Whether you’re a beginner or a professional guitarist, there’s a good chance that you’ll want to learn to play Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Not only is it one of the world’s most widely recognized songs, but it’s also a great way to exercise your playing skills and vocal ability.
How to Play Somewhere Over the Rainbow on Guitar
The best way to learn how to play Somewhere Over the Rainbow on guitar is to start with the simplified version before graduating to the more complex chords.
Chords for Beginners
To play Somewhere Over the Rainbow, you’ll need to learn and memorize the following chords:
Some of these chords might be a little tricky for beginners, but practice and patience go a long way. And once you’ve gotten the hang of these basic guitar chords, you can try your hand at playing the more demanding, advanced-level chords.
Chords for Intermediate and Advanced Players
After you’ve mastered the simple version of this song, you can graduate to the more complex rendition. Fortunately, learning how to play Somewhere Over the Rainbow in a slightly more advanced way isn’t terribly challenging.
You’ll be using the same set of chords as the simplified version, but with a few additional notes here and there. For example, the movement from G to Cm in the first line of lyrics becomes G to C#m7 to Cm. Additionally, E7 becomes E7#5#9.
If you’re not familiar with the most basic guitar chords, you’ll likely struggle to play the more intricate version of this song. The first step toward becoming a more capable guitar player is getting a grip on the major and minor chords often found in popular music guitar songs.
Using Slash Chords and Alternative Chords
Though Judy Garland’s rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow is beloved by several generations, it’s not the only incarnation of this beautiful song. One of the most celebrated versions of Somewhere Over the Rainbow is Israel Kamakawiwoʻole’s 1988 version, and it utilizes a slightly different chord structure and pacing than the original tune.
To play the Israel Kamakawiwoʻole cover of Somewhere Over the Rainbow, you’ll need to master the following chords:
- G/D, D, Em, C/E, C, G, Bm, B7
As you can see, this chord set contains slash chords. In most cases, slash chords are used to help guide players toward a more comprehensive, full sound. The first chord before the slash is the full chord that you’ll want to play, and the second chord following the slash is the bass note or chord to accompany.
For example, to play this tune, you’d want to start by strumming a G chord. Once you feel comfortable with your fingering, you’ll need to play a D note on one of the guitar’s bass strings to round out the sound of the slash chord.
You may need to use an alternative fingering of the G chord to successfully get the sound you’re looking for. Still, it’s perfectly normal (and often encouraged) to experiment with your finger placement to achieve the best possible sound.
As the Head Editor at Music Grotto, Liam edits content produced from over 30 professional music/media journalists and contributing writers. He works closely with journalists and other staff to format and publish music content for the Music Grotto website. Liam is also the founding member of Music Grotto and is passionate in disseminating editorial content to its readers.