One of my favorite pieces of Christmas music is “Do You Hear What I Hear?”. No only is it a gorgeous piece of music, but it’s a helluva lesson in composition and a great structure from which to practice multiple techniques.
Below is a very simple version (primarily melodic, so the harmonic options are completely open for you to interpret individually) arranged for guitar. It makes heavy use of harmonics – both natural and tapped – and touches on compositional ideas of both theme & variation and call & response. I also like playing it with a long delay to get those cool “rounds” (like “Row, row, row yor boat”).
Learn it note for note as transcribed, and you’ll realize how skeletal it is…meaning there is a lot of room for you to play around and alter the arrangement to suit your personal tastes. I suggest recording the basic melody and then using that to play against so you can see what you come up with…or just download the MIDI of the transcription and loop it so you can just jam until you come up with some ideas that really suit you. If you record it, be sure to send me a copy – I’d love to hear it!
See ya next month!
David M. McLean is the proprietor of Skinny Devil Music Labs, former guitarist of the avant-garde fusion-metal band Aurora-Sen, guitar instructor, and columnist for TinFoil
Music Magazine (where he conducts interviews in the on-going series “Guitar Gods”). His new solo album, “HUNGER”, will be released later this year, as will the acoustic collection, “Alien Blue”.