How to play Happy Birthday on the guitar

How to play Happy Birthday on the guitar
How to play Happy Birthday on the guitar
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Among the immense library of songs which are simple enough to be learned by beginners on the guitar, the well-known tune of "Happy Birthday" is perhaps one of the most useful, as it is welcome to almost all. birthday parties! "Happy Birthday" uses only empty major chords and a simple melody. With a ¾ tempo and a melody that incorporates raised notes, this tune may not be easy for all beginners to learn. However, since the song is short and well-known, it's usually easy to get the hang of it with just a few practice sessions.

Steps

Part 1 of 3: playing the chords

Play Happy Birthday on Guitar Step 1

Step 1. Study the chord progression before you start playing

If you already know how to read the following chords, just read this step and skip the rest of this section, because “Happy Birthday” chords are very simple.

  • Below is the “Happy Birthday” chord sequence.
  • Happy birthday

    Joy them |(Do)a-nni-ver |(Ground)sary. Joy-them | a-nni-ver |(Do) sary. Joy-them | a-nni-ver |(Fa) saire (name). Joy them |(Do) a-nni (Ground) worm |(Do) sary.

  • Some important remarks about "Happy Birthday".

    • The song has a ¾ (waltz) tempo. This means that there are three beats per measure and that the unit of time is quarter note. This is easy to see in the first bar: if you follow the lyrics, “a-nni-ver”, each syllable corresponds to a beat.
    • The song starts with "two eighth notes raised". In other words, the “Joy-them” at the start of the song comes before the first beat since chords only come into play from “a-nni”.
    • You can use any rhythm that makes you comfortable strumming the strings. A simple rhythm, but which works well, could be for example strumming the strings down for each quarter note and therefore each beat (three per measure).
Play Happy Birthday on Guitar Step 2

Step 2. Play a measure of C

"Happy Birthday" begins on an empty C major. This chord is played throughout the first measure, starting on the “a” syllable of “birthday”. You don't have to play chords on “Happy”, since these notes are in the first bar lift.

  • An open C major chord is played like this:
  • Open do

    E-treble chord:empty (0)

    Si string: first fret (1)

    G string: empty (0)

    D string: second fret (2)

    La chord: third fret (3)

    low E string: not played (X)

  • You can prevent yourself from playing the low E string by muffling it with one of your fingers with your left hand or by simply avoiding playing it with your right hand.
Play Happy Birthday on Guitar Step 3

Step 3. Play two measures of G

On the first beat of the second measure (which starts on the syllable “ver”), play an empty G major chord. Continue to play this chord for the third measure.

  • An open G major chord is played as follows:
  • Open ground

    E-treble chord:third fret (3)

    Si string: empty (0)

    G string: empty (0)

    D string: empty (0)

    La chord: second fret (2)

    low E string: third fret (3)

Play Happy Birthday on Guitar Step 4

Step 4. Play two measures of C

Then, on the “saire” syllable, play an empty C. Continue to play this chord through the fourth and fifth bars and the “Joy-them a-nni-ver-saire…” syllables.

Play Happy Birthday on Guitar Step 5

Step 5. Play one measure of Fa

On the first beat of the sixth measure, play an F major chord. This will be the first syllable of the first name of the person whose birthday it is. Play this F chord throughout the measure, during the “Joy-Them” syllables.

  • An F major chord is played like this:
  • F major

    E-string:first fret (1)

    Si string: first fret (1)

    G string: second fret (2)

    D string: third fret (3)

    La chord: third fret (3)

    low E string: first fret (1)

  • Note that the above chord is a "barre chord". This means that you are using the side of your index finger to press all the strings on the first fret. Newbies may find this difficult to do, so if you can't seem to make it ring true, try this alternative instead:
  • F major "easy"

    E-string:first fret (1)

    Si string: first fret (1)

    G string: second fret (2)

    D string: third fret (3)

    La chord: not played (X)

    low E string: not played (X)

Play Happy Birthday on Guitar Step 6

Step 6. Play two beats of C and one beat of G

The seventh measure is the only one in the song that does not have the same chord for the whole measure. Play C on the “a-nni” syllables and Sol on the “worm” syllable. In other words, two times of C and one time of Sol.

You might have a hard time switching between chords quickly enough if you are just starting out. Practice this measurement on your own and don't give up, as you will need this finger gesture to become automatic after a while

Play Happy Birthday on Guitar Step 7

Step 7. End on a Do

End the song by playing an empty C chord on the final “saire”. To produce a nice effect, let the final chord ring.

Congratulation ! You have just played "Happy Birthday". Practice the above steps until you've gotten the hang of it, then try singing over the chords

Part 2 of 3: Play the melody

Play Happy Birthday on Guitar Step 8

Step 1. Start with two G notes rising

The “Happy Birthday” melody is a simple melody that everyone knows, so practicing it is easy and you will immediately know if it rings out of tune. The first two notes (those which correspond to "Happy") are both Soils.

  • The note you need to start with is the one you get when playing the G string open. Play a note for each syllable of "Joy-Them", like this:
  • E-treble chord:----------------

    Si string:---------

    G string: 0-0---------

    D string: --------

    La chord: --------

    low E string: --------

  • In this section, since there is no easy way to represent sheet music or tablature on wikiHow, we will be doing it bar by bar. For a traditional tune score, go to a site like Guitarnick.com or start-playing-guitar.com.
Play Happy Birthday on Guitar Step 9

Step 2. Play La-Sol-Do during the first measure

  • There is a note for each beat, like this:
  • E-treble chord:--------

    Si string:----------1

    G string: 2--0

    D string: --------

    La chord: --------

    low E string: --------

Play Happy Birthday on Guitar Step 10

Step 3. Play Si-Sol-Sol during the second measure

  • The B takes two beats and the two eighth notes of G take a beat, like this:
  • E-treble chord:--------

    Si string:0------

    G string: --------0-0

    D string: --------

    La chord: --------

    low E string: --------

Play Happy Birthday on Guitar Step 11

Step 4. Play La-Sol-Ré during the third measure

  • The third measure is the same as the first, except that the last note is two frets above, like this:
  • E-treble chord:--------

    Si string:----------3

    G string: 2--0

    D string: --------

    La chord: --------

    low E string: --------

Play Happy Birthday on Guitar Step 12

Step 5. Play Do-Sol-Sol during the fourth measure

  • The fourth measure is the same as the second, except that the first note is a fret above, like this:
  • E-treble chord:--------

    Si string:1------

    G string: --------0-0

    D string: --------

    La chord: --------

    low E string: --------

Play Happy Birthday on Guitar Step 13

Step 6. Play Sol-Mi-Do during the fifth measure

  • The G you start at here is an octave above the G you used earlier. The following two notes descend from this G, like this:
  • E-treble chord:3--0--

    Si string:--------------1-

    G string: ---------

    D string: --------

    La chord: --------

    low E string: --------

Play Happy Birthday on Guitar Step 14

Step 7. Play Si-La-Fa-Fa during the sixth measure

  • The B you start at here is done by playing the open B string, and the ending Fs are played as eighth notes on the high E string, like this:
  • E-treble chord:---------1-1-

    Si string:0--------

    G string: ----2------

    D string: --------

    La chord: --------

    low E string: --------

Play Happy Birthday on Guitar Step 15

Step 8. Play Mi-Do-Ré during the seventh measure

  • Start with the open E high string, like this:
  • E-treble chord:0------------------

    Si string:-----1--3------

    G string: ----------

    D string: --------

    La chord: --------

    low E string: --------

Play Happy Birthday on Guitar Step 16

Step 9. End on a Do

  • Finally, play the first fret of the B string to close the song, like this:
  • E-treble chord:----------------

    Si string:1--------

    G string: ----------

    D string: --------

    La chord: --------

    low E string: --------

Part 3 of 3: make the song sound right

Play Happy Birthday on Guitar Step 17

Step 1. Give the eighth notes a swing on “Joy-Them”

Earlier we used “eighth notes” for each “Joy-Them” in the song, that is, eighth notes where each note is played the same length of time. However, if you are careful when singing the song, you will probably notice that the eighth notes are not "really" played regularly. They are actually played more in a swing, which means that the first eighth note is a little longer than the second. To play the song more correctly, the "Joy" syllable should be played a little longer and the "them" syllable should be played a little shorter than if you were using regular eighth notes.

In musical terms, it looks like the first eighth note of each "Joy-them" is a "dotted eighth note" and the second is a "sixteenth note"

Play Happy Birthday on Guitar Step 18

Step 2. Let each “saire” ring a little longer than usual

Try to sing the song to yourself again. Chances are, you naturally make each “saire” and last syllable of the birthday girl or boy's name last a little longer. That's a good thing, because it gives the song a little more emotional and dramatic quality. If you don't already do this when you play the song on the guitar, try adding this to your playing, it should come easily.

In musical vocabulary, making a note last at the end of a piece or phrase in this way is called a “high point”

Play Happy Birthday on Guitar Step 19

Step 3. Try playing in different tones

The above notes and chords are not the only way to play “Happy Birthday”. In fact, there are several different chord and note sequences (called “keys”) that can be used to play this song. Although a debate on what exactly a key is is outside the scope of this article, it is easy to find music for "Happy Birthday" in different tones by using a query like "Happy Birthday guitar tones" in one. search engine.

  • For example, here is another way to play "Happy Birthday":
  • Happy birthday

    Joy them |(Ground)a - nni - worm |(D)sary. Joy them | a - nni - ver |(Ground) sary. Joy-them | a-nni-ver |(Do) saire (name). Joy them |(Ground) a - nni (D) worm |(Ground) sary.

Play Happy Birthday on Guitar Step 20

Step 4. Try replacing major chords with seventh chords in the third and seventh bars

In the examples above, we only used major chords (which make it look happy). Actually, you can also add so called "seventh" chords to this song to make it a little more complex, almost bluesy. If you want to do this, just replace the chord in the third bar and the second chord in the seventh bar with their seventh version. So a D becomes a D7, a G becomes a G7 and so on.

  • For example, here is the original "Happy Birthday" chord sequence at the beginning of the article, replaced by the seventh chords:
  • Happy birthday

    Joy-them | (Do) a - nni - ver | (Sol) saire. Joy them |(Sol7)a - nni - ver | (Do) saire. Joy-them | a-nni-ver | (Fa) saire (name). Joy them | (Do) a - nni (Sol7)ver | (Do) saire.

  • For information, a G7 chord is played like this:
  • Sol7 empty

    E-treble chord:first fret (1)

    Si string: empty (0)

    G string: empty (0)

    D string: empty (0)

    La chord: second fret (2)

    low E string: third fret (3)

Advice

  • Only practice can make the exercise perfect! Don't be embarrassed if you can't play the whole song on the first try. The only way to do this is to keep trying.
  • To find a great guide to the different open chords you will need to play "Happy Birthday" and other easy songs, check out the Beginner Lessons at JustinGuitar.com, a great free guitar tutorial site (but which works through donations) online.

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