Chord help? Shifting a key in a Mitski song

Hey all, not sure if this is the right section place to ask, but it feels not right for transcribing forum.

Anyway, I was noodling around and trying to sing Mitski’s Bug Like An Angel , I’m on open tuning and don’t have a capo so I shifted the key (don’t know how to say what to, just yet) and it’s a four chord melody, although I think there’s maybe another one thrown in in a chorus or bridge at some point.

When I’m singing it I’m starting on C# vocally, so for ‘There’s - a - bug’ I’m singing C#4 - B3 - A3.

Anyway, I have the first three chords for this key which are A, E, G, and then the fourth chord I think I need the high E string to be ringing out on the second fret, online pitch identifier says that is an F#, and the third string back to the second fret for an A, but I don’t know how to take those two notes into a nice sounding chord. Has anyone noodled around with this song before in this key? Can anyone think of a non-barre chord that I can practice that would hit that note and sound right? I had a quick crack at a barre chord out of curiosity and my pudgy fingers cannot do it yet. (I also have decade+ old strings which I think is not helping.)

Hi Constance - I don’t know the song, but just had a listen. Sounds to me like the original is using power chords - Db, Ab, Eb, Bb. On the recording I can hear some sliding, so I’m guessing they are playing them in difference positions to my rendition here…


A simple open D chord contains those 2 notes: F# on the high e string and A on the G string (both fretted at fret 2).

That sounds right. I don’t know the power chords, I’m having a look in the library and I can’t find all of them… I’ll run through them until I get them all down. The Db was doable so hopefully the others work out! Looked a bit different to yours.

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Yeah, D was the first chord I tried as it hits those two notes, but the chord is definitely not the right one to follow the other three - dissonant with vocals and out of place because of it. Maybe I just need to know more before I try it. But it seems so beginner friendly and I really like the song.

I was moving between 5th string root and 6th string root. You could play the whole thing using 6 string root power chords but I find its easier not to move about that much.
If you want to play with just 6th string root then Db is the 9th fret, Ab the 4th fret, Eb the 11th fret and Bb the 6th fret - then it’s all the same shape and strings, just sliding to the new position.
I think the hardest part might be muting unwanted strings.
Oh, and I was using the 3 note power chord with the octave of the root.

I will have to file this away for when I’m further ahead - I am only at Grade 1 module 4…

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I think it’s a good one to aim for in your near future. Once you have the power chords down then it shouldn’t be too difficult - I’m sure you’ll get it down the line :slight_smile:

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Did a bit more noodling around, came up with something that might be close to what would work for a fourth chord? If anyone knows the name of it, or can identify a note they think is missing that would make it better?

This is not really important. I’d just like to have a go at playing it in a way I can manage at this beginner stage, since I enjoy singing it.

You’re muting the D note on the 2nd string, but playing the open D string, right?

That’s a D chord, or D/F# to be more precise. It’s unusual to mute the D note on the 2nd string, but it’s still a D chord.

Let me also mention that I think it’s super-cool that you’re trying to figure this stuff out using your ears, even though you are at the early stages. Kudos!

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Hi Constance - if you want to transpose this to open chords, then I don’t think you can start with A as the third chord should be B and the forth F# (although technically I think on the recording they are missing the 3rd so playing all major chords might sound a little odd).

If you want you could try transposing to start in C, then you have C, G, D, A.

I agree with @jjw John, much kudos for working through this - you learn loads trying to find stuff out yourself.

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I just popped back before bed because I realised I’m probably not doing this in a different key so much as just a vibes-based sister melody lol. @mathsjunky I will have a crack at this tomorrow and see how it sounds. I can shift my vocals if need be.

@jjw and @mathsjunky thank you both! I probably am trying too much this early, but I’m not a patient person which is unfortunate as I’ve picked up a guitar… I was trying to do the opening of Hozier’s De Selby a few weeks ago mucking around plucking strings. If I could keep what I’d figured out in my head for longer than a goldfish I might’ve made a better go of it :sweat_smile:

Luckily for my ego my ambitions are much more modest, though.

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