Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring - (Part 1)
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.
This is probably Johann Sebastien Bach's most famous piece. I learned a fingerstyle arrangement somewhere around the mid 1960's and it must have been by ear as I didn't read notation and tab was unheard of. I did see myself becoming a classical guitarist back then and I had quite a good record collection, but I can't remember who I would have listened to to learn it. When I thought of the piece the other day I had a quick stab at it and to my surprise, my fingers remembered! Well, a lot of it, but I did have a listen to few other versions to get the nuances right. It really is a beautiful piece and I tried to strip it all back to just two lines -- melody and bass -- for this lesson. I hope I did it justice.
It's in G, of course. As always, G came through as the best key to keep the fingering compact and diminish the need to move up and down the fingerboard too much. That and the fact that when I did learn it all those years ago, it was in G.
This is not for beginners, as I'm sure you've already deduced, but even if you have just a little finger style experience, it's not all that difficult. As I said before, it is just two lines interweaving, so no big complex chord formations come into play. The counterpoint gets a little tricky, the way the bass line follows a different timing pattern from the melody line, but that's what's so fun about playing it. Getting those fingers to obey is what it's all about, obey, then remember, remember so well you can forget them.
As always, the chord names are there just to let you know what they are. They're not actually being played in this rendition, but if your friend wanted to strum chords behind your picking, those are the ones to strum.
For anyone interested in the Roman numerals, you'll quickly see that this really is a I-IV-V tune. There's just that one little Am (vi) and Em/C# (just one way of naming that chord) that intrudes, but everything else is strictly "primary chords". And isn't it amazing how complex sounding that structure can become when JS Bach is the composer. This truly is a masterpiece of composition.
You can hear part two come in at the end where I fade out. I'll do that as the next lesson.
I've done the tab as 3/4 ... it's probably more like 6/8, but it doesn't affect the tab in any way. Also, you hear me count 1-2-3-4 ... that's two bars of 6/8. I should have counted 123223323423, but that sounds too confusing.
Have fun with this one ... like I say, unless you just started fingerstyling, as tricky as this one sounds, it's not all that difficult. Consider it a challenge and remember that you can practice as slowly as you wish. The tempo I chose is random. Some of the versions I listened to are extremely slow.
>> Part 2 of this lesson is here.
For this 2 part lesson, I will be charging a small fee of US $3.95 for the Printable PDF of the TAB/Notation (both lessons included). 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.