Learn to Play "Auld Lang Syne" for New Year's Eve

Posted by Sean McGowan

Many people in English-speaking countries throughout the world are accustomed to singing this song on New Year’s Eve just after the clock strikes midnight to welcome in the New Year. Based on a very old folk melody and featuring words by Scotland’s poet laureate Robert Burns (1759–1796), the song is also used to mark important events that signify endings and/or new beginnings. “Auld Lang Syne” has been adapted and reinterpreted in other parts of the world and is often attributed to the remembrance, renewal, and rekindling of old friendships.

Auld Lang Syne VERSE
Click to enlarge.

I’ve arranged the well-known pentatonic melody for solo guitar in two different keys with varying harmonic accompaniment. The form of the song is essentially AB, and each section is eight measures long. After a short introduction setting up the key of C, the melody starts in measure 5, mostly in a “block chord voicing” format, as opposed to single melodic lines or contrapuntal motion. When playing these block chords, it’s important to allow the melody—the top note of the chord voicing—to sing out above the other notes in the chord. You can pluck each chord evenly or “roll” across the strings (low to high), creating a rapid arpeggio with the picking hand. The idea is to create the effect of a congregation of people singing together.

Excerpted from Holiday Songs for Fingerstyle Guitar

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