How to Play: The Most Evolved

There are 5 videos covering the details of the song,  plus  a slow tempo performance that you can play along with.

Download The Most Evolved Standard Notation .pdf

Download The Most Evolved Tablature .pdf


Part 1

The first video gives an overview to the fundamental guitar playing techniques used in the song The Most Evolved.  We also take a detailed look at the introductory section of the song.


The first technique to know is Picado.  Picado uses an constantly alternating pattern between index and middle fingers of the right hand to play melody lines.


Next essential technique is arpeggio picking using the index, middle, and ring fingers of your picking hand. ‘P-I-M-A’  are the spanish initials for the right hand fingers.  ‘P’ for pulgar, which is your thumb.  ‘I’ for indicio, which is your index finger.  M for media, which is your middle finger, and a for anular which is your ring finger.

There are many picking pattern combinations that we can create using these fingers. The patterns are used while the the other hand hand is fretting chords.  Chords that are played one note at a time in succession are called ‘arpeggios’ in music theory.


Which fingers play which strings during the execution of arpeggio picking patterns?

  • The thumb (p) generally takes care of the 3 bass strings—the Low E, A, and D
  • The index (i) generally plays the 3rd or g string
  • The middle (m) generally plays the 2nd or b strings
  • The ring finger (a) generally plays the 1st or e high e string.

Legato – ( hammer-ons & pull-offs )

Legato is a melodic technique of making a note extend all the way into the next melodic note so that there is no break in sound between the notes.  This is tricky to do on a string instrument like guitar when the notes are on the same string—it physically impossible to overlap two notes on the same string.  So the best we can do on guitar is to simulate legato using ” and pull-offs.  In this way the you can achieve a smoother transition from one successive melody note to another on the same string.

All the left hand fingers should practice ‘hammer-ons’ and ‘pull-offs’.  Use them to ad variety and expression to your sound.  The song ‘The Most Evolved’ uses them often.  They are indicated in sheet music by a small curved line above the notes—kinda like a little rainbow arch connecting the notes.  To execute a ‘pull-off’ first place your finger on the note you want to play; next  pluck the string so the first note sounds. Then, rapidly pull your finger off the string so that next note sounds from the force of the ‘pull-off’.  For ‘hammers-ons’ the procedure is just the opposite:  pluck the string, then ‘hammer-on’ to the next new higher note.  The vibration of the string from the previously picked note, and the force of the hammer-on is what gets the new note to ring.

This technique takes practice and time to develop.  As a side note, legato finger exercises are excellent for developing strength and independence in your fretting-hand fingers.


The most commonly used chords in this song are Amin, E7, Dmin.  These are very common chords for all in all style of guitar playing.  Practice changing from one chord to the other until your transitions are quick and smooth.

Notice that the the melody weaves in and out of these chords.

Slow tempo measure by measure demonstration.  At the this video I will play the introduction at a slow tempo.  First watch carefully and practice with the sheet music until you know the section well enough to play along with the video.  This is a good way to test your progress.

If the video demonstration is at first too slow, you can use a metronome and practice on your own.  It helps to repeatedly play short sections of a difficult passage over and over until it become easy.

I apologize that some of the in-video-chord diagrams are whited out!  I will have to re-renader and upload the video at some point.  Until then please refer to the sheet music to learn the chords.

Part 2:

This can be considered the “chorus” section of the song because it contains strong contrasting material and and elevated energy level.

The song intensity is increased by the use of strumming and a new melodic hook at a higher pitch then the previous section.

In the second video of the series I give a brief overview of the chords and finger techniques used in measures 17-33.

If you haven’t already done so please download and print the sheet music so that you can follow along with the video lesson.

D-DUHUDU Strumming pattern


The D-DUHUDU strumming pattern is the main pattern used in this section.

The first step to practicing this pattern is by becoming comfortable with saying it. Say the pattern out-loud and clearly over and over again until it becomes easy. Say “Down, Down-Up-Hit-Up-Down-Up.” Trust me, do this right now at least 20 time in a row! The first “down” should last twice as long as the other stokes.

Some of the greatest percussionists in the world are from India. In the Indian system of music, every rhythm must be spoken. I studied a bit of Indian music in college and I have applied what I learned to my guitar playing, including saying the strumming patterns out-loud. :)

So now you know you can practice guitar without even picking up a guitar!

Time and Beats
The first down stroke is half a beat long, all the other finger strokes are a quarter of a beat long. This means that they are 16th notes because it takes 16 of them to equal the length of a whole note. A whole note is is also equal to 4 quarter notes (beats). In 4/4 time, which this song is, the quarter note represents the main beat. To fit the D-DUHUDU finger stroke pattern into a four beat measure, it must be played twice.

1 – – -2 – – – 3- – – 4 – – –

Notice that down strokes happen on beats 1 and 3, and hits happen on beats 2 and 4. This can be said to simulate a bass and snare drum.

Here are the finger strokes:
Down with the nail side of the fingers
Down with the nail side of the fingers.
Up with the nail side of the thumb
Hit with a flat hand onto fretboard right above the sound hole.
Up with the flesh side of the the fingers
Down with the nail side of the fingers
Up with the nail side of the thumb

Don’t be confused that there are 7 strokes, its still fits into 2 beats evenly because the first stoke lasts two 16th notes long, instead of one.

The Melody parts alternate with strumming parts and occur mostly on the high e-string

Use the picado picking technique for melody parts. Remember to always alternate the index(i) and middle(m) fingers.

Pull-offs (legato or slur technique) are used during the short descending melodic runs on the first string. The primary melody uses 2 pull-offs in a row using pinky(4) and ring fingers(3).

A minor in 5th position: 5-7-7-5-5-5 (AEACEA)
G major 3rd position: 3-5-5-4-3-3 (GDGBDG)
F major 1st position: 1-3-3-2-1-1 (FCFACF)

Alternate Chord Positions

To create variety and I play the same chords but higher on the fret-board. This gives slightly different chord voicing. The term ‘voicing,’ when speaking about chords, has to do with how the notes within the chord are ordered.

G major 7th position (uses the c major open position shape) 1/2 Barre on the 7th fret, pinky on the 10th.

G Major 7th position: x-10-9-7-8-7 (xGBDGB)

A Minor chord in 8th position x-0-10-9-10-8 (xACEAC)

E7 7th position full barre: 0-7-9-7-9-7 (xEBDG#B)

Practice each of the chords required in this section of the song before attempting to play them with the strumming pattern. Also, practice playing the strumming patter independently of the chords. Use muted strings until it is automatic and you don’t have to think about it. When you are able to switch from one chord to another quickly, say in 1 second, then you are ready to combine the strumming pattern with the chords changes and actually play the song section.

Song Practice

Make it a goal to be able to count out-loud 1-2-3-4 with metronome as you play. Go as slow as you need to.

Part 3:

The Bridge
Measures 37-44 might be considered the “bridge” section of the song because it connect the “chorus” back to the arpeggios in the beginning. Everything repeats from the beginning of of the songs after this section.

This is a fast moving section with triplet strumming and left hand mutes.

Triplet Strumming
The prominent technique in this part of the song is the Triplet strumming pattern. The pattern rapid hand / finger movement. Basically, two triplets per beat— also equal to one sextuplet. This means that the beat or quarter note is divided into six. But before you can play sextuplets you must do a lot of very slow practice to train the correct muscle movement.

So start your practice by saying “Down-Down-Up, Down-Down-Up.” Visualize the movements of your fingers in your mind. You can also say “Tri-ple-let, Tri-ple-let” and/or just “one-two-three, one-two-three” Remember that it help tremendously to be able to say the rhythm that you want to play.

Down-Down-Up Pattern.

Down with the nail side of fingers
Down with flesh side of the thumb
Up with the nail side of the thumb

The Triplet strumming technique is not easy and usually takes a lot of precise muscle training. The solution is to practice at slow tempo with precise movements. You must practice with a metronome. Set it to 60 beats per minute. Mute the strings with the left hand so you can concentrate on the right. One movement per beat at first.
1. Down with the nail side of fingers, 2. Down with flesh side of the thumb, 3. Up with the nail side of the thumb. Count along with the exercise…. 1…2…3… out-loud. Even though the tempo is slow, each of the three movements must be quick and precise. Keep your hand relaxed. Contact with strings is light but swift. Most of the movement is in the forearm. Extend the fingers slightly toward the strings while the forearm is rotating back and fourth.

Left Hand Muting

Left hand muting creates a rhythmic effect while strumming chord progressions. Left hand tension is released from the fretted chord in a rhythmic pattern.

The left hand does not stop touching the strings, however. The strings lift away from the frets but the hand stays in contact with the strings so that the resulting sound is a muffled or muted string sound that is harmonically indistinct. This is a great way to intersect rhythmic variety into strumming passages.

A simple way to practice this is by playing the A minor bar chord and just strum up and down. Strum for 1 beat with the bar chord engaged, then 1 beat with the left hand disengaged but still touching the strings. Do not, however, change your finger position of the left hand when muting—you want your fingers to still be in the shape of the chord so that you are immediately ready to re-engage the chord onto the fretboard for the next beat.

For this section of the song I usually play the first strum of the measure, and the triplets strums, un-muted. The other beats are left hand muted. You do not have to play the mutes exactly the way I do. Feel free to experiment and create your rhythmic muting pattern.

Here is the pattern with “M” over the parts I generally mute:

1 2 3 4


There are no new chords in this section. Use the same Barre chords from the previous section: Amin in 5th position, Gmaj in 3rd position, F maj 1st position and E Maj open position.

Part 4:

In this 4th installment of the course we cover measures 81 through 97.

The melodic motif from the beginning is reintroduced with chords strumming instead of arpeggios.

Notice how the melody (using picado) and strumming alternate. The melody usually begins on beat 2 and strumming begins on beat 1.


The chords are open position A minor, D minor, and E7.


We also go back to the D-DUHUDU strumming pattern.


During the melody I often use hammer-ons and pull-offs for adjacent notes, for example from the first fret F to open string E on first string.

Song Practice

Remember your goal is to count out-loud (1-2-3-4) with metronome as you play. Go as slow as you need to. Keep your touch light and relaxed.

32 Replies to “How to Play: The Most Evolved”

  1. Hi John,
    I’m Leegern from China. Since I first heard your song – Aurora Borealis, I have been deeply trapped in the wonderful melody. So I started learning guitar by myself (till now about 4 years). Recently, I began to learn about the flamenco style. Do you have any course to teach how to play ‘Aurora Borealis’, I hope to hear from you.

    Keep up great music!

    Leegern (Shanghai, China)

  2. John,

    Thank you so much for literally spelling out how to play The Most Evolved. For a while, I kept forgetting that you provided written detail below the video. I was so relieved each time I scrolled down to rediscover the vivid detail that you provided each step of the way.


  3. Thanks John, I’m a novice at guitar, extremely busy and don’t really get that much chance to practice. I hope you put these videos up until I get the song – within a year, I hope :)

  4. Once more I reafirm my belief in humanity because like you, there are still persons that give hope sharing their knowledge and efforts to those who have not the opportunity to go to a music school or to have a teacher. God Bless you. Splendid lessons.

  5. Hi John
    The Most Evolved is a wonderful song! I’d like to lear it but i could only find the first tutorial… how can I get the tutorials 2-5?
    Thank you!! You play very good, I admire you so much :D

  6. Dear John,

    I’m finally glad that I found your website, I swear that you are one of the best guitarist that I was looking to learn from. And your video tutorial is very amazing and clear.

    You don’t know how much this is going to help.



  7. dear mr john…i have been trying to find this website…to said thank you for creating this mixture of guitar music …

    bigest fan …hoping that i can learn your playing style

  8. Hey John,

    I’ve been having troubles getting your tutorial videos for “The Most Evolved”. I sign in but when I go to the song it gives me the first video and then tells me I need to register for the rest even though I’m signed in already. So if you or anyone could help, it would be much appreciated. Perhaps I’m doing something incorrectly. Thank you so much! Your work and teaching methods are amazing!

    1. Hi Marc,

      If your paid membership subscription has expired then you will not be able to see the all the lessons. You just need to sign up again to restart the subscription.


  9. Amazing job John!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    the third video is what i needed to help me figure out the strumming pattern to this song. i can see you took your time in designing these videos for others to understand them. thanks man.
    keep up the good work!!!
    if you can do the same thing for your song TO LIVE that will be great. im at the part where the strumming gets intense hahahha lol

  10. Hi John,

    Thanks for the tutorials. Really interesting and useful. Any chance you could do the same for Aurora Borealis? Amazing song but the strumming in particular is… challenging…

    Thanks and keep up the great work!!

  11. Still working on basics and getting ready to learn Most Evolved. I noticed that your arrangement of Malaguena is much shorter so will go after Most Evolved first. Common skills on both. New site organization is good. Winter storm here in PA, so practiced in cold dark several times. Dedication :) SpCedar is back up and practicing. Keep up great work John.

  12. Hi John,

    You are a genius! Thank you for your tutorials!
    How did you learned the spanish guitar style?

    Do you take requests? Cancion del mariachi by Los Lobos is a nice spanish song with a cool intro and strumming. But I can’t figure out how to do the strummingpart in this song…

    Any plans to make a tutorial for this song? Would be great!

    Keep up the good work.
    Thumbs up from The Netherlands

    1. Hi Levy,

      Thanks your very much. I’m so glad the tutorials are helpful. Cancion Del mariachi is a fun song! Maybe one day I will do a tutorial on it. But, first I have to finish putting together tutorials for all my own songs!



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