Learning a run from Yesterdays

I’ve been motivated to practice a different set of scale positions than the CAGED forms I know. That isn’t the subject of this post. What I want to write about today is a passage from Jerome Kern’s Yesterdays. I’ve been fiddling around with this for years but recently sat down to really get a handle on the run. I’ve included some different jazz guitar versions of the tune at the bottom of the post but the one I come back to is Wes Montgomery’s rendition. Here it is, and the run I’m concentrating on is near the beginning.

Open Position

The following is not an accurate transcription but captures the theme.

The open position shown is not the way I would want to do this, but is a good starting point and plays the correct notes. I wanted to explore different left-hand positions to play these same notes. The string and fret positions from the tablature rarely indicate the best finger positions. This is what got me going back to the basics of slightly different scale positions.

Second Position

Since the notes are the same for these variations, I’ll only show that tab for rest of the examples. Left-hand fingering is show below the tab. Here’s the the first variation. 

The fingers shift up 2 frets on the 4th note (G).

I visualize the positions pictorially. The numbers in the following fingerboard diagram are the left-hand fingers of the first 8 notes. The closed circles show the shifted position.

Fourth Position

This variation starts with the first finger on the 5th string and then shifts down one fret to pick up the last three notes. Here’s what it looks like in diagram form, again with finger positions indicated in the position markers and the shifted positions in solid blue.

Fifth Position

This variation starts the same as the previous but shifts up two frets to play the last three notes.

The entire pattern spans six frets (the previous spanned five frets).

Seventh Position

The last patter shown in diagram form below uses the CAGED G form position with a stretch to pickup G# on 5th string. I don’t like stretches and could probably find an alternate fingering from the 10th fret starting position.


Working on this run from Yesterdays led to my return to Jimmy Bruno’s method of scales. I hope to write more about this in the future (but make no promises). I’ve covered this in the past in Different Approaches to Arpeggios. Jimmy Bruno’s major scale positions are a modification of the CAGED system that makes more sense to me, except for the two that made no sense until now.

Some other versions of Jerome Kern’s Yesterdays on guitar.

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