Keep It Simple

I am certain I’ve written about this before, but it’s worth repeating if I have – let’s keep it simple and start with some basics.

Inspired by a post a new friend of mine wrote, I want to take the song, “Tom Dooley” and teach you a very simple version.
First, let’s start with the fact that it only has two chords – the I chord and the V chord.
WHAT?!! What does I and V have to do with chords?
That is another lesson, but for now, just let that sit in the back of your mind and we’ll get back to that some other time.

The two chords for the purpose of this lesson are: C and G7

Now, before I start, I want to remind you that 4 beats = 1 measure (or bar)

First, watch the video, and then read on to see how it might be described.

So – we start with:

1 measure of C  (4 beats)
Hang down your head Tom Dooley

1/2 measure of C (2 beats)
Hangdown your head and

1/2 measure of G7 (2 beats)

1 measure of G7 (4 beats)
Hang down your head Tom Dooley

1/2 measure of G7 (2 beats)
Poor boy you’re gonna

1/2 measure of C (2 beats)

Now why didn’t I just say 6 beats of C and 8 beats of G7 and 2 beats of C?

Because I want you to think in terms of measures/bars. You don’t really have to understand this yet, but trust me – it will make sense as we go on.

Now I want you to strum evenly and slowly – and don’t try to follow the lyrics. The lyrics are sung OVER the rhythm, meaning that you don’t mimic the rhythm of the melody with your strumming.

Comments? Questions?

Please let me know if this makes sense and how I can help you understand this better.

3 Responses to “Keep It Simple”

  1. Nancy Manning Says:

    Rhan this was very helpful! As a begginer Yuk player and someone without any musical backround I have wondered how to play and sing at the same time and most importantly how to keep the beat. I like the simplicity of it. Thanks,

  2. Clyde Ortego Says:

    Hey Rhan:
    I Play a baritone and how does this work in my situation?
    do I still use the same two chords my version from Chordie has three easy chords, and is the melody still the same

    • Rhan Wilson Says:

      Hi Clyde, and thanks for asking a very good question.

      A C chord is a C chord no matter what instrument you play it on, and the melody is the same, too. The only difference is how you play a C chord.
      Imagine if we played this tune on a piano… of course the chords would be played differently, but the C would still be a C, etc.

      I went to Chordie and found an assortment of versions: some right, some wrong. This is because their material is gathered from various sources – none of which are to be entirely trusted as being correct. Online charts are okay to get “rough” ideas of songs, or maybe obtain lyrics, but do it with the understanding that they could be incorrect.

      So back to your question: for the purpose of this lesson, use C and G7 on your baritone, sing it the same, and think of the measures the same, and get back to me and let me know how it’s going.


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