COPYRIGHTS & PERMISSIONS: All arrangements and tabs in this blog are the original work of the blog owner, unless otherwise noted. They may be downloaded and copied at no charge, only for non-commercial church or home use. All other rights reserved. Ask for permissions-- I intend to be generous. Copyright information for each song is listed in its commentary. Arrangements and tabs of public domain songs are still covered by these copyright restrictions. Your cooperation is appreciated.

Merry Christmas, everybody!

Here's my Christmas present to you all: an absolutely amazing You-tube of a guy who has become my favorite young guitarist.  Click here to open your present!  Sungha Jung was 8 when this video was made.  He's now 11, and MUCH BETTER!  To see what else he can do, I recommend three other videos:

Canon in D (with Trace Bundy)

Manha Do Carnaval

Bolero  (Yes, the entire orchestral work by Maurice Ravel, with four-part orchestration, all played live on one acoustic guitar, by an eleven-year old boy.)

Sungha says his parents will only let him practice 2 hours a day when school is in session, so it usually takes him 3 days to learn a song, or up to a week for a really hard one!  He currently has about 330 You-Tube videos published.  Google Sungha Jung for more.  Merry Christmas!

O Little Town of Bethlehem

Well, I figured if I didn't get it posted soon, I'd have to save it for next Christmas. It may contain errors or need tweaking a bit; I didn't play through it as many times as usual, and I sometimes get errors anyway, so, if something looks wrong, it probably is. Let me know in a comment, or, if you're a follower, click my thumbnail photo and email me.

This is a gorgeous song, and not especially hard to play, if you can play barre chords. If you can't, don't despair: there are substitutes, and even an entire alternate last line, on the third page.

The first verse is mostly chords and melody notes. The original is written in 4/4 time, which, as usual, I've recast as 8/8 to make it easier to see the rhythm. Remember, the "100" shown as a metronome setting is for EIGHTH NOTES. If you try to play it as 100 quarter notes per minute, you'll sound way too fast.

Play the slide in the second measure with the little finger of the left hand (right hand for you southpaws). This will set you up perfectly for the barre chord that starts the third measure. CaddG is just a C chord, with the pinkie in the third fret to add the G note. No sweat.

Beginning with the 5th line, you will encounter arpeggios, grace notes, and other "extra" notes. If you don't like them, just repeat the first four lines. It's a guitar solo-- no one will know. If you're doing that, you can leave out all those "extra" notes.

I recommend you leave in all the "extra" notes called out in the tab, for a more Baroque sound. If it ain't Baroque, don't fix it! --motto of the Eighteenth Century Cooking Club, which I just made up. Seriously, the first four lines are better for accompanying singers, while the last four are better as an instrumental solo.

Next Christmas, I'll try to get my Christmas carols done by Thanksgiving, so you have time to learn them.

A-Soulin' video

This is a video of two of my first-year students, Nicole and Corine, playing a duet in their very first "public" performance.  The video and sound quality is lousy, as it was taken with an inexpensive digital camera, but it should give you an idea what the song sounds like.  You'll need Windows Media Player or something similar to view it.  It takes about six minutes to load on my laptop, which admittedly is not lightning fast for a 30 second video clip.

Nicole and Corine don't sing the words, because they live in the Dominican Republic and speak Spanish, so I just taught them the instrumental parts. I don't believe the lyrics have ever been translated.  The lyrics are not difficult, if you speak English.  The vocal part of the song uses the same guitar techniques as the instrumental duet part, though the order is slightly different, and the guitars play in unison.  This gives a nice contrast, and nearly doubles the length of the piece, without requiring additional learning.

What Child Is This?

Merry Christmas, Poet-With-A-Day-Job!

Poet commented on another post that this Christmas carol would be the best Christmas present ever, so here it is!  Actually, it was quite easy for me to do, as the tab was already present on this website, only it was listed as Greensleeves.  It's now also listed as, "What Child Is This?"  The tab is the same, as there's no difference in the music.  I apologize for not including the Christmas carol words for the second and third verses, but that would take more time than I have right now.  You are welcome to print the tab and write in the proper words.

Poet also mentioned that he (she?) is a beginner.  The song is published with complete instructions for playing all three verses, which are tabbed in order of increasing complexity.  Of course, as a guitar instrumental solo, they need not be played in this order!  But if you find arpeggios stuck in around the melody daunting, you can still do fine by playing the first verse or two, and learn the arpeggios later, when you have more confidence.

If you like this tab, you might also like A-Soulin', which is another very old, English Christmas carol.  It was popularized in the 1960s by the folk group, Peter, Paul and Mary, but my version is a guitar duet in the form of a round.  There are no difficult techniques or chords in it.  In fact, there's only ONE strummed chord! It's so simple that I teach it to my first-year students. Nevertheless, it sounds absolutely stunning.  Check out the video clip of two of my first-year students.

Before Thee, Lord, I Bow My Head-- for flat picking

Yes, you read that right.  This version is in the key of C, and it is specifically intended for flat picking.  If you want to get a similar effect on a classical guitar, strum all the chords with your thumb, which gives an easy, laid-back sound to the piece.  And it CAN be played without barre chords!

The tempo is unusual, but you can play it just like a 6/8 tempo, only it'll come out twice as fast in 6/4.  I strongly recommend that you learn each part of the song slowly first, before attempting to play it at speed.  You can also give the piece a more "country" sound by turning all the strummed chords into Carter licks.  A Carter lick is a quick strum down and then back up again, the whole lick counting one count.  Carter licks sound really good with an alternating bass note, either before the licks or after them.  For this song, though, to do this, you'll need to add an extra couple of notes to each measure, converting it into 8/4 or 8/8 time.  More on this later.

To play the song as written, there are only a few comments that need to be made.  The melody is carried in the bass line, which is unusual for a hymn, but not for country Gospel music.  The song is also written in Hymns as a round in two parts. This is also unusual, though not unique.  If you're going to play it as a guitar solo, or with just one singer, use the first ending, which I think sounds better.  There won't be time enough for the second singing part in the last measure, so I've included an alternative ending for accompanying duets, as published in the hymnal.  The rest of the song is as close to the hymnal as I could make it and still have it come out right for the guitar.

The hammer-ons and pull-offs called for are NOT quick.  Each note is a quarter note, just as in the picked notes.  In fact, you can pick the ligados too, if you have trouble with ligados, but the ligado notes sound better-connected.  The chord symbols appear over the spot where you need to fret them with the left hand, not necessarily where the chord is strummed.  This is done to make it easier to find the notes with the left hand; if you want to do it another way, by all means do what works best for you.

F/C is read, "F, with a C bass note" and is played like a regular F chord, adding the C note with the left pinkie.  You can just play a normal F if you like, but the bass note called for in the melody line happens to be the C, so it works better, if you can do it.

For the Chorus, the music specifies that the tempo be played "Brightly," hence the increased metronome setting.  In the Chorus, the melody is carried in the treble strings.  Play the first part of the Chorus in rapid but complete phrases: "How sweet thy word I’ve heard this day!"   should be played as a complete phrase, without pauses.  Similarly, "Be thou my guide, O Lord, I pray,"   except remember that "word", "guide" and "Lord" each have two syllables: "wor-ord", "gui-ide" and "Lo-ord" respectively. CaddG is a regular C chord, with the little finger adding the G on the first string.  It's not hard to play, but it may be difficult to do the pull-off with the little finger while holding the chord.  If you have trouble, don't play the full chord, just the G note, and do the pull-off, which carries the melody.  The second time, fret the first string in the second space with the first joint of the index finger, as if barring the strings.  This makes for a super easy transition to the GIII chord.

Don't forget, you'll have to go back to the G7 position to do the bass run in the next measure.  This is made a bit easier by the change in tempo, as the tune slows back down to the original 120 beats/minute.  The melody switches back to the bass strings, too.  " Seal thou the word upon my heart,"   is also to be played as a single phrase, for the guitar solo version.  I think that after you get it up to speed, you'll really like it. 

To play the piece in 8/8, as a country Gospel tune, you'll need to add a few notes here and there, to make the count come out even.  It's easy to add a few extra bass notes to do so, and create an alternating bass line at the same time. You'll also need to play the final chord slowly, to contrast with the Carter licks, so it sounds like the piece is definitely ended.