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Greensleeves ( aka What Child Is This? ) - A fingerstyle guitar lesson

Guitar Lesson by Kirk Lorange
Difficulty Rating: Intermediate

I'm sure we all know this tune when we hear it. It's a traditional English folk song and apparently this title goes back to the 1500's, so it's very old. Some people know it as "Greensleeves" some as "What Child is This" but whatever the name, it's a beautiful peace of music.

I did it in Am and it's a waltz, 3/4 time. I believe that the traditional version stayed strictly in key, using only related chords from Am. The more modern versions use a 'majorized' E as well as the Em and in this arrangement I've also used a A major to end off each section instead of the more traditional Am, but if you like the sound of Am better, use it!

I've kept it as simple as possible. I realize that none of these finger style lessons are really for total beginners, but some, like this one, are worth trying if you have got past the basics and you have some control over those fingers. It's basically a melody line and a bass line, with the odd chord tone thrown in to keep it lilting along. You will notice that, as usual, I'm holding down whole chord shapes even if I'm just grabbing the top and bottom notes. Doing this enables me to add the odd 'in-between' note ... any note from the 'chord of the moment' will work, so holding down full shapes is good. If you're really observant, you will notice that in bar 2 I use an A note as that 'in-between' note, but in the repeat of that same passage at bar 10 I use an E note. Both are in the full Am shape. Did I do that on purpose? No, that's just how it happened to come out. Both are valid, both work although I think I like the E note best. So, always try to hold down as much of the full chord shape, whatever that may be, when playing finger style.

There's a bit of a pinkie stretch over that E chord at bars 15 and 31, you may need to work on that. More often than not there are a couple of different ways of fingering any given passage, but not in this case.

That 'majorized' A chord follows the stretch. It is in fact a Asus4 with an added 9 in the melody resolving to A major ... in case you were wondering.

The next part, which I call the chorus, starts on a C chord. C is the relative major of Am, so it hasn't really changed key even though it sounds like it's shifted gears at that point. You'll notice that a couple of measures later it goes back to the exact same section as in the verse, in other words bars 20 to 25 are exactly the same as bars 4 to 9 (and bars 28 to 33 are exactly the same as bars 12 to 17). Remember that when learning this piece! All you need to do to learn the 'chorus' is learn the first two bars of it.

That's it ... I can't think of anything else worth mentioning. Have fun with this one, it's a beautiful little tune, no wonder it's lasted through the ages, so simple and yet so right.