Learn Bob Minner’s Annual Arrangement of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ – Acoustic Guitar


Just as he did last year around this time, Bob Minner set up recording gear on his porch the other day and minted a fresh arrangement of the seasonal favorite “Auld Lang Syne.” Minner says, “It’s become an annual tradition for me to do this song, and it’s such a straight-ahead melody that finding ways to reharmonize it but keep the melody and essence intact is a fun challenge. Plus, another challenge is getting it in at one minute for Instagram.”

Minner played his previous version in dropped-D tuning, with a handful of cross-picked melodic variations. This year he opted for more introspective take, in standard tuning, with a capo at the fourth fret lending a gentle air. As usual, Minner improvised the arrangement on the spot. “I usually do about five-ten video takes, and in between takes, the song gathers its parts, he says. “Then what I post is the sum of the parts, so to speak.”

In normal years, Minner can be seen onstage playing his Collings C100 (reviewed in the March/April 2019 issue) with the singer Tim McGraw. But since touring was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic, the guitar had been resting in its case for months, until Minner used it to film the new video. “It was so nice to break it out, dead strings and all, and hear it again on something like this,” Minner says. “It was the perfect guitar for the occasion.”

For the arrangement (see notation below), Minner achieved contrapuntal effects with his deft flatpicking technique, taking care not to overwhelm the sonic spectrum with dense chords. Rather than having the bass line fall squarely on the beats, he placed it in unpredictable rhythmic patterns. Minner says, “It just felt right to color outside the beat lines, if you will. It’s about feel on this one, and if it were totally in time, I don’t think it would deliver the same.”

For more picking instruction, you might like Flatpicking Guitar Essentials, available at store.acousticguitar.com

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