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Glory, Glory Hallelujah! - A Fingerstyle guitar lesson

Guitar Lesson by Kirk Lorange
Difficulty Rating: Intermediate-Advanced

Brass guitar slides
Here's one we all know. This piece has quite the history. It's known under several titles -- John Brown's Body, Battle Hymn of the Republic, Glory Glory Hallelujah, Little Peter Rabbit -- call it what you will, it's the same set of chord changes and melody.

I've done it in our favorite guitar key, G. As usual, it's the most practical. The main reason G is so good is that the I-IV-V chords, the most important of all, are open chords. They are, of course, G, C and D. The next most important is the vi chord: Em, another open chord; the ii chord, Am, is an open chord; Bm, the iii chord has an open grip too, at least Bm7 does. We won't mention the vii chord, F#m7-5 ...

I'm quite pleased with the arrangement I came up with for this tired old tune. There's something about fingerstyle guitar that makes any tune sound nice, even one we've heard in so many corny arrangements.

It's fairly tricky! It took me a while to get my fingers around some passages so don't be discouraged if it takes a while to train those fingers. That bar 3 had me pulling my hair out for a good half hour, as did bar 14. But, perseverance pays off. Play it consciously enough times and your fingers remember. That's the goal.

Don't let that endless stream of chord names put you off either. When I started to name them, I realized that the bass line I came up with made for a whole lot of potential chords. I'm not actually playing many chords, as you can see and hear, but if that melody line/bass line combination were to be fleshed out into chords, those would be them. Try them out and hear for yourself!

If you watch those chord names whizzing past, and you know your key of G, you'll see that the vast bulk are related chords, or diatonic. The main outsider is that B7 that comes up twice. It plays an important role in the tune.

I came up with my own little ending, moving right away from the key of G for a couple of bars before coming home for the last chord. You don't need to do it, of course. You can just go straight to G at bar 17 and leave it at that, or repeat either section, or come up with another way through those chords.

Have fun, that's the main thing.