A while back I posted a solo guitar arrangement of Happy Birthday.
I’ve since received a few requests for an easier accompaniment part suitable for basic strumming so here’s the version I teach my beginning/intermediate students. It’s in D major, uses only first-position chords, features a basic bass/chord strumming pattern, and best of all – it sounds really good! The optional introduction simply places the final few bars of the melody atop the chords and will help you set up the tempo and key for the big sing-along. Please leave a comment below if you enjoy the arrangement.
Happy Birthday Accompaniment for Guitar PDF
Looking for a solo fingerstyle guitar arrangement?
Try Happy Birthday for Solo Fingerstyle Guitar!
I learned Paul Simon’s guitar accompaniment for “Scarborough Fair” probably about 20 years ago from a transcription that ran in Frets magazine. The instantly recognizable guitar part does a great job of complementing the vocal line with its hypnotic repetition of airy, ambiguous chords occasionally shifting gears to reinforce the melody by harmonizing or doubling it. Those spots where the melody was doubled made me ask myself if it might be possible to maintain the melody throughout the piece, creating a solo version. It turns of that it wasn’t too difficult to do, and I ended up with the not-too-difficult arrangement you see below.
These days I use it mostly as a solo piece, but you could also use it as an instrumental break if you’re performing the song with vocals. Have fun with it, it’s been a great addition to my repertoire. If you enjoy the arrangement or have any questions please leave me a comment. I’d love to hear from you!
In PDF format:
The arrangement is pretty straight-forward. Bringing the piece to life mostly rests on your ability to bring out the melody. It was difficult to notate the melody notes separately from the accompaniment, so I’ve included the vocal line to clear that up. Be aware of the melody at all times and work to keep it above the level of the other notes.
A couple of years ago I decided that while I really wanted to do a lot of the old standards on my dinner music-type gigs, I was a little concerned that I might alienate some listeners with songs that they were unfamiliar with. Although the tunes I like to present are old classics, they are no longer a part of the mainstream media. Most people seem to be only peripherally aware of these wonderful tunes and if anything they seem to have become a part of our musical collective unconscious.
So I turned to the movie soundtracks of When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle. These films and few others like them use a lot of great sentimental old tunes in their soundtracks. I hope that by including these songs in my sets they will suggest the same air of romance and nostalgia that they did in the films, and sound at least a little bit familiar to the average listener.
I’ve been winging my way through one of these tunes: “You Made Me Love you” from Sleepless in Seattle on the gig for a while now with just a lead sheet and I figured that it’s about time to write out some of my better ideas and clean up the rough spots. This arrangement seems to lean heavily on some of the ideas I picked up from studying Barry Galbraith’s work. Below is the arrangement for you to check out in PDF format. If you enjoy the arrangement or have any questions please leave me a comment. I’d love to hear from you!
You Made Me Love You PDF
NOTE: The arrangement was updated Friday March 6, 2009. The newer version includes first and second endings and a tag.
Until recently, I’ve never bothered to learn a respectable arrangement of “Happy Birthday.” Here’s a song that I never plan on performing, and yet receive more requests for than any other. When you consider that most folks go out to a bar or restaurant with friends and family to celebrate their special day, I guess it should come as no surprise that there’s a birthday in the room almost every night. So after faking my way through a few times, I finally sat down to create a solo guitar arrangement for myself. If you enjoy the arrangement or have any questions please leave me a comment. I’d love to hear from you!
Below you can download my arrangement in PDF format and listen to a recording of it. Please leave a comment below if you enjoy the arrangement.
Happy Birthday PDF
Looking for an easier version?
Try Easy Happy Birthday Accompaniment for Guitar!
My goal was to create a simple, traditional sounding arrangement that would support vocals if anyone wanted to sing along. No fancy ornamentations or chord substitutions were used, although I am considering doing a jazz arrangement at some point.