As a guitar, electric bass, ukulele instructor at Long & McQuades, I have taught countless musicians how to play or improve their chops.
This is my favourite Christmas song. I get chills listening to this tune. The refrain 'fall on your knees' is so powerful, it's uplifting! Some of my favourite renditions include two Trans-Siberian Orchestra versions, the instrumental that is part of 'Oh Come All Ye Faithful/Oh Holy Night, and their version on the DVD with Michael Crawford singing….extremely powerful! This arrangement for two guitars works very well with an entire band. It is loosely based on the TSO instrumental mentioned earlier, I just didn't feel moved to copy their recording, so I arranged an easier, little more melodic version of it.
An arpeggio is a chord with the notes played individually, as opposed to strumming. This is an excellent, and moderately challenging, way of playing a rhythm guitar part. Very similar to what you hear a pianist do. The key of the song is G Major and many of the the chords are contained in this key (diatonic). Once you master the part with the pick, try just the fingers, using your thumb, index, middle and ring in that order. This should not be that hard for the beginner to intermediate level. The time signature is six eight (six beats to a measure and the eight note gets one beat). This meter works very well with this 'broken chord' playing style.
Oh Holy Night Arpeggios
The Melody Open Position
This is the melody voiced down the fretboard in the open position. This is a better position for acoustic guitars without a 'cutaway' (a portion of the body of the guitar that is indented to allow access to the higher frets, usually on the treble strings, see the photo). This is the normal octave for a vocalist. The next version based at the twelfth fret would be to high for most vocalists. If you are trying to sing along and find that the song is not in a comfortable key for you, experiment with a capo on different frets.
Remember that the time signature is six eight, this will make reading the phrasing easier. For example, in measure three, there is a dotted quarter note followed by a single quarter and eighth note. Hold the dotted quarter for the count of 1 2 3 and play the next quarter note on 4. Hold this note for beats 4 and 5 and play the eighth note on beat 6. For each measure, you can count 1 2 3 4 5 6, but a more normal way to count six eight time is 1 and ah 2 and ah. The dotted quarter note is the basic pulse of this compound time signature. Two of these make up one measure, while one dotted half note would fill an entire measure.
Oh Holy Night Melody Arranged for Guitar
This is a video of the rhythm guitar arpeggios combined with the melody in open position.
Oh Holy Night Arranged for Two Guitars
The Melody Twelfth Position with Embellishments
Based in G Major, the melody weaves into other keys during the song. I voiced the melody up high to avoid getting it mixed in with the arpeggios. The fill in measure eleven, is a C Major arpeggio: Chord spelling: E G C G E C. The bends must be in the pitch notated in the tab. Most of the faster runs are simply scale based phrases.
In measure seventeen, the bend is full. It lends a very powerful sound to the note, try to add vibrato. The half bend (one fret) in measure eighteen must sound exact in order to be effective.
The sixteenth note scale runs are: measure twenty eight, G Major-Em, measure thirty two and forty four, D Major-Bm. For an audio example, please see the video.
This version is inspired by The Trans Siberian Orchestra. I tried to make the phrases more melodic and easier to play.
Oh Holy Night Melody 12th Position with Backing Track
© 2014 Lorne Hemmerling
Lorne Hemmerling (author) from Oshawa on January 10, 2015:
Yes, the notes are the same. There is no bass clef for the left hand. Try chording the arpeggios with the left and playing the melody with the right. Hope this helps!
peachy from Home Sweet Home on January 09, 2015:
gee i don't know how to play guitar, is the note similar to piano?