Hey all! Please enjoy this sample lesson from my John Mayer Acoustic Hits Masterclass on Fretwise. In this blog post, I’ll be teaching you how to play “Dear Marie”Emoji Of A Wave” by John Mayer, which is a really fun and steady song that uses a consistent alternating thumb technique throughout.

Not only am I going to teach you how to play this song, but I’ll also demystify the music theory, harmonic analysis, and compositional decisions behind the song to help with your own songwriting. Let’s get into it!

Video Performance

Firstly here’s a video performance demonstrating what you will learn in this lesson:

Harmonic Analysis


Let’s delve straight in to the chord charts. Starting with the first 4 bars which repeat 3 times over – once for the intro, and twice for the verse:

The first thing that stands out is the non-diatonic ♭VII chord. This should remind you of the Mixolydian progression we discovered in Who Says. It should hopefully be audibly clear to you that the Amaj9 chord is the most quirky of the bunch here, understandably due to its non-diatonic nature.

The IV to V is no surprise and resolves perfectly to the I.


Here’s the chart for the prechorus:

This section begins on the ♭VII which sounds quite dramatic with the underlying Cello. This tension resolves surprisingly well to the V because the tension of the root note from the ♭VII gravitates to the maj3 of the V, and the 5th of the ♭VII is pulled towards the root of the V.

This section concludes by using what’s called a minor plagal cadence, and is defined by IV iv I. This chromatic decent from maj3 to min3 begs for the tonic chord, which will of course be the first chord of the chorus.

Both the IV and iv are played in their first inversion which I think accentuates the tension as we approach the tonic.


The final section to explore is the chorus. Here’s the chord chart:

This sequence of chords uses a little bit of everything we’ve learned so far. The first chord, B, immediately settles the tension from the prechorus.

After finding stability, the minor v chord is used. This creates quite a dark sound as this chord belongs to the parallel minor key.

Some of that dark tonality is relieved as we move to the diatonic IV chord, but then we seem to proceed to a minor plagal cadence which brings back that uneasy feeling.

The minor plagal cadence which finishes on the Em would naturally resolve to the I, but in this case it deceptively resolves to the iii. This is an acceptable resolution since the iii and I chords have very much in common; thus the iii is quite stable.

From the iii onwards the song simply descends diatonic 5ths, which as we’ve established before is a very strong basis for harmonic progressions.

  • D♯m7 to G♯m7 is a 5th;
  • G♯m7 to C♯m7 is a 5th;
  • C♯7 to F♯9 is a 5th.

You can hear the tension brewing during the final chord, F♯, as this is naturally the dominant chord of Bmajor.

During the song you’ll hear a few different voicing of this V chord, but they all portray the same functionality and inevitably resolve back to the verse which begins on the tonic of the key.

Video Lesson

Here’s the video lesson for this song:


Here you can download the tabs for this song, for free:

Final Comments

I think this song harmonically tells a very interesting story. John uses multiple harmonic techniques to create unpredictable tension and release and uses a mixture of extended chord voicings to make the guitar part sound much more interesting.

You now have all the tools you need to learn, practice, and understand how this song works.

Want to master more of John Mayers most iconic acoustic guitar hits? Of course you do! Join me in my John Mayer Acoustic Hits Masterclass on for the most accurate and complete lessons on the internet – built from detailed video instruction, complete written notes, diagrams, backing tracks, and Guitar Pro tabs. I’ll see you there! 😉🔥

This article was written by Darryl Syms.


Dan Zierer - oct. 8, 2023

Going to start using both of my Fretlights tomorrow! Let me keep if I need to make a payment! Thanks

Jen - juil. 27, 2023

This is the best analysis I’ve ever seen on a Mayer song, wow. Thanks!

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