As a guitar instructor at Long & McQuade, I have taught countless students (beginners to advanced) how to play or improve their chops.
The song is usually played at a very slow tempo. I have employed downstrokes for the entire piece. Let the chords ring together, do not play them in staccato style. you are aiming for a very even, flowing sound. The time signature is three four. Many holiday tunes are written in this time signature, commonly called 'waltz time'.
The melody line is in the key of D Major, the parent key for the entire song. There are two sharps in the key: F♯ and C♯. This means that every time these notes are played they will be one fret higher than the natural note. On guitar, sharp always translates to one fret higher (towards the sound hole, or body of the guitar). I have seen many students get this wrong: up the fretboard (higher) is always towards the body because the notes are higher in pitch, down the fretboard (lower) is always towards the headstock (tuning pegs). The transcription contains many dotted notes. The dot adds half the value of the note it is attached to. For example, a dotted half note is a half note plus a quarter note (three beats).
This is a guitar duet arrangement. There is a 2 measure rhythm guitar intro before the melody starts.
This melody line fits perfectly with the normal pitched melody above. If you play this as a stand alone piece, It will sound different from the normal melody. Harmonies follow the melody, but are voiced as different notes, usually a third or fifth interval. These notes are related to the chords being played. In the easiest example, if the chords are Major, the interval would be a Major. If the chord is minor, the interval would be a minor. A vocalist with a good ear can usually sing a harmony with no preparation. The lead vocalist would simply ask for a harmony a third above or below, and the accompanist would sing the notes.
Solo Fingerstyle Arrangement
This is a beginner to intermediate level fingerpicking arrangement of this Christmas classic. Most of the chords are common open shapes, although some voicings will have you moving around the fretboard and may prove quite difficult. With most chord melody arrangements, other inversions of the chords must be used to keep the melody in the same octave. I use my thumb, index, middle and ring fingers for the entire piece. Some of the arpeggios have five notes. The pinky can be employed to catch the high note, or the thumb can play the two lowest notes. I play the two highest notes of the arpeggios with my ring finger.
Play this at a slow tempo, around 60 bpm. It gives the tune the dreamy quality it needs. The time signature is three four. Three beats to a measure and the quarter note gets one beat.
You can also perform this as free time. That is, there is no tempo, you are free to slow down (usually in quieter passages), and speed up (normally in louder parts). The dynamics and tempo are up to the performer. Whatever you choose, try to remember to add the dynamics. This will greatly enhance your feel for the song and the listener’s as well. This transcription has been transposed to the key of A Major.
© 2014 Lorne Hemmerling
Lorne Hemmerling (author) from Oshawa on December 13, 2015:
Happy you enjoyed it, my friend. Thanks so much for the comment!
Maurício on December 13, 2015:
I've learned! It's great!