How To Play Terrapin by Syd Barrett

A lovely, easy to play tune by one of my favourite songwriters. I show you 3 ways to approach it: simple strumming, electric guitar arpeggios, and a cool way of combining the chords and melody at the same time.

In case you don't already know it, the original recording sounds like this: 

And here's my video lesson:

You might also want to check out this live clip of David Gilmour playing the song, elaborating the basic chords with some nice melody notes:


Simple Strumming

This approach is based on the acoustic part Syd plays on the original recording. The chords used are mostly 6th string root barre chords, but there's also an open E, a 5th string root D barre chord, and a nice E7 chord in the 'C form'. I've written out the chords below. Make sure you locate the barre chords at the right fret - I've put fret numbers alongside. If we're going to get nerdy about it, you can't always hear the low root note of the barre chords on the recording. It could be that Syd mostly fretted his barre chords in the kind of folky fashion where he was just covering the top two strings with his index finger and not barring all the way across. Either way works - it's up to you. If you need a bit more help with the technique and theory behind barre chords you might like to look at these lessons where I take you through the basics:

All About Barre Chords, Part 1

All About Barre Chords, Part 2



I've written out a chord/lyric chart to the song below. I thought this was the most straightforward way of writing out this song. It should be quite easy to piece the whole tune together, but you'll need to watch my video and listen closely to the original to get all the rhythmic details correct. 

You can download a high-quality PDF of the music here.



Below I've written out a verse and B-section's worth of the overdubbed electric part. It sticks fairly closely to what Syd plays during the first verse and first B-section. I'd suggest using this as a guide and improvising your own part based on the underlying chords. 

Chords With Added Melody Notes

This is just a question of adding a few melodic ornamentations to the basic chords. Mostly this is done with the pinky, meaning you'll need to re-finger your barre chords to free the little finger up. Watch the video to see me demonstrate one way of doing this. When I get time I might write out some tab/music for this approach too.