Auld Lang Syne

by (traditional) • Lesson #203 • Dec 31, 2018

Video Lesson

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Editor’s notes

With New Years just around the corner, I wanted to learn this very timely traditional song - Auld Lang Syne. This video shows a relatively simple way to play it, involving strummable chords with a melody that weaves through each of the 8 measures. I’ll teach the chords, explain the melody, talk about some of the difficult transitions - all with tabs to help you through it. I hope you enjoy! Happy New Years to you and yours - here’s to many more years of music for all of us.

Guitar arrangement

Here’s the arrangement I’m using in my video lesson. This is 8 bars, which can be repeated over and over again if you want to play additional verses and/or choruses. Your job is to either strum, pluck, or fingerpick the chords - adding melody notes as you desire. For your ending, the final measure should be the C chord only (without the G). If you are repeating the 8 bars, the final measure should include the G chord on the final 2 counts - which creates a nice “turn around” to setup the C in the first bar.

 "Should  old acquaintance  be forgot     and never brought to  mind..."
E ––––––|–––––––––––––0–––|–––––––––––––0–––|–––––––––0–––3–––|–5–––––––5–––5–––|–
B –/5–3–|–1–––––0–1–––––––|–3–––––1–3–––––3–|–1–––––1–1–––––––|–4–––––––4–––––––|–
G ––––––|–0–––––––0–––––––|–0–––––––0–––––––|–0–––––––0–––––––|–5–––––––5–––––––|–
D ––––––|–2–––––––2–––––––|–0–––––––0–––––––|–2–––––––2–––––––|–3–––––––4–––––––|–
A ––––––|–3–––––––3–––––––|–2–––––––2–––––––|–3–––––––3–––––––|–––––––––––––––––|–
E ––––––|–––––––––––––––––|–3–––––––3–––––––|–––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––|–
          C                 G                 C                 F7      F#dim7
    4 +   1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +   1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +   1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +   1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +   

 "Should  old acquaintance  be forgot     and auld    lang      syne"
     E –|–3–––––0–0–––––––|–––––––––––––0–––|–––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––|–
     B –|–1–––––––1–––1–––|–3–––––1–3–––––3–|–1–––––––––––––––|–1––––––––––/5–3–|–
     G –|–0–––––––0–––––––|–0–––––––0–––––––|–2–––––2–2–––0–––|–0–––––––0–––––––|–
     D –|–2–––––––2–––––––|–0–––––––0–––––––|–2–––––––3–––––––|–2–––––––0–––––––|–
     A –|–3–––––––3–––––––|–2–––––––2–––––––|–0–––––––3–––––––|–3–––––––2–––––––|–
     E –|–––––––––––––––––|–3–––––––3–––––––|––––––––(1)––––––|–––––––––3–––––––|–
          C                 G                 Am      F         C       G
          1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +   1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +   1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +   1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +   

                                                             –|–––––––––––––––––||   
          ...repeat the 8 bars for each verse.               –|–1–––––––––––––––||     
             To end the song, replace the final              –|–0–––––––––––––––||      
             measure with this, which plays only             –|–2–––––––––––––––||    
             the C chord (and not the G).                    –|–3–––––––––––––––||  
                                                             –|–––––––––––––––––||    
                                                                C
                                                                1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +     

Chord guidance

For a few of these chords, I want to call out some tips that will help you on your way - specifically with finger positions.

G major chord

For the G major chord, notice how you’re not really ever putting a left-finger on the 1st string (high E string). Also, you’ll often need to remove the 2nd-string-3rd-fret note, in order to play the 2nd-string-1st-fret. As such, you’ll want to use your pinky on the 3rd fret of the 2nd (B) string. This sets up your index finger to be in place at the same time.

E –––––                               E –––––
B ––3–– <= left pinky                 B ––1–– <= left index
G ––0––                               G ––0––
D ––0––                               D ––0––
A ––2–– <= left middle                A ––2–– <= left middle
E ––3–– <= left ring                  E ––3–– <= left ring
    G                                     G*

F7 and F#dim7 chord

For the F7 and the F#dim7, the main thing to call out is that the thinnest 3 strings will use the exact same notes (and fingers). All that changes between these two chords is which fret your left index finger is playing.

E ––5–– <= left pinky                 E ––5–– <= left pinky
B ––4–– <= left middle                B ––4–– <= left middle
G ––5–– <= left ring                  G ––5–– <= left ring  
D ––3–– <= left index                 D ––4–– <= left index
A –––––                               A –––––
E –––––                               E –––––
    F7                                  F#dim7

If the F7 section gives you trouble, use this voicing. I got this via Justin Sandercoe’s lesson. You can ignore the F#dim7 chord altogether.

E ––5–– <= left pinky
B ––x–– <= (muted by left ring)
G ––5–– <= left ring  
D ––3–– <= left index
A –––––               
E –––––               
    F7     

Switching from the C to F7

The most difficult part of this song, for me, is switching from the C to the F7. Here’s one important tip when practicing this - which is your right pinky is staying on the high-E string for both chords! Specifically, it’s moving up from the 3rd fret to the 5th fret (of the high E-string). This is a helpful thing to keep in mind, as it is one less finger that needs to switch strings. Here’s a simple deconstruction of this progression to practice - do it slow over and over again, until you can do it without mistakes. From there, slowly speed it up until you can play it at the pace of the normal song.

E –––3–––5–––   <= left pinky stays on this string for both chords!
B –––1–––4–––
G –––0–––5–––
D –––2–––3–––
A –––3–––––––
E –––––––––––
     C   F7  

F major chord

Don’t let the F chord in the 7th measure throw you off. You don’t need to do any barring! Here’s two ways to play it. The first way (left) shows you a 4-string version, where you’re only playing the thickest four strings. However, if this voicing is too difficult - try the right version - which ignores the 6th (lowest) string. This lets you only worry about 3 strings, which is much easier to switch to in a hurry. In a pinch, I’ll use this version so I can be sure I stay in time (especially when playing with people singing).

E –––––                               E –––––
B –––––                               B –––––
G ––2–– <= left middle                G ––2–– <= left middle
D ––3–– <= left pinky                 D ––3–– <= left pinky
A ––3–– <= left ring                  A ––3–– <= left ring  
E ––1–– <= left index                 E –––––       
    F                                     F*    

Lyrics

Here’s the English translation of the lyrics, in the “minimalist” translation as per Wikipedia:

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne?

    CHORUS:
    For auld lang syne, my dear,
    for auld lang syne,
    we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
    for auld lang syne.

And surely you'll buy your pint cup!
and surely I'll buy mine!
And we'll take a cup o' kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

    [CHORUS]

We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine;
But we've wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.

    [CHORUS]

We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine†;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.

    [CHORUS]

And there's a hand my trusty friend!
And give me a hand o' thine!
And we'll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.

    [CHORUS]

Good luck!

Let me know if you have questions. I hope this was helpful.

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