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Easy Guitar Christmas Songs • What Child Is This? (Greensleeves) • Melody, Chords, Fingerstyle, Chord Melody.

Updated on December 1, 2015


One of the most beautiful melodies ever written, this is also called 'Greensleeves'. You can perform this at any time of the year! Many guitar versions are out there. Jeff Beck included his version on the Truth album, as an instrumental. This is a beginner to intermediate level arrangement. I have tried to keep it as simple as possible. With just a little practice, this should be quite easy to memorize, especially if you are at the intermediate level. This is part of my holiday production 'A Life Of Christmas'.


Here is the melody transcribed with the tablature in the open position. The chords are written above the staff. With this many chord changes, I would suggest one strum per chord.

The Trans-Siberian Orchestra

The Christmas Trilogy (3CD/DVD)
The Christmas Trilogy (3CD/DVD)

Hard rock producer Paul O'Neill, renowned for his work with Aerosmith and Savatage, teamed with the latter band's Jon Oliva to create Trans-Siberian Orchestra, an inspired fusion of classical music and rock-opera pageantry. Their first two releases are visionary and timeless Christmas-themed concept albums, spotlighting lead guitars and classical string sections alike, and they became instant contemporary holiday classics. 2004's The Lost Christmas Eve, which completes their symphonic rock Yuletide triology, underscores Billboard's recent comment that TSO "seems to be turning into a Christmas tradition."


Chord Melody • Chords

All of the chords are closed shapes (no open strings), and are based on full barre chords. Playing the upper intervals of these chords, works very well for chord-melody arrangements, and is a standard way of composing these versions. In measures two and three, the full barres would be Root 5 chords (see: Barre Chords). Measures four and five are single notes, while measures six and seven are exact repeats of measure two and three. Measure nine is an E5 power chord arpeggio: chord spelling B E B E. It is a true power chord as it contains no third. This is the interval that determines if the chord is major or minor (in E Major, the third is G♯, in Em, the third is G natural (♮). In this respect, power chords can act as either Major or minor. In this melody, the E5 has a haunting minor sound, because the rest of the notes have set up the ear to expect this sound.

In measure ten, the Bm is based on an open Dm chord, without the root on the fourth string (the root is now on the second string). Since there is no open strings, this shape (as all the shapes here) is movable. That is, wherever you play it on the fretboard, it is the same shape, but a different name (Eg: play this chord two frets lower and it is Am). In measure eleven, the shapes are once again, partial barres based on Root 5 chords. Measure eleven is also an exact duplicate of measures three, seven, and fifteen. Remember, I tried to keep this as simple as possible.

Chord Melody • Melody

The melody is based on the E harmonic minor scale. The giveaway is the D♯ note. Scale spelling for E harmonic minor is: E F♯ G A B C D♯ E. Compare this to E natural minor (E Aeolian, see; Modes Of The Major Scale), scale spelling: E F♯ G A B C D E. The harmonic minor comes into play because the B7 chord forces a D♯ into the natural minor scale.

This is, in fact, the reason the harmonic minor scale was 'invented'. Classical composers needed a variation to the natural minor to accommodate the dominant seventh chord, a standard change in many classical pieces. The harmonic minor scale has an inherent 'snake charmer' scale sound, used widely by many neo-classical guitarists. Yngwie Malmsteen uses this scale extensively.

Could you be this old, and have your life just begin...


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