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We Are All Enlisted

Only four chords to this song, and they’re all super easy!  Not only that, but fully half of the twenty-four measures are repeats.  You only have to learn these measures, and you’ve got the whole song:  [1], [2], [3], [4], [7], [9], [10], [11], [12], [15], and [16].  I’m not counting [8], which consists entirely of a single, strummed C chord.  The only place where the repetition is not exact is in the last line, where the notes are picked separately, without hammer-ons or slides.

There are no hard chords or difficult transitions, but the tempo is FAST, so I added a change of pace in the middle.  It’s slower than the rest of the song, but still not exactly SLOW. Remember, the metronome numbers are for quarter-notes, not eighth-notes, and the song is arranged in 8/8 time, so each beat of the metronome counts for TWO “counting numbers,” not one.  If you want to count each counting number separately, double the metronome speed.

Nearly all the G7 chords in the tab are really Gs, but there’s no need to kill your hand making fast chord changes. The #1 string is not played in any of these G chords, so the difference is academic.  It’s easier to hit the melody notes from a G7 hand position, so I’ve called them all G7.  You can play G the “right” way if you like, but your hand will get mighty tired.

In measures [7] and [23], do the hammer-on with the ring finger, leaving the middle finger free to do the slide which follows. The last note of the measure is an open e-string, giving you time to position your hand for the following C chord strum.

Some chords are pinched, some are strummed, and some are played as arpeggios. If you are using finger-picks, be sure to play the arpeggios with the fingers, leaving the thumb and thumb pick free to strum the next chord.  If you try to strum the arpeggios, you may have difficulty getting the thumb back into strumming position in time. You will either have a choppy rhythm, or you may hit the strings with the thumb pick on the way up.

A couple of tips:
-- the pull-offs on the third string are easier to do quickly as push-offs. Instead of pulling the string away from you to pluck it with the middle finger of the left hand, push it toward you to pluck it. This may seem a bit unnatural at first, but it’s not hard to do.
-- in measures [7] and [23], fret the A note on the third string, 2nd space, by briefly flattening the  middle finger across the string, instead of moving it from the fifth string. It’s a bit faster, where speed really counts.

It’s not actually necessary, but I like to end the song with a C/G chord, which is just a normal C with the G note added with the little finger on the #6 string. It gives a fuller sound than a normal C chord, but contains all the same notes. If you’re following the tab, your finger will already be there, but if you have trouble hitting it in tempo, just play a normal C, as tabbed.

In this song, tempo is king. It sounds terrific when played at speed, and it’s not hard to do. With a little practice, you can sound like a fretboard wizard.

Where Can I Turn for Peace?

As promised, here is the tab.  You’ll notice right away that it doesn’t resemble “Come Ye Disconsolate” nearly as much as you may have thought it would, even though both have been transposed into the key of C for easier playing.

That does not mean it is easy to play.  You really do need to play the FV chord to make the melody come out right. Substituting the more common FI chord just will not work, as the melody goes up very high, and the FI chord is very low-pitched.  There are no easy verses.  This is NOT a good song to learn barre chords. If you are not rather comfortable playing them, practice on other songs, until you are comfortable with them.

The Em in the next-to-last measure of the first verse has to be played with the index and middle fingers, as shown in the chord chart, even if you usually play it with the middle and ring finger, or you will never get a clean pull-off on the 4th string. In fact, I can only get it right by doing a “push-off” with the middle finger, pushing it toward me, rather than pulling it away from me, as is the usual practice.

In the last line of the first verse, there are two places where you have to hold a note with tremolo, then slide it to the next note without re-picking it. Your ear will tell you how long to hold the first note before beginning the slide.  If you hold it too long, the second note will be too soft, unless you are playing an electric guitar. This actually is not a bad idea. Try for a sound that rings clear and sweet, similar to the one the Beatles used in “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” The audience will be weeping too.

You may also find the finale a bit difficult, especially the second time around. There are no special techniques here. You are playing high up on the fretboard, where the frets are close together. It makes it easier to stretch to the 12th fret, but there’s not much room for error in those tiny spaces.  Good luck!

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

Apology:  I know I promised my next song would be “Where Can I Turn for Peace.”  It’s just not coming together quickly.  Normally, I’d just take the time to do it right, but my wife and I have just begun a temple mission here in Santiago, Chile, and have not even finished unpacking yet.  I had been saving this one for Christmas, as many consider it a Christmas Carol, which it is not (see History below).

The tab:

This is written as a duet for two guitars, but I originally intended it as a duet with another kind of instrument.  I think it would sound especially good with a violin, cello, flute, or woodwind.  Since these all play in different keys, I didn’t know whether to write the guitar part in Am or Em, so I did it in both.  Then I realized that you could also get an interesting effect by playing both versions together, with the Em part played with a capo to put them in the same key.  Hence, the duet version.  If you just want to play it as a solo, or to accompany singers, I recommend the Am version (upper staff).  It’s easier, and just as pretty, and there are no hard transitions and only one barre chord.  In fact, it’s one of the easier songs I know.  If the barred Amv is too hard for you, substitute the regular Am as in the last measure of the previous line.  It won’t sound quite as good, but the audience won’t know.

There are a lot of hammer-ons, pull-offs, and slides.  Please don’t leave them out, as they contribute greatly to the beauty of the song.  Despite the large number of such ligado techniques, the slow, regular tempo makes this an ideal vehicle for learning them, so I have listed the difficulty level as “beginner to intermediate”.  There are no unusual chords in the upper staff, but there are a few melody notes that are not part of the chords being played.  Watch for them.

In the 4th measure, fret the D note on the 2nd string with the little finger.  In the second measure of the third line, make the slide with the ring finger, for strength.  The little finger probably will not be strong enough.  In the last line before the Finale, there’s a mordant.  This is a technical music term meaning to slide the note up to the next note and back down again.  It counts as one beat of the tempo.  Do it with the middle finger, then pull off the third string, all in one fluid phrase.  It’s not hard to do, and sounds fantastic.  If you tend to speed up during this maneuver, play it with a metronome.  There are several good metronome apps available free on the internet.  Some are even abailable as phone apps.

The song, as usually sung, has seven verses, but since this is an instrumental solo, you can include as many or as few as you like.  After the last verse, play the Finale.  It sounds much like a repetition of the last line, but there are differences.  Play it about half speed, for emphasis.

The lower staff is in the key of Em.  If you’re playing it as a guitar duet, place the capo in the 5th space.  If you’re playing with some other instrument, or with singers, put the capo wherever you need to.  This version is a bit harder than the upper staff, and contains a couple of barre chords.  The G (7)  chord is actually easier than it looks.  It’s a normal G chord, but since you’re not playing the 1st string anyway, you can fret it as if it were a G7, which makes the transition faster.


This lovely, medieval melody, from the early Middle Ages, may be more than 1000 years old.  Like other very old songs, even the century of composition is not known for sure.  Most authorities place it around the Twelfth Century, but it could well be based on Gregorian chants and “plainsong” (unaccompanied singing) of the Eighth or Ninth Century.  Others point out that it did not achieve its present form until much later, possibly as “recently” as the late 1400s.

The lyrics are based on a Catholic chant usually sung at evening prayer (“Vespers”), in which the leader calls out one of the seven names of Christ in the New Testament, and the choir responds.  The seven verses of the poem correspond to these seven names, except that the last one, Emmanuel (Hebrew for “God is with us”) has been moved to the first position in the hymn.

Like many other hymns, the lyrics were originally sung to other tunes than the one we now associate with it.  The present tune has been associated with the hymn for centuries, so long that the tune has taken on the name of the chant, “Veni, veni” (“O come, o come” in Latin).  Until it was translated into English scarcely 150 years ago, it was known by the Latin title.  The English title is an exact translation.  Latin customs in writing titles used capital letters only at the beginning of the first word, and for names and references to Deity, so English writers who wish to appear authentic follow that convention, and may also spell “Oh” as just the letter O, but it’s okay to modernize the spelling if you wish.  Since the song has been around so long, and no one knows how it originally went anyway, it’s also perfectly acceptable to arrange the music to suit yourself.  It’s definitely in the Public Domain.

Here are the verses, in the most popular English translation, done by John Mason Neale in 1851:

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o'er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai's height,
In ancient times did'st give the Law,
In cloud, and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.