Greensleeves is a traditional guitar song that may sound familiar if you haven’t heard it. It’s the same exact melody and chords as What Child Is This, the Christmas standard. What Child Is This recycled the melody for Greensleeves. Greensleeves is a beautiful melody and it sounds really nice on guitar.
With old guitar songs like this there are countless arrangements, and I’m going to show you the one I came up with. If you’re new to fingerpicking on guitar, this is a great place to start!
How To Play Greensleeves On Guitar
I’m going to split this into two parts to make it easier to learn. We’re going to use a simplified approach to start. Instead of playing the full chords and adding more notes, let’s just play the bass note behind the melody to start.
The melody starts with a pickup note. Pickup notes are notes that start before the first beat of a measure. You’ll see a lot of pickup notes in this entire song.
Head to 3:03 in the video to get started on part 1, and see the unique fingerings for these chords.
The second half is very similar to the first part, but begins on a Major chord. This small change adds a brightness and optimism to the progression. The song could have stayed the same and it would have been beautiful. But by changing just a single chord it changes the entire feel. And I think adds a lot of beauty to the song.
The lesson for the second half begins at 11:17 in the video.
Greensleeves On Guitar With Full Chords
If you’re feeling good about what you’ve learned so far, here’s how you can spice this song up some more. You might have noticed that the version I played at the beginning of the video has a lot more notes. I’m using a fingerpicking pattern to pick more notes out of the chords, making the melody part of that pattern.
Rather than writing out tabs and going over every note, I think it’s better for you to experiment. Just start with the basic fingerpicking patters and see if you can fill in some more notes. There’s no right or wrong here!
Jump to 16:32 in the video to see a good pattern to start with.
Be patient with this and take your time. Fingerpicking takes a little bit of time to learn, but it’s well worth the time you put in.
Learning songs is one of the best ways to learn techniques. Exercises are great, but putting those into context in the form of a song makes it so much more fun to practice. If you enjoyed learning Greensleeves, and want to learn more songs, techniques, and chords, you’ll love my Real Guitar Success program. You’ll have access to hundreds of video lessons, structured lesson plans, and everything you need to learn guitar at a much faster pace than trying to teach yourself. Check it out today!