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God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen - A Strummed Accompaniment

Guitar Lesson by Kirk Lorange
Difficulty Rating: Beginner

Here is another approach: fingerstyle strumming. I'm not sure if that's a proper way of putting it, but it'll do.

This one is in 4/4 time, so four beats per bar. The pattern here is as simple as they come: pick the root on the first beat, strum the chord on the 3rd beat. Beats 2 and 4 get nothing.

As a finger stylist, I find this much easier to deal with than to be holding an uncooperative flat pick (they always start to rotate in my grip). I can also bring the subtle muting technique into play that has become part of muscle memory. You'll see that as I pluck the bass note with my thumb, my fingertips fall on the strings above muting out the previous chord so that he new bass note can ring clearly. These are subtleties that I never really notice until I watch the playbacks of these movies. They're not essential or even recommended, I'm merely pointing them out in case you're wondering. The bottom line when it come to being a guitarist is 'How do I get these tensely tuned wires attached to this plank of wood to sound the way I want them to sound' and I figure every little bit of advice is worth passing on.

The thumb, as always, handles those bass notes (orange dots in the tab), and in this case, I'm using the back of my index fingernail for the strum. I could also use the fleshy part of my thumb, or I could even pluck three strings from the chord shape for beat 4 ... whatever. The main thing is to get a nice musical flow that can act as accompaniment for some playing the melody, or for singers.

This one is in the key of Em, which is the minor counterpart to the key of G ... and it's a good one for beginners for the same reason G is: the chords you're likely to find in this key can all be played as open shapes and those dreaded barre chords need not come into it.

If you do want to change key, the easiest way is with a capo. Here is a guide:

Key of Em ... no capo
Key of Fm ... capo 1st fret
Key of Gm ... capo 3nd fret
Key of Am ... capo 5th fret
Key of Bm ... capo 7th fret

Naturally, the sharp/flat keys slot between the ones listed above, ie., F#m would be between Fm and Gm, so that would be capo on the 2nd fret. It's all just logic once you know the basics.

You'll hear that I pay an E major chord at the end. You'd probably want to make that Em if you want to repeat the whole thing ... save that Major for the very end.

I've posted links to the midi files below.

Midi full speed
| Midi half speed



Most of my lessons, including this one, are now free. Please consider making a donation so I can keep these free lessons coming. -- To donate, simply click the green donate button below and you will be taken to a PayPal page where you can enter the amount you would like to donate. No amount is too small ... or big!

A big thanks in advance, Kirk Lorange