Magazine article Acoustic Guitar

A Plaintive Irish Melody

Magazine article Acoustic Guitar

A Plaintive Irish Melody

Article excerpt

One of my all-time favorite tunes is "Londonderry Air," the traditional Irish melody originating in the 1700s or 1800s. More commonly known in the incarnation of "Danny Boy," this tune has so much soul and feeling, lending itself to a jazz interpretation. A particularly nice rendition is one that George Benson played in concert in Ireland, documented on his DVD Absolutely Live.

When I teach my jazz-guitar students the chord-melody style, they always harmonize every note of the melody, and that's exactly what I did for this arrangement of "Londonderry Air," with its many different chord types and inversions. Playing the arrangement rubato-in this case, slowly and freely-will help you sound expressive, while making it easier to grab these quickly moving chords.

I play the tune fingerstyle, but it can also be done with hybrid picking. Whichever approach you choose, it's important to play the melody with more emphasis than the surrounding notes, so that it can be dearly heard. …

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