As a guitar instructor at Long & McQuade, I have taught countless students (beginners to advanced) how to play or improve their chops.
Apache is an instrumental guitar piece, first released in 1960. There have been many recorded versions. An english band, The Shadows produced the original version. This is a transcription from jazz guitarist, Jørgen Ingmann's North American release.
In 1973 The Incredible Bongo Band released a dance version of the song, which has been dubbed 'hip hop's national anthem'. In fact, the song has been covered many times in various styles of music. Hot Butter released a version as their follow up to Popcorn. The California Guitar Trio released a version in 1995. In 2006, French guitarist Jean-Pierre Danel recorded a version and included it on his #1 hit album 'Guitar Connection'. All in all, the song has been sampled or covered approximately twenty five times, quite the feat for any tune!
The rhythm part consists of open and barre chords. There is some different strumming techniques as well. The F Major Root 6 barre chord into the Am in measures twenty one and twenty five (and other sections of the song, the part that is notated in the melody as Verse Section Two) is played as accented, staccato, downstrokes. The same applies to the verse labelled as Tremolo Verse in the melody. Accent and cut off the Am Root 6 barre and the D Major Root 5 barre chords. Return to the normal strumming for Dm to G Major. Watch the video for the proper performance.
I have combined two guitar parts into one. When performing this as a duet, the first guitar would be the lines in the lower registers, while the second guitar handles the parts in the upper partials. You will need twenty four frets, to perform this transcription on the proper octaves. If you do not have twenty four, simply play the second guitar part an octave lower. This version is quite demanding, and will have you flying around the fretboard.
The key signature is G Major, one sharp: F♯. Because the melody has a sad flavour in most sections, it is based more in Em, the relative minor key of G Major (they share the same key signature). Measures one to four are the second guitar situated in Am pentatonic Box Pattern #1 at the seventeenth fret. Many players have a great deal of trouble employing the fourth finger this high up the fretboard, but it is well worth the effort to master this. Use your third finger for the nineteenth fret, first for the seventeenth and fourth for the twentieth. Keep your thumb behind the fretboard at all times. I have seen many students bring their thumb out under the neck at these upper frets. With this technique, it will be hard to keep the pitch right during the full (two frets) bend on the nineteenth fret.
The first two measure of each line are guitar one. Guitar two handles the last two measures. As stated before, combining the two parts makes this a challenging piece of music. The movement into Am Pentatonic up on the seventeenth fret and the return to the E on the second fret, requires accuracy and planning ahead. In measures six and ten, the half note is a D Major dyad (two note chord), consisting of the root and third (D and F♯). The root (D) is played as a grace note into the F♯. The same technique applies to measure fourteen, but the chord is G Major (G and B). The two notes sound almost simultaneously, with just a very small pause so that the separation can be heard. Hence, the grace notes.
Verse Section Two
Like so many songs from this genre, these lines move into sixteenth notes creating the illusion of fast playing. Sixteenths are twice as fast as eighth notes, but the galloping sound produced is quite impressive. I have notated the first two measures on one string. Of course, they could be played on two strings (C on the fifth, where it is and F on the fourth directly above and on the same fret as the C), but it is usually easier to execute fast passages on one string as opposed to multiple strings. Playing this section on one string will also develop your hand eye coordination which is essential to mastering the two combined guitar parts.
The bridge section remains in the key of C Major, no sharps or flats. Every time F is played in the bridge it is F natural, not F♯. In measure thirty two, the twenty-fourth fret comes into play. This is quite a leap from the seventh fret, the last two beats of measure thirty. I use my third finger for the twenty-fourth, second for the twenty-second, first for the twentieth and second for the twenty-second on the second string. The descending quarter note triplet run in measures thirty five and thirty six is probably the most difficult part of the entire piece. At least the first beat of measure thirty five is an open G string which gives you a bit of extra time to get that high accurately on the neck. This run modulates to the key of F Major. More specifically, this run would be described as being in C Mixolydian (the fifth mode of the F Major scale), because the chords being played are C and C7 (the dominant chord in F Major). All theory aside, this run sounds great and resolves very well back into the F Major arpeggio in measure thirty seven.
Here, the main melody is played two octaves higher, with a technique called 'Tremolo Picking'. This is notated with the two slashes throughout the note stems. Keep your picking hand rigid to execute this, (a stiff hand approach, not a wrist movement). This may prove difficult at first, but gets easier with much practice. Once again I have notated the melody line on one string during the tremolo section. When you feel comfortable playing it this way, try to move it to two strings. I have had students fall into this technique with no problem whatsoever, but most struggle with the concept. If you find it difficult, practice the stiff hand approach WITHOUT playing the string, that is, just do it in the air until you get used to the movement. Trying to get an even continuous sound on the note will be the hardest part.