White Christmas - A fingerstyle guitar lesson
Guitar Lesson by Kirk Lorange
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.
White Christmas - The Lesson explained
Here it is ... the biggest selling tune of all time, or so the story goes. My first recollection of Bing Crosby crooning this song is Christmas 1953, when it was a fairly new tune. I was a 4 year living in Caracas, Venezuela at the time, a long way from any snow.
It's in G -- of course -- and I've kept it a simple as possible. There's not a barre chord to be seen, which is always good news.
I start this with a some 'Jingle Harmonics. You can, of course, leave them out if you want and just start with a nice G chord for the first measure, but I thought it was kind of a fun way of getting it going. If you're not sure what 'harmonics' are, check out this page. These are all 'natural harmonics'. Briefly, you need to just lightly touch the string directly over the 7th and 12th frets and lightly pluck. Everything is light and delicate. It helps the tone if you remove the left hand finger a nanosecond after the pluck. The aim is to get both sections of the string either side of that finger tip ringing. When you do it right, and both sections ring out, you have played a harmonic. It's all physics and I go into some detail on that page.
Don't worry too much about keeping track of all those chord names that come up. I wrote them in because I always do, but it's superfluous information. The bulk of the tune stays pretty much in key but there are a couple of deviations ... like the E, the Cm and the A chords. They're not chords from the key of G.
You'll notice that a sizeable chunk repeats, which is always nice, and that I play a little twiddly bit at bars 9 and 25. Again, you can leave that out if it's too daunting but all I'm doing there is hitting the first note (F#) and very quickly pushing my fingertip up a semitone to G and just as quickly coming back to the F#. I only pluck the first F#, the rest is just sustain. The following note in the melody line is E and I play that on the open string, which makes something quite easy sound quite tricky. But, as I say, it's mere detail, you can just play the F# note and leave it at that.
Immediately after that twiddly bit I come back to a G chord and you'll see that each time I use my thumb to grab that bass string. I hadn't realized I did until I watched the video. I guess it just seemed more comfortable doing it that way in the context of what was played before. It's not usually recommended to curl your thumb over the edge of the fretboard like that -- it can lead to pain -- but from time time, I don't think it's a worry.
Nothing else jumps out as being difficult ... it's all pretty much a bunch of familiar 'G moves' and you should be able to recognize a lot of the shapes from other G lessons.
The ending: I figured something a little fancy was in order and so I came up with a little diminished run up the fretboard, all built around the same little shape on strings 2-3-4 followed by a cascading descending line that-- again -- sounds a lot trickier that it is. every second note in the line is an open string, and all the fretted notes are at the 7th fret, so nothing too complicated.
For this lesson, I will now be charging a small fee of US $4.95 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.