In this article I will cover a little chord progression that Mark Knopfler apparently discovered some day and – as he sees himself mainly as a songwriter – directly translated into a song. He often learned such little patterns and licks by accident – finding something when playing for hours – or learned them from one of his mates, people like the great Chet Atkins, pedal-steel player Paul Franklin, or Richard Bennet.
Here is a little audio clip where Knopfler plays the particular riff I am going to talk about. Here he plays it in the key of G, one full note lower than in the Vic and Ray example below.
This pattern appears in the song Vic and Ray from Knopfler’s first solo album Golden Heart (1996). It starts with an A7 chord fragment, followed by a G chord with the B in the bass, and finally another A chord, with the C# in ths bass.
First as a tab:
Here as pictures, showing each of the three shapes you have to play in red:
Note that from shape one to two, one note (the g on the d-string) remains the same and can be sustained, and that the third shape is the same as the second, just two frets higher which means you simply need to slide two frets higher. Check out my video below for left hand fingering (I found there are two ways that work for me).
Adding a chromatic transition chord for Money for Nothing lick
It was only recently when I realized that the funny chromatic licks that Knopfler played at the beginning of Money for nothing in Nimes on the On Every Street tour (1992) make use of the same pattern, you only have to add another shape – the chord between shape two and three in the pictured above:
Then move it to the key of G (two frets lower), followed by the same pattern in C, next in D, and you have those chords for Money for nothing (see my video, at 5:10 it also contains a link that takes you directly to a clip showing Knopfler playing that thing in Money for Nothing).