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Lovely Joan - Folk Fingerstyle Guitar Arrangement in Tab, Notation and Audio

Updated on April 9, 2018
chasmac profile image

Chasmac is a semi-retired guitar teacher who has taught in various schools in London and elsewhere for over 30 years.

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Lovely Joan

For fingerstyle and classical guitar players, here's a fingerstyle guitar arrangement I've made of the English folk song "Lovely Joan". It's not too difficult but it isn't beginner level, either. You can follow the guitar tablature (tab) or standard music notation while listening to the audio track, either on the video as it plays or in the score printed below.

To see the score in the video clearly, select the highest playback quality setting. The quality setting control is the cog-shaped icon at the bottom right of the YouTube video player that appears after you click 'Play'.

Lovely Joan - Audio, Notation and Tablature

Notes on Playing Lovely Joan

As the tablature makes clear, the song can be played in the first position of the fretboard. All the notes are available within the first three frets plus one stretch up to fret 5 on the first string to play the high A note.

Give it an improvised feel when you play it as it's a folk song; it's not a classical piece that requires strict adherence to the notes on the page. Roll (spread) some chords like you can hear in the audio track and use slides or slurs (hammer-ons and pull-offs) wherever you feel they enhance the overall sound of the song.

Treat notes with upward pointing stems in the notation as melody notes and try to give them a louder singing quality that can be heard clearly above the underlying bass and harmony notes. Bass and harmony (chord) notes are notated with downward pointing stems and need to be played with your thumb (for bass notes) and one or at most two fingers for the inner harmony notes.

As Lovely Joan is just a very short verse, it can be repeated, which is exactly what happens when it's sung with its lyrics (which can be found on Wikipedia if you're interested.) However, without lyrics it needs some variety of treatment if it's to be repeated. It also works well when played just once as an intro or as a prelude to another piece in the same key or mode (see below for 'mode' info).

About the Music

Lovely Joan is a modal folk song. The mode is Dorian, and in this arrangement is 'A' Dorian. The mode, A Dorian is the same as the scale of A natural minor except that the 6th note is F# instead of F.

A Dorian = A B C D E F# G A

Key Signature

Modal pieces are commonly published in either of two ways regarding the key signature. One way uses the key signature that agrees with the number of sharps or flats in the mode. In this case, the key signature would be a single sharp (F#). This is the same key signature that is used by music written in the keys, G major and E minor, but it's definitely not in either of those keys.

The other way (which I've chosen here) is to use the key signature that is used by the nearest major or minor key with the same tonal centre (tonic or home note) and overall mode (major or minor). In this case, it's A minor, which uses the key signature of zero sharps or flats. In A Dorian, all the F notes are to be played as F sharp and each sharped F is shown by an accidental in the score in front of the affected notes.

© 2012 chasmac

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