I’ve had students tell me that this is one of the favorite songs I teach in my classes so I thought I’d make a little video to refresh them on the finer points and share with others.
A while back I did this transcription of Jason Mraz’s beautiful waltz, “I Won’t Give Up” for one of my guitar students. I based it on the video seen below where Jason is playing unaccompanied on an Australian radio show. The arrangement does a great job of supporting the melody and has some lovely harmonic shifts in the bridge. Give it a try. It’s pretty easy if you’ve had some fingerpicking experience.
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.
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:
Download Scarborough Fair PDF
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.