Romeo And Juliet | Mark Knopfler Songbook | TAB


Romeo And Juliet is the song that was played live by Mark more than 1 thousand times actually and it still remains in his live setlist, making it one of the, if not the most played his song ever. Remember, at one show you usually hear the song once, so it means he played it every day for 3 years straight, and this, especially being a rough approximation, is quite impressive! From what I understand, this classic song even beats the all mighty Sultans Of Swing in that respect, because Mark drops Sultans occasionally, but he just couldn’t stop playing Romeo, even his guitar gave up already and he’s still playing the song. So you can say Mark loves it, and so do we. First, the basics. Yes, it’s in Open G tuning, yes, Mark usually plays it with the band and on a different type of a guitar, it has a capo on the 3rd fret, everybody knows that. Let’s start with the chord shapes. This is important song, so I’ll be unusually detailed here. Open G tuning is probably the easiest open tuning in existence, because D, G and B stays like in the standard tuning and other strings goes down just one whole step. Very easy to tune, very easy to understand. Romeo And Juliet, being one of Mark’s earliest songs, is not a particularly complicated song chord-wise, in fact it’s only 5 chords, like in Sultans Of Swing. It’s just the open tuning that makes it look like a difficult piece, but the first chord shape is actually just D. The first string goes up a whole step, the rest is like in the D/A chord shape. This is the shape I’ve probably discussed 50 times already because Mark uses it all the time. D/A, adjusted for the Open G tuning. This is your basic A shape, adjusted for new tuning again. This is all that’s left from the standard G shape, the easiest one yet, next is Bm. Capo makes it sound like Dm, taken straight from the Sultans riff, again bass goes up the whole step and we’re done. This is the chord a lot of people are trying to play with an open B string, but I don’t know, it sounds terrible to me. Yes, the notes are right, but the sound is awful, sounds too busy if that’s a word. So the proper way to play it is to mimic the real Bm: three fingers in a row and the first finger up here, yes it’s harder to grip, but sounds so much better. Good thing is that from the D it’s easy to get to Bm through the 3rd finger, see? Makes it for a good exercise. The tricky bit is to mute the 6th string with the tip of the 2nd finger and mute the 1st string with the first finger. I always tell the beginners — learn how to mute strings properly, because this could be the easiest way to spot a beginner, when he plays a C chord and never even try to mute the thickest string. So it’s been D, A, G, Bm, only 1 chord left, and it’s an Em. We can try to play it as in standard tuning… but the way Mark plays it, always, because it’s the only rational way to do it, is with two fingers like that. The same thing as with Bm with open B, it sound strange if you add the E bass, which IS the root note, but again, it sounds terrible. Because it’s too easy to under press it with the thumb, and it’s too easy to mess it with the 1st finger as well, sounds terrible and too busy, so there’s only one solution which is open 5th string bass. Which actually makes it Em/G chord. But this way you’ll play it clean each time. It’s a trade-off, but it happens with open tunings, that’s why they called it “odd” tunings, I guess. Just kidding. So all the 5 chords are: D/A, A, G, Bm, Em/G. This is all you need to learn to proceed with the song, seriously. From what I can tell, here on YouTube people usually play this song pretty accurate, but some nuances get lost here and there, I’ve already discussed Bm and Em quirks, but I love the nuances, I truly believe that the devil is in the detail, so I’ll talk about my favourite parts in the song, little hidden gems which I rank as a little songwriting masterpieces within the main masterpiece which is the song Romeo And Juliet we all love and want to play. It’s hard for me to discuss the fingerpicking patterns in the introduction, because there’s so many ways to play it, as with any fingerpicking tune, each time you hear Mark play it, it sounds a little different, because you can alternate bass, repeat the bass, or even give it more space to breathe. The only way to play the song as interesting as it deserves is to learn every single variation. But the version I played at the start is a combination from like 10 versions all the way from 1980 to 21st century. I’d say, if you’re not familiar with this, learn how to strum the song first and then try to fingerpick it, because for playing the intro you have to be deeply connected with the context of the song, how it feels and develop. So I’ll do it right now and go through each section just brushing with the thumb, starting with the intro. And this is the whole song, 5 chords as I said, it repeats and everything else is in amazing, amazing details. The first hotspot is this ingenious 6 string line connecting D with the G through the A chord, it’s one of the most enjoyable fills I’ve ever played in my life. It’s so beautiful it even forces Mark to use four fingers which is a rare thing for his playing, but it’s so enjoyable. Thumb, thumb, thumb, index, middle, ring, pull-off. Perfect. The main thing to point out is, it’s very important to do a pull off in the left hand immediately, completely change the whole chord here, only then it’s going to sound fluent and beautiful. I remember picking it out when I was 15 or 16, I played like this. But it’s much easier just to switch the chord completely. Anyway. Another little bit is this turnaround from A back to D, and I mean this little note on the 3rd string played by index finger. It sort of ties the two parts together more beautiful than if you just go without it. Because it sounds just like the line before and not connecting anything. Of course in the song it is barely noticeable, but it’s there. Now, the verse. Also this bit with the open strings, it sound almost like the fill I’ve mentioned before, but it cuts earlier. I love how Mark always plays it with the melody note first, and then the bass, as opposed to… creating a very unique feeling of syncopation. I was shocked it gets unnoticed by so many players out there, to me it’s one of the best parts in the whole song, so enjoyable to play. I can’t stress that enough. Playing this song is like a therapy. Maybe that’s why Mark loves it so much. Of course many things happen in the chorus. First, I want to point out this: it’s important to not to overdo it with chords, in fact the best way to accompany yourself is to use as little chords as possible, to this point I only played like this, but here’s the over-the-top example… To me it sounds too complicated, much better to do it in a more subtle way, check out how little chords I use and make it sound more interesting. It’s the band’s job to flash it up and play all these incredible harmonies, in this song every part is interesting — the bass creates some slash chords, rhythm guitar plays interesting drone fills, beautiful piano playing. As I’m here anyway, another little thing that keeps being missed by a lot of people — here, right after Em, this D chord which lasts like for a millisecond, but it is there, it adds to the overall sound so much, compare it if I just go straight from Em to G. This is one place where overdoing it you actually help it sound better, so there’s no rules anywhere here. But if you sing it and play at the same time like it supposed to, keep it simple so you won’t screw up both parts. I think, everyone can agree on that. The point I’m trying to make here is that if you’re going to play a song for more than 1000 times and for millions of people like Mark do, it’s not like you can get away with playing it half-hearted, not knowing exactly what you’re going to play. The way I analyse the song is I’m constantly asking questions, like “Which is the best way to play this line?”, or “Where should I simplify it so it will be harder to make mistake?”, and despite some criticism I get for my voice I always sing the song. As with the song Money For Nothing or in fact with any song from 50 songs I covered before, this is always the case. Mark have a lot to say, so the song to me isn’t full if you don’t sing it, as we Russians say, “you can’t throw a word out of a song”, and I can’t imagine performing Romeo And Juliet without singing, it’s like a book with blank pages, you have to tell that story and the guitar is only a part of it. I can’t sing Paul Simon songs, but another outstanding feature about Mark Knopfler songs is that you don’t need to be Frank Sinatra in order to play it. And I love this song so much, I hope you liked my take on it. Thank you.

42 Replies to “Romeo And Juliet | Mark Knopfler Songbook | TAB”

  1. Romeo And Juliet is the ultimate Mark Knopfler Song. It has… Signature acoustic guitar playing, signature guitar itself, signature electric guitar soloing, signature lyrics, the song is about love, it has obvious literary influence, musical influence, movie influence, it was written while “playing around shapes”, it has signature AABAAB structure, beautiful arrangement, one-of-a kind ending with rare modulation (to E Major), it has odd tuning, and the list goes on… No video can cover everything in this song, because it would take hours to cover every little detail, but of course the main source for inspiration is the famous and beloved National guitar part, and so I discuss it with all my passion, I hope you’ll find it interesting. Thanks for watching! Pavel.

  2. instantly added it in my playlist of songs i need to learn. Thanks! NEED MORE :c Can you make a video about ''Dream Of The Drowned Submariner''' By Mark ofcourse.

  3. That is so beautiful, well done, and thank you for doing the song! I really must try learning this. I've played open D/E but never G, looks fun. It's such an iconic song. Whenever I'm in a guitar shop, I usually see if they've got a National and try playing R&J on it 😂 (in C, normal tuning). But I could never afford such a guitar, that's the trouble! Hope you have a wonderful Christmas.

  4. You are really astounding dude. Mark Knopfler and the Dire Straits have been my favorite band since before I was old enough to know it. Year after year his music really holds a special place in my life and thanks to you I can work to play these songs myself. Thank you from me and the rest of us!

  5. Wonderful wonderful thing to wake up to. I've spent a long time learning and working it out in standard tuning. I'll definitely be learning this. Thank you, brilliant!

  6. For how long was I waiting this one! It was actually one of the very firsts songs I wanted to learn. And I' mproud to say I play it quite well. I just couldn't find a good strumming pattern and some embellishments. Can't wait to improve my play with your vids. Thanks a lot

  7. Unreal… I’ve been waiting for this to land ❤️❤️👍 Thank you Pavel, keep it up..and you sing it so well ✌️

  8. Павел, браво. Iron hand благодаря вашему видео уже выучил. Это будет вторая песня. Спасибо

  9. Oh my lord what a great lesson! What a great song… Thank you Pavel, you inspired me to pick up the guitar and learn songs after years of wanting.

  10. Pavel I am SO THANKFUL! I've been waiting for this one!!!!! i'll try to transcribe it first then will definitely check it out here because i trust you and your ear and your skills!!!
    thank you SO much!!!

    i hope you're doing well!

    Cheers!

  11. Pavel,
    I'm so glad you've done this song. I've been working on it for a while–like so many other things–but I love it so much, so I will persist until I get it. It has so many challenges, just getting that first bar down is hard enough to get really clean sound on all the individual notes. Thank you again. sorry I haven't had an email from you lately. Interested in what's happening in your life. great work, as always. you are a legend! I love that you are so down the earth in your explanations, and , particularly, that your love of Mark's music comes through loud and clear in every lesson.

  12. Excellent take on something we know so well

    However someone is using ostrich tactics

    Someone is too straight

    Both living in the dire straits

    This life and society is so absurd and ridiculous

    And we have just one world

    But we live in different ones

    Help yourself to build the wall

    Or maybe destroy it while it's not too late

    Choice is significant, but insinsignificant on a grand scale

    How a right thing can be so wrong

    I found contradictions where they don't belong

    Not matters in the end

    Absurdism wins

  13. The more I watch your right hand, more I think it has magic in it. On your strumming they're dancing on the strings I'm so jealous. I can't figure out what it is? Is it thumb, down stroke, index up, thumb and so on?

  14. hi pavel, i'm trying to learn the intro part and i can't really figure out how to play the 8th bar in the tabs.
    what i get is, that you strum down and up on the G, and at the end you strum down on the A. But what do you do with the A inbetween? do you pick these three notes?

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