Welcome back to my column. I’m going to start a new series exploring the DADGAD tunes from my back catalogue.
Over a period of many years, I have written quite a few pieces in this well loved tuning, influenced by the late great Davy Graham in the early 60s. Firstly, I want to acknowledge the fine work that my friend and fellow columnist David Mead has done within the contents of these pages. David is a great guitar player, educator, and writer – has done more than anyone I know to fully explore the potential of DADGAD tuning. What I’m about to show you is what I have done with it over the years.
I’m starting with a pretty straightforward old chestnut of mine: ‘A Christmas Carol’ – inspired by my favourite Dickens story.
Let us first look at section A focusing on a couple of challenging stretches, but because they occur high up the neck it does make things a tad easier. They happen in bars 8, 10, and are repeated in bars 40 and 42 in section C.
Moving on to section B at bars 17, 21, 25 and 26. Here we find some chromatic pull-offs using all four fingers. If you’re not used to these four-note pull-offs, it will of course take a while to master. A little tip (and it’s not written on the score) is to play the seventh fret first string twice quickly, giving a quick up beat and giving a definition and springboard to the riff. Give it a try – it may help.
In bar 26, you will notice the chromatic pull-off riff is played exactly the same but an octave lower. It is still the same hand movement but played on the fourth string.
Moving back to section B bar 18; here you play the seventh fret third string with an open fourth string below it, followed by a slide up to the eleventh fret third string with the seventh fret fourth string below it – and then you slide quickly back down to the seventh fret third string with the fourth fret fourth string below it. Just take care of accurate fingering here.
The tune has a crotchet tempo of 80. There is plenty of opportunity for dynamic variation. At the repeat sign in section A, one could try playing more forcefully.
There is a lot of reflection and, to a degree, sadness within the piece, so it is entirely up to you. Start gently and let the piece grow from there.
Many regard this as one of my most melodic pieces, and it gives me pleasure to share this 35-year-old Giltrap tune with you. There are many recorded examples of this – a notable version being by my friend and fellow columnist Raymond Burley on his superb album The Long Road Home. His version is in standard tuning. Ray and I also recorded a duo version on our Double Vision album.
I should like to dedicate this tune to my friend the late Keith Dudley who loved playing this piece. Thanks to Mark Thomson for transcribing the piece.
Download the tablature here: Giltrap’s DADGAD