What Child Is This?

Seasons greetings! I hope that everyone enjoyed my column "Be Thou My Vision" in the Oct./Nov. edition of Guitar Nine. In this edition of Guitar Nine we will be taking a look at a beautiful Christmas carol arranged for solo fingerstyle guitar entitled "What Child Is This?" Historically, the piece also known as "Greensleeves" first appeared in the late 1500's in England. In 1865, William Chatterton Dix wrote lyrics to the tune of "Greensleeves" hence "What Child Is This?" Taking a look at the arrangement there are a few possible problem areas that I need to address. Before we do that let us review technique and notation.

Technique and Notation

  1. Remember, the general rule is that the thumb plays the down-stemmed notes. Index will play 3rd string, middle will play 2nd string, ring plays the 1st string.
  2. A C with a vertical line through it denotes a half bar. The number that follows tells the fret location.
  3. A circled number tells you the string on which a note is played.
  4. Numbers next to the notes represent the suggested left-hand fingerings.
  5. A wavy line in front of a chord tells you to "roll" the chord.

I realize that if you are using the tab only, numbers 2 and 3 may not be too significant, but I still think that it is important to understand what you are are looking at.

Possible Problem Areas

  1. In measure 4 make sure that the note B on the 3rd string rings or the mi9 chord will be lost
  2. In measures 3 and 11 the rests allow the player to release the chord form in order to play the B followed by the A on the first string.
  3. In measures 18 and 26 the partial bar chord needs to be "rolled" and held for 3 beats.
  4. In measures 19 and 27 the partial bar chord needs to be "rolled" and held for 3 beats while the little and ring fingers stretch to play the melody.


As always have fun learning and playing. If you have any questions or comments do not hesitate to e-mail me. If you like the arrangement thus far, let me know. It might motivate me to complete a variation or two. In closing, it is my prayer that you will have a joyous and peaceful holiday season. I am looking forward to seeing you in 2003!

Steve Pappas is a guitarist, composer and teacher from Ohio specializing in fingerstyle guitar who believes in daily practice, and expressing emotions and feelings through his playing.

His latest CD is entitled "Refuge", a blend of Folk, Spanish, Classical, Latin and Rock influences.

Steve Pappas