Happy Birthday Finger Style

Thank you very much …that was a smile to break down the tension, might be itself the best achievement :blush:

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Thank you for your feedback, it’s much appreciated. It seems to me there’s a lot going on in playing a chord melody, it’s almost a couple of years now that I keep on trying and things are finally getting easier ::blush:

…still have to learn how to reply :joy:

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Way to go Silvia :clap: :clap:

It’s a different arrangement than the one I’ve been practising, but still very much a recognisable take on Happy Birthday. Played fluidly in a chill style and you seem to be having fun with it.

I saw in one of your other replies that you said your smile was due to nerves – hey if being nervous puts a bright smile on your face, that’s only a good thing for the performance! When I get nervous I look like a deer in the headlights, your way is much better.

I’m not advanced enough to give any critique on your arrangement, it sounded very nice to my ear.

Very impressive that you were able to work it out on your own, I can barely put together a single note melody that way.

On the recording tech side of things, I would see if you can get the microphone (input) volume up a bit, for me it seemed like it was pretty quiet. I had the same problem with some of my early recordings too. I think it may be a common problem with recording on a smartphone, the little microphones in those guys are designed to pick up voice at close range, they don’t seem to do all that well with guitars at a metre or two!

Congratulations on posting your recording, you’re doing great.

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Likewise. Other stuff to concentrate on with the limited practice time I have.

Thank you for your kind words. It’s almost a couple of years now that I’m trying to understand how chord melodies work…so it required time and practice to get to this…in my very first videos my face looked orrible with tension and weird super concentrated expressions…this smile…yes it’s itself the most important achievement.

I usually record myself only with the smartphone so no quality I guess :blush:

Bravo Sylvia. That was well played, sound quality was fine, and bonus points for figuring it. Loved the smile. Now all I could wish for is you move back a bit from the phone so we can see the hole guitar and your happy face.

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Thank you David! :blush:Full smile on the next chord melody…promise!

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In the tab for this lesson why do you have the letters C, G, etc at the top? What do they refer to?

So these are chords that are used for playing happy birthday, but instead of strumming you play fingerstyle. Check Justin’s video lesson and see how his fingers are forming on top of a fretboard and compare it with the tabs above, that should click after doing that :slight_smile:

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I thought that to but it’s not the case. For the C section the tab has this as:
but the chord C is:
Fret 2 is on the third string and not the 4th as the C chord.

And the second C section is nothing like the first C section. Likewise the two G sections have completely different fingerings, and nothing like a G chord as far as I can see.


The tab is not showing the chord shapes, but rather the melody notes, plus some additional notes to provide harmony. Those harmony notes generally are taken from the chord that is indicated on the tab.

In the measure that you posted, the notes on the G and B strings are the melody. Note that two of those notes are in the C chord. Additionally, there’s a harmony note played on the A string, which is a C (i.e. also in the C chord).

I cannot give you a theoretical reason for this, but if you hold down the chord shape which is indicated and you lift up or put down fingers you’ll find all the melody notes, which are not only in the chord shape itself but also in the variations of the chord, such as sus, add, maj, 7th ect ( I didn’t investigate the names). In short holding the main shape and add the right melodies notes by lifting or putting down fingers really works, it also helps to remember the bass notes that go with the melody. Hope this is of some help :slight_smile:

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That is what I tried to say in a very clumsy way :wink: shapes are there to help you put your fingers together and save you a lot of movement of your fingers when you play each note. It’s not exactly a C chord, you follow the shape and play the notes in the same key, not always the same chord. Hope this makes more sense now


I think you pointed out something crucial here: moving the fretting hand smartly avoiding the uneccessery movement means that we can hold the notes and let them ring out as long as needed. This gives a nice legato feeling, as if singing the melody with our voice…it’s something to be aware of, and observing how Justin moves his fretting hand is for sure the first thing to be done :wink::blush::wink:


I’ve been working on this for almost 2 weeks, a little bit every day, and today it finally clicked. So satisfying :slightly_smiling_face: Playing with the metronome seemed to settle it in.


How do you play the bit in the red box with only thumb & finger?

You just strum that part with your thumb. You’ll see Justin do it in the intro of the vid.


Or you could pluck the four strings together with thumb, index, middle, and ring fingers.

I like how chords sound that way sometimes vs strummed when the notes sound one after the other. Of course you can also slow down the strum to delay when each next note in the chord sounds, which is cool. And keep slowing down and eventually you have the chord played as an arpeggio.

All good options.

In this case, the notes stacked on beat 1 means play together, either strummed or plucked at the same time.

Your choice, whatever works better and sounds good.

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