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Lesson Subject: Holiday Guitar
What you learn: Auld Lang Syne
Teacher: Storm Stenvold

lesson sample

Storm: Here's the last song in the holiday guitar series, a jazz arrangement of 'Auld Lang Syne'. For this arrangement we'll use more jazzy, 'extended' chords in a 'chord melody' style. This arrangement will be more of a challenge the the other songs in the series. I use a mix of fairly stock jazz voicings and some chords that may be new to most of you. This arrangement 'Auld Lang Syne' is a 32-bar form in the Key of C. Here are the first 4 bars:

Bars 1-4

I play this arrangement fingerstyle without any preset technique. Let your right hand fingers go where they want, sort of like jazz itself. I still use the thumb, index, middle, ring fingers for efficiency. One approach worth experimenting with is holding a pick and using a hybrid pick and finger approach. The Dm7 to G7 fit nicely to illustrate the idea of 'voice leading' making a smooth connection from the notes in one chord to the next. Three of the notes are common tones and the fourth moves neatly down a half-step.

Bars 5-8

Jazz is commonly played on Nylon String Acoustic or Hollow Body Electric guitars. Most Jazz players use heavier gauge strings than most styles. Notice how each chord voicing include the melody notes on 'top'. This is one of the aspects that makes this style so demanding, say for instance, not just knowing a C7 chord, but a C7 chord with an E note on top!

Bars 9-12

This section introduces a bass line on strings 6 (E) and 5 (A). A bass line will usually mix in scale tones, chord tones, and chromatic 'approach' tones.

Bars 13-16

Bars 13-16 have a good example of chromatic notes used in a bass line. The next few bars introduce the second section of the song. Much of the same chord progression, only slightly different melody.

This section has one of my favorite 'fake' bass lines. Simply move down a 1/2 step from the root of the chord and then back again. It sounds like you're moving without having to work too hard.

Storm: There are some fun chords in those 4 bars; altered dominant chords, diminished chord substitutes. 

Storm: Winding down the home stretch of the tune.

Storm: The last bar uses the 'harp harmonics' technique. Jazz great Lenny Breau used this technique to great effect. Here the chord is held at the 7th position and then outlined with the right hand index finger lightly touching the string 12 frets higher. The thumb picks the string to produce a harmonic. The riff mixes these notes with standard notes plucked with the right hand middle finger.


If you are not familiar with the chords presented remember Jazz is the most demanding style of your chord vocabulary. Most chords can be related back to familiar major, minors and dominant chords. This lesson shows many substitutes for standard major chords, for instance.

Storm: OK. let's make a New Year's resolution to improve our guitar playing each day. Thanks for joining me for my Holiday Guitar series.

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