Guitar lesson for
Auld Lang Syne
by (traditional) • Lesson #203
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With New Years just around the corner, I wanted to learn this very timely traditional song - Auld Lang Syne. This video shows a relatively simple way to play it, involving strummable chords with a melody that weaves through each of the 8 measures. I’ll teach the chords, explain the melody, talk about some of the difficult transitions - all with tabs to help you through it. I hope you enjoy! Happy New Years to you and yours - here’s to many more years of music for all of us.
Here’s the arrangement I’m using in my video lesson. This is 8 bars, which can be repeated over and over again if you want to play additional verses and/or choruses. Your job is to either strum, pluck, or fingerpick the chords - adding melody notes as you desire. For your ending, the final measure should be the C chord only (without the G). If you are repeating the 8 bars, the final measure should include the G chord on the final 2 counts - which creates a nice “turn around” to setup the C in the first bar.
"Should old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind..." E ––––––|–––––––––––––0–––|–––––––––––––0–––|–––––––––0–––3–––|–5–––––––5–––5–––|– B –/5–3–|–1–––––0–1–––––––|–3–––––1–3–––––3–|–1–––––1–1–––––––|–4–––––––4–––––––|– G ––––––|–0–––––––0–––––––|–0–––––––0–––––––|–0–––––––0–––––––|–5–––––––5–––––––|– D ––––––|–2–––––––2–––––––|–0–––––––0–––––––|–2–––––––2–––––––|–3–––––––4–––––––|– A ––––––|–3–––––––3–––––––|–2–––––––2–––––––|–3–––––––3–––––––|–––––––––––––––––|– E ––––––|–––––––––––––––––|–3–––––––3–––––––|–––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––|– C G C F7 F#dim7 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + "Should old acquaintance be forgot and auld lang syne" E –|–3–––––0–0–––––––|–––––––––––––0–––|–––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––|– B –|–1–––––––1–––1–––|–3–––––1–3–––––3–|–1–––––––––––––––|–1––––––––––/5–3–|– G –|–0–––––––0–––––––|–0–––––––0–––––––|–2–––––2–2–––0–––|–0–––––––0–––––––|– D –|–2–––––––2–––––––|–0–––––––0–––––––|–2–––––––3–––––––|–2–––––––0–––––––|– A –|–3–––––––3–––––––|–2–––––––2–––––––|–0–––––––3–––––––|–3–––––––2–––––––|– E –|–––––––––––––––––|–3–––––––3–––––––|––––––––(1)––––––|–––––––––3–––––––|– C G Am F C G 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + –|–––––––––––––––––|| ...repeat the 8 bars for each verse. –|–1–––––––––––––––|| To end the song, replace the final –|–0–––––––––––––––|| measure with this, which plays only –|–2–––––––––––––––|| the C chord (and not the G). –|–3–––––––––––––––|| –|–––––––––––––––––|| C 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +
For a few of these chords, I want to call out some tips that will help you on your way - specifically with finger positions.
G major chord
For the G major chord, notice how you’re not really ever putting a left-finger on the 1st string (high E string). Also, you’ll often need to remove the 2nd-string-3rd-fret note, in order to play the 2nd-string-1st-fret. As such, you’ll want to use your pinky on the 3rd fret of the 2nd (B) string. This sets up your index finger to be in place at the same time.
E ––––– E ––––– B ––3–– <= left pinky B ––1–– <= left index G ––0–– G ––0–– D ––0–– D ––0–– A ––2–– <= left middle A ––2–– <= left middle E ––3–– <= left ring E ––3–– <= left ring G G*
F7 and F#dim7 chord
For the F7 and the F#dim7, the main thing to call out is that the thinnest 3 strings will use the exact same notes (and fingers). All that changes between these two chords is which fret your left index finger is playing.
E ––5–– <= left pinky E ––5–– <= left pinky B ––4–– <= left middle B ––4–– <= left middle G ––5–– <= left ring G ––5–– <= left ring D ––3–– <= left index D ––4–– <= left index A ––––– A ––––– E ––––– E ––––– F7 F#dim7
If the F7 section gives you trouble, use this voicing. I got this via Justin Sandercoe’s lesson. You can ignore the F#dim7 chord altogether.
E ––5–– <= left pinky B ––x–– <= (muted by left ring) G ––5–– <= left ring D ––3–– <= left index A ––––– E ––––– F7
Switching from the C to F7
The most difficult part of this song, for me, is switching from the C to the F7. Here’s one important tip when practicing this - which is your right pinky is staying on the high-E string for both chords! Specifically, it’s moving up from the 3rd fret to the 5th fret (of the high E-string). This is a helpful thing to keep in mind, as it is one less finger that needs to switch strings. Here’s a simple deconstruction of this progression to practice - do it slow over and over again, until you can do it without mistakes. From there, slowly speed it up until you can play it at the pace of the normal song.
E –––3–––5––– <= left pinky stays on this string for both chords! B –––1–––4––– G –––0–––5––– D –––2–––3––– A –––3––––––– E ––––––––––– C F7
F major chord
Don’t let the F chord in the 7th measure throw you off. You don’t need to do any barring! Here’s two ways to play it. The first way (left) shows you a 4-string version, where you’re only playing the thickest four strings. However, if this voicing is too difficult - try the right version - which ignores the 6th (lowest) string. This lets you only worry about 3 strings, which is much easier to switch to in a hurry. In a pinch, I’ll use this version so I can be sure I stay in time (especially when playing with people singing).
E ––––– E ––––– B ––––– B ––––– G ––2–– <= left middle G ––2–– <= left middle D ––3–– <= left pinky D ––3–– <= left pinky A ––3–– <= left ring A ––3–– <= left ring E ––1–– <= left index E ––––– F F*
Here’s the English translation of the lyrics, in the “minimalist” translation as per Wikipedia:
Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind? Should old acquaintance be forgot, and old lang syne? CHORUS: For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne, we'll take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne. And surely you'll buy your pint cup! and surely I'll buy mine! And we'll take a cup o' kindness yet, for auld lang syne. [CHORUS] We two have run about the slopes, and picked the daisies fine; But we've wandered many a weary foot, since auld lang syne. [CHORUS] We two have paddled in the stream, from morning sun till dine†; But seas between us broad have roared since auld lang syne. [CHORUS] And there's a hand my trusty friend! And give me a hand o' thine! And we'll take a right good-will draught, for auld lang syne. [CHORUS]
Let me know if you have questions. I hope this was helpful.
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