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Mandolin Lessons: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

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[MUSIC]
I have a little Christmas tune for
some of you all out there, Have Yourself a
Merry Little Christmas.
Working it up as a solo mandolin piece
first, and
then we'll play around with it as a
bluegrass tune, too.
But here's, here's what I came up with.
Hope you enjoy this.
[MUSIC]
All righty.
Hope you liked that.
Let's do a little quick breakdown for it
for you, of it for you.
It's in the key of G.
[MUSIC]
I'll
just go through the chords real quick for
you.
What the chords are is, the beginning is
1-6-2-5.
G, E minor, the six chord.
A minor, the two chord.
D, D minor.
[SOUND] Wait, wait, wait, no, D7.
[SOUND] Is the five.
[SOUND] We're in the key of G.
[SOUND]
You know this famous.
[MUSIC]
Chord progression you guys have all played
on the piano so much.
[MUSIC]
Well,
it's based around that, of course, it's a
slightly different feel.
But that's the, the harmony of it.
[MUSIC]
G, E minor, A minor,
D7, G, E minor, D7.
[MUSIC]
Sometimes I do it D sus to a D7.
G, E, E minor, A minor, gonna change here,
B7, B7, E7, A7, D7,
right, before going back to the top.
[MUSIC]
Here's the second ending.
It's a A minor to B7 to E minor,
to G7 to C major seven to
C minor with the major seven.
I'll explain that later, lets see.
[MUSIC]
C, to C, G, G diminish or
A7, a very similar.
[MUSIC]
A minor, A, D augmented.
[MUSIC]
B minor.
[MUSIC]
E minor.
[MUSIC]
F sharp seven.
B minor.
D augmented.
[MUSIC]
D7.
A7.
To D sus, revolving to D.
Did you get all that?
I'll review the B section.
[MUSIC]
That's a C major
seven to a C minor with a major seven to a
G.
To a G diminished or A7.
[MUSIC]
A minor seven D augmented.
Looks like a G minor.
[MUSIC]
Because of the melody note, but
it's actually a D augmented.
To B minor seven, E minor,
F sharp seven, B minor,
D augmented, D7, A7.
[MUSIC]
D7 sus.
Now the end.
[MUSIC]
G and B minor, A minor,
D7, D, E minor, D7.
[MUSIC]
G, E minor,
A minor, B7, E minor.
I'll walk this down but it's still E minor
to G7.
[MUSIC]
C, E minor,
A minor, A7, G.
[MUSIC]
Okay?
And of course,
I put the chords to this up in the in the
melody, up in the study materials.
So I hope that helps you guys find your
way.
I'll include the tab too.
And of course, there's lots of ways to
play a tune like this.
You don't necessarily have to do it as a
solo tune as I'm doing it.
That's fairly advanced, trying to play the
chords and the melody all at once.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
If
you've got a guitar player sitting around
the house with nothing to do,
he's done decorating the tree, or she.
They could play the guitar chords for you.
[MUSIC]
And
you could simply play the nice tremolo
melody I have up there.
[MUSIC]
Just hold that note.
[MUSIC]
Back to the top.
[MUSIC]
And then hold that high.
[MUSIC]
And the last section is.
[MUSIC]
It's basically,
the melody is the G arpeggio.
And then.
[MUSIC]
Sorry, here's the last part.
[MUSIC].
Edit.
[MUSIC]
There it is, the high B.
[MUSIC]
All right?
And that should work very nice with guitar
and mandolin,
mandolin playing the tremolo.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
But
if you were gonna attempt to play it as a
bluegrass tune with a banjo and
a fiddle and a bass, what would happen?
[MUSIC]
Have yourself a merry little Christmas.
Let your light.
From now on our troubles will be out of
sight.
Have yourself a merry little Christmas.
Make the yuletide gay.
From now on your troubles will be miles
away.
Oh, here we are as in olden days.
[MUSIC]
Don't know the words.
[MUSIC]
[LAUGH] All right, that's a lot of chords.
Lets go through it slow.
On the B section it's-
[MUSIC]
C, C-minor, G,
G-diminished, A, D7,
B-minor, A-minor,
F-sharp, B-minor, D7,
D-augmented, D7, A7, D.
So I'll simplified them slightly for the
bluegrass version.
Really strip it down a little bit.
C, C-minor, G, G-diminished,
A-minor, D7, B-minor, E-minor,
F-sharp, B-minor, D, D7, A7, B7.
[MUSIC]
G-minor.
A-minor.
B7.
G, E-minor.
D7.
G, E-minor, A-minor,
B7, C-minor.
G7.
C, B.
Sorry.
C.
[MUSIC]
E-minor, seven.
C, E-minor, seven.
A-minor, D7, G.
[MUSIC]
Can't get myself out of playing as if
nobody is here.
So I want to hear the chord so badly.
But I'm sort of forcing myself into this
solo mandolin version,
only because I don't have a guitarist.
If you were to have a guitarist, you could
play it in a, in a blue grass style.
[MUSIC]
Right,
you could either choose to play
rhythmically on each note.
[MUSIC]
Like four notes per note.
[SOUND] Or your could play.
[MUSIC]
Or you can play long tones.
[MUSIC]
And just let it ping.
And let the band carry the rhythm.
One other option would be.
[MUSIC]
That's playing a half step below each
of the notes.
[MUSIC]
And there through that series of chords.
[MUSIC]
There'll be a chance for you to improvise.
[MUSIC]
Okay, what was that?
B7, I was playing in the key of B.
[MUSIC]
For that chord.
[MUSIC]
E7.
[MUSIC]
A little E7 riff.
A7.
[MUSIC]
Little A7 riff.
D.
[MUSIC]
Little D riff.
So for each of those chords, B7, E7, A7,
D.
I had to come up with kind of a area to
play in for each one of them,
slightly different chord tones.
[MUSIC]
Right?
[MUSIC]
Anything like that'll work.
[MUSIC]
Or.
[MUSIC]
B.
B, A, D.
That's a nice little turn around aria.
The rest of the tune's much easier than,
than that little spot.
That's the spot the chords change quickly,
and
each chord is very different than the
chord before it.
So when we got to the bridge.
[MUSIC]
Certainly we could treat that like a
fiddle shuffle.
[MUSIC]
And you can choose or not choose to play
double stops, if you wish.
[MUSIC]
Sorry.
[MUSIC]
I'm simply grabbing a note
that is on the other string that is in the
chord that's happening at that moment.
So it's C.
[MUSIC]
I grabbed the E.
[MUSIC]
Here I grab make it into an E-flat for
a C-minor.
[MUSIC]
G-major seven.
[SOUND] I grab the B.
[MUSIC]
The, the A7 or G-diminished,
I grab the C-sharp.
[MUSIC]
For the A-minor I let the A ring open.
[MUSIC]
For the D-augmented I make it an A-sharp.
[MUSIC]
And for the B-minor.
[MUSIC]
I played a B under it.
So that's kinda the, the concept there of
how to, how to, what,
what do you choose when you're trying to
make double stops.
Then.
[MUSIC]
Hey!
[MUSIC]
Now, on a long note like this you're
holding this B note for two full bars.
That's another change for a riff, right?
So when we come out of.
Hang your shining star above the highest
bow.
[MUSIC]
We can go into our David Grisman
moment right?
[LAUGH]
[MUSIC]
Since it's an E-minor,
we're playing of the B, and the G, and the
open E.
[MUSIC]
Any of that would work great over that.
[MUSIC]
And
here, rather than continue with the
melody.
[MUSIC]
I might take it to there, and
from this point on I might choose to play
a riff of some sort, just a tag line.
[MUSIC]
And
it would be a series of eighth notes that
would just.
[SOUND] This is tricky.
Because lots of the melody in this tune
are simply.
[SOUND]
Real simple quarter notes.
But now we wanna introduce.
[SOUND]
Really playing four notes to the,
to the one.
And we wanna make them clean.
So I would choose a tempo where you can do
that,
where you can really play those 16th notes
clean.
So, try to be tricky, not to get it too
fast.
[MUSIC]
Cuz you're waiting out on G for
two more full bars, so you got all this
time to, all the time to kill.
[LAUGH]
[MUSIC]
Right here, the D, the A-minor.
So, right here.
[MUSIC]
G.
I'll do it once more.
A little.
At that tempo and
come up with something else.
[MUSIC]
Okay?
Everything's trajectory.
Everything's trying to get to that last
step.
All right so here you have it, little,
little oh, wait.
I have not done the the break down and the
close up of the solo mandolin version.
I wanna do that next, but I'll reset the
camera so
you get a nice close up of my fingers for
this one.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
Okay,
here's the closeup of the fingers on this
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.
What's going on here is a G chord.
[MUSIC]
And
the only thing I have is cuz this melody
is this
[MUSIC]
G note on the third string.
[MUSIC]
The only thing I can put below it is
the B note.
[MUSIC]
I could put an octave G, but
that doesn't sound much like a chord, just
sounds like octaves.
[MUSIC]
So I chose the B, then you add the B note.
[MUSIC]
Then an E minor 7, the D note,
the seven is the melody.
So your G.
[MUSIC]
E minor, 4-2-5.
[MUSIC]
And I reach up for the high G note,
part of the melody.
And I've got an A minor, but it's a, it's
a D note on the melody.
[MUSIC]
However you can do that.
When the melody is coming down along the D
string.
The A string I mean.
D, C, B, A and I'm holding the bar.
[MUSIC]
Now there,
I went to the bar, C and G, cuz that's the
melody.
And it's a D7 at that point.
It's really a sus, a D sus, to a resolve
with D7.
5-4-0.
Then G.
Same thing again, E minor, but we hold
this D note, now.
We hold it over the A minor seventh and
the D7.
Okay, then G, E minor.
A minor.
The melody is now up here on the high A.
[MUSIC]
Sorry.
[MUSIC]
That's it.
It's an A minor chord, and it simply walks
the high note down.
[MUSIC]
So
I jump with the second finger to that
F-Sharp and
I never let go of this low, cuz this is
giving us our sustain.
And while I'm playing the D note and
the C note I'm kinda using my right hand
to pluck those.
Those low notes to keep that.
[MUSIC]
And then it's the B7 with the B note.
Now here you're holding this B note
through all these chords.
B7.
[MUSIC]
D7.
[MUSIC]
1-0-2.
A7, 6
[MUSIC]
6-5-2.
That's really A9 now.
[MUSIC]
And D7 or D6.
D7, D13 you could call it 5-4-2.
So it's all about holding that B note.
B7, E7, A7, D.
A7, back to the top.
E minor, A sus, D sus,
D7, G, E minor, A,
D7, G, E minor.
[MUSIC]
Here's where it changes to a B7,
a second ending.
It's an A minor, again I scooch that
second finger
down in there to grab that F-Sharp.
Then I'm in a B chord, with a D note, a
D-Sharp note on the top.
And I got to reach over for the F-Sharp, I
could play it up here,
its a bit of a stretch.
[MUSIC]
Maybe its better if you can reach it,
F-Sharp, or you just go get it when you.
Was need, and it leads you to the E-minor.
Now I chose this little descending E,
E-Flat, D,
just to create some harmonic motion during
that long hold of an E-minor.
[MUSIC]
Now I'm on a G7.
[MUSIC]
Okay.
We're holding a G7.
There's lots of them.
[MUSIC]
You can just make it a G and
hold it right like that.
[MUSIC]
I chose to play the F and the D.
[MUSIC]
To make it feel like a dominic chord.
Now we're going to the bridge.
C major 7.
[MUSIC]
C minor major 7.
[MUSIC]
So C major 7 is 5-5-7-7.
[MUSIC]
C minor with a major 7 is 5-5-6-7.
[MUSIC]
Then we have to play those other
two notes.
[MUSIC]
Then it's a G major 7.
[MUSIC]
Cuz the major 7 is the melody.
[MUSIC]
And we'll walk back that E string.
[MUSIC]
And I love this.
This is a they call this an A7.
They have it written as a G diminished but
it's very similar to an A7.
It's.
[MUSIC]
Five on the third string.
[MUSIC]
Four on the second and five on the top.
[MUSIC]
Then, we are on an A-Minor.
[MUSIC]
Then we have to play the F-Sharp and
the G.
[MUSIC]
So,
I choose to play the A-Minor with the
third finger on the C.
[MUSIC]
And the,
and, because I want the open E to
[INAUDIBLE].
I wanna have a finger available to, to
play that F-Sharp.
Then it's a D augmented, which looks like
a G-minor, cuz it's kind of a sus.
[MUSIC]
But it resolves to the F-Sharp note,
which is the melody.
And then it really looks like a D
augmented.
To a B minor so, which I play 4-0-0-2.
[MUSIC]
Then we're heading to an E-minor.
Which is a standard E minor with melodies
of a G note.
And I'm just playing the high three
strings.
So an F-Sharp 7, you could call it flat
nine or
you could call it G diminished again,
Okay.
[MUSIC]
So that's 2-1-3.
[MUSIC]
And
I've gotta play those two notes to make
the melody.
[MUSIC]
Then it's a B minor, and I play it like
this again, so that I have this finger
available to play these other notes.
2-2-3 is your B minor.
[MUSIC]
Then you de-augment it again.
Then a D7.
I just play a D.
[MUSIC]
Here's your A7.
I like this A7 because you hear the G in
the bass.
0-2-4-5.
Open A, leave this to the sus.
[MUSIC]
D-sus, 5-5-5.
D7-sus.
[MUSIC]
And I resolve it to a regular D7.
5-4-5.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
Then
last half of the tune [NOISE] is very
similar to the first.
[MUSIC]
Here comes a different ending.
[MUSIC]
A minor way up here.
[MUSIC]
Sorry.
[MUSIC]
So.
[MUSIC]
What that is is A minor.
[MUSIC]
I simply strum the chord.
[MUSIC]
Which is 7-7-8.
[MUSIC]
And
then I'm involved in all these melody
notes.
[MUSIC]
A minor.
[MUSIC]
To B7.
Again, I'm staying on the top three
strings.
[SOUND] So that I keep my, I wanna keep my
voicing in the same register.
So if I end up high I stay high for
awhile.
[MUSIC]
So that's 1-0-2, is a B7.
[SOUND] And it's an E minor.
[MUSIC]
Now, yes.
I'd keep tap high also.
5-7-7, [NOISE] in which I rock this.
[MUSIC]
To a G that I, I convert it to a G7.
[SOUND] Right end of that [NOISE] bar.
[MUSIC]
Where the G7 happens.
So my G7 now is an 0-3-5-7.
[MUSIC]
And
we're coming into the sort of climactic
last.
[MUSIC]
C major.
[MUSIC]
E minor.
[MUSIC]
Yeah, so it's C major seven.
5-5-7-7.
[SOUND] And the melody's the top note.
[MUSIC]
And then I walk down to this low C.
[MUSIC]
For the melody.
Lets see.
[MUSIC]
E minor there.
[MUSIC]
I simply play.
[SOUND] 2-2-0, on the highest strings.
[MUSIC]
For the E minor.
Now it's an A minor nine.
[MUSIC]
Because of the melody.
[MUSIC]
Seven.
[SOUND] Three.
Seven.
That's that's your last.
[MUSIC]
And now it's a D.
[SOUND] I'd really call it a D9 cuz of the
melody.
[SOUND] It's I play it as 2-0-3-0.
[SOUND]
It resolves to a simple little G chord.
[MUSIC]
I was actually playing.
[MUSIC]
Okay?
That's Jingle Bells so as I resolve.
[MUSIC]
Instead of playing the last chord,
I go to Jingle Bells.
[MUSIC]
So that's a.
[MUSIC]
Seven and five on the top strings.
[MUSIC]
And then simply.
[MUSIC]
Bar that tenth fret.
You could, [NOISE] you could play it as
nine and ten.
[MUSIC]
The top then you go down to the G.
[SOUND] And to three and five.
[SOUND] And back up to five and seven.
[MUSIC]
Or it could be a bar.
[MUSIC]
The bar
sounds keeps it more in a kind of straight
G feeling.
The, the [NOISE] the ninth introduces a
kind of major seventh, five tune.
[MUSIC]
All righty, friends.
Hope you enjoyed that.
[MUSIC]