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Tennessee Waltz

Guitar Lesson by Kirk Lorange

PlaneTalk Online

For a mere $4.95, you can download the Guitar Pro file and a printable PDF of the tab/notation of this lesson. The fee helps me to pay for the hosting and running of this site and allows me to create more of these lessons. Click here to order it. Thanks!

I had a request to come up with a fingerstyle arrangement for this old classic and here it is: the Tennessee Waltz. I have, of course, been aware of this tune all my life. I was 1 year old when Patti Page released her hit version in 1950 and I must have heard it ten thousand times since, but I had never really listened to the lyrics. The tune had always had a happy vibe to it, so I was quite surprised to hear what a sad tale they told.

My version is in the key of G and—yet again—in dropped D tuning, so lower that bass string down a whole tone. I got rid of the happy lilt and played it straighter (and sadder) than most of the versions I listened to. I also tried to make it as sparse as possible.

The progression is a very simple one, all diatonic apart from the A chord, which is what I like to call a 'majorized minor'. There's a momentary C#dim chord in there too, or at least a couple of notes from it. I indicated it in the tab/notation but not in the video.

When I first started playing with the arrangement I thought I would nail it within a couple of takes but I actually had to spend quite a long time to capture a clean version from top to tail. It was quite challenging and I put it down to the slow tempo and the sparseness. The fewer notes you play, the cleaner you have to play them. I had to be quite delicate in how I picked the notes and I'm sure you'll see what I mean if you decide to learn this one. The middle section, where I move up the fretboard to play the B7 and C, was particularly frustrating. But, I did what I always do: I played it over and over and over until my fingers accepted that I was serious about them obeying. They eventually did. I then heard in my head that descending counterpoint bass line in bars 22 —> 25, figured out how to merge it with the melody line, and spent more time yelling at my fingers.

I only mention all this so that you don't feel bad if you also find it a frustrating challenge. I'm sure that you watch me playing through these arrangements and think that I just breeze through them all. I don't. It's mostly like pulling teeth and it takes me a long time to get to the stage where I turn on the cameras, then a long time before I capture the take that 'makes it all look easy'. So, go easy on yourself, take your time, persist. Succeed.

I hope you like it!


For a mere $4.95, you can download the Guitar Pro file and a printable PDF of the tab/notation of this lesson. The fee helps me to pay for the hosting and running of this site and allows me to create more of these lessons. Click here to order it. Thanks!