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By Rhys Lett

Black Magic Woman – VCE Music Performance Solo Guitar

Carlos Santana used blues guitar skills mixed with Latin chord structures and rhythms to create a unique musical fusion. The song “Black Magic Woman” is one of his most recognisable songs. It is a cover of the Peter Green era Fleetwood Mac song.

This song is from the single note category of the VCE Music Performance Solo guitar list. There are two Santana songs on the list. You can only perform one of these songs in your exam. You must perform at least one song from the single note category in the exam.

For assistance with VCE Music contact the Eastern Suburbs School of Music via the contact form on the right of this page or by calling Rhys on 0421 705 150.

Black Magic Woman – Equipment

Carlos Santana never relied on effects to create his sound. The source of his expressive playing is the dynamic control. He would use the volume dial of his guitar constantly to enhance the attack of phrases. This combined with a variety of light or aggressive picking is the key to the Santana sound.

I recommend using a guitar with humbuckers. This will handle more distortion or overdrive. You can use an overdrive pedal or the amp for the drive sound.

black magic woman

Every note is valuable in a Santana melody or solo

Black Magic Woman – Structure

Intro Solo –  Black Magic Woman starts with a guitar solo. You can hear the volume dial being manipulated immediately. As mentioned in the equipment section, use the volume dial to control the blend of overdriven sound and clean. Use the neck pick up on the guitar for this section. Use reverb to enhance your single notes.

Verse 1 and 2 – This is a 12 bar blues in D natural minor. It is played quietly and with a clean tone. There are some fills to be learned among the chord strumming.

Solo 1 – With a similar tone to the intro, Santana plays a slow melodic solo. Listen for the string bending technique. Work hard on reproducing the control of the bends.

Verse 3 – Repeat of the ideas played for Verse 1 and 2. You may wish to create your own fills within the style of the song for this section.

Outro – The song at this point merges into an section composed by Santana labelled Gypsy Queen. This part of the song is not assigned to be played in your performance in the exam. This is indicated by the suggested transcription on the VCE Music Performance solo guitar list.

Black Magic Woman – Techniques

Techniques and scales that will help with learning Black Magic Woman are:

  • D natural minor scale for 6th and 5th string.
  • D Dorian mode for 6th string.
  • Volume dial swells.
  • String bending whole and half steps.