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Ever since the Beatles cornered the market on brilliant pop melodies, the British Isles have given the world a continuous supply of hook-laden songwriting. Like the Fab Four, the members of Coldplay-Chris Martin (vocals/ piano/guitar), Jon Buckland (guitar), Will Champion (drums), and Guy Berryman (bass)-all hailed from Commonwealth households of working-class parents who encouraged music to be played. Coldplay quickly grabbed the attention of the British public, and by 1999, the quartet had a U.K. deal with Parlophone. Interest spread across the pond as their first album, Parachutes, and its hit single, "Yellow," caught Stateside ears. In spite of such heady success, the boys remain humble and focused-so much so that they may call it quits if their second album doesn't live up to their debut magic. If "In My Place" is any indication, no notices of resignation will be tendered.
"In My Place" sits squarely within the key of A major; nary a natural cancels the signature's three sharps, neither will an additional sharp or single flat be found throughout the song. Gtr. 2 strums a series of chords which are fingered as if in the open key of G major, but a capo placed at the 2nd fret moves the pitches up a whole step to A. It's not impossible to play "In My Place" without a capo. This is a good project for any aspiring guitarist: play any song originally learned with a capo in the same key, but without a capo, listening for the shift in tone color. The harmonic landscape of "In My Place" is deepened with Riff A, played by Gtr. 1. This figure, a one-bar phrase consisting of the notes E, B, and C#, adds a majestic quality to the intro by way of its ambiguous harmonic nature. Over the A chords the riff suggests an Aadd9; C#m becomes C#m7; E becomes E6, and F#m7 becomes F#m11. When this figure stops at the beginning of the first verse, the effect is of a rich tapestry being drawn aside to reveal the dusty and downtrodden vocal, a good example of a good musician who knew when not to play.
Riff A is complemented by Gtr. 2's Riff A1-also composed of the pitches E, B, and C#. To produce a similar effect on just one guitar, a digital delay will do the trick. If you have a delay with a "tap tempo" feature, it's a small matter to get it in sync by tapping even eighth notes (two per beat) at the song's tempo. If your delay features a digital readout in milliseconds, here's the secret formula for setting it to any beat or rhythmic subdivision thereof: delay time in milliseconds =(60,000/ tempo in beats per minute) x (the number of beats/the number of notes per beat).
To calculate the delay time in milliseconds for the eighth-note rhythm of "In My Place," begin with the song's tempo of 72 beats per minute. 60,000 divided by 72 equals approximately 833. Then take the number of beats (one) and divide by the number of notes (two). One divided by two equals 1/2 or .5; 833 x .5 = 417. Set your delay to 417 milliseconds, and you'll be echoing precise eighth notes at the right speed for Riff A.