It Came Upon A Midnight Clear - A Christmas Carol Lesson
Guitar Lesson by Kirk Lorange
Difficulty Rating: Intermediate
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.
Here's one that will keep you busy for a while! I must admit, I'm not awfully familiar with this one and I had to go to iTunes to have a listen to a few versions to remind me how it goes. As hard as I tried to come up with a simple arrangement, I couldn't. It's not so much that the fingerings and chord shapes are difficult, but the moving between them gets tricky. You really do need to think ahead for this one and mentally be making those moves long before they actually come.
G once again proved to be the best key for this, so at least you'll find a lot of familiar positions for some of the chords. It's in 3/4 time, so you'll hear me count two bars "one two three, two two three". There's a pick-up note on the third beat of the second bar of count-in.
It's that opening bit (which recurs twice later on) that's the most challenging. I tried several ways of playing this (as I always do) and this one seemed the easiest. Moving from the B7 to the C is where you need to be quick, clean and accurate to keep it all flowing. You really need to get your fingerings -- your whole hand in fact -- in position while it's moving between chords so that all fingers land at the same time, ready and prepared ... and the instant they land, be thinking of the next move. In this case, the C is just two notes (the first beat is in fact it's a C6), so it's not as difficult as getting a full chord down cleanly, but it's tricky nonetheless.
At bars 15 and 31 I play a D/C chord for one beat. That's a "D over C chord" which means a D chord with a C bass note, a sort of D7 with the flat7 as bass note. I only added that because I though it sounded neat, you can go straight to the plain old D is you prefer.
At bar 19 there's an interesting little passage where the bass line goes down while the melody line goes up, a line that your fingers will need some convincing to execute, and at bar 22 there's a pull-off from the 7th fret to the fifth you need to do with your pinkie.
The end bit is a repeat of the first two sections, the hard bits.
Keep plugging away at it until you get it ... listening back to my rendition here, I wish I'd waited for a couple more run-throughs before hitting 'Record' on the cameras and Audition ... I play it much better now! Practice does make perfect.
For this lesson, I will be charging a small fee of US $3.95 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.