There are many different time signatures to explore in music for a guitarist. 6/8 time signature is just one of them, which is used for waltz-like rhythms as well as arpeggiated patterns.
6/8 is a so-called compound time signature that features a feeling of two but has 6 beats per measure. This means each of the beats is not felt as a pulse-like in 3/4 or 4/4 time signatures. Instead, we have two pulses, each with three beats in between them. That is why this time signature is used for relatively faster tempo pieces.
To put it simply, there are two three-note groupings of beats in this time signature. That is why it is great for fast finger-picked arpeggio playing. With this time signature, the songs have more rolling, jaunty, or dance-like feelings. Let’s learn some songs to get more familiar with them.
A Thousand Years – Christina Perri
A Thousand Year is a great song by American singer Christina Perri written for The Twilight Movie Saga in 2011. The vampire movie series was loved by kids and teenagers, along with this soundtrack. The song was also on the charts with great success.
The slow tempo song is played with 5 odd-named yet easy chords that have very comfortable shapes. The strumming is also relatively easy with a 6/8 time signature. The pattern consists of 6 downstrokes. It is a great song to get familiar with this new time signature for beginners.
Nothing Else Matters – Metallica
Nothing Else Matters is undoubtedly one of the most famous songs of rock history. The slow tempo ballad has an amazing intro solo, great chord progression, exceptional lyrics, and a beautiful guitar solo. It was released back in 1992 as the third single from their self-titled fifth studio album Metallica. The song is not very easy but is in the right balance that is entertaining and a bit challenging to play for beginners.
The song is played with finger-picked arpeggios in a 6/8 time signature. If you struggle with the arpeggios, you can also try to strum the chords or play it even slower. The solos are great for intermediate players, and the time signature makes everything more interesting.
If you want to learn about other time signatures, check this list out Top 40 Popular & Easy Songs in 3/4 time – Guitar Tabs Included
Dangerous Woman – Ariana Grande
The lead single of the same-titled album, Dangerous Woman, is one of the most successful hits of the American pop singer Ariana Grande. The mid-tempo pop and R&B song was released back in 2016 and got immediate fame thanks to the popularity of the artist. The song also was nominated for a Grammy as the Best Pop Solo Performance.
The song is one of the most straightforward ones on the list. It is played with only 3 chords, Em, G, and C, along with a basic strum pattern in the 6/8 time signature. The song’s riffs are also very fun to play and beginner-friendly with hammer-ons and slides on the pentatonic scale.
Toxicity – System Of A Down
Toxicity is one of the most famous songs of the Armenian rock band System Of A Down. It was released back in 2001 with the same-named album. The song is a great and heavy rock song with aggressive vocals, great drum beats, dynamic and catchy chorus. The music video of the song was viewed more than 600 million times on Youtube, which shows the popularity of the song clearly.
The song is also well-known for its progression between different time signatures. It shifts between 6/8 and 12/8 time signatures, getting back to 4/4 occasionally. The riffs are mainly power chords which are pretty easy to play, but you have to listen to the song well and put your attention to the rhythm to play the piece correctly.
Crazy – Aerosmith
Crazy is the famous power ballad written and performed by American hard rock band Aerosmith. The song was released in 1994 with the Get A Grip album and was loved by the fans with its slow tempo and great lyrics. It topped the charts in many different countries such as Iceland, the U.S.A., and Canada. It also earned a Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal in 1994.
The song is played on A major scale with a 6/8 time signature. There are easy single-note melodies as well as arpeggios that create the verses and choruses of the piece. It is not the easiest song on the list, so you have to take your time to play this one. Start slowly and build up the speed as you get familiar with the riffs.
Another great and easy time signature to explore is 2/4 time, take a look at my article to learn some tunes Top 20 Popular & Easy Songs in 2/4 time – Guitar Tabs Included
Hickory Dickory Dock
Hickory Dickory Dock is the famous nursery rhyme. It is a fun song to play, especially for kids, and is absolutely suitable for total beginners. If you want to get familiar with the 6/8 time, kids’ songs offer great variations and easy-to-play chords in this time signature.
The melody is utterly easy to play, and it is great to learn how to play and keep the rhythm in the 6/8 time signature pattern.
Blue Ain’t Your Color – Keith Urban
Released in 2016, Blue Ain’t Your Color is the hit country song by New Zealand-born Australian country music singer Keith Urban. The song was a big success in the U.S.A. and was nominated for two different Grammy awards while winning several other awards. The song made a record remaining twelve weeks on the top position in the charts.
The song is played with 6 basic chords along with a strum pattern that consists of downstrokes on every beat. It is a very easy song to play and is great to get used to 6/8 time strumming. You should accent the first strum of each 6 stroke-groups.
Can’t Help Falling In Love – Elvis Presley
The king, Elvis Presley’s famous song Can’t Help Falling In Love, was released back in 1961 with his Blue Hawaii album. The song’s melody is based on Plaisir d’amour, a popular French love song composed in 1784. The tune was covered by many different artists and bands throughout history, but Elvis’ version remained to be the most popular.
The song features some fundamental chords finger-picked in a slow tempo. The arpeggio pattern is pretty straightforward in a 6/8 time signature with a note on each beat. It is a great song for some finger-picking work.
If you are in search for easy romantic songs to play, do not forget to check this article Top 30 Easy Guitar Love Songs To Impress Her/Him – Tabs Included
Lonely Day – System Of A Down
Another System Of A Down song on the list is the ballad Lonely Day from the 2005 Hypnotize album of the band. It is one of the songs that is considered the signature tunes of the band and was nominated for two Grammy awards in 2006. Also, it was the last single of the band until 2020, when they released two new pieces.
The song can be played with basic chords strummed in a straightforward 6/8 time signature pattern. Try to accent the first beat of every 6 strokes, or you can also arpeggiate the chords if you feel like it.
Bed of Roses – Bon Jovi
Released in 1992, Bed of Roses is the famous power ballad of the American rock band, Bon Jovi. It was released with the fifth studio album of the band, which was called the Keep The Faith. The love piece was a massive success for the band, which reached a more mature sound than their Glam songs from the’80s.
To play this song, you’ll need five chords, which are arpeggiated in a straightforward pattern with groups of 3. There are some barre chords that add to the challenge. You can also try to strum the chords if you feel the chord transitions are too hard for you.
We Are The Champions – Queen
We Are the Champions is undoubtedly one of the most famous rock pieces in music history. Released on Queen‘s sixth album, News of the World, in 1977, the song became a massive worldwide success and quickly converted into an anthem for sports events’ winners.
The song is mainly driven forward with the piano arpeggios of Freddy Mercury, but these arpeggios can easily be adapted to guitar. Brain May’s slightly overdrive added power chords come into play in the choruses, which are also straightforward. Overall, an easy and quite fun song to learn and play.
If you are interested in other time signatures as well then check out my other list Top 50 Popular & Easy Songs In 4/4 Time – Guitar Tabs Included
Piano Man – Billy Joel
Billy Joel’s first major hit, Piano Man, was released back in 1973 with the same-named album. The song talks about a piano player at a bar singing about his life and the people he encountered. The song actually reflects own experiences of the singer who worked as a pianist in bars in Los Angeles.
The song has a waltz-like rhythm and is played with a bass note followed by two double-stop notes. It is a great song to learn and get familiar with waltz-like rhythmic patterns.
Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley
The Jeff Buckley version of the well-known folk tune, Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen was released in 2007, ten years after the singer’s death. It was actually composed for his only album Grace in 1994 but wasn’t released back then. The cover got as famous as the original song and was loved by fans all over the world.
The song comprises different arpeggio patterns with different chord shapes. The whole song is in 6/8 time, and the notes are picked quite rapidly in some sections. So be patient and build up the speed as you get comfortable with the fingering positions.
The Kill – 30 Seconds to Mars
The Kill is one of the most famous tunes of American rock and Thirty Seconds To Mars. It was released in 2006 and was certified as double platinum by the RIAA. The song has amazing lyrics talking about confronting one’s own fears and truths.
The song offers many great riffs with power chords and single notes. The whole song is in 6/8 time, and the time signature is clearly felt in the riffs.
If you enjoy acoustic guitar songs and want to learn to play some, check out my other article Top 50 Most Beautiful Acoustic Guitar Songs – Tabs Included
From the Inside – Linkin Park
From the Inside, by the American rock band, Linkin Park was released as the fourth single from their second album, Meteora. Later, the band created an acoustic version of the song, which got more popularity than the original version. The song starts with a melodic approach and gets heavier and more intense towards the end.
You can play the song like the acoustic version of the original version as you like. The chords are strummed in the 6/8 timed strum pattern.
House of the Rising Sun – Animals
The Animals and the most famous version of the classic blues piece House Of The Rising Sun was released in 1984. The song was considered one of the first songs of the folk-rock genre with its basic arpeggio and vocals-based structure. It rocked the world and the charts immediately after its release, thanks to the beautiful arrangement.
The song can be played with a descending and ascending finger-picking pattern in a 6/8 time signature. The chords used are all basic open chords. The only challenge could be the barre chord F, but you don’t have to use the barring technique with this one as it does not use all the strings.
Everybody Hurts – REM
Everybody Hurts one of the signature songs of the American rock band REM. It was released in 1992 with the Automatic For The People album and is a great inspirational song with a soft melody and lyrics.
It is an easy song to play with slow-paced finger-picked arpeggios in the 6/8 time signature. The section with F# and Bm chords require the barring technique, but as the tempo is slow, you will have enough time for the transit and adjustment of the fingers.
If you like sad songs, here are many of them with easy riffs, chords as well as great lyrics Top 45 Sad Guitar Songs That You Must Learn To Play
You Lost Me – Christina Aguilera
You Lost Me is the hit song of the famous American artist Christina Aguilera from her sixth studio album Bionic from the year 2010. The song was the most successful hit of the album, which talks about an unfaithful man. The song has a down-tempo and is a great ballad with a nice and soft melody accompanied by the great vocals of the singer.
The song is played with 9 easy open chords strummed in a slow tempo in the 6/8 time signature—an easy piece of cake for any guitarist.
Perfect Day – Lou Reed
Perfect Day is a famous song by Lou Reed which was originally written and released in 1972. The song did not make an impact back then but became a huge hit after it was played in the movie Trainspotting in 1996. A star-studded version was released as a BBC charity single in 1997, which topped the charts in many countries.
The song is an amazingly romantic tune with beautiful lyrics accompanied by a soft and nice piano melody. There are many chords used in the song, and they are strummed softly and easily in a 6/8 time signature.
Judith – A Perfect Circle
Released in 2000, Judith is the rock hit of the American hard rock band A Perfect Circle. The song. The singer Maynard Keenan composed the song and wrote the lyrics for his mother, who had a stroke and had to live in a wheelchair for the rest of her life.
The song comprises complex rhythms and breakdowns with guitar riffs with slides, legatos, and power chords. There are many great riffs in the song for hard rock lovers.
If you want to learn more classic rock guitar riffs that are easy to play, you should check out my list Top 45 Famous & Easy Guitar Riffs For Beginners – Tabs Included
Farmer In The Dell – Misc Traditional
Farmer In The Dell is one of the most popular kids’ songs which is also a nursery rhyme and a singing game. It is thought that the song originated from Germany and was brought to the U.S.A. by the immigrants, which with time was adapted to the U.S. culture. And today, the song has many different versions in different languages.
Like most children’s songs, it is an easy song to play with only two chords, C and G. The strum pattern in 6/8 time is also quite easy.
Never Tear Us Apart – INXS
Released in 1988, Never Tear Us Apart is the signature tune of the Australian rock band INXS. The song is a beautiful ballad written in the 6/8 time signature with a waltz-like rhythm. The song has great synth layers and dramatic pauses before the instrumental breaks. It is a nicely arranged tune with great ideas.
You will need 7 basic chords to play the song. The strum pattern is grouped with 6 strums with the accent on the first ones. All the strums are downstrokes which makes the song easy to play.
Breaking The Girl – Red Hot Chili Peppers
Before The Girl is one of the popular tunes of the American rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers from their 1991 album Blood Sugar Sex Magik. The song tells about the relationship of the band’s singer Anthony Kiedis and his girlfriend. The song uses many complex rhythms and instrumental breaks.
The song is one of the few Red Hot Chili Pepper songs composed in 6/8 time signature. The chords you will need are A, G, D, C, F, Am, and E, which are all basic chords to play. Give your focus to the rhythm and the strumming pattern as it gets complicated from time to time during the tune.
I Put A Spell On You – Creedence Clearwater Revival
Composed in 1956, I Put A Spell On You is one of the most famous tunes of rock history. Originally it was composed by Jalacy “Screamin’ Jay” Hawking and was covered by tens of different bands and artists. The song is considered one of the greatest songs of all time. Creedence Clearwater Revival covered the song in 1968 and helped the song get more famous with their performance at the legendary Woodstock Festival in 1969.
The version is in 6/8 time and comprises 8 basic open chords. It is an easy song to learn even for absolute beginners as the strum pattern, and the chord shapes are quite straightforward.
With A Little Help From My Friends – Joe Cocker
Originally composed by the legendary The Beatles in 1967, With A Little Help From My Friends is a great song that got more popular with Joe Cocker’s cover in 1968. The song became one of the anthems of the Woodstock Era. Cocker used a 6/8 time instead of the 4/4 time of the original version. He also added a lengthy instrumental intro and changed some of the chords.
Cocker’s version is played with 7 chords with a slow tempo and a basic strum pattern. The tempo is highly slower compared to The Beatles version, and this cover is much easier to play.
Norwegian Wood – The Beatles
Released on their 1965 album Rubber Soul, Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) is the hit song of the legendary English band The Beatles. It is the first song The Beatles used eastern music influences in one of their songs as George Harrison plays sitar in the song. It is also one of the first examples of the use of an eastern instrument in western rock history.
The song is played with only 6 basic chords with a simple strum pattern in groups of 6. The sitar riff can also be adapted to guitar and is very easy to play.
She’s Always a Woman – Billy Joel
Billy Joel’s 1977 tune She’s Always A Woman is yet another great song in the 6/8 time signature. The song is included in the Stranger album and received significant chart success when released. It is about a modern woman that the singer fell in love with.
You can play this song with arpeggios that fit perfectly to the 6/8 time signature. Every arpeggio has 6 notes making it easier to play with the rhythm.
Kiss From a Rose – Seal
Kiss From A Rose is the famous song of Seal from his second eponymous album. The song was composed and released for the first time in 1995 but later re-released with the soundtrack of the Batman Forever movie in 1995. With the movie, the song got big success topping the charts in many countries.
You will need 8 easy open chords to play the tune. The strum pattern is also easy but changes in choruses and verses. Both are in a 6/8 rhythmic pattern.
I’m In Love With My Car – Queen
Another great Queen hit in 6/8 time signature is I’m In Love With My Car, which was released back in 1975 with the A Night At The Opera album. The song was written by the drummer Roger Taylor as he is in love with cars in general. The song is one of the most passionate love songs of the band.
The 5 chords you will need to play this tune are Em, G, D, C, and B. The strum pattern is straightforward with a medium-fast tempo.
You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away – The Beatles
Released in 1965 with the Help! Album, You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away is one of the songs in 6/8 time of the band The Beatles. It was composed by John Lennon and was covered by many different bands later. The song has some folkish elements with a soft rock sound.
You will need 7 open and easy chords to play the tune. The chords are arpeggiated in a medium tempo in groups of 6 notes which fits the 6/8 time perfectly. It is a nice song to learn and master to get familiar with 6/8 classic timed arpeggios.
Love Reign O’er Me – The Who
English rock band, The Who’s Love Reign O’er Me, is a great 6/8 time song composed by the legendary guitarist Pete Townshend. The song was released back in 1973 and became one of the successful hits of the album with great synthesizer use and dynamic vocal arrangements.
The song is played with a down-down-up style strum pattern along with basic chords. It is a short and easy song to learn and to your 6/8 repertoire.
Golden Brown – The Stranglers
Golden Brown is the famous song of the English rock band Stranglers, released in 1982. The song is the most successful hit of the band, which is remembered with its distinctive harpsichord instrumentation. Many bands also covered the iconic song later.
The song is played with 6 easy open chords in different rhythmic patterns. The intro is a mix of 6/8 and 7/8 timed rhythms, while the rest is played in 6/8 timed rhythmic patterns. Be careful and listen to the song well to get the strumming right.
Eclipse – Pink Floyd
The final track of the legendary Dark Side Of The Moon album of Pink Floyd is Eclipse. The song is considered one of the best songs of the band and is remembered for its amazing repetitive melody that builds up throughout the song.
The song is played with only 3 chords in a straightforward pattern. The chords you will need are D, A, and Bb. The Bb chord can be challenging for entry-level guitarists, so you can try to play the alternative versions of the chord shape.
In The Aeroplane Over The Sea – Neutral Milk Hotel
Released in 1998, In The Aeroplane Over The Sea by the American rock band Neutral Milk Hotel is another great song in the 6/8 time signature. The indie rock and psychedelic folk mix song feature a low-quality recording which was made intentionally by the band during the recording.
G, Em, C, and D chords make the chord progression of the song, and the strum pattern is a traditional one in the 6 beat pattern.
Hear You Me – Jimmy Eat World
Hear You Me is a song by the band Jimmy Eat World which was released in 2001 with the band’s Bleed American album. The song was featured in the movies The Butterfly Effect, Out Cold, and Cinderella Story, which made the song famous among the listeners.
The song is played with 6 basic chords, and the strum pattern is steady up and down strokes. It is an easy and great song to play and sing along with.
Yesterday – Imagine Dragons
Released in 2017, Yesterday is one of the lesser-known, yet great songs of the famous band Imagine Dragons. The song is composed in a 6/8 time signature. The lyrics tell about gaining strength from the past to face the future.
The song has riffs mainly played by piano, but you can easily adjust them to guitar. You will only need 2 chords, E and A, along with a strum pattern that consists of only upstrokes at the beginning of each triplet beat.
In The Flesh – Blondie
In the Flesh is the second-ever hit song of the American band Blondie. The song has a sound that resembles the 60’s pop songs with piano focus and female backing vocals. The song was released in 1976 and got good chart success in many countries.
The tune is played with 7 chords, of which 4 are barre chords. As the song features a relatively low tempo, it is a great tune to practice some barre chords.
This Place Is A Prison – The Postal Service
The 2003 song of the rock band The Postal Service, This Place Is A Prison, is a lesser-known yet great song to add to your 6/8 repertoire. It has amazing lyrics criticizing the system. The song has a long instrumental part at the end of the track.
There are 8 basic chords in the chord progression of the tune. The strum pattern is quite traditional, but you can also experiment with your own patterns.
I Pity The Poor Immigrant – Bob Dylan
One of the less famous tunes of Bob Dylan is I Pity The Poor Immigrant, which shows the Bob Dylan style song and lyric writing amazingly. The song is featured in the John Wesley Harding album, released in 1967.
The song is played with only 3 chords; G, D, and Am. As with most Dylan songs, the folky strum pattern is very straightforward. You can also strum them once, singing the song along.
The Irish Washerwoman – Misc Traditional
The Irish Washerwoman is a traditional tune that is famous around Britain, Ireland, and North America. It is an Irish folk song and was featured in some movies such as Christmas in Connecticut and Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.
You can play this song with a 6/8 rhythmic pattern strumming and Am, D, G, and C chords.
It is important for a guitarist to be proficient in different time signatures to be able to be a good guitarist. Playing only with the 4/4 rhythmic patterns will limit you and prevent you from progressing after some point. As the 6/8 time signature is a great and popular one in music history, you should start playing songs to widen your musical perspective.
The songs in this list are all beginner and intermediate-level friendly. There are songs from many different genres and playing styles for different tastes and to master different ways of approaching the 6/8 time signature. So you can pick any of them and start mastering these new rhythmic patterns.
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