The classic Yes track Starship Trooper (from 1971’s The Yes Album) comes in several parts just as any good prog rock and/or classical music should. Parts i-iii are “Life Seeker,” “Disillusion” and “Würm.” It is that latter section that is the focus of my latest Classic Chord on Sciencebase.com. The chord carries a wonderful and yet seemingly interminable jam on a mesmering progression -nominally nothing more than a G major to an Eb major to a C major and back again.
It’s not a common progression, but guitarist Steve Howe, is not known for being a common guitarist, there’s more jazz than prog in this. Moreover, Howe doesn’t play any of those three chords how you would expect (he’s definitely not with the CAGED program).
Pictured is the basic shape showing the G major, the root is in the open G string and that stays open throughout, with the A-string muted every time. The moveable root note is the G on the B-string. To get to the EbM you move the whole shape down four frets and another four frets again down to the CM and then back up to the GM position to complete the cycle; the wurm that turned. Here’s a quick snippet recorded with out-of-phase pickups, loads of chorus and tons of flanger…
Long after I wrote this Classic Chord, I took a quick look at Yes’s Steve Howe playing this section of ST live, and he does indeed use this exact chord voicing. Obviously. It wouldn’t sound the same if he didn’t.
More Classic Guitar Chords here.