3---------2-------|-0------2----|
|-----------3-------|--------0----|


  E                                                     E/A E/B
                                                  T
  E S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S   E S S S S S S S S S S S S S S
|-------------------------------------|-------------------------------|
|-------------------------------------|-------------------------------|
|---1-------2---1-------1---1---1-----|-----2---1---1---1---1---1---1-|
|-------2-----------2---2---2-------2-|---------------------2---2---2-|
|-----------------------2---2---------|---------------------2---2---2-|
|-0---0---0---0---0---0-0-0-0-0---0---|-0-0---0---0---0---0-0-0-0-0-0-|


See video for rhythm:
  C    G5     A    E      C    B7
  H    H      H    H      H    Q 
|-0----3----|-0----0----|-0---------||
|-1----3----|-2----0----|-1----0----||
|-0----0----|-2----1----|-0----2----||
|-2----0----|-2----2----|-2----1----||
|-3----2----|-0----2----|-3----2----||
|------3----|------0----|-----------||


 Interlude
  (E)                                                      N.C.
  S S S S S S S S S S S  S S  S S  S S S    S S S  S S S S  
|----------------------------------------||--------------------0---12---10---12-------|
|---9---5--10---9---5---12---12---12---9-||---5---10---9-------0---0----0----0--------|
|----------------------------------------||--------------------9---9----9----9--------|
|---6---2---7---6---2----9----9----9---6-||---2----7---6-------9--(9)--(9)--(9)-------|
|----------------------------------------||--------------------11-(11)-(11)-(11)------|
|-0---0---0---0---0---0----0----0----0---||-0---0----0---0-----0--(0)--(0)--(0)-------|

See video for rhythm:


|------0--0---------||
|-13---8--8---10--8-||
|-12---0--0---9---9-||
|------9--9---7---7-||
|------10-----------||
|-11------10--9---8-||


|-------------||
|-8-----------||
|-9-----------||
|-7-8-8-------||
|-------------||
|-8-7-6-------||

|-------------------------------||
|---9---10--9---12--12---10s9---||
|-------------------------------||
|---6---7---6---9---9-----7s6---||
|-----------------------------7-||
|-0---0---0---0---0---0---------||


 Verse 3
  Bm/D                                Em/C#
  S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S  S    S S  S  S S S S S S S S S S S S  S
|-----------------------------------|-------------------------------------|
|---0---0---0-------0-------0----0--|---0-----0---0-------0-------0----0--|
|-----4-------4h5-----5p4-----4-(4)-|------0--------0h3-----3h4-----4-(4)-|
|-----------------------------------|-----(2)-----------------------------|
|-5-------5-------5-------5---------|-4---------4-------4-------4---------|
|-----------------------------------|-------------------------------------|


  C                                   E
  S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S  S    S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S  S
|-----------------------------------|-----------------------------------|
|---1---1---1-------1-------1----1--|---0---0---0---0---0---0---0----0--|
|-----0-------0h2-----2h4-----4-(4)-|-----1---2---1-------1-------------|
|-----------------------------------|-----------------2-------2---0-(0)-|
|-3-------3-------3-------3---------|-----------------------------------|
|-----------------------------------|-0---------------------------------|


  Bm/D                                 Em/C#
  S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S  S     S S  S  S S S S S S S S S S S S  S
|------------------------------------|-------------------------------------|
|---0---0---0-------0-------0----0---|---0-----0---0-------0-------0----0--|
|-----4-------4h5-----5p4-----7-(7)\-|------0--------0h3-----3h4-----4-(4)-|
|------------------------------------|-----(2)-----------------------------|
|-5-------5-------5-------5----------|-4---------4-------4-------4---------|
|------------------------------------|-------------------------------------|


  C                                   E
  S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S  S    S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S  S
|-----------------------------------|-----------------------------------||
|---1---1---1-------1-------1----1--|---0---0---0---0---0---0---0----0--||
|-----0-------0h2-----2h4-----4-(4)-|-----1---2---1-------1-------------||
|-----------------------------------|-----------------2-------2---0-(0)-||
|-3-------3-------3-------3---------|-----------------------------------||
|-----------------------------------|-0---------------------------------||


   Verse 4
    Bm/D                                Em/C#
    S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S  S    S S  S  S S S S S S S S S S S S  S
||------------------------------------|--------------------------------------|
||o---0---0---0-------0-------0----0--|---0-----0---0-------0-------0----0---|
||------4-------4h5-----5p4-----4-(4)-|------0--------0h2-----2p0-----0-(0)--|
||------------------------------------|-----(2)------------------------------|
||o-5-------5-------5-------5---------|-4---------4-------4-------4----------|
||------------------------------------|--------------------------------------|


  1.,2.
  C                                   E
  S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S  S    S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S  S   3x
|-----------------------------------|------------------------------------||
|---1---1---1-------1-------1----1--|---0---0---0---0---0---0---0----0--o||
|-----0-------0h2-----2p0-----0-(0)-|-----1---2---1-------1--------------||
|-----------------------------------|-----------------2-------2---0-(0)--||
|-3-------3-------3-------3---------|-----------------------------------o||
|-----------------------------------|-0----------------------------------||


  3.                        H.=H    Q=67
  C                         B7/F#   E
  S S S S S S S S S S S  S  S S E    W
|---------------------------------|-^0----*|
|---1---1---1-------1----1----0---|-^0----*|
|-----0-------0h2-----0-(0)-------|-^1----*|
|-------------------------------1-|-^2----*|
|-3-------3-------3---------2-----|-^2----*|
|---------------------------------|-^0----*|


Duration Legend
---------------
W - whole; H - half; Q - quarter; E - 8th; S - 16th; T - 32nd; X - 64th; a - acciaccatura
+ - note tied to previous; . - note dotted; .. - note double dotted
Uncapitalized letters represent notes that are staccato (1/2 duration)
Irregular groupings are notated above the duration line
Duration letters will always appear directly above the note/fret number it represents the
duration for.  Duration letters with no fret number below them represent rests.  Multi-
bar rests are notated in the form Wxn, where n is the number of bars to rest for.  Low
melody durations appear below the staff

Tablature Legend
----------------
 h   - hammer-on
 p   - pull-off
 b   - bend
 pb  - pre-bend
 r   - bend release (if no number after the r, then release immediately)
 /\  - slide into or out of (from/to "nowhere")
 s   - legato slide
 S   - shift slide
<n>  - natural harmonic
[n]  - artificial harmonic
n(n) - tapped harmonic
 ~   - vibrato
 tr  - trill
 T   - tap
 TP  - trem. picking
 PM  - palm muting
\n/  - tremolo bar dip; n = amount to dip
 \n  - tremolo bar down
 n/  - tremolo bar up
/n\  - tremolo bar inverted dip
 =   - hold bend; also acts as connecting device for hammers/pulls
 <>  - volume swell (louder/softer)
 x   - on rhythm slash represents muted slash
 o   - on rhythm slash represents single note slash

Misc Legend
-----------
 |  - bar
||  - double bar
||o - repeat start
o|| - repeat end
*|  - double bar (ending)
 :  - bar (freetime)
 $  - Segno
 &  - Coda
Tempo markers - <E/E./Q/Q./H/H.> = BPM(8/16=s8/s16), where s8 = swing 8ths, s16 = swing 16ths

Tuning: Studio vs Live

I play this in standard tuning down one full step. D-G-C-F-A-D. I’ll explain what Elliott did in detail later, but for now, that’s all you need to know.

Intro (0:00-0:21)

The intro is done with tremolo-picking using your thumb, middle and index (pointer) fingers. I suggest using this process to learn it.

  1. Break the rhythm into triplets. 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3. This triplet pattern is the foundation of the tremolo picking that Elliott employs.

  2. Instead of thinking “1-2-3, 1-2-3,” think “t-m-i, t-m-i” (meaning “thumb-middle-index, thumb-middle-index”). This is the right-hand order in which you will be plucking the strings. This is important! Doing t-m-i, t-m-i will make your life a lot easier than doing, say, t-i-m, t-i-m. The reason for this has to do with the respective lengths of your fingers and the motion that you will employ as described in the next step. Get this pattern down before picking up the guitar. Tap on a table with your right hand if it helps. Thumb-middle-index, thumb-middle-index.

  3. For each triplet, think of your right hand as making a single sweep. The motion is identical to that as though you are closing your hand and grabbing onto something. Begin each sweep with the thumb (alternating between the G and B strings as indicated in the tab). The pull from your thumb will draw your middle and index fingers up against the high E string. Start slow, preferably with a metronome, and work your way up to tempo. Pay close attention to evenly timing your notes, and only play as fast as you can in proper rhythm. Don’t worry about speed, we’ll work on that in the next step.

  4. Build your speed slowly. If you have a metronome it’s a great way to monitor and force yourself to build speed at a manageable rate. If not, you need to be careful not to speed up or slow down drastically. This often happens when you are simply playing as fast as you can, so be aware of it! Keep your hand as relaxed as possible, and pay attention to make sure that you’re not flexing your forearm or your bicep. Flexing muscles will make you tense, making it more difficult to play fast. Also, keep your wrist and the rest of your hand up off of the strings while you play. As a reference point, Elliott plays the intro at about 78 beats per minute on XO.

  5. Learn the left-hand in pieces, not all at once! The impressive part of the intro is no doubt in the right hand, so don’t get hung up elsewhere while learning it. Learn the first measure, then the second. Work on that for 10 minutes, an hour, a day, however long it takes you to get it down, not necessarily at full tempo, but at consistent rhythm. Then learn the third and fourth and so on. The left hand will come easily as you progress with the right hand.

Verse Pt 1 (0:21-0:42)

“Everybody knows which way you go…”

The first part of the verse is played in conventional two-part classical style. The thumb is used to pick the bass notes on the low E, A, D and G strings. The index and middle fingers are used to pick the syncopated notes on the B and high E strings, respectively.

I’m not sure that there is a “correct” fingering to the ending riff of this part of the verse. In the video, I play the end riff with absolute right-hand alternation of my thumb and index finger.

Verse Pt 2 (0:42-1:02)

“I heard the hammer at the lock…”

Continuing the right hand technique, I use absolute alternation, switching between my thumb and index finger here. The timing works out such that the thumb hits all notes on the A and G strings while the index finger gets all the notes on the B string.

The ending riff in this part of the verse is identical to the one that ends the first part of the verse.

Verse Pt 3 (1:02-1:26)

“The noise is coming out, and if it’s not out now…”

The right-hand work here is no more difficult than in the previous parts, but it is slightly less predictable and intuitive. It’s probably easiest to just look at the video to see how I pick it, but the “pattern” is as follows:

  1. T-M-T-I-T-M-T-M-T-I-T-thumb strum-T-thumb strum

  2. T-M-T-I-T-M-T-M-T-M-T-thumb strum-T-thumb strum

  3. Chord strumming (all done as open chords in first position): C G A E
  4. Repeat 1-3

  5. Chord strumming (all done as open chords in first position): C B7

Bridge (1:26-1:52)

The bridge begins by alternating an open low E string with various octaves as indicated in the tab. I play this part by fingerpicking the thumb on the low E string in a downward motion and playing the syncopated octave licks in an upward-motion strum.

As far as the rest of the bridge goes, I think the easiest way for you to learn it is to watch me play it, follow along with the tab, and then give it a whirl yourself. I don’t have any particular advice, but I’d be happy to answer any specific questions that you have.

Outro (1:52-2:43)

“I’ve got static in my head, the reflected sound of everything…”

The outro is nearly identical to Verse, Pt 2. The only difference is that the last time through Elliott moves through the C chord slightly differently (as indicated in the tab), and rather than fall to the E chord as normal, he lands on the same B7 chord that he used to bring us into the bridge. Again, if you have any specific questions, ask ‘em!

Acknowledgments

Thanks to Fat Brian Wilson for posting the original powertab off of which I based the tab for my performance, to my mother for teaching me the art of classical tremolo picking, and to Elliott for among many things, raising the bar for my own playing. I’d also like to thank those of you who asked me to post this lesson and those who nagged me about it to the point of completion.

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