7. A Winter’s Tale and Night Fishing CDs
Selected Tablature/Notation Performance Notes
This page describes the interesting points about
each tune that is included in the
that this book is based around. Each tune is also
rated for difficulty to help in choosing which tunes
to learn next. This is a rather subjective rating,
roughly as follows:
||Plenty of easy bits.
||Accessible with some more
||Lots of tricky fiddly
||Variety of amenities,
pool, cable and excellent location
Tune List - Click to Find
A Note about Capos
Whenever we talk about chords, scales and keys, were
always ignore the fact that there is a capo on the
guitar. This makes everything a lot easier !
“The Deep North” – A Winter’s Tale
This is a bright tune with two main parts. The first half has a 6:8 Celtic
feel and uses a great deal of left-hand ornamentation to complement the
bass-line underneath. When playing this tune, pay attention to the many notes
hammered directly onto the string with no preceding note. This is the key
technique in playing the melody and bass parts at the same time.
The second part of the tune switches into 4:4 time at measure 61 to create a
sense of release after the first section. There are several switches between the
keys of D major and G major, for example measures 77 to 90 are played in G
major, before changing back to D major. This section also combines strumming
with picking. The key here is to minimize hand movement on the strum, keeping it
to a wrist motion only. If there hand moves too much here, it is too difficult
to come back in time for the picking.
“The Gathering Storm” – A Winter’s Tale
This tune opens with a moody aire which explores the use of the A Ionian and
A Mixolydian scales in DADGAD. The tension in this section is maintained by
avoiding any resolution between the two scales. Note that the A Mixolydian scale
contains the same notes as the D major scale, and the DADGAD tuning seems to
suggest a resolution to the D major key. Holding this resolution back is a good
way to build suspense in the piece.
The second section beginning at measure 19 is a drone with the A Mixolydian
scale, which sets up the resolution to D major finally at measure 26. The
remainder of the song further explores this ambiguity between A Mixolydian and D
major, with a great deal of left-hand ornamentation combined with moving bass
underneath. The tune presents some interesting ideas with the key of A, which is
an area of great potential in DADGAD.
“A Winter’s Tale” – A Winter’s Tale
This is a flowing tune which uses the harp-style technique to fill out the
melody. The opening part of the tune again explores the key of A major in
DADGAD, with some unusual chord shapes. Instead of allowing the G string to ring
open, the 6th fret remains covered throughout the section. Some stretching is
required here, however the capo makes this a little easier.
Measures 16 and 19 show a useful chord shape in DADGAD which sets up
the various parts of the spacious melody that follow. In this section of the
tune, the key changes to D major with some fairly common DADGAD ideas with
harp-style picking. To make this tune work, give it as much space as possible
and experiment with the free-time nature of the melody.
“All At Sea” – A Winter’s Tale
This tune uses some fairly typical DADGAD ideas, using the open-strings
to create a rolling feel. The melody switches between the bass and treble ranges
in order to keep the tune interesting. For example, the melody opens on the
lower strings, before moving to the top strings in measure 20 where a Celtic
type melody begins, using ornamentation such as the finger triplets covered in
section 4. Take care to keep the tempo from increasing in this section.
Some interesting chords are used in the section starting at measure 33. Here,
open strings are use to fill out the spaces which occur when combining bass and
melody movements at the same time – a common DADGAD idea. The tune finishes with
the section at measure 68 which uses the light percussive thud technique
outlined in section 4, creating an interesting backbeat feel.
“Any Day Now” – A Winter’s Tale
The first half of this tune was inspired by Will Ackerman’s tune “The
Bricklayer’s Beautiful Daughter” attempting to recreate that simple cascading
type of melody. Mostly the tune uses the G major scale, with some accidental
notes in places. In particular, measure 6 adds an unexpected direction to the
melody with the D# passing bass note. The first half uses left-hand
ornamentation to add detail to the melody, which is a good way to bring a simple
melody to life.
At measure 20 the tune shifts into a repetitive rhythmic section. A simple
version of the idea is established in measures 21 to 24, before releasing to
full bass and melody combined. This section can tangle the left-hand fingers
somewhat, so it is helpful to follow the fingering guide in the notation. Again,
the light thud percussive technique is used from measures 20 to 24 to add some
groove to the section.
“Tromso” – A Winter’s Tale -
This tune is an example of the minor scales covered in
The first half of the song switches between the D Aeolian (natural minor) scale
and the D harmonic minor scale. This is achieved by varying between use of the C
or C# note in the scale. Note that in both scales the flattened 6th (Bb) is
present, lending a dark feel to the song. A number of accidental notes are used,
particularly in the bass-line, to add an element of surprise to the tune’s
At measure 105, the second main section begins in the key of G minor. This
section again switches between the G natural minor scale and the G harmonic
minor scale. The fingerings for these scales are respectively, the D Phrygian
and D Freygish scales. The section shows that less commonly used DADGAD voicings
are easily accessible such as Bb major, G minor and Eb major.
Although the fingerings move fairly quickly in this tune, try to accentuate
the spaces where they exist and vary the intensity and dynamics as much as
“Kettle of Fish” – A Winter’s Tale
This tune shows how DADGAD can be used for bluegrass guitar. Typically
guitarists might prefer to tune the G string to F# for this type of music, with
the G potentially getting in the way of D chords. However, it is easy to avoid
the open G for these chords, and the G string comes in very handy when the tune
requires any kind of G, C or A voicing. The light thud percussive technique
described in section 3 is used for the notes marked with an X in the notation.
Note that you can leave this trick out and still make the tune work. The thud is executed very quickly and takes a lot of repetition
practice to nail down. As described in section
4, the thud lands on the string at
the same time as the bass note is plucked, in one single movement of the
right-hand. If this technique is proving difficult, just leave out these thuds
and the tune will still work well since the effect is quite subtle.
The tune uses a great deal of hammer-ons and pull-offs to create the feel of
several guitars playing at once. Try to pick the bass notes with the thumb where
possible in a Travis picking, alternating bass style. The tune never settles for
very long into this standard pattern, but the idea of separating bass out to
the thumb is still helpful in learning the piece.
The ending to the song is a good example of harp-style guitar combined with
blue notes to create a neat cascading run. By picking the run across several
strings and adding hammers and pull-offs, the illusion of speed is created.
“The Ullapool Decision” – Night Fishing
This is a tune in two parts essentially. The opening part uses harp-like
open-string chords creating a very spacious sound. The picked chords are
combined with some Celtic ornaments on the top D string to add some melody to
the tune. There is some left hand stretching here and the fingering guide in the
notation is provided.
The second section is like a flat-picking tune. The basic riff repeats 8
times. At repeats #3 and 7, the riff is played as a solo guitar line using the
Celtic ornaments extensively. During the other repeats, a bass line and some
chords are picked to provide the impression of an accompaniment for the melody
line over the top.
At the end of each repeat in this section there is a percussive thumb slap
played in a manner similar to a bass guitar slap (see the section on Celtic ornamentation).
“The Potato Van” - Night Fishing
This is an up tempo melody which combines a lot
of strumming and fingerstyle picking. It creates the
effect of two people playing at once, and is greatly
aided by the DADGAD tuning. The riffs in the song
are picked across several strings, always allowing
an open string to ring out with a flowing
The song changes from D major to G major several
times, for example at measures 13 and 73. At measure
21, the song changes from D major to a D Mixolydian
section where the 7th (C#) is flattened to C. Coming
out of this section at measure 29 the song returns
to D major again.
Thumb triplets are used from measure 37 onwards.
This particular riff can be easily played without the triplets if they prove to be a headache.
The challenge is to have the 3 notes sound clearly
and distinctly. Thumb triplets are also covered in
the section on
“Airwell” – Night Fishing - DADGAD
In the first part of this piece, the bass strings play the melody and a
simple arpeggio is repeated over and over on the top strings just to provide a
platform for the melody. The pinky finger gets a good workout in this section,
and the fingering indications in the notation help to co ordinate this.
The arpeggios that follow in measure 23 are an example of harp style guitar
in DADGAD. Again, the left hand fingering will help here and
some left hand stretching is needed. The descending bass line amongst the
arpeggio in this measure adds a sense of motion to the tune after the fairly
“Eleven Icebergs” – Night Fishing
This tune uses the CGCGCD tuning with the open strings creating a fluid,
ambient sound. A delayed pull off
technique is used in the opening measure. The hammer onto the 4th fret is played
and then held down. The next note is the open C string being plucked. After
voicing this note, the note at the 4th fret is released as a pull off. This
creates a kind of cascading sound.
In measures 33 to 35 a chromatic bass line is used to break out of the major
scale and add some movement to the tune. The same idea is used through measures
84 to 86.
“Purple Turtle” – Night Fishing
This is a simpler tune that is a good place to start for people less familiar
with DADGAD. It shows some of the more obvious DADGAD ideas that are commonly
heard and introduces positions up the neck. The opening phrase of the tune is a
very simple melody, with an ascending bass line.
The final section is also a good introduction to picking out Celtic melodies
and maintaining accompaniment at the same time. The ornamentation is relatively
“Inlander” – Night Fishing - CGCGCD
This tune is in several parts and shows a range of ideas possible with the
CGCGCD tuning. The opening is a spacious and ambient section which is aided by
the low tuning. This section begins with F major key signature for the C
Mixolydian scale. Then at measure 10 the tune switches to the C major scale. The
opening changes between these two key signatures are the result of changing
between the 3rd and 4th frets on the G strings, being the Bb and B respectively.
At measure 77 the tune settles into to the C Mixolydian mode for the
remainder. This change is an effective way of changing from an aire like piece
to a more rhythmic up tempo section. In the repeating phrase of measures 93 to
100, the bass notes can be played as hammers directly onto the bass strings. The
notes are not plucked, rather just sharply hammered by the appropriate left hand
finger to add a mild percussive thwack. The left hand finger is quickly lifted
to give the note a short, stacatto voicing.
“Sleep” – Night Fishing - DADGAD
This tune starts off in the key of F major and uses a fairly chromatic range
of notes. This means that no firm scale is maintained for very long. At times
the bass notes ascend in semitones as in measures 6 to 8.
There are no particular techniques in this piece, though it is a good workout
for the right hand. Avoid using the same picking finger twice in a row. The tune
settles into more familiar DADGAD territory for the ending section at measure
“The Fisherman” - Night Fishing
This piece shows how a very simple melody can be
developed into a solo piece in DADGAD. A lot of left hand Celtic ornaments
and grace notes are used to add interest to the main
melody, for example in measures 5 to 8. The
ornamentation section describes these techniques in
The main melody repeats at measure 10 in the
lower octave. This is an idea that is greatly helped
by the DADGAD tuning, with the many D and A strings. The timing of the
melody throughout the tune uses many dotted notes.
These dotted notes along with the ornamentation are
the key to making this piece work.
The final section starting at measure 49 uses
some arpeggios with the top note in each chord
sustaining a melody. The arpeggios follow a simple
ascending bass line for the most part. The top note
also ascends, however, staying one step ahead of the
bass. For example, the first chord is D major and
the top note is the 2nd fret on the D string, being
E. This is the 2nd degree in the scale, so the chord
is a Dsus2. The next chord is the Emin7 with the top
note being the F# at the 4th fret on the D string.
This chord then becomes Emin7add9. This pattern
continues for the first 4 chords and brings a little
color to a section that might otherwise be a little
“Martingale” – Night Fishing -
This piece uses the C major scale in DADGAD and includes many variations on
chords such as F, Amin and C. The use of C major in DADGAD is very useful to
know, especially when playing an accompanying role with other guitarists tuned
to standard. At measure 37 the key switches to D major. Throughout the tune the
left hand pinky finger is used and fingerings are given in the notation to help
“Murren” – Night Fishing - DADGAD
This is an earlier composition of mine, here played in DADGAD. It is intended
to be played quite freely without any particular time signature. The tune is
played in D major and uses some positions higher up on the neck in combination
with open strings to create a flowing effect.
“Topanga” – Night Fishing - CGCGCD
This tune has 3 distinct parts which are a good illustration of the CGCGCD
tuning. The opening section is a gentle aire typical of DADGAD that shows the
similarity between the tunings. The second section makes use of the suspended
top D string to play a catchy melody while playing the chord progression
underneath. This piece would be much more difficult to play in DADGAD, since the
separation between the chords and the melody fingering would be an extra 2
The final section shows how the CGCGCD tuning allows strumming and picking
combined together, in a similar manner to “Potato Van”. However the CGCGCD
tuning makes this a lot easier if we compared to strumming in the key of D in DADGAD. In DADGAD, there is always the risk of
having a muddy 4th floating in the chords if the G is allowed to ring open. In
CGCGCD it is easier to strum freely while using the top D string to add some
interesting melody notes.
“Night Fishing” - Night Fishing
This is a rather wistful piece which uses a great
deal of harp style picking. Some of the arpeggios
require left hand stretches and some planning about
which left hand fingers to use. It is helpful to
note the suggested fingerings, particularly in
measures 9 and 13.
The piece opens with a simple idea of a pedal
note, played on the open D string. A pedal note is a
bass note that is maintained beneath several chord
voicings over time. In the first measure there is
the open D string ringing out over an embellished D
chord. Then in measure 3 it again follows the fairly
obvious A chord. Instead of beginning the arpeggio
with the expected A bass, an interesting effect is
created by maintaining the D bass note to create an
A add 11/D chord.
The tune has some modulations to give it
some sense of movement and to avoid stagnating in
open D. The song starts in the D major key, then at
measures 9 to 15 briefly switches to D minor based
on the D Aeolian scale. In the final section, the
key signature shifts to G major by lowering the C#
to C natural.
“Mapping the Paddocks” – Night Fishing
With several parts and a few tricks along the way, this is a fun tune to
play. The tune starts off in D minor, with the 6th degree of the scale switching
from B to Bb to add some variation. At measure 65 the key changes to D major key
and picks up tempo a little. In measure 67 the G bass note is hammered directly
with the 2nd finger of the left hand. The right hand does not pluck the string.
The idea is to give a slight percussive thud to the note.
The thumb triplet technique is used in measure 105. The strummed chord before
each triplet is played with a sharp down stroke using the right hand index
fingernail as a kind of plectrum. Moving from the strum into the thumb triplet
can be difficult and too much right hand movement makes it very hard. The
strummed down stroke needs to be a short, quick sharp movement.
“Early Hours” –
A Winter's Tale - BADGAD
This is a candle-burning tune played in BADGAD,
where the bass D is tuned down to B. The
section talks about this tune in some more detail.
The most difficult part about this tune is being
very delicate with your left-hand on the bass
strings. With a low guitar action many of these bass
notes can be played without plucking, instead just a
light hammer on. The bridge section between measures
23 and 31 is a free-form section which tries to be a
little restless. It's a great place to improvise and
just follow your ear.
Tunes Not Covered by the Book Content
The following set of tunes are not referenced in
this online book. Brief performance notes are
included for those interested in the tablature, some
of which is free on the
page or in the Scrapbook
“Smithy's Porridge” – Night Fishing
- F A# D F C D#
This tune is played in a very bizarre tuning: F
A# D F C D#, with the capo at the 4th fret. It's a
tune with nearly no left-hand ornamentation and uses
the strange sounds that the tuning offers to build a
melody. The trick to playing this song is to keep
the tempo steady and rolling along without letting
your left-hand fingers mute any open strings.
“Powderhorn” – A
Winter's Tale - CGCGCD
This is a probably the most difficult tune to
play on this list. The underlying technique is
called "frailing", which is a banjo claw-hammer
technique adapted to the guitar. This is a whole
book in itself, and indeed the brilliant
Steve Baughman has done just that.
For me, the only way to make this tune work is to
keep a very slack right-hand and be almost languid
and casual about it. Otherwise it is too hard to
keep the frailing groove running. Frailing is a great technique
but takes some time to get used to.
Beach” – A Winter's Tale - CGCGCD
Ninety Mile Beach is a great left-hand workout in
CGCGCD, completely filled with Celtic type
ornaments. The recording plays it a fairly quick
pace but I would suggest slowing it down quite a bit
when learning the tune and focusing on the mixing of
hammers and pull-off combinations. These days I
prefer to play it a little slower.
In the main opening theme of this tune, note how
the treble strings play out the same idea over and
over, while the bass moves around. This is a nice
way of creating a rolling tempo in a piece while the
bass notes add the color.
“Outpost” – A
Winter's Tale - CGCGCD
Outpost is a challenging piece played in CGCGCD.
From start to end the left-hand ornamentation is
very busy and later combines with light strums. The
key to the strumming is to keep your right hand
movement very compact. Hold your thumb and index
finger together like holding a plectrum and brush
down with your index fingernail. Just a quick roll
of the wrist.
The opening is a Celtic aire section which
right-hand finger triplets at measure 25. They
aren't necessary to play the section well, so at
first leave them out while learning the piece.
Measure 39 starts a brief drone which transitions to
the active section following. If possible hammer-on
the bass notes directly where marked in the
tablature so that your right hand has less to do. A
low guitar action helps here. Finally, this tune is
about steady tempo and falls off the rails if you
start speeding up.
“Off the Grid” – A
Winter's Tale - CGDGAD
This is the only tune I play in the CGDGAD
tuning. The main point of interest in this tune is
the section starting from measure 61 using the
percussive middle finger thud technique to set up a
slight backbeat groove. This technique is covered in
“A Month of Rain”
– A Winter's Tale - CGCGCD
This is a delicate tune which starts off in a
normal CGCGCD major key. At measure 17 the key
changes from C to Bb and some unusual fingerings arise. This section has
little rhyme or reason and came about from just trying to hear what should come next
away from the guitar. For example,
the measures 22 to 27 move the bass around with
several accidentals (notes that don't fit the key
The final part starting at section 33 uses the
old standard descending bass theme. Generally it's
good to tread carefully with these commonly used
ideas, but this time the tuning brought some life
to it on the middle C bass string. Try to keep the
left-hand ornaments very light here and avoid any
sudden releases on pull-offs.
– A Winter's Tale - CGCGCD
This is a good tune to learn while still getting
used to CGCGCD. The two main sections can be played
slowly to make the the left-hand ornaments
manageable. The bridge section starting at measure
25 makes a simple key change from C major (Ionian
mode) to the C
Mixolydian mode and then goes back again for the
final repeat. This idea is discussed in more detail
on the Mixolydian
mode page and is a common theme through these tunes.