God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (trickier version)
Guitar Lesson by Kirk Lorange
Difficulty Rating: Intermediate-Advanced
Note: The Printable PDF for the TAB/Notation for this arrangement is available as part of my Christmas Fingerstyle Guitar Collection along with 21 other Christmas Carol guitar arrangements. Click here to order it.
Mastered the easy version? Then here is the 'tricky' version. It doesn't really seem like much looking at the tab ... it's really just a series of double stops, but getting those fingers around them takes a while to lock in, or at least it did for me.
I came up with this arrangement after listening to a few versions online. I wanted to capture that JS Bach feel. He was master at weaving melody and bass lines together like this. I'm fairly pleased with the result. I simplified it a bit from previous versions where I found my fingers getting all tangled up in knots with a third line appearing from time to time. I thought 'why make it impossible?' so I pared it back.
You'll notice for once there are no chord names in this. They'd be changing with every beat most of the time and wouldn't really be of benefit.
This version is the same melody line as the easy version, but instead of just a few roots appearing as bass notes, the bass line is a continuous harmony line to the melody. But, it's not a parallel harmony, rising and falling with the melody, it's non-parallel ... a separate melody. I believe you'd call it 'counterpoint' melody. Counterpoint usually involves the rhythm also, so I may well be corrected on this. Whatever it's called, it's a nice effect and really makes it sound like it should be played on a Lute a few centuries ago.
This one really does need to taken a few beats at a time. I found many of the moves very difficult to lock in. My fingers seemed to think that this was just not meant to be, I had to convince them many times that it was indeed what I wanted them to do. I found that I needed to just play the bass line a couple of times on its own to remind myself of what was going on.
You'll hear that some of the time, I'm not playing the double stops (the whole thing is a series of doubles stops) in unison ... the bass note and melody note are not in perfect sync, they're out by a nanosecond or two. I did this on purpose because it sounded (to my ear, anyway) more like an old fashioned Elizabethan rendition. At first I echoed this in the animated fretboard but it looked too confusing so I adjusted it to be in sync. Of course, there's no need for you to play it this way, you can simply play each double stop as a unison pluck.
I end this on the E major as well ... what a nice lift it adds. Parts of this are quite somber sounding, but ending on that major makes all well.
For this lesson, I will be charging a small fee of US $2.95 for the Printable PDF of the TAB/Notation. Click here to order it.
Guitar Lesson by Kirk Lorange
As well as putting together these fingerstyle guitar lessons, I am also the author of PlaneTalk - The Truly Totally Different Guitar Instruction Package, which teaches a mindset, a way of thinking about music and a way of tracking it all on the guitar fretboard. Yes, there IS a constant down there in the maze of strings and fret wire, a landmark that points to everything at all times. I call it The Easiest Yet Most Powerful Guitar Lesson You Will Ever Learn and many testimonials at my site will back up that rather superlative description. If your goal as a guitar player is to be able to truly PLAY the guitar, not just learn by rote; to be able to invent on the fly, not memorize every note; to be able to see the WHOLE fretboard as friendly, familiar territory, not just the first 5 frets and to do it all without thinking about all those scales and modes, then you should read more here.